Braised Pork Butt

with port and prunes!

Richard and Pat were coming over for a home cooked meal. I wanted to do something nice. I had this recipe in my "need to try" file for a couple of months and they seemed adventurous. Let me tell you, this turned out to be a fine blend of so many great tastes that I want to do it again real soon, just for me and Angela.  This was adapted a bit from the San Jose Mercury News Food Section. It's worth subscribing to the Merc just for the recipes. We fed four big adults and had plenty left over. It was fantastic the second day too.

Angela had to ask the butcher for the pork butt. He offered a choice of bone-in or out. She wisely chose "out".

Even if you don't like prunes, don't leave them out. This dish does not taste pruney at all.

A. pork butt, boneless 4-6 pounds Can also use pork shoulder
thyme, dried 1 teaspoon  
mustard, dried 3 teaspoons I'm a fan of Coleman's
  sage, dried 1 teaspoon  
  salt 2 teaspoons  
  black pepper, ground 2 teaspoons fresh ground is best

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and rub generously all over the port butt.
Set it aside.

Heat the oven to 325.
B. olive oil 2 tablespoons  

In a heavy casserole pan or Dutch oven heat the oil over a high heat.

Brown the meat on all sides. Let it sit there and sizzle for a while before turning it. Make sure all 6 sides get well browned. This takes 8-10 minutes. 

Turn down the heat to medium and remove the meat.

C. pearl onions 2 cups frozen are fine, defrost them
leaks, white part 1 cup finely chopped
carrots 1/2 cup finely chopped

Add the pearl onions, leeks and carrots to the pot. Cover and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
D. port wine 1 cup  
chicken stock 1/2 cup  
prunes, pitted 1 cup  
  brandy 1/2 cup  
  bay leaves, dried 2 leaves  

Add the port and chicken stock. Scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add the prunes, brandy, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

Put the pork back into the pot and spoon a little of the sauce over it.  Cover the pot with foil and put the lid on tightly.

Put the pot on the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for 2 hours. The pork is ready when it reads 160 degrees internal temperature.

E. final prep    

Remove the pork from the pot and cover loosely with aluminum foil. The pork will continue to cook and the internal temperature should reach 170+ degrees.

Skim off fat from the cooking juices. Remove the bay leaves.

Remove the prunes and puree them in a bowl using a stick blender. Stir the puree back into the sauce. This will thicken the sauce. 

Season with salt and pepper.

Carve the pork into 1/2 inch slabs. Arrange on a serving platter and pour a good amount of the sauce over the pork.

Place the remaining sauce in a gravy boat - your guests are going to want more!