Overnight roast pork: cook while you sleep!

This is a recipe I rely on a LOT.  It is so easy and versatile and it requires little or no attention once you’ve got it prepped.  I mean, it cooks while you SLEEP – who can’t work that into their schedule?

The inspiration for this recipe comes straight from my Granddaddy Gene.  He was a fabulous cook, and a gracious host.  He threw parties multiple times throughout the year, and invited hundreds of people.  To feed that many, he would get up in the wee hours of the morning, fire up the barbecue pit and put ribs, chickens and pork shoulders on to cook all day.

Now, I love to cook as much as the next person, but I also love to sleep.  I needed to find a way to achieve the same succulent, tender quality to the meat without having to tend a fire for hours on end.  The answer?  Put your oven on a very low temperature and leave it overnight.  When it’s warm outside, I’ll finish it on the grill for a couple of hours, but when it’s cold and wet and rainy outside, I finish it in the oven.  It lacks the smoky quality that you achieve from using charcoal, but it is still absolutely wonderful.

The best cut of meat for this is a Boston Butt, but this time I used a picnic shoulder because it was on sale ($6 for 7 pounds of meat – who can beat that?).  It worked just as well, but it does have a bit more fat that needs to be removed after cooking (leave it on in the beginning – this is what helps the roast baste itself and maintain its moisture).

Begin by preheating your oven to 225F. Place the raw meat in a roasting pan and cover it liberally with kosher salt and pepper, all over.  Place it on a rack in the middle of the oven and leave it.  Seriously – leave it.  I’ve left it in there at the temperature for as few as 8 hours and as many as 16.  You really can’t mess this up.  It only gets better the longer it cooks.

When you get up the next morning, this is what it will look like.  It’s probably done at this point, but I recommend leaving it for a few more hours.  At this point, I usually make a basting sauce.

The sauce I make consists of butter (because this pork doesn’t already have enough fat in it….), Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, Tobasco sauce, apple cider vinegar and LOTS of fresh cracked black pepper.  This is all to taste, and there are no real measurements (this is the way my Granddaddy Gene did it, so it’s the way I do it, too).  You can baste with whatever you like, but I recommend something with a low sugar content so that it doesn’t burn during the last bit of cooking (which is at a higher temperature.

Increase your oven temperature to 350F and baste with the sauce of your choosing every 20-30 minutes for a couple of hours.  The higher temperature will create a lovely “bark” on the outside of the meat.  This is the part where, if it was warm outside, I’d move the meat to the grill and cook it over charcoal for a couple of hours.

When it’s done, it will look like this.  It will feel loose when you remove it from the pan – you might even have difficulty keeping it from falling apart when you move it.  It will shred very easily, and can be used for any number of dishes – barbecue pork sandwiches, pork tacos, or just eat it with some black-eyed peas, fried okra, greens and cornbread for a very traditional southern dinner.


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