This is one of my go-to recipes when I have a bit more time on my hands and want to make something super delicious. I love French flavors and wanted to highlight that by starting with a lot of thyme as the herb base and building around that.


Rich, savory and slightly sweet (from the apples) all at the same time, with the meat tender like butter (buttah)! Both my husband and son claimed it was better than my version of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It was more complex and interesting tasting, and let me tell you, a whole lot easier to make! You just need the time to leave it in the oven for 4 hours.

I served this with an adapted Jacques Pepin frisee salad with a little baby arugula added to it along with polenta squares, browned in a little olive oil and butter. Really, really yummy.  Make the polenta recipe noted in an earlier post, pour into a buttered 9” x 9” pan and chill until firm. Cut into squares and sauté in butter and olive oil (1 tbs. of each) until nicely browned and hot throughout.

Adapted from a recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Serves 8

One 4-pound boneless pork butt
2 tbs. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
3 medium onions, halved lengthwise (root end left intact) and peeled
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 cup medium-bodied red wine (such as Pinot Noir or a light Cabernet Sauvignon)
4 cups chicken broth
 (preferably homemad
30 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cored and quartered
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 lemon, peeled using a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the pork roast on a cutting board so the long end faces you and slice through the middle horizontally and nearly to the other side of roast. Open the roast like a book (it should still be attached at one side) and season with about half of the salt and pepper. Close the roast and season the outside with the remaining salt and pepper, then use butcher’s twine to tie the roast at 1-inch intervals.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pork roast, browning it on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side (if it starts to get dark too fast, reduce the heat). Use tongs to transfer the pork to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and set aside. Pour the fat from the skillet into a medium bowl (cool and discard). Use tongs and paper towels to wipe out the skillet.

Pour the remaining oil into the wiped skillet. Heat the oil over high heat until it smokes, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add the carrots and place the onions and garlic halves cut-side down in the pan. After about 30 seconds, check the garlic and, if nicely browned, remove from the pan and place on a plate (or cook a little longer if needed). Continue to cook the onions and carrots until the onions are very dark (and almost threatening to burn), about 1 minute longer.

Turn off the heat and cool the pan for 1 minute. Turn the heat to medium, pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the chicken broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the broth and vegetables over the pork in the Dutch oven. Add the thyme, apple, rosemary, peppercorns and lemon-zest strips.

Cover the pot, place it in the oven and cook until a long-pronged fork can be inserted into the center and twisted without resistance, about 4 hours.

Remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a large platter. Let the meat cool for 15 to 20 minutes before using a fork to break the roast into chunks. Meanwhile, boil the braising liquid and skim off the fat. Pour the jus over the pork and serve.

Pork roast ingredients.

Browned Pork butt.

Browned garlic on a white plate.

Browned carrots and onions with red wine.

Red wine braised pork roast with apples and thyme in a white dish.

For more recipes like this, visit me at LOVE- the secret ingredient.

About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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