Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce

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This is a fabulous way to feed a crowd on a budget.

Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat, so it’s generally on the cheaper side. (In fact, this is the same cut of meat that’s often used to make pulled pork.) My pork roast was about 8.5 lbs. and was only 99 cents/lb.

Cooking it low and slow for a couple of hours coaxes amazing flavor out of the meat, turns it meltingly tender, and infuses the tomato sauce with rich pork flavor. This hearty winter meal will feed a whole family (and then some!) for short money—with plenty of leftovers.

How to buy a pork shoulder roast

If you have the option, always get a bone-in roast. The bone will add flavor.

Look for pork with rosy pink meat and creamy white fat. The meat should never have any gray spots.

Depending on where you live, this might be labeled pork shoulder, pork butt, or Boston butt.

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce

1 bone-in pork butt/shoulder, 6 lbs. – 9 lbs. (mine was about 8 1/2 lbs.)
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbls. fresh tarragon, minced
1 cup red wine
1 Tbls. garlic powder
3 Tbls. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can ground, peeled tomatoes
3 fresh bay leaves
freshly cracked black pepper
2 Tbls. Aleppo chili flakes
parsley and chive for garnish

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce: Prep the meat

Grab your pork roast. Give it a rinse under cold water and pat it completely dry.

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce: Brown the pork on all sides

Sprinkle the pork with a little kosher salt.

Put the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Set it on the stove over high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the pork to the pot. Your goal is to brown it on all sides.

When the bottom has developed a nice brown crust, flip the meat over. It’s heavy, so turn it carefully. Turn your heat down to medium-high, or lower, if your pot starts to smoke.

I use my big kitchen fork to get a good grip on it.

When the pork is browned on all sides, pull it out of the pot and set it on a plate for a few minutes while you make the base for the sauce.

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce: Make the base for the red sauce

If your pork let off a lot of fat, pour some off if you like. You want to wind up with a few tablespoons in the pot. Too much fat will make your sauce greasy.

Add the onion to the pot. Keep the heat on medium-high.

Stir to coat in pork fat. Cook for a few minutes ’til the onions start to turn translucent and brown.

Pour in the red wine. Raise the heat to high to start to bring the wine up to a simmer.

Toss in the tarragon.

Give the pot a stir. Scrape at the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits. (That’s pure flavor!)

Add the garlic powder.

Toss in the tomato paste.

Stir to combine well.

Pour in the can of ground, peeled tomatoes.

Give a stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the bay leaves.

Toss in the black pepper and red pepper. Stir to combine.

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce: Simmer the pork

When you’ve made the sauce, put the pork back in the pot, fat-side up.

Now, the directions here are a little squishy. Basically, what you want to do is add the pork to the sauce, then add some water to the pot so that your pork is almost covered. Exact amounts will depend on how big your pot and your pork roast are.

I do it this way (rather than add the water, then the pork), to make sure that when I add the pork, my pot won’t overflow). It’s going to simmer for so long that it’s just fine and all blends together in the end.

Add enough water to the pot to bring the sauce up to *almost* cover the meat.

Stick a wooden spoon around the edges of the pot and give the water a stir to combine it with the sauce. Lift the pork up a bit with your spoon to let the sauce get under it.

Cover the pot and bring it up to a simmer over medium heat.

When it’s simmering (take a peek!), drop the heat to low.

Simmer covered for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Rustic, Family-Style Pork with Red Sauce: Serve and enjoy!

After about 3 hours, your pork should be tender and your sauce should be fragrant and infused with rich pork flavor.

Pull the meat out of the pot and transfer it to a platter. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce and discard.

Cut large pieces of meat (or shred for sandwiches, if you like) and set atop a bed of linguine or rice.

Spoon some broth over it. Garnish with a little parsley, chive, and freshly cracked black pepper.


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. I too love pork butt! This is a great alternative to my usual pulled pork sandwiches and I just got my annual supply of Aleppo peppers from Penzy's and this recipe will put those to good use as well. Thanks for the great recipe Jessie. Have a great weekend. Danielle a.k.a. So Many Cookbooks
  2. Wow, Jessie! I really like your step by step instructions with pictures. My wife would really appreciate these type of steps as she is very good at following directions but is not big on learning technique. your website looks great. Keep up the good work. I'm not a big pork eater but this recipe is one I will try.
    • Thanks so much, Michael! (And thanks for stopping by!) Hehe, one of the reasons I do step-by-step recipes is because I'm totally visual in the way that I learn...figure a bunch of folks might be the same way. :D Definitely give this one a shot. It's super yummy and pretty economical. +Jessie