Ingredients for herb rub in mortar and pestle

This recipe is really more about the rub than the roast, since it’s all-purpose and surprisingly versatile.

Inspired by the seasoning typically used in porchetta, this rub is incredibly flavorful on its own, but a chameleon when paired with virtually any ingredient. Meaning you can eat a dish like this pork roast on its own, but can later pair leftovers with global flavors, from Mexican to Greek to Vietnamese, without clashing and opposing flavors. Trust me, I’ve tried each and every possible variation.

Use the rub how you like, but a low-and-slow pork butt or shoulder is a great way to enjoy it for the first time. This one cooks for about 9 hours, making it an easy hands-off dinner on a weekend or work-from-home night, to say nothing for the perfection that is a slow roasted pork butt. The finished product will be juicy and tender, the meat hovering that beautiful line between sliceable and pull-able.

If you don’t have that kind of time to commit, substitute a quicker-cooking pork loin or split chicken breasts.

This roast makes at least 12 servings, but for smaller crowds, you can stretch this into many meals.


  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (from 2 or 3 sprigs)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 small dry bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 lb bone-in pork butt or shoulder
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced


  1. In a mortar and pestle or small food processor, combine the rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, salt, fennel, and pepper, and crush or process until coarsely ground. Add the orange zest and olive oil and mix to combine.
  2. Place the pork butt in a roasting pan or baking sheet and rub all over with the rosemary mixture, turning to coat as needed. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Spread the onions in the bottom of a roasting pan (removing the pork, if needed), then place the pork over the onions, on a roasting rack, if available.
  4. Roast the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 180°F, about 9 hours.
  5. Remove the pork from the roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Transfer the onions and cooking juices from the pan into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Skim the oil from the juices. Slice the pork and serve with the reserved pan juices and onions, if you like.

Slow roasted pork butt

  • The onions in that photo might look a little burned, but that’s a trick of poor evening lightning in a galley kitchen. The pan drippings should be dark and flavorful, but not burned. If yours have over-reduced and scorched a bit, they’re probably going to be too bitter to serve. In a pinch, you can serve this pork with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a fresh herb chimichurri, or just a good pinch of kosher salt, because it will already be nice and juicy.
  • This rub and method can be used on any large cut of meat, like your Thanksgiving turkey, turkey breast, or rib roast. It can even be used as a quick seasoning for pork chops or chicken thighs to toss in a salad.
  • If you’d like, while the roast rests, you can add sliced root vegetables (like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes) back to the roasting pan and toss with some reserved fat from the pan juices. Roast at 400°F until browned and serve alongside the roast.
  • Freeze leftovers in large hunks to defrost later for tacos, sandwiches, stir-fries, or any number of other dinners.