This take on pork shoulder is bursting with deep flavors that develop while the meat slowly cooks. Aside from a little chopping and basting, the recipe is pretty hands-off, so it’s a good one for entertaining. Any dried herb will work well here. Serve it with a side of mashed potatoes for a perfect winter meal.–Andrea Bemis

What red wine is best with pork?

Almost any mellow or slightly sturdier red wine will work well with this French-style braised pork, including pinot noir, an affordable Bordeaux, or any French-style blend. You needn’t stick with French wine, though. A Syrah or Italian blend or even Carmenere could also work nicely. Use something that’s not too expensive but that you’ll want to drink since you’ll have more than half the bottle left over.

Braised pork with red wine sauce in a Staub Dutch oven.

Wine-Braised Pork Shoulder

4.93 / 26 votes
This braised pork with red wine is an easy, set-it-and-forget-it one-pot meal. Made with meltingly tender shredded pork shoulder, red onions, and a rich red wine and herb sauce, it boasts French overtones but without any fussiness.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineAmerican
Servings6 servings
Calories424 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • One (4 1/2 pound) bone-in pork shoulder or a 3 1/2- to 4-pound (1.6- to 1.8-kg) boneless shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme or a couple sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond brand kosher salt or 2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large (1 lb) red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 bunch of thyme, finely chopped, or a few sprigs parsley (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
  • Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the herbs, salt, and pepper.
  • In the bottom of a large Dutch oven, layer the onions. Place the pork, fat side down, on the onions and sprinkle with half of the spice mixture. Use your hands to rub it evenly over the pork. Flip the pork so the fat side is up and rub it with the remaining spice mixture. Pour in the wine and cover.
  • Place the Dutch oven in the oven and braise, basting the pork every hour or so, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers about 180°F (82°C), 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours. A boneless roast will be done sooner than a bone-in roast.
  • When the meat is tender, remove the shoulder from the pot and let it cool while you finish the sauce.
  • Skim any fat floating on the surface of the juices and then strain the liquid into a medium saucepan.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: If you prefer to have as little fat in your sauce—something we’re not particularly proponents of as fat has flavor—use that gravy separator you otherwise use only at Thanksgiving or refrigerate or freeze your pan juices until the fat congeals on top and can easily be skimmed.

  • Add about half the onions to the saucepan with the liquid and place the remainder back in the Dutch oven. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until it is slightly reduced, 8 to 15 minutes. The sauce will be quite thin.
  • Carefully pour the mixture into a high-speed blender and puree until smooth.
  • Shred the pork and return it to the Dutch oven and drizzle with the puréed sauce. Toss the pork and onions with the sauce and keep it warm over low heat until ready to serve.
  • Divide the pork among plates and, if desired, garnish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and/or thyme.
Local Dirt Cookbook

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 424 kcalCarbohydrates: 7 gProtein: 61 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 0.04 gCholesterol: 159 mgSodium: 1310 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Andrea Bemis. Photo © 2020 Andrea Bemis. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We loved this French (or is it Italian maybe?) take on pulled pork. It’s a delightful pulled pork complete with a tangy sauce and piquant onions tossed in as well.

True to the recipe intro, it is a huge return on the investment since it requires minimal work and delivers an impressive meal. I made this on a weekday, seasoned it and put it in the pot, let it stay for an hour while I took some calls, and then put it in the oven and barely messed with it. It holds marvelously well until dinner time, as one would expect from a braise. It was tender, very easy to shred but not falling apart, which is perfect.

I served it with farro and sweet potato pilaf along with roasted acorn squash.

After puréeing the ingredients, it gave me a sauce thick enough and in a quantity that was enough to coat the meat very well. I used a good red blend. I think anything that tastes fine would work here, even a white wine would work. It would be different but nice.

Braised pork with red wine sauce in a Dutch oven.

I must say I was very skeptical about how this recipe might turn out. It reminded me of making pork for carnitas but with a different spice profile. It was very easy to make.

My pork shoulder weighed 3 1/2 pounds and it did not have a bone in it. I used pinot noir for the wine. I took the meat out after 3 ½ hours and it was nicely done. I did something a little different. I have never had good luck skimming fat off of liquid, so I poured the liquid into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and refrigerated it for 3 hours. The fat solidified and was easy to remove.

I made the sauce with half the onions and the liquid then added about 1/2 of the meat to it to reheat (there were only two of us). We served it over polenta. It was delicious. We had it again with mashed potatoes a few days later and it was excellent.

I don’t think the recipe makes enough sauce for the amount of meat, but not sure how you would increase it. I have quite a bit of shredded pork left which I will make pulled pork sandwiches with bbq sauce. When I make it again, I might add a clove of garlic.

As I removed the lid on the Dutch oven, I recall saying, “Boy, we are in for a treat!” And indeed we were. There is nothing more comforting to me than a braised dish—it doesn’t matter the protein, anything that cooks low and slow is always a winner at my dinner table. It always turns out melt-in-your-mouth tender and oh so flavorful.

This specific recipe for wine braised pork shoulder was no exception. Simple in its preparation and ingredients, this dish is suitable for a novice cook and professional alike. All you need is a trusty Dutch oven, dried herbs, and a bottle of red wine and you are on our way to a memorable meal!

The recipe only calls for 2 cups of wine which for this size of pork shoulder, I was hesitant about. That, and when you cook something for at least 3 hours, most of the liquid is bound to evaporate and soak up into the meat which is why it becomes so tender. So, I actually poured an entire bottle of red wine (I used an affordable Bourdeaux) into the pot with the pork and even then, when my pork came out of the oven, there was probably only about 1-inch deep of liquid in the pan. The photo is deceiving because it looks like more sauce. The pork itself did look exactly the same.

I used a 3 1/2-lb. boneless pork shoulder and it was super tender after 3 1/2 hours. I wonder if using fresh herbs would be okay? Also, I think some rosemary or sage would be nice in here as well.

Another thing that added to my love of this recipe was that normally, when braising a piece of meat no matter the size, the recipe says to sear it first in the Dutch oven to achieve a crust. With this recipe, you really just put everything in the Dutch oven and then directly into the oven, no searing needed. The results certainly did not suffer from this missed step at all. The pork could not have been more flavorful.

Like I said, I used an entire bottle of wine and there wasn’t much liquid in the pan after it cooked. So my only suggestion would be to recommend at least 1 bottle of wine for the recipe, that and maybe even some added stock so that there is more of a final sauce.

Easy and delicious. The pork came out beautifully tender and well-flavored and the aroma as it braised for hours got the stomach growling.

I used a medium-bodied pinot noir, but I think you could get some very deep and interesting flavors depending on the wine choice. I didn’t get much of a reduction after putting it on a low boil for 10 to 15 minutes. It didn’t matter to the finished product–which tasted great–but it came out more au jus than a sauce.

My only revision would be to more deliberately strain the fat from the sauce–the recipe says to skim the fat before making the sauce, but I think a little more effort would make a better sauce. I had a pretty lean cut of pork that did not render a huge amount of fat; nevertheless, I will use a separator next time, as the sauce was a little fattier than I personally like.

I will absolutely make this again and will have fun experimenting!

This is a delicious fall one-pot meal, requiring nothing more than throwing everything in the pot and shoving it in an oven to forget about. Your entire house will be perfumed with smells of pork and wine and is the perfect thing to have around on a cold fall evening. The pork ends up wonderfully tender and forms a wonderful little tangle of onions and sauce that is an excellent topper to polenta, buttered noodles, or even on its own. The sauce reheats very well and makes for a great make-ahead (or freezer) meal.

Next time I make it I will reduce the salt, which seems to be too much for the amount of liquid, and add a splash of vinegar to the finished dish, just to brighten the dark flavors up a tad. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon.

I must admit that I questioned my sanity, testing a recipe perfect for a cold winter night on a hot, dry Saturday in October. I’m glad I did. It was incredibly easy. Slice onions, rub pork with seasoning, add wine, and pop in the oven at 325° F for 3 1/2 hours. Go about your business and baste it occasionally. The scent will make anyone’s mouth begin to water. This recipe got a thumbs and paws up from all members of the household. (My daughter’s dog was visiting and lurked under the table until we caved and gave him a little taste.) This is a recipe satisfying to both man and beast.

The recipe has a great degree of flexibility in the choice of herbs and wine. The headnote indicates that any dried herbs will work with pork. I used a bone-in pork shoulder that weighed just a hair under 4 pounds. I swapped out the dried thyme and basil for two tablespoons of Herbes de Provence. The substitution allowed me to add the flavors of rosemary, savory, and marjoram in addition to the thyme and basil. I used Decoy Pinot Noir for the wine, which resulted in 2 cups for the roast and happily the rest for the cook.

After a 10-minute rest, shredding the meat was effortless. I simmered the sauce for about 15 minutes and it probably could have used more time, if the desired result is a more syrup-like sauce.

I had one brain fade. I did not puree the sauce as directed. I realized that after I dumped it back on the shredded meat. I don’t think skipping this step had any substantive impact on the outcome of the recipe. I did try to rescue the juices, but gave up rather quickly. The onions had pretty much broken down while the juices simmered. The flavor of the pork was spectacular, so no harm no foul. I can only attribute this oversight to the consumption of the leftover Pinot Noir.

I love those dishes that can take care of themselves for the afternoon. The house is herb-scented and you have the freedom to focus on other aspects of the meal. I served the pork shoulder with the Black Pepper Mashed Potatoes from Leite’s and green beans tossed in sea salt and olive oil. The mashed potatoes are the perfect counterpoint to the pork shoulder. Served together in a pasta bowl, all the flavors and textures run together. My husband said this was a great meal and one of the best recipes that I have tested so far. I will be making this on a regular basis.

Braised pork with red wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate.

I love a good Sunday afternoon roast. The early prep and then the savory smells swirling around the house all afternoon. Priceless.

Covid has changed a fair amount of normal operating regarding grocery shopping at my house. BC (before Covid), I ordered groceries regularly from a local online retailer. DC (during Covid) I’m still finding unavailable items from said retailer, so I’ve signed up with a restaurant supplier who has pivoted to household customers during this time. I found a bone-in shoulder on the site. It did seem a bit expensive, but I was in a rush and the site is somewhat new to me. So when 40 POUNDS of bone in pork shoulder showed up the next day (That’s right, 40) I had my work cut out for me…literally. 2 days later, the 4 lb piece I extracted was ready for roasting.

This was ridiculously easy preparation for maximum fall flavor, and a roast I will make time and again. It made more than enough for 6 people, so the extra went into a comforting cottage pie the next day.

I used a 4-lb boneless pork shoulder (unintentionally, because the bone that came with my 40-lb shoulder roast was too big for the roasting pan!). The cook time of 3 1/2 hours, with basting hourly, was good for me.

I rested the roast for about 20 minutes and it shred easily. Next time I would rest even longer. I think this would help remove the fatty bits of the roast during the shredding. I would also refrigerate the liquid and/or use a maigre to remove more fat. I found the color of the sauce to be grey, the result of blending the fatty liquid with red onion.

I served this dish with whole roasted cauliflower. Next time I will roast bits of cauliflower for all the browned bits, and layer the pork roast on top.

I wasn’t going to love this recipe. I chose to make it because my husband isn’t a fan of caramelized onions or meats slathered in BBQ sauce. My premeditated MO was to create a pulled pork that my husband would love and have enough cooked meat to “bejewel” for my daughter and myself. I was very impressed with the ease of preparation compared to my usual braised pork recipes. After tasting the wine—as a quality control measure, of course—I was tempted to add more liquid. I used my small oval cast iron Staub with a lid that prevents evaporation but the fluid level was so much lower than usual. Since I planned to check the pan hourly, I decided to not top up the fluid before my first check. I’m so glad that I made that decision because at the first hour mark, the pan juices were almost covering the pork. Two hours and 40 minutes later, the pork was easily dislodged from the bone and the internal temperature was 186°F.

There was a lot of fat! Don’t let the fat discourage you from making this. The fat was easily separated using a gravy separator and the onions were returned to the fat-reduced sauce and some were saved with the pork as indicated. The sauce tasted delicious but was quite loose. The meat was moist and tender. After a 10 minute simmer to reduce the sauce, a 1 minute purée to a silky sauce, and a 20 minute resting of the pork, I took on the task of easily shredding the meat with 2 forks. The marriage of the pork and the sauce required no “bejewelling”! There were flecks of the red onion throughout the meat. This was not the prettiest of finished dishes but the lack of colour and vibrancy was easily remedied with a side dish of vibrant coloured sautéed pepper strips. I piled the shredded meat, sauce, and peppers on freshly baked english muffins and we feasted. No other condiments required. What this finished pork lacked in colour it made up for in flavour and texture! The wine and the herbs made for a quiet yet complex depth of flavors that were addictive…just one more forkful…and my husband exalted the best praise of all. He described this pork as “smooth and mellow” and “the best pulled pork” he’d ever had! I very much agreed, especially considering how little work was required.

A fork lifting braised pork with red wine out of a pot.

This recipe is SO good. I have only recently been buying pork shoulder or butt (as I delight in saying) and cannot believe how easy it is to prepare for such a divine result. It’s often very rich and this recipe is no exception. I struggled with what to serve alongside and finally settled on a simple salad and some local, handmade noodles. This was an ideal combination, not too heavy and it let the taste of the braised pork really shine. I imagine that the suggested side of mashed potatoes would also be delicious once the snow gets here.

I had a bone-in butt, which is what I always buy, and it took very nearly a full 4 hours to cook. After letting it cool for about 15 minutes, I removed the large strip of fat and then shredded the rest. While the recipe didn’t mention removing it (at all), I’d likely remove it before cooking next time. The pork butt is fatty enough and I did find that the finished dish (cooked with the extra layer of fat) could probably do without. After the 15 minute rest, it was possible to skim off some of the fat floating on the braising liquid and then shred the meat.

I found that 8 minutes was accurate for the liquid to reduce. I really enjoyed this recipe; the flavours are beautiful and the braised pork is just so tender and perfect. This is something that I will make again.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It doesn’t get any easier or more delicious than this pork shoulder recipe! Five minutes of prep and it was in the oven, three hours later the pork was tender and the sauce silky. I used a Chilean 50/50 Cab/Carmenere blend (Ruben & Flora) that has just a whisper of spice. I kept picking pieces of the pork to “test” haha it was so good. Served as sandwiches with a quick napa cabbage and curly parsley slaw with the lime dressing from Lime Coleslaw. Everyone was happy, and there’s enough left to have today. It will probably be even better!

    1. Wow, Lisa! Your meal sounds wonderful and I’m sure the leftovers will be just as fantastic. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this recipe with a pork shoulder I didn’t know what to do with and it was fabulous!
    I could only find another one that is 8lbs. This may seem a silly question but I am unsure how long to braise this size. Do I simply double the time or just add a couple hours? I’m trying to time it for a family dinner and need to know how long to cook it.

    1. We’re so pleased that you loved this, Wendy. Thanks for taking the time to let us know.

      For the larger roast, you have a couple of options. It shouldn’t take double the time to cook, but you’ll definitely need to add a couple of hours, and increase the amount of braising liquid. The other option, if your shoulder is boneless, is to cut it in half, which will also speed things along.