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Recipe: Slow-cooked pork breaks BBQ rules

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    It may not conform to Texas, Kansas City or any other cherished American barbecue standards — there’s not even sauce per se — but this recipe can nonetheless produce ultratender, falling-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth succulence.

First, a disclaimer: This is not a recipe for real barbecue. There’s no fire involved; you use a standard oven.

It does not conform to Texas, Kansas City or any other cherished American barbecue standards. There is no ketchup or cola in the sauce. There’s not even sauce per se, and the meat simmers in liquid instead of basking in smoky dry heat. In this way, it’s more like a soupy Mexican barbacoa of lamb or goat.

The seasoning veers Caribbean, though, with plenty of sweet spices, like clove, cinnamon, coriander and allspice. On all accounts, it is robustly flavorful.

The recipe should probably be called Slow-Cooked Pork a la Barbeque, and rightfully so.

After slathering the meat with a flavorful paste, you stick it in a Dutch oven, add a little water and let it bubble slowly under the lid for a few hours. There is nothing to do but wait.

As for the cut of pork, choose a marbled shoulder roast (bone-in or boneless) or thick-cut county-style ribs. Shoulder meat becomes tender and succulent with long cooking, while leaner cuts, like loin or leg, are better roasted.

Should pork not be in your diet, use beef short ribs, lamb shanks or chicken legs.

You’re going for ultratender, falling-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth succulence. A word of caution, however: Even long-cooked meat can become overcooked, so take care. Take it too far, and moist chunks turn stringy and dry. There’s a critical moment when it’s just right, the point of perfection when meat is well and truly ready.

Cut into biggish chunks and served in its spicy juices with beans, rice and cornbread, the pork is sublime. It’s also very good on a crusty bun, if you wait till the inside gets good and soggy. Of course, you can also shred the meat to make more traditional pulled pork sandwiches or excellent tacos.

It will never qualify as authentic smokehouse barbecue, but that was never the aim.

BARBECUE COUNTRY-STYLE PORK RIBS

By David Tanis, New York Times

  • 5 pounds thick country-style pork ribs or whole bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon annatto (achiote) powder (optional)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 or 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, left whole but split to the stem (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place pork in Dutch oven or roasting pan with a lid. Sprinkle with salt.

In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast allspice, peppercorns, coriander and cloves until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Using an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind spices and transfer to a small bowl. Add paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, annatto (if using), garlic, molasses, vinegar and tomato paste. Stir well, then rub mixture all over pork.

Add 4 cups water to pot. Add split chilies, if using, and bay leaves. Cover and bake 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees; continue to bake, basting occasionally, 2 more hours, until meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.

Pour off juices and remove fat. Cut pork into chunks or shred. Serve with pan juices, or on a bun or roll. (Alternatively, refrigerate meat and juices for up to 2 days for easier fat removal, and reheat.) Serves 4-6.

Nutritional information unavailable.

AND TO DRINK

With these meaty pork ribs, it’s all about the sweet, hot and spicy flavorings. They call for a red wine of substance and body, ideally with freshness and acidity as well. My first thought is grenache, which has undergone a stylistic transition from overripe and sweet to fresh and complex over the past few years. Plenty of great ones are out there, from France, Spain, California or Australia. Where would you like to go?

Beaujolais and pinot noir would work, too, as would a dry, earthy Lambrusco. Choices abound.

— Eric Asimov, New York Times

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