• BBQ Series part 3

    Pulled Pork and BBQ Sauce

    Summer is coming, yes it is! So here's a third in a series of articles about American-style barbecues.

    After focusing on side dishes in the first two articles of my US-style barbecue series, we finally get to cook the main part of our feast: smoky, tender pulled pork with a Kansas-city style barbecue sauce. Let’s get started!

    Pulled Pork

    US-style barbecue is all about slow cooking on a low heat, so we need a cut of meat that can handle the extended time in the oven. Pork shoulder is ideal for this.

    Start by trimming any large pieces of fat from the outside of the meat, but don’t overdo it. The remaining fat will help prevent the meat from drying out while it cooks. If necessary, cut through the meat so that it is an even 4-5cm thickness throughout.

    Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and then rub them all over the meat with your hands; this is what is called the dry rub. Good, even coverage is important here. Place the meat on a rack in your roasting tin and cover it very tightly with two layers of aluminium foil, so that the steam is trapped inside while the meat cooks.

    Place this in an oven, preheated to 160˚C, and leave it to cook for 3 hours. At that point, remove the foil, carefully pour the juices into a bowl, return the meat to the oven and cook it uncovered for another 90 minutes.

    This drier stage helps create a crunchy crust on the outside, which contrasts very well with the tender interior. Take the meat out of the tin and let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for about 25 minutes.

    This is a good time to finish making the sauce.

    Kansas-City Style BBQ Sauce

    Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onions, sugar and salt. Cook these over a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until they are very soft, but not browned.

    Add all the spices and the chipotle peppers (if you cannot find these, add a couple of splashes of hot sauce instead), and cook for a couple of minutes until the aromas are released. Add the ketchup and let this reduce slowly into a sticky, syrupy consistency.

    Turn the heat up to high and add the oil, followed by the tomatoes. Cook down the tomatoes until the sauce is again reduced to a sticky consistency, but be careful you don’t burn it. Turn the heat down to medium, add the vinegar and cook it until the harshness of the vinegar has disappeared (about 15-20 minutes).

    Transfer the sauce into a blender and purée it until it is completely smooth. Add the remaining butter and honey, and about half a cup of water to get the consistency right (the sauce should be thick, but pourable, about the same consistency as ketchup). Add some salt, if necessary, and as much lime juice as you need to balance the sweetness, spice and acidity (I typically use about half a lime). The sauce is now ready and you can return your attention to the pork.

    Using two forks, shred (or pull, as the name suggests) the meat, arrange it in a serving bowl and mix in some of the cooking juices. Serve the pork with dollops of the barbecue sauce, the side dishes from the previous articles, some toasted rolls and a few cold beers.

    photo: Jeroen van Kooten

    Interested? Then print the text version of this recipe!