My dad used to cook barbecue all night over a pit, constantly tending the large chunk of pork (often a whole pig) for clubs and organizations. I heard men talk about the barbecue in glowing terms, but never got the recipe because Dad died when I was 13. It was one of the many topics I wanted to discuss with him, I discovered later.
Though I didn’t get Dad’s recipe, I developed my own over the years and it has become something of a point of pride. My son took the same path, creating a dry-rubbed barbecue that is quite different from my more traditional North Carolina-style recipe, but quite good.
Mine is a rich, hearty, calorie-filled dish to serve these days, given our current circumstances. It has the added advantage of being versatile enough to be naked on a plate or snuggled in a bun with a lively lemon-poppy-seed cole slaw and simple potato salad on the side. Additionally, a 4.5-pound roast is rarely eaten in a single sitting, so you’ll have leftovers.
Here’s how I do it.
- 1 4.5-pound Boston butt pork roast (I love the packages that read: Boston Butt Whole)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup apple vinegar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
Combine the pepper, paprika, cumin, hot sauce, coriander and maple syrup in a bowl and reserve two tablespoons of it to the side. Rub what’s left evenly over the roast. Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the pork to the pan when the oil is hot. Cook it for 15 minutes, browning it on all sides.
Put the roast into a large slow cooker. (You should always put the pork into the cooker first-thing, to make sure it fits. This roast nearly didn’t and I had to cut a bit off.)
After removing the roast, add the onion and garlic to the hot pan with the remaining oil and sauté it for three minutes. Add the stock and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the two tablespoons of the spice mixture with vinegar and pour it all over the roast in the crockpot. Cook it for eight hours until it is tender.
Remove the pork from the pot and let it cool for 20 minutes, then skim the fat from the liquid it was cooked in. Or you can simply refrigerate it and more easily take the chilled fat off the top. Reserve a cup of the liquid. Shred the pork and discard the bone and fat. Add enough of the cooking liquid to keep it moist and toss it with the shredded meat.
You can eat the barbecue this way or top it with your own mustard- or tomato-based sauce.