Barbecue That Breaks the Rules

First, a disclaimer: This is not a recipe for real barbecue. There’s no fire involved; you use a standard oven. The recipe should probably be called Slow-Cooked Pork à la Barbeque, and rightfully so.

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. Cayenne provides a moderate baseline heat, which can be amplified with as much Scotch bonnet or habanero chile heat as you wish. On all accounts, it is robustly flavorful.

After slathering the meat with a flavorful paste, you stick it in a Dutch oven (I used an old enamelware turkey roaster), add a little water and let it bubble slowly under the lid for a few of hours. There is nothing to do but wait.

As for the cut of pork, choose a bone-in (or boneless) marbled shoulder roast or thick-cut county-style ribs, which are meaty bone-in chops cut from the shoulder end of the loin. 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. I dare say you could concoct a mean vegetarian version with root vegetables and tofu, too.

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, which is not the end of the world, but still. 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.

Recipe: Barbecue Country-Style Pork Ribs

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