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Slow-cooked good to the bone

While attempting to cook for big barbeque crowds this summer, and trying to stick to a budget, the obvious choice for us is a succulent pork shoulder, cooked slowly over hot coals, and served with a very impressive herb salsa (please refer to www.youcancook2.com for this recipe). One 4-5 lb bone-in pork shoulder will serve 8-10 hungry pot-luckers.

Brining the pork shoulder first is a great idea to get it seasoned throughout the large cut of meat, but it isn’t mandatory. What is necessary, is long, slow (read patient!) cooking, until the meat is literally falling off of the bone. We’ve also upped the flavour by adding some woodchips to the barbeque. Soaking the woodchips in water (or even wine, beer or juice) will let chips smoulder slowly away, adding a beautiful smoky element to the pork, and your backyard for that matter!

There is enough naturally occurring fat in a pork shoulder that it bastes itself, so you can season it up and set it and forget it. And once the pork is cooked, the list of possible tastes is infinite: wrap it up with some hot sauce and cheddar cheese for lunch, toss with some rice, beans and spice for a Caribbean treat, serve with baked potatoes and green onion, on a bun with sticky BBQ sauce, with a cold beer … you get the point. Buy an Ontario pork shoulder, cook it slow and have fun this season.

Pork Shoulder

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 12-14 cups ice cold water
  • 1 4lb bone-in pork shoulder
  • Salt and pepper to taste (use lots if you’ve eliminated the brining stage)
  • 2 cups soaked wood chips (such as hickory or mesquite)

Bring salt, sugar, garlic and apple juice to a boil; cook just until salt is dissolved;

In a large bucket or pot, mix the salt mixture with the ice-cold water; fully immerse the pork shoulder into the liquid brine and refrigerate for 6 hours, or overnight;

Remove from brine, pat dry and season with salt and pepper;

Prepare your fire: whether you are using a charcoal grill (Kirstie has a Big Green Egg), gas grill or propane barbeque, have your temperature steady at 275°F, and cook indirectly (the pork will not be directly over the fire); place soaked wood chips in a pie plate or wrap lightly in foil; place in barbeque, or scatter directly over hot coals;

Place pork in a disposable foil roasting pan on a rack and add about a cup of water to the pan;

Cook 6-8 hours, or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork. Check the pork two or three times during cooking and add a little water to the pan if pork is getting too dry on the bottom;

Remove from barbeque, and simply pull meat off of the bone and serve.

Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs, where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.

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