Dish is easier to make than you think


By Genevieve Ko, The New York Times

Inside the white brick walls of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina, past the bright dining room, is the pit room, the walls, floors and equipment shades of copper and black. There, pork slowly barbecues over hardwood that has been burned into coals, prepared with the craft that Scott, a chef and a founder of the restaurant, learned from his family.

The meaty smoke was as heavy as a wool blanket and smelled so good, I wanted to gather a handful of air and eat it. Watching the cooks kindle the embers, mop racks of ribs with sauce and turn enormous sides of meat, it quickly became clear that true whole hog barbecue is best left to pitmasters.

The rest of us may not be able to capture the woodsy nuances of pit-smoked pork, but anyone can prepare and share the joy that is pulled pork. Spice-rubbed pork shoulder cooked slowly with low heat sweetens naturally and eventually falls apart with a gentle nudge. It takes time for the meat to soften, but the energy and hours you put in can range widely.

A slow cooker makes for the easiest preparation, and a pressure cooker turns out the fastest version, but for anyone lured by fire — with a whole day to spare — a backyard charcoal grill version of pit cooking is within reach. It takes 14 hours or so, and the tending required can be relaxing or stressful, depending on, well, you.

But if you don’t have a day to dedicate to smoking meat — or, let’s be honest, the desire — you can easily replicate the taste without the commitment.

What’s amazing about wood smoke is that it infuses raw meat right away, so letting it swirl around a fat-marbled shoulder for even an hour gives pork a halo of that unmistakable barbecue scent. This is my preferred method, especially for parties. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling, then push the glowing coals to one side before putting the pork on the other. Toss fragrant wood chips and chunks over the coals, and quickly close the lid, sliding the vents open a sliver.


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