Isabelle O'Carroll
Writer and content creator, London

Recipe: BBQ Slow-Cooked Pork Ribs and Shoulder

After a few action-packed weekends I concocted a plan with a friend: meat, beer, newspapers. A delicious day of doing pretty much nothing but sipping on a variety of different beers and checking on barbecued meats while sunning ourselves in the garden.

We kicked off our plan by meeting at 4.30am in Smithfield market, waking up and cycling in the dark is very weird let me tell you. Not to mention the insanity that kicked in about 4pm. There were a few things we couldn’t track down at Smithfields like pig cheeks, but we managed to get our hands on a huge pork shoulder, three racks of ribs and a big bag of chicken hearts.

The following Saturday we woke earlyish grabbed our essentials and set up the barbecue. We pretty much followed this slow-smoking method, but with a few adjustments. I got a recommendation to fill the little trays of water with cider and bay leaves for maximum flavour, we also added a bit of cider to our basting juice to get the meat really tender and some black treacle because it’s cool.

We barbecued the whole day, and I mean the whole day. I was still basting meat at midnight, a full twelve hours after we started. We ended up cooking all four ribs and making three batches of pork shoulder, the last batch, cooked on the lowest heat for the longest, was the most delicious. The chicken hearts (of chicken heart paté fame) made really good pre-pork snacks while we waited for the meat to cook. They also tuck quite neatly on the hotter part of the coals.

Wearing a bikini and baseball cap, cooking meat all day and drinking beer allowed me to live out all my Bogan fantasies. If you ever have a free day for lounging I definitely recommend getting your smoke BBQ on, admittedly my twelve hour stint was a bit excessive although I was subathing too, so multi-tasking right? I actually prefer my slow-cooked jerk ribs to the ones we made, but the pork shoulder was excellent. My flatmate’s boyfriend tried some of the shoulder and I swear his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, it was that good. Check out the recipes below.

Chicken Hearts
Marinate in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, s&p and a bit of sichuan pepper for lols. Trim off the fat and butterfly the hearts, this is quite a soothing task if you can do it sat in the garden with a beer and the radio. Thread onto water-soaked bamboo skewers and cook over hotish coals for about 15 mins.

Spare Ribs / Pork Shoulder
Make a dry rub the night before with basically every spice in your cupboard. I used cumin, smoked paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon, coriander seeds, s&p, muscavado sugar and a bit of Chinese five spice because I’m a spicy renegade of course. Leave overnight so the flavours do their thing and then once the barbecue has cooled you can chuck them on.

Then, it’s just a matter of periodically stumbling over in a tipsy fog and basting the meat with your basting juice. We mixed up cider, apple juice, cider vinegar, black treacle, honey and muscavado sugar to cover all the apple/sweet bases. Keep basting for about six hours, the ribs take less long. NB, it’s entirely up to you but I prefer ribs to be sticky rather than dry so I made up a basting juice with a higher sugar content and lazily added some of this BBQ Jerk sauce (hey don’t judge, I was pretty drunk by this point) to make a bit of a glaze.

I really hate supermarket coleslaw, it taps into my hatred of anything overly crunchy. My idea of a dreamy coleslaw is carrots, cabbage and a bit of onion, Moulinexed on the thinnest slicer setting, and tossed in a mixture of Benedicta mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil. S’all you need.

Other BBQ accessories included some sourdough bread to eat the meat with, a lentil and parsley salad and a delicious butter bean hoummous my flatmate whipped up, with tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Just blenderise until you get the right consistency.

Isabelle O'Carroll: I’m a writer, content designer and consultant with 11+ years’ experience across fashion, food and drink and the arts.

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