One of my favorite meals to cook for backyard parties during summer is a slow-roasted pork shoulder crusted in homemade dry rub. While you’re outside enjoying the weather with friends and family, your meal can be slowly cooking in the oven all day long–and ready to be served when you get home. In this video, I demonstrate techniques for getting the perfect tenderness and moistness in your cut of meat, as well as talk about the key ingredients necessary for creating your own dry rub recipe. As long as you start with a base of equal parts sugar and salt, some dry mustard and paprika, the remaining ingredients are really up to the chef’s imagination. One of my go-to dry rub recipes is included below. (Updated 6/2013: Watch my how to video on making a dry rub base and three ethnic spice rub blends, which includes recipes too.) I love drying my own ancho chilis and using them in rubs because the cherry fruit flavors in 2008 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon really bring out a fruit nuance in the chili.
If feeling really creative, you can dehydrate your own chilis and garlic for dry rubs. It’s actually quite easy to do; I wrote a story last year entitled, “The Modernist Kitchen,” about preserving fruits, herbs, vegetables and spices through all seasons by dehydrating them. Once chilis and garlic slices are dried, I grind them into a powder using either a mortal and pestle (as demonstrated in the video) or a repurposed coffee grinder. I have three small coffee grinders each with a designated use: one is for chilies, one for spices and one for peppercorns, which we grind daily. Both Braun and Krups make inexpensive and capable grinders.
Read about some of my favorite exotic spices for including in dry rubs in the 2012 edition of Estate Tales.
Recipe: Summer Dry Rub on Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
Summary: This dry rub can be easily adjusted to your family’s tastes and is sure to be handed down from generation to generation. Executive Chef Todd Knoll adds ancho chili to complement the fruit flavors in the 2008 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.
- ¾ cup kosher salt
- ¾ cup demerara sugar (Turbinado or Sugar in the Raw may be substituted)
- ½ cup Chinese dried mustard (Coleman’s may be substituted)
- ¼ cup smoked paprika
- 4 Tbsp dehydrated garlic (garlic powder may be substituted)
- 6 Tbsp dehydrated onion (onion powder may be substituted)
- 6 Tbsp ancho chili powder
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 4 Tbsp coriander
- To make the dry rub, source the freshest ingredients possible. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the ingredients to a uniform grain without any large pieces. To save time, pulse in a spice or coffee grinder. Store in a mason jar or airtight container and keep in the pantry for up to one month.
- Choose a bone-in pork shoulder sized for the amount of guests you’ll be serving (one pound per person). Either trim or ask your butcher to trim the meat to leave as much of the fat cap on the meat as possible. This will ensure the most flavorful and tender finished product. You can also lightly score the fat cap to reduce the cook time by 25 percent.
- Let the meat come to room temperature at least one hour prior to preparing. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
- Dust both sides of the pork with one half of the dry rub mixture. Place seasoned pork with the fat cap up into a perforated pan and leave uncovered to create a ‘bark’ and give the pork a smoky flavor. A disposable turkey pan from the grocery store works well if you don’t have a perforated pan at home. Cook for 1½ hours per pound and dust pork with remaining dry rub half way through the cook time.
- Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow the meat to rest in its own juices for two to three hours prior to slicing and serving.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 hours
Number of servings (yield): 10