The thing is – I didn’t start out looking to cook a hunk of pork.
I wanted chicken…
I wanted chicken of my childhood.
I wanted chicken of my childhood that came from the Winn Dixie just down the street from where I grew up.
It was “barbecued chicken”, and I put that in those little ” “ because it really wasn’t even barbecue. Long before (and I mean really long… I’m 53 after all) every mass market grocer and discount bulk package foodery started carrying those horrendous rotisserie chickens, just about every neighborhood market carried a whole, fresh-cooked barbecued chicken. It was smoky. It had a funny pasty spicy sauce rubbed into every little skin tuck, arm pit, crack and giblet then baked until it was fall-off-the-bone tender… then stuffed in an aluminium foil bag where all those aromas – juices – steam – permeated every inch of that bird.
The wing tips and drumstick joints were always a little extra crispy. It was disgustingly sticky. It was instantly recognizable. It is still one of those few aroma memories I can pull up in a moments notice and remember even the smallest nuance of flavor.
Add to that a tub of Mrs. Kinser’s Mustard Potato Salad and a loaf of bakery fresh garlic bread (also tucked away in a nifty aluminum bag) and you have a pretty standard “Grocery Day” dinner when I was growing up.
Many month’s ago I contacted Winn Dixie on a whim to see if they possibly had the recipe for the pasty rub. Granted – it was 40+ years ago and anyone that even had the smallest inkling of what it was had long since retired…or died…… I figured it was worth a shot.
I didn’t hear from them… until last month.
They sent me a recipe for Lemon Pepper Rotisserie Chicken.
I was less than amused.
So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been on my own search for that elusive coating. I know it was primarily paprika – so that was a good starting place, or so I thought.
Nada… Zip… Bumpkus….
I couldn’t find anything that even came close to it – until I scrapped the whole idea of chicken, and just went looking for paprika based seasonings. Somewhere around my 40th hour of searching, I stumbled on a recipe in an old Southern Living for a Slow Roasted Paprika Pork. It wasn’t quite “it“, but it was closer than anything else I’d been able to pick out. Plus, they paired it with a sweet and spicy sticky sauce to boot!
Pork and sticky sweet? …. I’m (as they say) all in….
I’ve adapted both recipes somewhat… the sauce more than the rub –
A. To get closer to what I remember the chicken paste…stuff…bbq tasted like…, and
B. I just can’t leave a recipe alone… it’s a curse.
Slow Roasted Paprika Pork
adapted from Southern Living
Since the pork has to sit and cure overnight – the spice mixture is more a dry brine than rub.
Serves 6 to 8
1 – 5 lb Pork Shoulder Roast – Bone In
2 Tablespoons Smoky Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
4 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
Pyrex Baking dish (large enough to hold the pork)
Small mixing Bowl
Roasting Pan with Rack
Mix together all the ingredients except the pork in a small bowl
Pat dry the pork
Rub the mixture deeply into every inch of the pork. Be sure to put generous amount of the dry brine into any openings or folds exposed in the pork. – USE ALL OF THE DRY BRINE. If the pork wont accept any more – place any left over spice mix on top of the roast
Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
The Next Day:
Take the roast out of the fridge and allow to return to room temp
Preheat the oven to 325
Place the pork in the pan on a rack and roast at 325 for 2 hours – or until the internal temp is 165 degrees
Turn the oven OFF and let the pork sit in the cooling oven for one additional hour.
Thinly slice the pork and serve with the Sticky * Smoky * Sweet * Figgy BBQ Sauce
Figgy BBQ Sauce
Makes About a Cup
1 Large Shallot (or 2 smallish ones) Minced
2 Cloves Garlic – Minced
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Cup White Wine
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Dried Figs – Minced
1/2 Cup Fig Preserves (if you don’t have it – don’t want to buy it – can’t find it Sub in an additional 1/4 Cup of Dried Figs and an additional 1/4 Cup Sorghum Syrup)
1 Tablespoon Paprika
6 to 7 Dashes Hot Sauce (or more)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1/4 Cup Sorghum Syrup
Salt and Pepper to taste (I’ve used about a teaspoon of each)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Medium Sauce Pan
Immersion Blender or Food Processor
Saute the shallots and garlic in the butter
Add in the wine, figs and cider vinegar and bring to a boil
Reduce to simmer and add in the remainder of the ingredients
Simmer on low for 20 minutes
Puree until smooth with the processor or blender
Serve with the Slow Roasted Paprika Pork