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Consecutive blogs on a single topic? Must be love.*

“I think I know just what we need”

Holiday, New York city, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, brewery tour, beer, hungry, Fette Sau, BBQ, the most delicious pulled pork, incredible burnt end beans, wonderfully fresh Brooklyn IPA, fantastic bourbon.

Booo! Early mornings, early nights, three hour commutes, eight hours in front of a computer screen, instant coffee, UHT milk, the office canteen, overcooked porridge and dried-out baked potatoes.

We hit the weekend, I’m missing New York and I’ve got a craving for BBQ like you wouldn’t imagine. I’ve been punching the words “Fette Sau” into YouTube and Google at random intervals throughout the week, a compulsion that’s proven more fruitful than I’d assumed it would. It turns out that the dry rub Matt Lang uses on his meat isn’t the closely guarded secret that it has every right to be. There are in fact numerous sources online that claim to know it. Sweet.

Sense** prevails following a morning investigating the feasibility of a meat smoker made from a terracotta plant pot and a whole load of lighter fluid. So I can’t recreate the smoke element of that delicious pulled pork, but I can get top quality meat, and I’ve got something that claims to be the dry rub. Close enough.

1/3 cup garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 cup ground coffee (espresso grind)
2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup ground black pepper

This is the perfect thing to cook when you’ve got people coming round for beer. Wake up, mix a load of dry ingredients together, rub the mix all over a piece of fatty pork shoulder, stick it in the oven at gas mark 2.5 and forget about it. Somewhere between 6 and 8 hours later when the beers are flowing, all you need to do is take the meat out and pull it apart with your hands. What could be simpler?

If you wanna get all expert about it, I think it makes sense to take the rind off the meat first. I got the butcher to do this, leaving some of the fat behind but not too much. Pulled pork isn’t about the crackling and you might have some grief getting the skin to crisp up with the oven so low, easier to get rid. Put the shoulder on a rack, in a baking tray. You don’t want it to stew in the liquid that escapes through cooking, so getting it up and off the bottom of the tray is the way to go.

It’s close to Fette Sau. The smoke is missing for sure. I tried using some smoked paprika in place of the cayenne pepper but it wasn’t nearly enough to work. Close or not, it’s most definitely delicious. I was cooking 2 pounds of meat for 2 hungry people and, even having halved the dry rub recipe, I easily had twice as much rub as I needed. It’s also worth pointing out the difference between kosher salt and standard salt. The much larger grains of kosher salt mean that less of them fit into a measuring cup, you can’t just substitute for the same amount of table salt.

When I had this at the restaurant, the Brooklyn IPA worked pretty well with it. Every beer pairing pales in comparison to a glass of bourbon though. The woody, oaky quality gives an interesting depth to the charred meat, the sweetness tempering that aggressive rub. Delicious.

* Listen carefully, that’s the sound of my girlfriend simultaneously tutting and rolling her eyes ...

** The girlfriend tells me it would be a stupid idea in our shared garden. She’s right, when I do things like this it usually ends in disaster or personal injury. Sometimes both.