I had barbecue when I was in Kansas City (KC), Missouri, this weekend. It's barbecue heaven there, which, even if you didn't know your history, might be apparent as you land at the KC airport, where black angus cattle graze in pastures bordering the tarmac. The historic cattle drives to the railyards in KC have passed into our national lore, and though the stockyards are long gone from the city, the taste for barbecue remains.
KC-style barbecue is slow cooked over a hickory fire. The meat falls off the bone and doesn't even need the embellishment of sauce, though it's commonly served on the side. After a trip to Santa Fe last year, I became intrigued with dry rub, slow-cooked barbecue and quickly mastered the technique.
The recipe below isn't a KC barbecue recipe. It's a recipe that made its way to New Mexico with Basque sheepherders there. I offer it in tribute to the slow-cook dry rub method, which is worth the trip to the spice store and the time it takes to make this heavenly barbecue.
Dry Rub Ingredients:
1 TB ground ancho or New Mexican chile peppers
2 tsp ground dried chipotle or other medium-hot chile
2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried sage
1-1/2 c pineapple juice
2 TB vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-3/4 pound to 2-pound pork loin, spare ribs, or baby back ribs
1) At least six hours before cooking, or the night before, stir together the dried seasonings in a bowl. Place the meat into a plastic bag (or a couple of bags if you're doing the ribs), pour the marinade mixture over the meat, and sprinkle about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the dry-rub spice mixture into the plastic bag. Refrigerate.
2) Take the meat out of the refrigerator forty-five minutes before cooking it. Drain off the marinade and discard, place the pork on a platter, and rub the rest of the dried spice mix onto the meat. Let the meat stand at room temperature, uncovered, until time to grill.
3) Fire up the grill and turn it to a low setting. Place the meat as far away from the source of heat as you can and let it cook slowly for about an hour, turning fairly often until done. If you can keep the heat low enough (300 degrees Fahrenheit), you can extend the cooking time up to two hours, for even better effect.
4) If you've chosen a pork loin, let the meat stand for 5 or 10 minutes to seal in the juices. Then slice thinly and serve with tortillas and your favorite salsa or whatever else you commonly serve with barbecue. Serves four.