For a weekend dinner on the terrace, I prepared a leg of pork – barbecued and smoked on the grill. Many of our local pork farmers will usually have this great cut of meat. This is the part where shoulders (for pulled pork) are carved and hams for smoking originate. But in its uncured state, it’s more commonly known as fresh ham.
I like to cook it slowly on the grill with a fire of coals and smoking woods. It’s best to use the indirect method of cooking where you place the meat on the part of the grill away from the coals.
Start off with a fairly hot grill, around 450 degrees. This high heat will brown the meat nicely without being put on direct heat. Do this with the cover on. As the coals continue to burn, the heat will gradually diminish wherein about 45 minutes you can roast the meat slowly at a steady 300 to 350 degrees.
Leg of pork doesn’t have a lot of fat on it and the meat yield is high. It’s also the perfect cut of meat to serve a crowd. You can use a good spice rub and a final glazing of barbecue sauce and something to baste the meat so it doesn’t dry out. Even a spray bottle with apple juice is a good spritzer to moisten the meat in 30 minute intervals.
I like to brine the meat before cooking it. It adds a depth a flavor, moistness and tenderness, though it’s not essential. After removing from the brine I seasoned it further with a spice rub. If you’ve brined the meat, season the roast lightly.. Rub this all over the roast with wet hands so it sinks in. Before putting it on the grill lightly coat it with canola oil. During cooking baste the meat with a honey and apple cider mixture (see recipe)and gave it a final glaze of maple syrup mixed with balsamic vinegar.
I kept the side dishes simple: steamed asparagus with melted lemon-butter, new potatoes with parsley and butter and scalloped tomatoes. For dessert I created another variation on rhubarb pie; the filling was put into a pie shell and topped with a crumb crust. Delicious.
Brined leg of pork
Servings: 6 to 8
5 to 7 pound leg of pork, leg or butt end
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
8 to 10 cups water
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 large clove garlic, grated or squeezed
1 teaspoon hot-pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Equal amounts pure maple syrup and balsamic vinegar
Brine. The day before prepare the brine by mixing all ingredients together until the salt and spice powders have dissolved. Put the meat in a large nonreactive pot (such as enamel cast iron) or in a large zipper-lock plastic bag. Cover with the brine mixture. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.Remove the meat from the brine and wipe dry.
Seasoning rub. Mix all the ingredients together and put in a jar. Rub the seasoning blend into the meat with wet hands. Set aside.
Meanwhile prepare a charcoal grill (this can work with a gas grill though not as well) with a mixture of hardwoods and briquettes. Add 3 to 4 chunks of smoking woods like hickory, cherry, maple or apple or a mixture of your choice; the woods should be soaked in warm water for 30 minutes before adding to the hot coals.
Rub the meat all over with canola oil. When the grill is ready (coals should be burning white) add the smoking woods; give these a few minutes in the open grill to catch and begin to smoke. Put the meat on the grill away from the heat. Cover the grill, leaving vents fully open and roast for 30 minutes before basting.
Basting mixture. Put all the ingredients into a glass jar with cover. Shake vigorously until well combined. Baste the meat every 30 minutes, using a brush dipped into the mixture. After about 90 minutes, turn the meat over. Baste. Continue to cook; total cooking-smoking time is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees for medium rare
During the last 30 minutes baste with the glaze mixture.
Remove to a carving board and allow to rest for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve the glaze mixture separately if desired.
Rhubarb crumble pie
Servings: 6 to 8
Single crust pastry dough
6 cups rhubarb pieces (cut about 1/2- 3/4-inch long)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Zest from 1/2 orange
Juice from 1/2 orange
2 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200 grams) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (14 tablespoons or 200 grams) cold butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup oatmeal
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare your favorite pastry. Or prepare using the food processor method this very flakey pastry: 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, pinch salt, 8 tablespoons butter in bits, 2 tablespoons freshly rendered lard in bits and about 1/4 to 1/3 cup ice water. Pulse the dry ingredient 2 to 3 times. Add the fats and pulse 10 to 12 times. Add water gradually, pulsing, until dough holds together and is slightly moist to the touch. Shape into a disk and wrap, refrigerated, for 1 hour or overnight.
Roll out the dough and line a 9-inch pie dish (preferably glass). Make a decorative edge and put the pastry case into the refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the rhubarb and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugars, flour and cornstarch. Mix well with your hands. Add the oats. Mix again. Add the grated rind and juice and mix until thoroughly combined.
Remove the pastry case from the refrigerator and fill with the rhubarb mixture. Set aside.
Crumble topping. Put the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times. Add the butter and pulse quickly until the butter just begins to break up and you have large lumps of butter and flour. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the oats and with your hands mix together. Then with thumb and forefinger pinch the flour-sugar-butter until you have fairly even size lumps (crumbles) and the topping is well combined, mixing it with your hands alternately while pinching the butter and flour together to form crumbles large and small . Top the filling with this mixture completely. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes or the filling bubbles through the crumble topping.
Let cool on a rack but serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, ice cream or rich custard sauce.