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Northern California Barbecue

Northern California Barbecue

From: Chef Stephen Barber, Farmstead Restaurant, St. Helena, CA. This recipe was developed for the Pork Summit 2013. Yield: Approximately 75 servings.

5 Duroc bone-in pork butts
10 dried New Mexican chilies, toasted and ground
100 fig leaves

Brine for Pork Butt:
3 gallons sea water reduced to 2 gallons
6 bay laurel leaves
½ cup honey
2 Tbsp. California juniper berry

Blackberry and Fig BBQ Sauce:
3 cups blackberry vinegar
8 oz. dried mission figs
6 oz. ripe blackberries
20 grams (roughly 6) dried New Mexican chilies
3 cups sea water
¾ cup honey
4 wild onions

Barbecue Pit:
25 fennel branches
hay, as needed
¼ cord madrone wood
¼ cord oak wood
20 bricks or river rocks

For brine: Reduce 3 gallons seawater to 2 gallons to adjust salinity to roughly 7 percent. While water is still warm, stir in remaining ingredients and cool. Pour over pork and brine for 24 hours.

For blackberry and fig BBQ sauce: Combine all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend or run through food mill.

For barbecue process: At 7 a.m., light large fire with ½ madrone and ½ of oak. Dig pit in ground—2 feet wide, 5 feet long and 3 feet deep. Line with bricks or river rocks. Soak the hay in water.

At 8 a.m., remove pork from brine and dry with towel. Grind the 10 New Mexican chilies and season pork butts. Place on hot grill to get a little color and caramelize. Lay out fig leaves so they make a thick sheet and roll pork so that it is completely covered. Secure with baling wire.

At 9 a.m., shovel coals that have gathered over the last 2 hours and place in pit. Add a few more pieces of wood; allow to burn down halfway (about 45 minutes). Remove half the coals and pile next to the pit. Working quickly, place a bed of fennel branches in bottom of the pit. Follow with a layer of wet hay; place fig leaf-wrapped pork butts on the hay. Follow with another layer of hay, topped with another layer of fennel branches. Cover with dirt until hole is level with the ground. Place remaining coals on top of dirt. Throw 5 to 7 logs on coal. Keep the coals going on top of dirt. This requires the fire to be tended every hour or so. Pork will be ready in roughly 8 hours, when the internal temperature is around 190°F.

At 5 p.m., remove pork from ground and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Pull and serve with blackberry and fig barbecue sauce.

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