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carne de cerdo lacado

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 23 April 2011 at 12:04
i've been wanting to try this spanish "lacquered pork" ever since john rivera shared a simple and beautiful way to barbecue pork in the spanish way, and today, i got my chance.
 
this preparation is normally for ribs, which are marinated in the mixture below and then cooked in the castillian way over indirect heat, moving over direct heat toward the end of cooking. for larger cuts of meat, such as thick country style ribs and pork shoulder, see my conclusions below, which suggest leaving the honey out of the marinade at the beginning of cooking, then combining it with the reserved marinade and "painting" it on during the last hour or two of cooking to give that deep, beautiful lacquer without blackening from the long exposure to heat.
 
here are the ingredients:
 
1.5 cups "runny acacia or woodland honey"
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp wine vinegar 
 
Note: John's recipe above uses balsamic vinegar, which tastes great, but is not part of the original, Spanish recipe. to make it a truly Iberian dish, simply omit the balsamic and double the wine vinegar. I've tried it both ways, and each is delicious with its own unique characteristics.
 
earlier today,  the beautiful mrs. tas bought a small bag of briquettes, to get the SnP up to temperature, and also a bag of royal oak hardwood lump, for the actual cooking of the pork. i guess she is learning a thing or two about this! she also brought home two very nice half-butts, about 8 lbs. tota, intending for me to do pulled pork barbecue. since this was the middle of the day, and i knew they would never cook in time for pulled pork, i decided to take them back up to the store really quick and ask the butcher to cut them into CSRs, which he was only too happy to do. i then had a rare flash of inspiration - to try this lacado method with CSRs rather than baby backs - so i picked up some honey, thinking i had everything else at home.
 
when i got home, i realized i had almost everything (salt, pepper, and balsamic (white) but i was missing the wine vinegar. since funds are very short now, i decided to choose between the rice vinegar we had, or the apple-cider vinegar that was stored downstairs. i went with the apple cider vinegar, and i think it will be a good substitution.
 
made the marinade, adding a little more salt and pepper, since we are talking about 8 lbs of CSRs - they will only get to marinate for about two hours, rather than 6 or 8, but i am thinking that the longer cooking time vs. babybacks will help in some way to make up for that short marination.
 
the only other detail is that we're using hardwood hickory chunks for some light, sweet smoke!
 
while the charcoal briquettes heated up, we went over the SnP and all parts (manifolds, racks etc. with a stiff wire brush and got it fairly-well cleaned up from last year - almost as good as new - except i will need to re-season it with some canola oil or some lard during cooking.
 
i'll be using the reserved marinade to lacquer the CSRs -
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 13:23
i think we'll be ready to put the meat on at 1330. something happened to my probe thermometer over the winter that i use to keep track of cooking temperatures, so i will be guesstimating where temperatures are concerned, using the often-ridiculed "warm-ideal-hot" indicator. right now it is between the E and the A of "ideal," and as i recall, that's pretty close to where it was at 235-250 degrees or so last year. not perfect, but hopefully close enough.
 
while this thing was warming up good, i used the wire brush to brush off all the lightly-accumulated rust that was on the fire box, and then coated it with three or four scrubbings of canola oil, which is a highly-heat resistant oil, letting it cook into the exposed metal between wipings. then, on a hunch, i also gave it three our four wipings with some really cheap, sugary soda pop in order to let the sugar bake in and carmelize, hopefully strengthining the seasoning. i'll do this periodically throughout the year, since i usually prefer not to spray on new paint. i have found through experience that no paint available to me is as heat-resistant as it seems to need to be - also, as the painted metal expands and contracts - heating up and cooling down - the paint stretches and eventually flakes off. to me, some good, deep seasoning just makes more sense, the same as a cast-iron pan.
 
in the meantime, i've been periodically stirring the CSRs around in the marinade, coating whem well and getting as much flavour into them as possible - i think we're ready to go! the carne de cerdo goes on in a few mintues - we'll see what happens.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 13:56
alright, let's get some que-view going....
 
here's the castilian simplicity of the marinade and basting glaze:
 
 
i would have preferred red wine vinegar, as specified in john's recipe; however, i do know that spain has a very good trade in sidra de manzana, and it stands to reason that apple cider vinegar would also be widely available there for cooking etc.
 
here are some shots of the marinated CSRs going on the grates:
 
 
i know we're just getting started, but they look really good, have a nice colour and smell wonderful already with the sweetness of the honey and balsamic, along with the bite of the vinegar. i think we're in for some good stuff. we've also, as you can see, got some jumbo hot dogs going on for lunch.
 
here's another shot:
 
 
and a closer view -
 
 
the pictures aren't going to be the best today, as i am going to need to re-train my photographic eye for outdoor shooting, but it's a start!
 
it doesn't seem like there's much marinade left, but brush it on as a basting glaze every half hour or so after the first couple hours of cooking, if necessary, i'll make another batch and maybe also serve it on the side when the CSRs are finished, if anyone wants it for that ~ we'll see.
 
more later.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 15:06
here we are after about an hour and a half on the grate:
 
 
the colour is really starting to look good, and the CSRs are starting to take on an aroma and character as only pork over fire can do:
 
 
immediately after taking these pictures, i brushed some of the marinade on the topside, then flipped them over and brushed the side that was formerly on the bottom. keeping in mind that CSRs tend to not be internally-marbled with fat as much as true ribs, i added a little bit of olive oil to the marinade before brusing it on, to help with the basting/mopping effect and keep the meat moist and juicy. this works well with pork shoulder and other large cuts of meat, including other CSRs i have done, so i am sure it will be an advantageous adaption here.
 
looking better with each passing hour ~ can't wait for the end!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 15:44

i planned on removing the hot dogs at 1530 - this was a little early for the usual basting/adding charcoal and wood chunks, but no big deal. here's what i saw when i opened up:

 
things are really looking good! i added fuel and wood chunks, re-arranged and basted the CSRs on all sides:
 
 
i'll leave the smoker alone for a while now, except to add charcoal or hickory as necessary ~ while these wonderful chunks of lacquered goodness slowly cook and become barbecue....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 16:32
temperatures seem to be right about where they are supposed to be, but it would be interesting to know where we truly are running with this smoke ~ either way, here's what we got after a total of three hours over the heat:
 
 
as near as i can figure, things are right on schedule ~ a couple more hours or so to go, and we will be ready -
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 16:56
i have been finding out, there is definitely plenty of marinade for lacquering the CSRs, and things are going very well ~ i don't think another small batch will be necessary, nor will any served on the side. the smell is great, highlighted by the sweet hickory, and they are really looking good ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2011 at 17:13
a little end of one the ribs was all crispy and carmelised, and looked about ready to come off - what else could i do but grab it and use it as a "quality control" test piece? judging by how it tasted, we're really heading toward some good barbecue here.
 
fairly warm, sunny day - cold beer, some good music, wonderful pig over a smoking fire - all that's missing is a fishing pole and a lake - otherwise, i would be pretty close to heaven.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2011 at 12:37
the beautiful depth of colour for these ribs comes from the honey in the "lacquer," but i think on this long cook, it went a little too far. my earlier pictures show just the colours we've been talking about, but as the smoke went on, they darkened a little too much.
 
in any case, these came out really, really good! i wouldn't trade the flavours for anything...they were finsihed right in time with running out the charcoal that was left in the basket, but a little while before our pasta salad was ready, so i wrapped them in foil and held them in the oven on warm ~ when i unwrapped them they still retained their shiny, laquered goodness:
 
 
we served them with a pasta salad that we whipped up, featuring some fresh-cut asparagus that had been parboiled for a few mintutes, then plunged into cold water to retain it's beautiful colour and fresh crisp deliciousness:
 
 
because of the very long cooking time, the sugars in the honey darkened considerably, but this had nothing whatsoever to do with how it tasted. the flavour was amazingly good and the CSRS were tender, juicy and very succulent.
 
my conclusions are that if you are cooking larger-cut meats or meats requiring longer cooking times, such as the CSRs that i did, and want them to turn out wonderful-looking as john's baby-backs, the exact same ingredients and flavours can be used, but i would recommend:
 
a) keeping the honey out of the marinade itself
 
b) doubling the marinade ingredients (minus the honey) and marinate longer than i did (possibly over-night) in order to allow the flavours and seasonings to penetrate farther into the meat
 
c) painting on the honey only during the last hour or two of cooking time. this will allow the sugars to carmelise, but not carbonise.
 
the suggestions above are for appearance considerations only, as the flavours themselves are exactly as advertised - simple, excellent, and definitely worth using again. if anyone else has any ideas, please share them here.
 
i hope that this experience is helpful to anyone reading, and that they decide to give this a try. whether with ribs, CSRs or pork shoulder, you are looking at some excellent pork using this method.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 02:56
Tas. Thank you for the phenomenal history. A roast suckling piglet can convert a Vegetarian as could Jabugo pata negra Ham.       
 
We have always prepared the authentically traditional Segovia way with porc lard, manteca de cerdo and we prepare with Carlos V 25 yr old Brandy ...
 
However; at some future point we like a lacquered idea ...                               
 
 
Thanks again. We have never seen this in Las Castillas however. Another never; it is always slow low oven ...   perhaps this is done in Canary Islands ... Have never seen this anywhere here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 08:16
Hi, Margi -
 
I always cook barbecued pork in a slow oven as well, for best results. I rarely go above 250 degrees (121C) and my average cooking temperature is 242 degrees (117 C).
 
In the photos above, the darkened, "burned" look was due to the long exposure to the heat, even though it was farily low. In the case of that particular cut of meat, I shouldn't have cooked them as long, or should have started "painting" the "lacquer" on later in the cooking.
 
As for the region where this is most popular, I'd always assumed it was in the Castillian provice, because it's in that section of both the books that I have on Spain. But perhaps they are in error? In any case, it sure is good!
 
The ingredients are very simple, rustic and harmonious - honey, salt, pepper, balsamic and vinegar ~ wonderful combination!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 09:26
Tas,
 
I am always curious ... and like to know the origin of everything ...
 
Now, Balsamic Vinegar is not Spanish ... It is D.O. Modena, Emilia Romagna, Italy and Apple or Sidra Vinegar is Asturian.
 
So, both ? or one or the other ?
 
This could be a modern fusion / restaurant dish verses a traditional perhaps ---  I shall browse about my books and Spanish webs ...
 
Sounds quite tasty, I imagine ... Sweet and Sour ...
 
This may be an Asian influx ...
 
 
Kindest.
Margaux.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 09:35
I think that the recipe in Culinaria Spain uses red wine vinegar; when I made it, all I had was white balsamic and apple cider vinegar, so that's what I used.

I'll see if I can find out some more about it - will consult Culinaria Spain and possible my FotW volume on Spain....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 09:42
Tas,
 
The origins of Lacquering evidently is originally from Peking, China ... The French lacquer their ducklings.
  
Each country has re-adapted the recipe to their native products and tastes ...
 
It is a modernist recipe ... predominately served in restaurants.
 
Spain is a producer of: cider vinegar ( Asturias ), Cava vinegar of Sant Sadurni d´Anoia, Barcelona, Sherry vinegar Jerez de la Frontera, white wine and red wine vinegar of La Rioja.
 
Sounds very interesting ... On future list ...
 
I love the Rustic, Mountain Honey ( not at all sweet ) with herb eucalyptus ... and lavendar and rosemary ... From designation of origin: Alcarria, Guadalajara, Spain, Castilla La Mancha ...
 
 
 
Kind regards,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 10:22
Well, I'm through talking about it....lol -- I'm planning on preparing costillar de cerdo lacado over a wood/charcoal fire this weekend with some apple or hickory smoke, and will take photos! The weather is predicted to be grey and wet, so I might end up doing this indoors, but I hope not.
 
 For this weekend, I will simply use local honey, but for next time, I got to thinking about the mountain honey or acacia honey mentioned in the recipe. Then again, as far as the final flavour profile goes, does it really even matter too much?
 
See this discussion here, for more information on Spanish honey:
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 April 2013 at 11:51
TAS,
 
I love the rack of ribs idea for the Lacquering ... much more than I do, a piglet ...
 
This would be my our choice ... simply, we do not like a traditionally ancient product turned fusion.
 
We love costillar de cerdo ( rack of pork ribs ) ... and your recipe would be perfect for the oven !
 
Look forward to the pictorial and seasoning profile ...
 
 
Thanks, Margaux.
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Originally posted by Margi Margi wrote:

I love the rack of ribs idea for the Lacquering ... much more than I do, a piglet ...
 
This would be my our choice ... simply, we do not like a traditionally ancient product turned fusion.
 
I understand how you feel and agree ~ in general, I like to keep old stuff old and new stuff new; urban stuff urban and country stuff country ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 April 2013 at 01:33
Tas,
 
Traditional dishes: I love them the way they have been preparing since time memorial.
 
Modern:  when I have the time, they are fun ... and one can experiment ...
 
Vanguard:  restaurant reviewing !  alot of delight ... however, complicated for home meals ...
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 April 2013 at 11:00
I did some reading over the weekend, and am posting this as a follow-up to the discussion above:
 
a) Margi, you were correct! The balsamic is not an Iberian component to this dish ~ it looks like when John made his, he added it as a twist to the original recipe, which uses only wine vinegar and not balsamic. It tasted great, though, so definitely no complaints; hwoever, if someone wants to keep it more true to the original, simply omit the balsamic and double the wine vinegar, which is a Spanish ingredient as noted above.
 
b) While this recipe was found in the Castilian section of the book, Culinaria Spain, there was no mention of it in the writings and commentary. So, while I do believe that this recipe is an authentic Spanish recipe, since I've seen many references to it from Spanish sources, I am not sure of the origins of the method or how long it has been used; considering how simple and delciious it is, my instinct is that it is indeed an old method for pork ribs that has been revived in more modern times, but to be honest, I do not know.
 
c) This stuff is simply delicious! I made it again this weekend with two racks of baby-back ribs and a mess of country-style ribs, and will post a full pictorial that will be cross-linked with this thread. I will never get tired of the wonderful flavour profile ~ it is definitely worth a try, and is so simple to do. I do recommend slightly more salt and pepper - maybe dusting the ribs with some either before marinating or before cooking - other than that, this recipe is golden!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2013 at 10:31
For an full, updated pictorial on this concept, using baby back ribs, take a look here:
 
 
Enjoy some beautiful photos, and hopefully be inspired to give this "lacquered pork" a try!
 
 
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