Sunday Supper: Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Shoulder With Stovetop Rhubarb Ketchup

Sunday Supper

Cooking projects for people who'd like nothing more than to spend a sunday afternoon surrounded by the wonderful aromas of the kitchen.

Editor's note: Each Saturday afternoon we bring you a Sunday Supper recipe. Why on Saturday? So you have time to shop and prepare for tomorrow.


This barbecue-spice-rubbed pork shoulder is just the ticket for your next backyard bash, especially when served with bold rhubarb ketchup. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

Pork shoulder is beloved for good reason: it's cheap, forgiving, and it can feed an army. Those reasons alone make it a winner of a cut in my book. Adding to the allure, shoulder in particular is a great vehicle for flavors, transitioning easily from banana leaf-wrapped, achiote-slathered versions, to an Italian-style treatment with salsa verde. Then again, it's barbecue spice-ready, too, as you'll see here. And when that version is paired with a homemade, garden-fresh condiment, it comes mighty close to being my personal version of heaven on earth.

There's very little fussing to be done with this meat. You just slather it with olive oil and apply the spice rub with an even, generous hand, massaging it into the meat. Then, it roasts for up to five hours or until it's succulent inside, with a crispy-browned crust.

Should you decide to fire up the smoker, this recipe certainly is well-suited for it. Soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes, and plan on cooking it at a steady 225°F for five-to-seven hours. If you go this route, though, you'll lose out on the tasty, beer-based pan sauce, which finishes the dish with moisture, flavor, and rustic flourish. I like to serve the meat torn into chunks and drizzled with the sauce. You can also pass around some additional spice rub to season it table-side; there will be leftover seasoning, for sure.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the easy, zingy rhubarb ketchup. Inspiration came from a home-grown gift from a colleague and friend, and it has me seriously considering whether I'll ever buy commercially prepared ketchup again. This fresh take on the time-honored condiment is made on the stovetop with fairly traditional ingredients, and it blows away anything you'll find on the shelf—guaranteed. Since the smoky rub lends backyard-in-summertime appeal, it's a great companion to classic sides—I like to serve it with coleslaw, roasted (or grilled) veggies, and potato salad.