Why yes, I have spent some time in the South, recently. Why do you ask?: Dr. Pepper Roast Pork

To what will probably be the extreme delight of at least one part of my family, I’ve found myself plagued of late by rumbling suspicions that I am living on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line. It started when the neverending agony of the Snowtorious B. I. G. actually succeeded in breaking my soul; matters escalated when I went to Texas in January. Things didn’t get really dire until a couple weeks ago, however, when I had the colossal good fortune to find myself in New Orleans, shaking a tailfeather in the Muses parade with some of the most amazing, pink, sparkly ladies anyone has ever been lucky enough to meet.

I very nearly decided not to come back.

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Now, whether that’s a result of my aforementioned broken soul and its inestimable greed for sunshine, or the actual delights of the region remains to be seen. But the fact remains: I had the pants Southern Charmed right off of me, enough to seriously consider whether I could hack it down there for a spell. Fortunately for my fellow Yankees (*ahem*), the north has a few charms of her own, so odds are that I will not be making any sudden moves. I will, however, be pulling out this recipe for Dr. Pepper pork the next time I start to feel the pangs.

When asked, many of the Southerners I know swear that the official beverage of the region is iced tea; for me, it’s always been Dr. Pepper. Perhaps it’s a Texas thing, I don’t know (it could just as easily be related to my vicious hatred of tea), but there’s something about an ice cold DP on a blisteringly hot day that always makes me think of hard sun and soft accents. What I DO know is that DP does something absolutely amazing to braised pork–as the whole business bubbles away in the oven, the insane sweetness of the soda seems to mellow into something rounder and more complex, and the resulting sauce becomes the sort of thing that actually inspires people to cross a room to learn the source of the intoxicating smell (oh yes). I personally prefer making it with a loin roast, but a shoulder works equally well–just remember to degrease the pan as best you can before reducing the sauce.

It may not be a trip to the magnolia-scented shores of points south (sorry, family!), but in a long dark winter, it’ll do in a pinch.

Doctor Pepper Pork Roast

1 2-3 lb pork loin roast

Brine:
2q cold water
1/2 c salt
1/2 c garlic powder

Rub:
1/3 c each: dry mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, paprika (ideally smoked)
2 tbsp salt

20 oz Dr. Pepper. Do not use diet. I mean it.
1-2 tsp worcestershire sauce

  1. Prepare the brine and submerge the pork in it. Place it in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least two hours and up to 24.
  2. Remove the pork from the brine and pat it dry; coat it liberally on all sides with dry rub, and then let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325.
  3. In a large, heavy skillet, heat a little oil over medium-high heat, and sear the roast on all sides until it is nice and brown, 3-4 minutes each side.
  4. Place the pork in a heavy, deep pot with a well-fitting lid (dutch ovens are great for this); add the Dr. Pepper, worcestershire sauce, and any remaining spice rub. Cover tightly and cook until the pork is about 145-155 at the thickest part, about an hour/hour-ten.
  5. When the pork is done, remove it from the pan and let it rest, covered loosely in foil, while you make the sauce–by which i mean, while you boil down the ridiculously awesome cooking liquid left in the dutch oven. I will usually let it reduce by about half, and perhaps thicken it with a bit of flour. Totally up to you.
  6. Prepare for mass plate-licking when serving.
In braising, pork

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