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Food styling by Victoria Walsh. (Andrew Grinton for The Globe and Mail)
Food styling by Victoria Walsh. (Andrew Grinton for The Globe and Mail)

Slow Pig Roast Add to ...

Don’t have a pit in your backyard? Skip the hassle of roasting a whole pig in favour of cooking a few different cuts, from shoulder to ribs. The only trick is staggering the slow-roasting on the barbecue or in the oven, as roasts take longer to cook than ribs. Get up early to get the process going or, better yet, prep the meats the night before so all you’re doing is cooking on the day of.

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  • Servings: 12


12 cups mix of cold water and ice

1 1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp peppercorns

Meat preparation

3 to 4 lb pork shoulder, butt or picnic roast,

preferably bone-in

4 lbs pork side ribs, about 2 racks

1 lb piece of pork belly

1/2 lb banana leaves or foil

1 very large foil pan, approximately 11-x15-inch

1 large foil pan, approximately 10-x10-inch


1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar

3 tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp mustard powder

2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 1/4 tsp Hawaiian sea or kosher salt


1/3 cup honey

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar


To prepare brine, place 6 cups of water, salt, sugar and peppercorns in a pot. Heat just until salt and sugar are dissolved. Fill a large measuring cup with ice to fill 6 cups. Add enough cold water to maintain the six cups of ice water in total. Let cool completely.

When cool, submerge pork roast in brine. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, stir rub ingredients (except salt) together in a small bowl. Remove about one third of rub to another small bowl and set aside. Using a small knife, carefully pull thin membrane from underside of ribs. If needed, use a paper towel to grip it. Score the skin or fat of the pork belly into a 1-inch grid. Place ribs and pork belly in a large banana-leaf-lined (see tip above) foil pan. Rub half of seasoning mixture (from one small bowl) over both sides of each rack of pork. Rub in 1 1/4 tsp (5 ml) Hawaiian sea salt. Turn meaty side up. Cover with more banana leaves, then seal with foil. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

When pork roast is done brining, preheat barbecue or oven to 300 F (150 C). Line baking dish with one layer of banana leaves. Cover with more banana leaves and wrap dish tightly in foil. Lightly rinse roast, then pat dry with paper towels. Rub with (unsalted) rub mixture that had been set aside. Roast in centre of preheated barbecue or oven for 3 hours.

Remove ribs from refrigerator. Roast ribs and belly in their banana-leaf-lined pan (alongside roast) until tender (2 to 3 hours). Continue roasting pork roast until roast is tender (about 3 more hours). For stability, slide foil pans onto baking sheets before carrying.

Just before serving, prepare glaze by stirring honey with vinegar in a small bowl. Set a little aside in another bowl. Increase or preheat barbecue to medium-high heat. Carefully remove warm roast, belly and ribs from their pans to grill. Set a piece of foil on grill and add pork belly. Brush roast, ribs and belly with glaze. Carefully cook, turning once or twice until glazed and golden (10 to 15 minutes). Be careful handling the pork belly as it can pop and sizzle on the grill. If needed, remove to upper rack (or, alternately, broil pork belly on a baking sheet in oven until crisp.) Remove roast, ribs and pork belly to their roasting pans with juices. Loosely cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove ribs to a carving board and slice into 2-rib pieces. If pork has a crisp skin, cut off and thinly slice. Serve pork roast in a banana-leaf-lined platter with forks for guests to shred the pork. Drizzle with some pan juices and reserved honey-vinegar mixture. Cut pork belly into cubes and add to platter. Serve alongside a butter leaf salad and papaya-and-pineapple kebabs.

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