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Chinese Barbecued Roast Pork Shoulder

Why This Recipe Works

Chinese barbecued pork, also known as char siu, is a classic Cantonese dish that features succulent pork slathered in a sticky, sweet-salty glaze. Ultraflavorful bone-in pork butt is the traditional cut for this dish, so we followed suit for our homemade version, soaking the meat in a bold marinade of soy sauce, hoisin, Chinese rice wine, ginger, sesame oil, five-spice powder, and white pepper. The sugars in the marinade threatened to overbrown during roasting, so we covered the pork with foil and basted it twice with the drippings collected in the pan below. An hour or so uncovered allowed the pork to take on plenty of flavor-boosting color, and before pulling the roast from the oven we brushed it with a sticky, sweet glaze we prepared by cooking down some additional marinade mixed with extra sugar. While the pork rested, we combined the remaining glaze with the meaty pan drippings and rice vinegar to create a potent sauce for serving.

Serves 8 to 12

You can substitute dry sherry for Chinese rice wine. Let the meat rest for a full hour before serving or it will not be sufficiently tender. Pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. This recipe requires refrigerating the marinated pork for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours before cooking (a longer time is preferable).

1 (6- to 8-pound) bone-in pork butt roast
1¾ cups sugar
1 cup soy sauce
¾ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
¼ cup grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, plus extra as needed

1. Using sharp knife, cut slits 1 inch apart in crosshatch pattern in fat cap of roast, being careful not to cut into meat. Whisk 1 cup sugar, soy sauce, hoisin, rice wine, ginger, oil, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper together in bowl. Measure out and reserve 1½ cups marinade. Transfer pork butt to 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and pour in remaining marinade. Press out as much air as possible from bag and seal; refrigerate roast for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours, flipping pork butt halfway through marinating.

2. Whisk reserved marinade and remaining ¾ cup sugar together in medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and glaze has thickened and measures about 2 cups, about 2 minutes.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Set V-rack in large roasting pan and spray with vegetable oil spray. Remove pork butt from marinade, letting excess drip off, and place fat side up on prepared V-rack. Add 4 cups water to pan.

4. Cover pan with aluminum foil and roast for 4 hours, basting pork butt halfway through roasting. Uncover, baste pork butt, and continue to roast until extremely tender and pork near (but not touching) bone registers 190 degrees, 1 to 2 hours. (If pan begins to smoke and sizzle, add additional water.)

5. Brush pork butt with ⅓ cup glaze and roast for 20 minutes, brushing pork with glaze twice more during roasting. Transfer pork butt to carving board and let rest for 1 hour.

6. Transfer liquid in roasting pan to fat separator and let settle for 5 minutes. Combine remaining glaze, ¼ cup defatted liquid, scallions, and vinegar in serving bowl; discard remaining liquid. Season sauce with extra vinegar to taste. Using sharp paring knife, cut around inverted T-shaped bone until it can be pulled free from pork (use clean dish towel to grasp bone). Slice pieces of pork into ¼-inch-thick slices. Serve, passing sauce separately.


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