stovetop chopped BBQ from a fresh ham

Our family loves barbeque. For our wedding, we had a whole hog BBQ feast and for New Years Eve this year, we smoked a whole pig as well. But for smaller gatherings pulled pork from a shoulder or ham is just perfect.

For a recent family gathering, we turned a fresh 7 pound ham into mouth-watering chopped pork BBQ by cooking it on the stovetop in a dutch oven and using the juices to make a rich delicious Mexican-inspired chili sauce. The main thing this recipe requires is a little bit of time.

Start with a fresh bone-in ham roast or shoulder roast. If using a ham, look for one with a nice fat cap. Make a dry rub with your favorite spices -- ours generally includes salt, sugar, fresh ground pepper, paprika, cumin, and cayenne powder. For a 7-pound roast, I make approximately 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of dry rub, and be generous with salt and sugar in your rub! Generously rub the outside of your roast with the dry rub -- use your hands and make sure you get it into all the little nooks and cranny's.

Heat a dutch oven large enough to accommodate your roast over medium high heat and add enough lard (what we use) or other high heat oil so that there is a thick layer on the bottom of your pot. Don't be shy with the oil -- you need enough to sear all sides of the roast in. Once the oil is hot, add your roast and sear on all sides til nicely browned -- approximately 3 mintues per side.

Once you've seared all sides, add a generous lashing of vermouth (we tend to use sweet, but will use dry if we're out of sweet, you can also use beer, tequila, or really anything). The vermouth should fill the bottom of the pot about 1/2 inch high. Turn down the heat, add water to about about 3/4 inch high. Put the lid on the dutch oven and turn down as far as you can to simmer. After about an hour, you should check the simmer and adjust the heat as necessary -- you want this to keep a slow, low braise/simmer -- and flip the roast over in the pan. Check back in another hour, depending on your roast size it will take between 1 and 4 hours to cook fully. You'll know it's done when the meat starts to pull away from the bone and the internal temperature reads 140-145 (it will continue to rise to 145 once you take it out of the pot).

Once the pork is cooked, take the roast out of the pan and let cool on a cutting board. At this point you can decide if you want to dress the pork in the cooking liquid alone or make a chili sauce. We love the chili sauce and it makes great pork tacos.

For the Chili Sauce:

a collection of dry peppers to suit your taste for example:

-2 ancho chilis

-2 mora chilis

-2 guajillo chilis

-1 onion, skin removed, cut into to quarters

-3 -5 cloves of garlic, whole, skin-on

- a chunk of stale bread or tortillas (or animal crackers, or whatever you have in the pantry)

-the cooking liquid from the pork

-oil (we use olive oil)

To make the Chili Sauce:

Rehydrate the chilis by heating them in a dry skillet over medium high heat, turning so that all sides get warmed pliable. Then add them to the pot with the hot cooking liquid from the pork, removing any stems that are still attached. The cooking liquid must be hot or the chilis will not rehydrate. Let the chilis sit the in the cooking liquid for atleast five minutes. Meanwhile, "dry fry" the onion and garlic in the skillet. You are blackening the onion and roasting the garlic -- so turn them so all sides have some heat exposure. Remove the onion and garlic from the skillet and turn the heat down to low. Add oil and the bread (or tortillas or animal crackers or whatever you are using). Fry the bread on both sides and then set the skillet to the side to let it cool. To make the sauce you put all the incredients in the food processor or blender and blend until smooth. I usually add the chilis and some of the cooking liquid first, then the onion and the garlic (don't forget to peel it!) and then the bread and the remaining cooking liquid. Taste for balance -- you may find it needs salt, some vinegar perhaps, or even a bit more spice. You can add more spice by adding in cumin, chili powders, paprika, or whatever you'd like.

After the sauce is made, the pork will be cool enough to handle. Now chop the pork, adding it back into your pot and mix it with your chili sauce. Gently reheat and serve!

We love this for pork tacos - served with warm corn tortillas, pickled red onions, fresh cilantro and sliced radishes. Additionally, this pork is great with a cumin-infused cabbage salad and fresh cornbread.