Mary Randolph’s ‘Barbecue’ Shote

by Sam Bilton on October 25, 2019 No comments

Before the barbecue aficionados come thumping on my door armed with their forks and tongs, I would like to point out that the ‘barbecue’ in the title refers to the sauce rather than the method of cooking. This will probably come as a relief to those of you who feel cooking outside should only be attempted in the summer and certainly not when it’s raining leaves.

This recipe is from The Virginia House-Wife; Or, Methodical Cook (1824) by Mary Randolph. It has been dubbed one of the most influential household manuals of the 19th century (her motto was “Method is the Soul of Management”). Her father was brought up by Thomas Jefferson’s family and her brother later married Jefferson’s daughter, Martha. However, the political views of Mary and her husband David differed from those of Jefferson and would lead to the couple becoming estranged from her family and eventually to impoverishment. It is believed she published The Virginia Housewife in a bid to supplement her own family’s finances. It contains some wonderful recipes such as Sweet Potato Buns which would go well with this dish (you can see her recipe here).

What exactly is a shote?

Mary explains what a shote is at the beginning of her recipe:

This is the name given in the southern states to a fat young hog, which, when the head and feet are taken off, and it is cut into four quarters, will weigh six pounds per quarter. Take a fore-quarter, make several incisions between the ribs, and stuff it with rich forcemeat; put it in a pan with a pint of water, two cloves of garlic, pepper, salt, two gills of red wine, and two of mushroom catsup, bake it, and thicken the gravy with batter and brown flour; it must be jointed, and the ribs cut across before it is cooked; or it cannot be carved well; lay it in the dish with the ribs uppermost; if it be not sufficiently brown, add a little burnt sugar to the gravy, garnish with balls.

Mushroom ketchup adds a delicious umami depth to this sauce which counteracts with sweetness (and yes it does need this much sugar). Many thanks to the lovely folks at Geo Watkins for sending me a bottle to make this recipe!

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 x 1.5-2kg Pork Shoulder (including bones)
  • 110ml mushroom ketchup
  • 110ml red wine
  • 225ml water
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & squashed
  • 1 x bouquet garni sachet
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2-4 tbsp water

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200℃. Place the oil and the pork shoulder in a deep roasting pan then roast for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the mushroom ketchup, red wine, water and sugar together. After 20 minutes remove the pork from the oven and reduce the temperature to 140℃. Add the liquid along with the garlic, bouquet garni and onion. Cover with foil then bake in 4 hours turning a few times to ensure the meat is basted in the sauce.
  3. Strain off the sauce and rest the meat for 30mins before shredding. You can either serve this immediately or refrigerate the meat and sauce in separate bowls or jugs (when cool) until the next day. If you do this you will easily be able to skim the excess fat off the top of the sauce.
  4. To thicken the sauce, bring the strained gravy to the boil. Mix 1 tbsp cornflour with 2 tbsp cold water. Add to the simmering sauce then stir until slightly thickened. If a thicker consistency is required add more cornflour mixed with water. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Serve the meat and the sauce separately so that everyone can add as much sauce as they please. This dish makes great sandwiches and these Polenta Chips make a great accompaniment along with a salad such as the one below (although a crisp green salad is pretty good too).

Chicory, Orange & Walnut Salad

The slightly bitter nature of chicory and acidity of the orange are a wonderful foil for the rich, sweet pork above. The olives are great too but can be omitted if they’re not your thing.

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 large oranges
  • 4 heads chicory, washed (red or white – I use red for preference)
  • 50g walnut halves, coarsely chopped
  • 60g black olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Method

  1. Mix the walnut oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Peel and segment the orange (you can see how to do this here). Cut each segment in half. Add to the dressing along with any orange juice.
  3. Cut the chicory heads into 1cm slices. Place in the bowl with the oranges. Add the walnut and olives (if using). Toss the salad to coat with dressing. Serve scattered with parsley.
Sam BiltonMary Randolph’s ‘Barbecue’ Shote

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