The Key to Preparing the Best Barbecue

I love to eat almost as much as I love to cook. I guess the two are byproducts of shopping for groceries at an early age.

When my mother had a back operation, I was recruited at age 12 to buy groceries from a store or two not far from our Chicago apartment. Those were the good old days in the late 1940s when lettuce was a nickel and ground round steak cost less per pound than a fast food burger does today.

And I’ve been splitting the cooking chores during more than 40 years of marriage while living in South Florida and Greater San Antonio.

Over the years, whether I lived in northern Miami-Dade County or western Broward County, no dish drew more praise than Top-of-the-Stove Barbecue.

Every time I’m asked to prepare it, I think of what Jimmy Cagney shouts in that old movie “White Heat” just before the oil refinery explodes: “Top of the world, ma.”

“Top of the stove, Anita,” I replied when the wife asked one afternoon in Miami how we could fix barbecue without gas in the outdoor grill. Ah, I was ready with an answer that proved too much of a good thing.

During a single month, when guests, friends or relatives dropped in, I prepared the barbecue on the electric stove four consecutive weekends.

“Make that barbecue for our guests” from Miami Beach, Anita instructed the first weekend.

“No problem,” I said.

“Make that for my luncheon” for girlfriends from Miami Beach, she said the next weekend.

I did.

By the third weekend, I was barbecued out. But when one of my wife’s sisters, her son and a granddaughter flew in from Houston, I got the fateful order again.

I filled it, but reduced the brown sugar because these Texans don’t like barbecue on the sweet side.

The fourth weekend my stepson and his family who live in west Broward County dropped in and said the magic words, “I hear you made some great barbecue.”

I did again, but added more water because they like it soupy.

My wife loves the recipe for two reasons: I don’t dirty the oven or the grill — and she only cleans one pot.

I especially like indoor barbecue because you can enjoy the tasty pork year-round no matter where you live, even in the South Texas where it gets pretty cool in the winter for me.

On the fifth weekend in South Florida, Anita and I dined out. We didn’t order barbecue.

I’ve prepared this several times for guests, single and married, from San Antonio. Make it again, I’m urged.

I do.

Top-of-the-Stove Barbecue

3 1/2-to-4-pound pork blade Boston butt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili power
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt

Trim excess fat from pork, cut meat into small chunks and remove any bones. In Dutch oven or large pot, lightly brown pork in hot oil and drain most of grease. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to boil on medium high heat, reduce heat to next lowest setting, cover and cook 2 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally first hour or so, more often during latter half of preparation. Whisk meat until shredded. Serve on Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns. Makes eight sandwiches.

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