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Yes, this is for real, everyone.  Why not just grab a bottle and squeeze/pour?  Well, this is a quick and easy recipe with a reduced amount of sugar and no emulsifying gums like the commercial versions.

Keep reading and you’ll see why I did this.

You know, it’s funny how when I get in ‘cooking bender’ weekend moods like this I tend to go with a meat dish.  And for the second episode in a row here, it’s pork.  When I say ‘cooking bender’ I mean I go all out and try a recipe I’ve never done before and enjoy the leftovers. (Thank you, Tupperware, and my freezer).  I really do enjoy cooking and I think I’m pretty good at it, but admittedly when I’m not entertaining and it’s just me on a weeknight after work I fall in a pasta, garlic and pesto or other sauce habit with maybe some shrimp mixed in occasionally.  Perhaps I had a subconscious meat craving going on.

So, this ketchup from scratch is part of a BBQ pork recipe.  It’s a pseudo kind of BBQ…I’m no expert or snob in BBQ sauces but from what I read in this recipe it has a vinegar-y flavor which is North Carolina style – ?  OK, OK.  The flavors are wonderful and I was surprised how this sauce (and the ketchup) all came together pretty quickly.

I got introduced to The Primal Blueprint, a book by Mark Sisson, earlier this year. The theory is that our ancestors, back in our hunter/gatherer years prior to the onset of agriculture, were leaner, stronger and healthier than we are today.  Blame it on whole grains, dairy, sugar, breads, rice, pasta, gluten and even beans.  And, blame it on our sedentary lifestyles too I guess. This way of eating flies in the face of the ‘food pyramid’ that shows grains and breads as the recommended foundation of our modern diets.  Mark’s book flips all of that on its head.  The primal diet is full of meats, seafoods, fowl, fruits and vegetables and is intended as a lifestyle, NOT a quick fix diet.  When I first saw the book’s title I had a visual of some caveman eating raw meat right off the bone, like in the first part of the movie 2001:  A Space Odyssey, when the apes discover they now can use a bone as a weapon to kill for meat.  Didn’t sound very appetizing.

But it’s not that way at all obviously.  Stay with me on this ramble, everyone.  Here’s the recipe.  Man, I haven’t even had coffee yet today. 

Yes, there is a Primal Blueprint Cookbook and I highly recommend picking it up.  Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier co-authored.

Primal Ketchup – makes about 1 1/2 Cups
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2/3 C cider vinegar
1/3 C water
3 T raw honey or pure maple syrup
3 T onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground Allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or in a bowl with a handheld blender until smooth.  Add a small amount of water if too thick.  Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

That’s it!  Takes just 15 minutes, including prep time.  I fudged a bit and used red wine vinegar.  I’d thrown out the cider vinegar in my pantry because it was about a year past the expiration date – yikes – and when I made a trip to the grocery store I forgot to grab a fresh bottle.  And I used ‘regular’ honey, not raw.  I hardly ever use honey and I didn’t feel like buying another bottle because the one I already had was still pretty full. 

I also didn’t completely mince the onion – I took about 1/3 of a white onion and diced it fairly small.  And I love using minced garlic in a jar – 1/2 tsp is about equivalent to one clove and you won’t notice the difference at all.  My garlic mincer stays pretty dormant in the gadget drawer these days.

Ahhh, my handheld stick blender.  My folks gave me one for Christmas over 15 years ago and it’s an amazing tool.  Great for pureeing peeled tomatoes right in the can to start off your homemade pasta sauces.  And it worked wonderfully in a small glass bowl to make this ketchup.

Now, onto the BBQ pork…Grandma’s Easy BBQ Pork
Serves 8 or more
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

1 T olive oil or high quality lard
8 pork chops or about 4 pounds of pork shoulder roast.  Use bone-in instead of boneless for the richest tasting sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 C of the primal ketchup
1 C water
1/3 C vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf

Brown meat on all sides in fat/oil over medium to medium-high heat in a flame-proof casserole or Dutch oven.  While the meat is browning, combine remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. 

When the meat has browned, remove from heat and pour mixture over the meat.

Cover with lid or foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours for chops and about 2 1/2 hours for roast.  Check halfway through the baking time and add a small amount of water if necessary.

Remove bay leaf and transfer the chops or roast onto a warm platter and pour sauce in a gravy boat or pitcher.  Spoon or pour some sauce over the meat to moisten.

See how easy that was?  It’s absolutely delicious.  Now, to make it truly Primal, serve with mashed cauliflower, turnips or parsnips rather than potatoes or rice.  Shredded cabbage would work well here too.

I used a 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast and the 2 1/2 hour cooking time was perfect.  I also used plain white vinegar and grey sea salt.

When I first lived on my own and realized I needed to get more confident with my cooking, I purchased a few cookbooks and started reading.  And I read in one that you must read the recipe all the way through before you start.  A recipe is not a mystery novel with a surprise ending.  And this is SO TRUE!  You don’t want to get stuck with your pants down with a recipe intended for dinner that evening and then ‘suddenly’ realize you need to marinate something overnight.  Ugh.

So as I read through the BBQ pork recipe, two words jumped out at me: Dutch oven. I have a lot of great cookware but scratched my head…how in the hell do I not have a Dutch oven?  I have some large sauce pans and some large 6 and 8 quart stockpots for pasta or making soup…what would work here?  Aha.

I went upstairs and found my rarely-used, save-the-day 8 1/2 quart pot.  It’s Calphalon and the old school style, so the handles do not stay cool on the stove…and it’s the original hard anodized style (NOT nonstick).  I found it on amazon.com years ago on a total whim – something like $180 marked down to $15.  And while it’s pretty bulky – it’s wider than it is tall and I have to store it somewhere else than my kitchen – it’s well worth it.

This pot was just deep enough to hold the roast.  Now, browning the roast before baking it was a little tricky, especially since I had to use potholders to hold this large, heavy pot.  I heated up the pan on the stove and swirled olive oil 3 times around it once it was hot.  And I found two meat serving forks and grabbed one in each potholder’d hand, stabbed the roast on each side, and gently lowered it into the hot pan.  I’m glad I had the potholders on because the hot oil did spatter a bit.  

After about 3 or 4 minutes I put the potholders back on again, grabbed the meat forks and gently rotated the roast.  Once I got the hang of it it was a pretty easy process.

The pork can sit covered once it’s out of the oven – I used a large trivet and let it sit on my kitchen counter for a half hour before digging in.  The meat won’t overcook – rather, it will become even more tender.

Buon appetito!