Barbecue Pork Shoulder

Happy Independence Day! As we celebrate today and all weekend long, please reflect on what this country has meant to you and the direction in which we are heading. Who are we as a country, who do we want to be, how do we want to represent ourselves and what do we stand for? Look around you and see what is good and great and also see what needs to change. That is truly the blessing of being an American is to be a democratic society where we decide what can and will happen in our country. That is what the Founding Fathers intended, that is what they wrote in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Take note of the “All men are created equal”. It does not qualify what all men means. I believe they meant truly all are equal. So, Happy Birthday, America. Let’s pray for our country and what it Will become not what it is today, where All men are equal and that especially includes our black brothers and sisters. Even God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and if we’re treating those that are not alike us differently, then we are not treating our neighbors as ourselves.

The joy of being an American is that we are free to vote. Come November, there will be another election. Now is the time to register to vote and to have the ability to make a difference in your community. Change begins in the communities and as each community comes together, so can the country.

As my fourth installment diving into the origins of traditional American foods based in African techniques is Barbecue! Independence day is the perfect day to feature barbecue because this form of cooking as always been known to be on the menu during our American summer celebrations!

Barbecue is an American pastime that we enjoy during our summer holidays. Independence Day being the most prominent celebration where we dig our hands and teeth into saucy, smoked meat.

In the Old South, Plantation owners would throw large celebrations with none other than barbecue. Those behind the smoke and fire were their enslaved who took their homeland traditions alongside techniques learned from the Native Americans to create the deliciousness we enjoy today.

During the slave trade Africans were brought to the Caribbean and to North America. The enslaved interacted with the native people. In Haiti the Taino people merged with the Africans.  (in the Taino In Jamaica where Africans who resisted slavery merged with the natives avoiding slavery thus creating the cooking method, jerking. Jerking is a low and slow form of cooking over an open flame with plenty of spices. And in Peru, antichuchos was created, which is essentially a kebab over an open flame.

In 1526 the Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Allyon, an explorer, died. He and some men had settled in South Carolina and at his death, the men left the area and abandoned the slaves they had brought with them. The now free men, collaborated with the Native Americans. Both the Native Americans and the Africans had similar cooking and preparation/preservation techniques such as salting, spicing and smoking.

Spaniards also brought pigs over to the Americas. When they abandoned South Carolina, they also abandoned pigs, which over time became feral and they inhabited the woodlands. These pigs were hunted by the Native Americans and now the Africans in the Americas. From these pigs came what we know today as barbecue. They utlitized the entirety of the pig, slow roasting certain cuts, pickling feet for example or deep frying other parts of the animal. This was common to do among both Africans and Native Americans.

Barbecue has such a rich history and there are different forms seen all over the world, however, it’s mainly seen in the Americas and African countries were slow roasting over an open flame is a technique used for centuries. This technique is also seen in the Caribbean, Brazil, Peru, and several other countries where the Portuguese and Spaniards brought slaves who interacted with the Native Americans of the time.

There is also controversy over the where the word “Barbecue” comes from. Some White Americans believe that is came from “Bar-Beer-Cue” meaning come to the bar for beer and pool. I heard this a few times when I was in college and living in Texas and that never sat well with me knowing that being from Alabama the best pit masters were Black Men such as the coveted barbecue joints in Tuscaloosa, Dreamland and Archibald’s.

In the Taino language, “barbecue” literally means “sacred pit fire”. “Babback” is a Hausa word for grilling, toasting, singeing feathers and cooking over a flame for long periods of time. “Barbacoa” is a West and Central African name for spit roasting over a fire. As you can see the words were all similar and all had similar meaning.

This Independence Day, please enjoy some Barbecue and reflect on its origins and how you’re able to enjoy this amazing cuisine!



Barbecue Pork Shoulder

Make 6 servings


4 pounds pork shoulder/Boston Butt


1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ancho chili pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground allspice



½ cup molasses

½ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup whole grain mustard

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar



Preheat grill to 450°.

In a small bowl stir together salt, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, smoked paprika, ancho, black pepper, oregano, cayenne and allspice until combined. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture and set aside. Rub remaining mixture over the pork should. Place meat on grill, turning about every 8 minutes until lightly charred on the outside. Reduce heat to 300°, place meat over the lowest flames, close lid of the grill and cook for 3-4 hours until meat is tender and easily shreds.

**If you have gas grill that cannot withstand long cooking times.

Preheat oven to 325°. After charring the outside of the meat on the grill, remove from grill onto a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake for 2-3 hours until falling apart.

While pork cooks, whisk together reserved 1 tablespoons spice mixture, molasses, mustard, ketchup, whole grain mustard and vinegar until combined.

Shred meat and serve with sauce and on a bun if desired.


*note, time changes depending upon the size of the meat, increase cooking time about 30 minutes per pound of meat

The Connection Between African Americans And History Of Barbeque