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105This is Allspice.  Contrary to what many people think, Allspice is not a blend of spices.  From a taste standpoint, you can see where this myth comes from.  It is said to taste like a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  But use it on its own; let allspice carry the day added to some ground lamb or rub it into a pork shoulder, then slow-roast the meat and serve with a BBQ sauce that has…yeah, you guessed it…allspice in it!   Allspice is the dried, unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, an evergreen tree in the myrtle family.  It grows well in the rain forests of Central and South America, but the bulk of allspice still comes from Jamaica.  You may substitute cloves for allspice, in a pinch—pun intended.

Columbus, having never actually seen a peppercorn, discovered allspice in his 1493 foray into the Caribbean and he brought it back to Spain with him.  It must have been a bit of shock when it was first tasted there, as the flavor is nothing like black pepper.  It became known as “pimenta”, which is the Spanish word for “pepper”.  Jamaicans usually refer to allspice as pimento and it is also called “English Spice”.

Allspice is available both whole and in ground form.  Whole, is a smooth berry slightly larger than a peppercorn, about the size of a pea.  In this form it’s used in pickling and mulling spice blends and spiced tea mixes.  Ground, allspice is usually a major component of Jamaican jerk seasoning and commonly added to soups, stews, and curries and in baked goods, like cakes, breads, cookies, and pies.  It is used in the mass production of ketchup, pickles, and sausages, too.

114Most commonly, we enjoy allspice in pumpkin pie, gingerbread, and other sweet nothings.  But all is not sweet in the world.  For savory use, it is wonderful rubbed into a pork roast, added to a beef stew, pot roast or meatloaf, added to legume-based soups or roasted root vegetables and winter squash.  It compliments fruits like apples, pears, peaches, plums, and tomatoes.

Allspice is many times in both dry rubs and BBQ sauces or other tomato-based sauces, like this one….

Spiced-Up Apple BBQ Sauce

  • Servings: Makes about 3 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 3 tablespoons bacon drippings or unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, put through a press
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Large pinch of cloves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

In a very heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet, over medium heat, melt the drippings.  Add the onions and garlic; lower the heat and sauté until the mixture softens and begins to caramelize.  Add the apples sauce and cider; continue to simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens and is reduced by about 1/2.   Add the remaining ingredients, except the spices.  Simmer, stirring frequently until thickened as desired, about 1 hour.  Stir in the spices and tomato paste; simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Excellent brushed on ribs, poured over a pork shoulder or mixed with pulled pork.

NOTE:  I usually mix the spices in a small bowl and add about 1/4 of the spices with the apple sauce, keeping the remainder to add at the end.  This keeps well in the fridge.  Make this in a single batch, because if you double the recipe it may burn before it reaches the desired consistency.

Spiced-Up Apple BBQ Sauce Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

This goes together quickly and easily.  I prefer to use unsweetened apples sauce, but if all you have is sweetened, use it and adjust the sugar.  Any thick, sweet sauce like this, has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch easily.  Therefore a heavy pan is essential.  033I really like to use a wide, flatter pan or skillet, as the mixture thickens more quickly because, it has a larger surface area.  Using a wooden spoon, and by the way, use wooden spoons.  They feel great in your hand and they really don’t absorb flavors.  DO NOT put them in the dishwasher or you won’t have them long.  Anyway, back to the sauce at hand…you’ll need to keep an eye on it.  Don’t go outside and chat with a neighbor or you’ll be tossing the sauce and starting again…it happens; trust me.  055When the sauce is almost where you want it, dark, thick and rich, add the remaining spice, simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes and you’re done.  Cool it and put it in the fridge and it’s ready for the pork, chicken or even roasted carrots.

Pour it on the pork shoulder that you’ve rubbed with this lovely combination….

Cocoa-Allspice Rub

  • Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons mulling spice, ground finely
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground allspice

Combine the ingredients until well mixed.  Use with pork, chicken, orange root vegetables or winter squash.  Also excellent with game.

Cocoa-Allspice Rub Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

Feel free to add cinnamon, pepper and salt.  I didn’t use salt, because I brined the pork and I don’t know how much salt it absorbed.  I add some roasted garlic paste to act as the glue to hold the rub on the meat.  Really get personal and rub the mixture into the meat.  Think whatever thoughts you need to while you’re performing this mindless task….

Roast it low and slow, at 275°F for about 5-7 hours on a bed of onions.  If you’re around the house, baste the meat with some of the sauce the last hour or two of cooking.  When the meat’s done, let it stand for 20 minutes, then pull it or slice it and serve with some of the sauce on the side and a cold beer….yeah, life is good!