• This barbecue pork shoulder with black beans, chimichurri and pupusas recipe uses masa harina. Mexican restaurants have been known to sell masa harina to home cooks. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not research nixtamalising corn at home?


    The word “barbecue” is derived from the Spanish word, barbacoa. There are differences across the USA and Mexico. We’re doing the American version, but most taquerías and street food vendors use braised meat. We’ve chosen to rub the pork with spices and added a bit of ginger, since pork works so well with it, using the shoulder on the bone (a great cut for flavour); it’s called a pork picnic in the States, to pick at with your hands and throw in a tortilla with all the trimmings!

    Barbecue pork shoulder with black beans, chimichurri and pupusas

    Serves: 5
    Cooking Time: 3 hrs



    • 50g paprika
    • 3 tbsp ground ginger
    • 3 tbsp ground cumin
    • 4 tbsp dried oregano
    • 1 tbsp garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp onion powder
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
    • pork shoulder, shank attached

    • 500g fresh masa/masa harina (find at Santa Anna’s and speciality delis)
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 250g Manchego/mozzarella, grated/sliced

    • Makes 2kg (40 x 50g portions)
    • 250g coconut oil
    • 400g onions, chopped
    • 250g garlic, crushed
    • 50g tomato paste
    • 1kg whole peeled tomatoes
    • 75g sugar
    • 50g chipotle/smoked paprika
    • 100g ground cumin
    • 100g ground coriander
    • 4 tbsp dried oregano
    • 200ml white grape spirit vinegar
    • 2 tbsp salt
    • 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander + extra, to serve
    • 5 tsp lime juice
    • BEANS

    • 250g salsa roja (from above)
    • 2 x 400g tins red kidney beans
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    • 3 tbsp ground cumin
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
    • 4 tbsp fresh parsley
    • 3 tbsp fresh/2 tbsp dried oregano
    • 50ml olive oil
    • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
    • zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • TO SERVE

    • radish slices
    • red onion slices
    • avocado wedges
    • roasted vine tomatoes
    • chargrilled bell peppers
    • fresh chillies (optional)
    • sour cream (optional)



    For the barbecue pork, preheat the oven or smoker to 120˚C. Mix 50g paprika, the ground ginger, 3 tbsp ground cumin, 4 tbsp dried oregano, the garlic- and onion powder, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp salt and 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper together, and rub the open, meaty side of the pork with the spice mixture. Place the pork shoulder in the oven on an oven rack, skin-side down, and smoke or roast until the internal temperature reaches 90˚C, using a digital thermometer to check the temperature. Remove from oven and set aside to rest.


    For the pupusas, season the fresh masa/masa harina to taste and divide the dough into 5 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and shape it into a disc with a thickness of about 2cm to fit in your hand for receiving the filling. Stuff each disc with 50g cheese and fold into a half-moon over the cheese, taking care to seal the cheese in completely. Dry-roast in a hot frying pan over medium heat, until the outside is browned and the cheese oozes out.


    For the salsa roja, heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until slightly caramelised. Add the tomato paste and sauté over medium heat, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 75g sugar, 50g chipotle/smoked paprika, 100g ground cumin, the ground coriander, 4 tbsp dried oregano, the white grape spirit vinegar, 2 tbsp salt and 3 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, and simmer, 20 minutes. Blitz with a stick blender until chunky, then remove from heat. Stir through the fresh coriander and lime juice.


    For the beans, mix 250g of the salsa roja and the red kidney beans together, season to taste and cook over low heat, 45 minutes.


    For the chimichurri, blitz 3 tbsp ground cumin, the garlic clove, fresh parsley and the 3 tbsp fresh/2 tbsp dried oregano in a food processor, adding the olive oil, chilli flakes, lemon zest and juice near the end of blitzing. Season to taste.


    To serve, cut the pork into thick slices or chunks and serve alongside the pupusas, chimichurri, radish- and red onion slices, fresh coriander, avocado wedges, roasted vine tomatoes, chargrilled bell peppers, and fresh chillies and sour cream, if desired.


    When cutting braai meat, the texture should be super-moist and melt in your mouth, so we like to cut it into thick slices or chunks. We believe the integrity of the meat is better retained when you chop or cut pork instead of pulling it.

    ALSO SEE: Leek, pork banger and cannellini bean casserole

    Leek, pork banger and cannellini bean casserole

    Recipe and styling by Piet Marais
    Photograph by Bruce Tuck