When barbecue sauce is grill-roasted on an oyster, it balances out its fleshiness the way cocktail sauce does. The pork belly is the third leg of the stool, flavorwise, and the pickled shallots add a sweet acidic tang. This makes a generous amount of barbecue sauce; use leftovers on any grilled food, burgers, you name it.

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The Ultimate Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 bacon slice
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-ounce slab of pork belly
  • 12 Hog Island oysters
  • ¼ cup Pickled Shallots


Make the Sauce

Wrap the bacon around the thyme and tie with kitchen twine. Heat a 2-count of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the thyme bundle and cook slowly for 3 or 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the onions and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for 5 minutes. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Discard the thyme bundle.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat your gas grill to high. In addition, set your oven to broil.

Cut the pork belly into 12 very thin small pieces, roughly 1 inch square. Remove the top shell from each oyster and spoon a heaping teaspoon of barbecue sauce onto each. Top with a pork belly square. Place the oysters on the grill, cover the grill, and cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Transfer the oysters to a rimmed baking sheet and slide under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to render the pork belly. Before serving, top with a few rounds of pickled shallot.