Memphis Barbecue Spaghetti 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Smoke Signals Jun 25, 2014

At its most basic, barbecue spaghetti is what you would think: barbecue sauce with pulled pork atop some pasta. The trick is finding a balance between the barbecue and the Italian aspects.

Sure, it’s fine to add pork to store-bought sauce and pour it on noodles. But for something closer to the original vision, this recipe makes a slow-cooked, velvety spaghetti sauce with barbecue seasonings. The result is neither Italian nor Southern, but a hybrid.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Where to Buy: Pulled pork is available at barbecue joints, at some deli counters and butcher shops.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounces canned, no-salt-added tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1 pound chopped or pulled pork, preferably smoked (see headnote)


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and bell pepper, stirring to coat. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it releases its aroma, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in the powdered mustard, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato puree and brown sugar.

Pour in the water, stirring to form a sauce. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for about 2 hours, stirring regularly to keep the sauce from scorching. The consistency should be a bit thin -- more like barbecue sauce than a thick spaghetti sauce.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, stir the pulled pork into the sauce to warm through.

Drain the cooked pasta; divide among individual bowls or plates. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over each portion. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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