Wrestlemania Pulled Pork

March 30th, 2010


Dry Rub*:

  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Kosher Salt
  • Superfine Sugar
  • Cumin
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder


  • Homemade BBQ sauce (see below)
  • White Vinegar
  • Hot Sauce
  • Rub
  • Pickapeppa Sauce

BBQ Sauce*:

  • Ketchup
  • Horseradish
  • Chicken Broth
  • White Vinegar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Dry Mustard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Shallots
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pork Rub
  • Pickapeppa Sauce
  • Black Pepper
  • 4 canned chipotle peppers

* – I pretty much used these recipes verbatim from Backyard BBQ – The Art of Smokology.  As it would likely be a copyright violation to repeat the recipe verbatim, I will only list the ingredients.

This past Sunday, World Wrestling Entertainment presented Wrestlemania XXVI.  I have been a wrestling fan since I was a kid, but the past few years, my interested has kind of waned.  I do tend to enjoy Wrestlemania every year, so I invited a lot of my good friends who also like the occasional pro wrestling (including Will and MikeGrim from Blue and Orange) and had ourselves a fun little Wrestlemania get together.

Since I was hosting, I decided to put together a delicious little something for the event.  I have not cooked for friends before, but as an amateur BBQ cook, I wanted the chance to show off what I’ve learned in the first few months since I’ve had the smoker and make a nice BBQ meal.  The pulled pork I made on New Year’s Day was by far, the best smoke job I’ve done since purchasing the smoker, so I decided that was going to be the barbecue I made to impress my friends.

As you can read above, I went top to bottom on this one; I made my own BBQ sauce, rub, and mop.  The Backyard BBQ book gives nice, detailed instructions on how to put together a delicious pulled pork, so I chose not to deviate from that recipe this time, as I wanted to make sure I delivered them something good and not improvised on the first go-around.  The recipe called for me to rub the shoulder, add brown sugar to the top, cook the shoulder to 165, wrap it in foil and cook for another few hours, and then pull, apply finishing flavors, and smoke for another hour.  The only change I made was to the BBQ sauce, as I made two small bottles, one with chipotle peppers and one without, the way the original recipe was conceived.  I did not taste a huge difference between the sauces even with the chipotle, ,though.

The results were quite good.  All of my friends unanimously raved that the pork was delicious, with a few saying it was the best pulled pork they had ever had.  The proof was in the pudding here; there were only some scraps left from an entire five pound pork shoulder at the end of the night.  When I had made crock pot pork shoulder in the past, I usually wound up with about a week’s worth of leftovers for lunch, even as people talked of how delicious it was.  Not this time.

One thing that struck me about this shoulder was just how moist it was.  After I pulled the shoulder following the foil wrap, I used tongs to pull the bone from the shoulder, and that bone slipped out with no effort whatsoever.  The pork itself ripped right apart, when I put the fork into the meat to separate it, it glided through like the proverbial hot knife through butter.  When I had made crock pot pork in the past, even after 9-10 hours in the pot, I would find that it didn’t tear apart this easily.  I was really pleased with how perfectly cooked the meat was in the smoker.

I do want to give a shout out to Joe’s Meat Market in South Bound Brook, NJ for providing a quality pork shoulder for me.  Joe’s is a local Italian deli that some co-workers and I started frequenting when I started working my current job.  Joe makes sandwiches that are as thick as dictionaries, so when I moved to the area and started developing an interest in BBQ, I knew Joe would be a good friend to have.  The fresh pork shoulders I have picked up from his establishment deserve a large share of the praise my BBQ pork has received, as he always gives me good meat at a good price.  I spoke with Joe while I picked up this shoulder about some other BBQ projects, and he told me he could help me with ribs and briskets as well, so you can bet that a lot of the meats I’ll be barbecuing this summer will come from Joe’s.  I can’t say enough good things about this place, great sandwiches, great meats, great people working there.

I did make two rookie mistakes on this smoke.  The first was related to my mop.  I live in a house with several roommates.  When you live in a house with a few people, things tend to get moved around here and there.  Long story short, when I was working on my pork shoulder at 7 AM, I couldn’t find my mop.  I tore apart the kitchen, could not find it.  I was planning on waiting until after 3 hours to mop, so by 10 AM, I needed a mop or I was in trouble.

In need of a mop, I ran to the local K-Mart to see if they had one; no dice.  I drove 10 minutes to the local Home Depot and Lowes to find one; they couldn’t help me.  The lady at Home Depot in the Home and Garden department looked at me like I had two heads when I asked if they had BBQ mops.  Finally, I settled on buying a squirt bottle and squirting mop onto my meat, as they do on BBQ Pitmasters.  I come home, and by this point my roommates are starting to wake up.  I start preparing my mop, and in approximately 3.8 seconds, one of my roommates waltzes into the kitchen and finds my trusty BBQ mop.  That was not the way I hoped to start my morning.

The second story reflects a little more poorly of me.  My smoker runs on gas.  I have a gauge for my gas tank that tells me when I’m running out of gas.  Unfortunately, that gauge is only good when I’m checking it.  You can probably guess what happens.  When I’m outside at 11:30 about to check on my wood chips, I notice that my temperature is suddenly fading under 50 degrees.  I immediately take the tank off of the smoker, run to the nearest gas station, and swap out a new tank and run it back to the smoker.  I lost about 3 degrees on my meat, and the fiasco probably added an extra hour of cooking time to the shoulder that wasn’t necessary.  Moving forward, you can bet that I will do a better job checking my tank’s gas levels.

But overall, I can’t complain about the process.  I got what I wanted in the end, which was some delicious BBQ pork to share with my friends as we watched dudes pretend to fight in their underwear.  What more can you ask for?

Up next: If you can believe it, it’s another pulled pork!  My dad volunteered me to make a BBQ pork shoulder for his side of the family’s Easter dinner so I will be waking up next Sunday at 3 AM to diligently put together some pulled pork for my family.  Not sure I will write this one up unless anything remarkable happens, but I do have plans to make a brisket sometime in April, so keep a look out for that.  It will be my first attempt at a brisket and I am really excited about that.

Snow Ribs

February 10th, 2010


  • 1 rack, spare ribs

Dry Rub:

  • Borrowed from a friend


  • 13 ounces Apple Cidar vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder*
  • 2 teaspoons regular chili powder*
  • 2 teaspoons cumin*
  • 3 shots, Jack Daniels

* – estimates, I just dumped stuff into the pot without any regard for quantity, but I’m pretty close

My roommate’s boyfriend Joe sent me a text message yesterday, saying that with the snow about to hit that would likely wipe out work for the day today, that we should smoke something.  I don’t know what it was about the weather being at its absolute worst that brought out Joe’s desire to smoke something, but it seemed like as good an idea as any with nothing else to do in the bad weather, so I said sure, why not.  We had an extra set of ribs in the house, and my friend Gene had given me some of his rub when I saw him a few weeks ago, so we wouldn’t have to buy anything special for this smoke, and it would be easy to put together quickly, so last night we rubbed the ribs and put them on today, our first ribs on the smoker.

To be honest, I was more of a consultant on this smoke.  Joe took the lead on this one, it was his first attempt at smoking meat in there and he did a good job.  He kept a good eye on the temperature to make sure it wasn’t getting too hot or too cold.  He closely monitored the smoke situation to make sure the meat was getting good smoke.  For this smoke, we went back to wood chips, since we wanted to use something that would last throughout the entire project, and the pellets would only last us an hour at a time, and we only have two packets of each wood.  We wanted to keep as much constant as possible during this smoke, since the weather was in and of itself a big enough variable.

My contribution was the mop.  Originally, we were going to go only with apple cider vinegar, but I decided to throw some other stuff in there as well.  If we had a spray bottle, there’s a very good chance we would have only gone with the vinegar by itself, but since we had a little mop, and we had other things to throw in there, we decided to go with more of a flavor mop.  I’m not sure I loved the result; I don’t think the Jack interacted very well with the vinegar, and the smell was somewhat unpleasant.  If I made this mop again, I would go with another vinegar if using Jack Daniels, or I wouldn’t use Jack at all.

Overall, the product turned out good.  I did make another rookie mistak.  I mopped the ribs before checking the temperature, only to find that the ribs were at 174 degrees.  When I had checked the temperature an hour earlier, they were still at 130, so I thought we would be mopping at least another 2 hours, but the ribs really climbed in temp over that last hour.  The mop was still a little wet on the ribs, but we slathered them in some homemade BBQ sauce left over from the pulled pork, so it wasn’t a huge deal.  Still, next time, check the temperature and THEN mop.

But the ribs overall were quite good.  Gene’s rub provided a tasty bark for the ribs.  They weren’t too dry, even before we slathered them in BBQ sauce.  Since we went with another person’s rub for this recipe, there wasn’t a whole lot to learn in terms of spice for this smoke, but we did at least get a good experience in learning how long the ribs will take for future smokes.  The books I read about spare ribs called for anything between 4-6 hours, and we wound up right at 4 with these, even with the snow throwing off our temperature, so we know to anticipate on the low end for the next time.  I might also cook them on a higher rack next time, as we had them closer to the middle this time, to help delay the cooking process a little.

While we were making the ribs, since we had a rack free, I threw a few hot dogs on there around noon to make for lunch.  This was an idea from the Smoke and Spice book, which features all sorts of good ideas for smoking just about anything.  They turned out good, a little different than what you’re used to seeing out of hot dogs, but they gave us a good lunch.  Joe also made chili today, which made for some good hickory-smoked chili dogs.  Overall, I’d call it a fun way to get through a snow day with no work and nowhere to go!

Up next: I have nothing definitive on the on-deck circle, thinking maybe of doing some chicken thighs in the next week or two, or perhaps giving brisket or pork butt another go-around.

Smoked Buffalo Chicken Wings

February 10th, 2010


  • 2 4-lb packages chicken wings (about 36 wings)
  • 1 cup, brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup, ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup, kosher salt
  • 1 13 oz bottle, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stick, unsalted butter

This one was pretty straight-forward: I mixed the sugar, cayenne, and salt together, creating my rub, rubbed the chicken wings, cooked at 200 degrees in the smoker for 2 hours, tossed them in the sauce mixture (Frank’s, butter, and garlic, brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes) and served.

I was pleased with the result, as this was pretty much a straight instinct recipe.  My friend Gene, whom I consider to be something of my BBQ mentor, gave me the idea of using a cayenne and brown sugar rub.  My dad suggested including the salt.  While making the recipe, I had no idea how much to use; the first rub consisted of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cayenne, and 1 tablespoon salt.  After a few wings, it became apparent that would not be enough rub, so I adjusted accordingly.

The smoke gave a good flavor to the wings.  For fuel, I used mulberry pellets from BBQrsdelight.com.  I recently ordered a sample pack of pellets from their website, both to get a taste of different smoke flavors and to test the pellets in use, as they seem like a pretty good idea in theory.  In practice, though, it didn’t seem like I was getting as much smoke as the packages promised.  This may very well have been a user error, and I will play around with some of the other flavors to see if we get more smoke, but the actual flavor of the smoke was quite good.

The problem with the recipe, as you can probably tell just by looking at the ingredients, is that I used WAY too much cayenne.  Since I didn’t know how far my rub would go, I thought two tablespoons of cayenne would work fine over the course of 36 wings.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account that rubbing 36 separate wings would use a lot of rub.  Rookie mistake made by a rookie BBQ’er.  I brought these wings to a Super Bowl party, and most of those who attended (except for my Uncle Ed, who loves spicy food) remarked that the wings were too spicy.  There was probably more salt in the rub that I had anticipated as well, and would probably cut back on the salt as well.  I would probably replace the excess salt and cayenne with garlic powder, perhaps an onion powder as well.

Another issue I had was with the cook time.  Having never cooked wings in the smoker, and not going by a recipe, I wasn’t sure how long it would take the wings to cook.  My original idea was to cook the wings for 2 hours, add the sauce, and then put them back on the smoker for an additional 15-20 minutes.  However, the wings reached temperature after 2 hours; in fact, many of the wings were turning black.  Next time, I will probably take the wings off after 90 minutes, sauce them, wrap them in foil, and cook another half hour.  Another idea, suggested by my friend John, would be to smoke, sauce, and then grill them, and still another idea I had was to smoke, deep fry, and sauce (as if this recipe wasn’t unhealthy enough).  I feel like I have a few different directions I can take these in before I have perfected the recipe.

Overall, I was encouraged by my first attempt at making the wings.  I feel like they turned out good, but have some room for improvement.  I will spend some time tinkering with the rub recipe until it turns out with a good balance of spice and taste, and I will adjust the cooking time accordingly so that next time, I can cook the wings with the sauce on (which is a style that I personally prefer).  Overall, a solid first effort.

Next up: Ribs (probably smoked in the middle of a blizzard)

Welcome to the BBQ Blog

February 10th, 2010

Ho there.

I’m Chris Wilcox.  You may remember me from such blogs as “Miracle Mets” and “Blue & Orange.”  Or, you know me for some other reason.  When I’m not participating in my favorite pasttime (bitching about the Mets), I’m participating in my second favorite pasttime: smoking delicious meats.  This year, I got a Brinkman Vertical Propane Smoker for Christmas and so far, I’ve put it to good use.

This new obsession started about a year ago, when I was first introduced to the deliciousness of smoked ribs and smoked brisket.  I started doing research about where to go to enjoy some of the best of these foods online, when I discovered that making your own smoked meals was not impossible for the layman, with some practice and some patience.  I started small, by making pulled pork in a crock pot.  After getting some rave reviews for my pork, I started doing some work with my dad in his BBQ pit in the backyard.  We did a brisket and some ribs together, and it was fun, but I would have to go to my parents house if I wanted to keep making smoked meats that way, and that wasn’t good enough for me.  I wanted to make these on my own.

So thanks to my parents generous Christmas gift, I now have the ability to make my own smoked meats whenever I want.  This blog is going to be used to chart my progress.  It’s more for my own use than anything else; I want to be able to log what I’ve done and how I did it, so I can improve upon future attempts.  One of the first books I read, Backyard BBQ, the Art of Smokology, recommended keeping such logs.  Unfortunately, I’m not the best note-keeper in the entire world, so I immediately dismissed that, but after some thought, a blog like this seems like a good idea.

Prior to the next entry in this blog, I have made two attempts at smoking.  The first was a smoked pork butt on New Year’s Day, following much of the recipe listed in the Backyard BBQ book referenced above*.  I didn’t improvise much there, as it was my first attempt at any sort of smoke, and the results were quite good; the shoulder was tender and juicy with a great smoke flavor, and the sauce and seasonings were perfect.  The Backyard BBQ book is worth its cost for that recipe alone.

* – Just want to let everybody know, if I use a recipe verbatim from another published work, I will not include the recipe on the blog, as I’m pretty sure that’s a copyright violation.  If I edit the recipe enough to where it’s my own variation, I will post the recipe, but cite the book as a source.  I have two books that I’ve been leaning on more than others, and I expect that I will mention both frequently in the upcoming months.

The second was a smoked Buffalo beer can chicken, with many elements derived from the Chicken on a Throne recipe from the book Smoke and Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbeque.  The chicken turned out fine, but the attempt at infusing a whole chicken with Buffalo flavoring didn’t really work.  I would probably stick with a more standard beer can chicken recipe the next time I attempt that.

I will go into more detail in future entries, including pictures when applicable.  If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to add them.  I consider all recipes listed to be a work in progress until I get them exactly right, so criticism is both welcome and appreciated.  My goal is not to become a BBQ Pitmaster (though I love the show), but to produce quality barbeque in my own backyard.  So far, I’ve been encouraged by the results, and with the help of this blog, I look to improve even more.