Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

Wrestlemania Pulled Pork

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Ingredients:

Dry Rub*:

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

Mop*:

  • 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

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack, spare ribs

Dry Rub:

  • Borrowed from a friend

Mop:

  • 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.