Monday, October 8, 2007

Smokin' Up

Adventures in Pulled Pork with Grillmaster Bob

Like getting your driver's license or turning 21, smoking your first giant slab of meat is a right of passage in my family. Sure you might be married, have a college degree and maybe even kids of your own, but you aren't a full Clements until you've spent a few hours out back next to the Smoker. The clothes you wear are your badge of honor -- wreaking of a distinctive mix of pork fat and smoke, like a wild hog caught in a forest fire. However, I don't believe that anyone has ever documented this multi-day process, so I thought I would give it a go. Essentially, you apply a rub to the meat and refrigerate over night. Then you smoke it for a few hours, put it in the oven for a few hours, pull the meat, then add some home made barbecue sauce.

Smoked Pulled Pork
(This serves about 15 people, we tripled it and smoked 3 Boston butts)

  • 1 7lb Boston butt pork roast
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs pepper
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs dry mustard powder
  • barbecue sauce (recipe further down)
Special Equipment:
  • a smoker (or charcoal grill. America's Test Kitchen has good pointers for that.)
  • charcoal
  • kindling and newspaper
  • apple wood, soaked in water
  • a large metal steamer tray filled with water
  • Combine the 6 dry ingredients to make a rub. Rub all over pork. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  • The next day, prep your smoker. Fill with balled newspaper, kindling and half a bag of charcoal. (We actually used lighter fluid and thought it was fine, evidently that was a no-no, but oh well)
  • Place steamer tray of water above fire and under grill plate.
  • Once the fire gets going, add the apple wood.
  • At the point, you can put your pork (unwrapped) on the opposite side of the grill from the fire. Make sure it is fat side up, so that the juices self-baste the meat.
  • Close the lid. Drink some beer. Wait 3 or more hours.
  • After a few hours, you have some choices. You can wrap it and continue smoking or you move it to the oven. We wrapped the meat tightly in many layers of foil, making sure to keep track of which side is the fat side. I then put it in a steamer pan with an inch of water and covered the whole pan tightly with foil. If the meat is coming straight off the grill, you can do 325 for 2 hours. Our pork was refrigerated in between smoker and oven, so I did 375-425 for 2.5 hours.
  • Take out of the oven and take a fork to the edge of the meat. If it flakes off easily, you are probably good to go. Let it cool a bit before pulling completely apart. I found that using my hands was easiest to pick out bits of fat.
  • Mix with 3/4 c. -1 c. of barbecue sauce, just enough to keep it moist.
  • Serve with kaiser rolls, bread and butter pickles, extra barbecue sauce and cole slaw.

Barbecue Sauce
Makes ~4 cups

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp. pepper sauce or hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • Heat about 2 tbs oil in dutch oven (enough to coat bottom of pan) over medium.
  • Add onion and garlic, saute until translucent.
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer.
  • Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Cool and keep in airtight container in fridge.

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