Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pulled Pork BBQ

I'm having a party and I want to wow my guests.  To do so, I'm willing to invest most of a day smoking meat, but I also want to hang out it the yard and drink beer with Rocco.  So... I'll be making Pulled Pork BBQ.  This is a serious undertaking and it's not for the faint of heart, but it's well worth the effort.  Everyone loves this stuff.  It's great for a party and the last time I made it was for my daughter's 5th birthday.

For those of you that have been keeping up with my previous posts, we'll see what your chops are made of with this new recipe!

Here's your timeline:

The day before your party, pick up the pork shoulder.  This may also be called Boston Butt (I'm not sure why, but if you know, please leave a comment).  I've also seen it called a picnic shoulder, but only at crappy low end grocery stores.  Let's steer clear of those. Rub the pork with....  you guessed it...  Magic Dust.  Saran Wrap the pork and refrigerate overnight.

10 hours before you want to eat, soak you chips and start your coals.  This will  ideally be done in a smoker, which is almost as good is a charcoal grill, but can also be done on a gas grill if need be.  If you plan to do this in the oven, in a pressure cooker ,or in a slow cooker, you are not making Pulled Pork BBQ. You are making pulled pork.  That kind of sucks, and if you're having a party, your friends deserve better. Take the meat out of the fridge and let it start to come to room temperature.

9 hours before you want to eat, start smoking.  If you have a smoker, get it to 275 degrees and figure the meat will cook for eight hours.  Note: if you are using a charcoal or gas grill, it will be hard to keep the temperature that low so the meat won't take eight hours to cook.  Figure 7-8 hours for your cook time.

Note: place a drip pan under the pork (under the grate) and pour a beer into it, to help keep things moist.

As the smoke tapers off (every 60 minutes or so), add more smoking chips.

5 hours before you want to eat, start checking the internal temperature of the meat.  The first milestone will be 175 degrees.  This is the temperature when the meat will be done absorbing smoke and will begin to dry out.

Once you reach 175 degrees wrap the pork in two layers of heave duty aluminum foil.  Take some of the juices in the drip pan and pour them over the pork and wrap the juices up with the meat. Do a good job wrapping so nothing leaks out. Return the pork to the smoker and continue cooking to 200 degrees.  During the last 25 degrees of cooking is when the connective tissue breaks down and the pork begins to fall apart (becomes pullable).

Remove the pork from the smoker, unwrap it and let is rest for 30-60 minutes before you want to eat. Start warming your BBQ sauce on the stove.

30 minutes before you want to eat, pull your pork. You can use two forks which is a pain in the ass.  Or you can use rubber gloves.  I use these.  You can also buy gloves like these at the hardware store.  They are cheap and really easy to clean.  Just wear them and wash your hands in the sink when you are done.

Next, add BBQ sauce to the pulled pork.  How much?  Go with your gut!  But not too much!  Don't drown the pork.  The taste of the meat and the smoke should be the predomninant flavor.  The taste of the sauce should be secondary.

Mix your sauce in and cover the pan to keep warm.  I put the covered pan onto the smoker to keep warm or to heat it back up.  Sometimes I use the oven if the smoker has cooled considerably.

What kind of BBQ sauce?

This is a long involved question that I will cover in the near future.  There are so many kinds of sauce.  Most of the time I make one red BBQ sauce (tomato based) and one white (vinegar based).  Then everyone at the party argues which sauce is better.  Kind of like the old "Tastes great / Less filling" commercials.  But the key is that I MAKE THE SAUCE.

BBQ sauce is one of those things that tastes much different when it is made fresh.  It makes a big difference.  However, I realize this whole ordeal has been a tremendous burden already, so I will share with you my favorite store bought sauce.  It comes from one of my favorite BBQ restaurants, Dinosaur BBQ.  I can get this sauce at my local market.  If you can't, order some, and keep it in the cupboard, for all sorts of applications.

Use the store bought sauce to get started.  I will also post at white (vinegar-based) sauce recipe at the bottom of the blog.  That takes 5 minutes to make, so just do it; you've come this far, don't ruin your Pulled Pork BBQ now!

Have your guests load the pulled pork onto thick white bread, top with Slaw (recipe at bottom of blog), and make a sandwich.

Good luck!  No mater how this comes out, you will have the respect and appreciation from your guests for making the effort to do it right.

The video below is from the birthday party.  There is a shot of C'est Cheese, my mac and cheese recipe, which, like all the others, can be found at the bottom of the blog.

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