I have to say while I love my ribs, I would probably sell my wife for two, not just one mind you as she is very special to me, BBQ pork sandwiches on lightly toasted buns with some fresh cold slaw and a small bowl of baked beans as a side…and an ice cold frosty to wash it down with…Now that’s living large in my book!…..So, to set the stage for this posting, you should probably be aware that I had been separated from my Green Egg for a little more than two weeks while traveling with the family. The separation anxiety felt for the loss of grilling and cooking on my friend almost became too much to bare, which came to, as my wife said, a slavish sight of disgusting devotion when we were once again reunited…at long last!
After I had emotionally collected myself, I set out on lining up the grilling menu for the next 48 hours. This was in fact governed by the need to empty the freezer to make room for the tomatoes that were overflowing in the garden, beginning the annual ritual of roasting tom’s, onions, garlic with basil and parsley – a canning recipe that keeps us fortified throughout the winter to add to soups, sauces, pasta, poultry and meat dishes, taking the flavors and textures to that next garden level, which can only bring a smile to one’s face. A complete outline of our recipe illustrated with wonderful pictures will be posted shortly on my Cooking Large site for all types and dishes outside the BBQ arena soon to be launched.
The freeze contained, much to my delight, two 5 lb Boston butts and 4 racks of ribs, purchased for some family cookouts in August, which seemed to have flown by without the family stuff ever happening. I shared on a previous post my tips for cooking the ribs, which, by the way, were very tasty. So, for this post we are going to address my favorite: shredded pork. I have worked on this over the years, tasting and adapting mopping sauces and rubs, and have finally ended up with just the right mix that provides a bit of heat, but not too much, a little tang for tartness with slight hint of sweetness, being sensitive to making sure that one does not over power the other. So, as you explore and look up rubs and mopping sauces, try variations on your own, being careful to take notes and adding just a little at a time, constantly stirring and tasting. A reminder in cooking is to taste, taste, taste and then taste again. I can’t stress this enough, as it has been a hard lesson for me to learn until roughly the last ten years or so when I started to comprehend what cooking is really all about….it’s about cooking with passion and not being hesitant about exploring outside the comfort zone, norm or box, as it is sometimes referred to – melding different ethnic influences, be it Asian, Thai, French, Italian, Creole, or whatever into your dishes. It adds your own signature and dimension to the dish. And when someone says “that’s delicious what did you put in this…can I have the recipe?”, you will know what I am saying…..Now back to PORK…
Cooking at a low temperature is paramount to ensuring your pork butt is moist and not dried out. Take it out of its wrap, rinse and pat dry. Once it is completely dry, liberally apply your rub, place in a plastic bag and put in the fridge over night. If time is tight, then try to at least let it meld for a minimum of two hours prior to smoking.
As with ribs,, you will be cooking indirectly using the place setter for the Green Egg or opposite a nest of coals in a kettle or similar type grill. The next step is to soak your smoking chips, be it apple, cherry, maple, hickory, etc. Then mix the soaked chips thoroughly into the charcoal so you get an even smoke throughout the cooking process. This I found to be key. A Boston butt as a cut of pork has layers of fat that baste the meat while cooking. As this fat reduces, so should the remaining cooking time. To add a dimension of flavor to the meat with moisture, I have become a firm believer in injecting juices into larger cuts of meat and poultry. I use apple juice or stock, your choice: beef, chicken or vegetable as a base with herbs or spices depending on the selection and type of meat. This added step can also be a lifesaver if the chef dozes a bit or is getting a bit distracted, usually around refreshment time- a good time to have a sous chef on hand as back up…get the coals going using your preferred method usually, electric coil starter or funnel and paper…never starter fluid….once coals have caught and are going close cover.
Take a pan – I recommend one that is designated as a juice pan for smoking. Add your liquids, spices, etc as mentioned and place the pan on the place setter, followed by the grate, and you are just about set to start. When the grill has reached a temp of 200-225 degrees you are ready to place the butts on the grate and close her up.
Cooking time can vary, based on temp and cooking method as some guesstimates run 1 hr to 1 1/2 hours per lb….I use a meat thermometer and look to an internal temp of 190 or so depending again on cut. You will note this is on the lower side of the temp range, usually 190-210, but I feel it continues to cook while wrapped and resting as well as when its shredded and put in whatever warming tray, etc for serving it not to mention it delivers what I feel is the moistest flavor, not dried out standing on its own with the added spiced injections delivering great flavor without the aid of lot’s of BBQ sauce.
When you feel yours is done I recommend that you take it off and wrap tightly with tin foil and let rest for another hour or so…this will retain juices while allowing them to absorb back into the meat as it cools in temperature.
While it is still slightly warm start to shred the pork in small strips removing any remaining excess fat that hasn’t cooked off.
I do this on a large surface as I separate the shredded pork from the chunks which I will give a rough course chop too and add to the shredded mixing thoroughly as shown. I find all of this shredding and chopping of juicy smoked pork causes a sharp tightening of my right arm muscles which usually results in pieces of pork being tossed at my open mouth an affliction that one has to suffer through in order to complete the process.
Well shredded and mixed with a close up you can see the moist texture which delivers a great barbecue taste and not a “choker”….Low and Slow cooking over panned juices never smoking with a dry heat….look what it delivers
all shredded mixed and up close you can see the moistness of the meat and its pinkish tone from the rub and spiced injections off apple juice…emmmm sooo good…..!!!
Comments welcomed and encouraged……..cooking with passion and reaching out of the box….