Hello again! In some parts of the country, it’s getting cooler out and that summer feeling has gone away. That said, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay bound up inside the house. Instead, I choose to take advantage of such weather and do some “low and slow” type of cooking. This weekend, I chose to roast an entire 9 ½ pound pork shoulder. Jealous? Now, let’s get cooking. The first thing you want to start with is your rub. Some people want to go nuts and add all these exotic flavors-and that has its place-but I like to pick spices that I know will light up the taste buds.
For the rub:
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tbsp. Chili powder
2 tbsp. Spanish Paprika
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
Mix all of these ingredients together and then set aside. Now, take a good look at your pork shoulder (or whatever cut of meat you choose). You definitely want to cut off any silver skin or excess fat that you see. I like to leave a little bit of marbling on the shoulder so that it continuously bastes the meat, but not too much. Now, pour half of the rub mixture on one side of the pork shoulder and start rubbing it into the meat. You really want to rub the spices in so much that it actually changes the color of the meat—this is where you’ll get your “bark” from. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s that black crust that forms after a long smoke. In other words, it’s a highly sought after result for all BBQ addicts. Moreover, any spice that is red is going to turn black—which is why you’ll see some of these spices above in blackening seasoning, as well. Now, flip the pork shoulder over (a.k.a. pork butt….I’ll give you this time to chuckle after reading this) and finish rubbing the remainder of the spice mixture into the meat. Next, set aside and allow to come to room temperature for about 30-45 minutes.
Now, for the fire! After finishing our outdoor kitchen, we thought of things that we would use often. Of those items were a pizza oven and a green egg. So, this meal will be cooked on the green egg. You want to start by adding an even layer of charcoal in the bottom—just enough to cover the bottom. From there, take two charcoal starters (basically compressed flammable materials) and light them. Then, take some split hickory wood (or cherry, pecan, what have you) and put three pieces around the bottom edges of the green egg–this is where you’ll get your smoky flavor from. From there, add more charcoal to cover and repeat this process until you have a solid foundation of charcoal—your heat source. Again, at the top, add another charcoal starter and allow it to really get going—about 30 minutes. Now, you can cook this on a higher temperature, for a lesser amount of time or you can do what we did and use the “low and slow” method. Essentially, we regulated the temperature on our green egg to a constant 250 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked this bad boy overnight (12 hours). Without sounding too info-mmercial-y, the best thing that I have come across is a little gadget called a stoker. This is a device that hooks up to your green egg-and also to your Wi-Fi (depending on the type you get)-and takes the manual labor out of monitoring the temperature of the green egg and of the food cooking inside of it. Basically, this stokes your fire for you and allows you to “set it and forget it” (not going to lie, I just cringed saying that phrase..haha). Nonetheless, this is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. Not only does it keep the fire regulated for you to cook for long durations of time, but it also has a probe that you can insert into the pork shoulder (or anything else for that matter) and it sends you updates of both the internal temperature of your food and the temperature of the fire through your Wi-Fi. The one that I use is from www.rocksbarbecue.com , but there are others out there. Place your pork shoulder-fat side up- on the grates and leave it alone!
So, flash forward 12 hours and you’ve got one succulent, flavorful piece of meat. After it’s done cooking, you’ll definitely want to let it rest for about an hour or so—keep in mind that it’s cooked for literally 12 hours, so you want it to really relax and reabsorb all of that natural jus. So, cover it with tin foil inside of a roasting pan and put it in an oven that is turned off and allow it to rest. I like using an oven because it still keeps the meat warm without drying it out or causing it to cook more. In the interim, start assembling your condiments. For me, when I think of barbecue, I think of two things: (1) slaw and (2) barbecue sauce. For the dressing to my slaw:
2 cups of heavy cream
3 chipotle peppers (minced) and 2 tbsp. of the adobo that they were soaked in.
¼ cup honey
1 bunch of chives finely chopped
½ cup of brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine all of these ingredients in a bowl, whisk vigorously and then set aside to let the flavors meld. Essentially, this is a freaking awesome honey mustard packed full of flavor. As for the vegetables that I used:
1 head of Napa Cabbage, shredded
1 head of red cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
4 ears of fire roasted corn
3 avocados, diced
3 roasted red peppers, diced
Then, douse your vegetables in the dressing and let them soak up the flavor.
Next, you’ll want to get your barbecue sauce going. Now, I’m not going to give away the secret to my barbecue sauce; however, I will say that one of my little flavor infusions that I add is 2 freshly chopped lemons. It sounds so random, but I am telling you it adds the perfect amount of zing and zest to your sauce. Moreover, you need something as bright as lemons to cut through the richness of the accompaniments to your pulled pork. Now for the assembly! Pull the pork shoulder; however, be sure to remove and discard the big bone that sits under the fat cap. If you’ve cooked it properly, it will literally slide right out. Toss the pulled pork with some of that bright, beautiful barbecue sauce and pile it high on top of a toasted bun. Finally, top with the slaw mixture and be sure to grab a napkin. To me, this is the perfect way to eat my hickory smoked, pulled pork.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do and I hope you stay tuned for my next blog post coming next Sunday morning.
Change mood with food!