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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Say Hello to Mr. Brown...

With last Sunday's temperature near 40*, I decided to cook me up some pulled pork. Pulled pork freezes well and will last 3-5 months frozen. I often use leftovers for tacos, beans, chili, hot pockets, soups and nachos. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Saturday I started the prep-work.  I mixed some apricot nectar, salt, sugar and a few other ingredients to create an injectable brine.

I inject my shoulders using a one-inch grid patter and go heavy in the money muscle and around the horn. Here, I am pushing the brine in as I pull the syringe out. 

I then wrapped it in plastic wrap and threw in the fridge overnight...

On Sunday morning, I made a very basic rub consisting of turbinado and brown sugars, Hungarian sweet paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and freshly ground cracked pepper. I used yellow mustard as a base...

As far as I am concerned, there is no substitute for natural charcoal - whether briquettes or lump. The flavor charcoal produces on foods is far superior to propane. But given as cold as it has been, I thought I'd use my Smoky Mountain Smoker for this cook.  It's much easier to regulate the temperature compared to my Chargriller and less demanding of my time - particularly on football Sunday. 

Typically when I plan on using propane to grill or smoke in cold weather, I place the canister in my garage the night before where it's a bit warmer. It seems that below freezing temps affect the pressure in the tank creating less efficient flow.

Knowing that this shoulder would take every bit of 12 hours, I woke up at 5 AM to get the smoker warmed up and ready to go by 6 AM.  The outdoor temperature was approximately 30* and for some reason I had a very hard time getting the smoker up to 225* let alone 250* (where I wanted to be).  Although the metal on the Smoky Mountain Smokers are paper thin, I've held 250* when it's been colder. After two hours of messing around and a few choice words, I discovered that the propane nozzle had become slightly dislodged from the burner. After fixing it, she held steady at 250* all day.

Of course I can't waste space, so I threw in some some spares I had trimmed up St Louis style.  This is after about four hours into the cook...

...and after about 8 hours...

Typically I foil my shoulders after they reach an internal temp of 160*, but because I had injected it, I thought I would not use foil thus allowing the bark to develop more prominently.  At about 8 PM when the butt had reached an internal temp of 195*, I removed it from the smoker and let it rest.  Not only did I get fabulous bark, but the pork was extremely juicy and tender without the foil as you can see from the photo (click on the photo for a close-up).

Pulled pork just ain't complete without slaw and my best friend's mother makes the best damn slaw I've ever tasted. I've known Tom since the sixth grade - over 3 decades. He was my best man, as I was his, and we are the godparents to each others children. Through good time and bad times, our bond is tight. Despite being the equivalent of his mother's 4th son, my version of her gifted recipe never quite tastes the same...hmmmm.   Well, I made her recipe using green cabbage. I also made a homemade bbq sauce. I modified a recipe I have been working on using some rice wine vinegar, hot sauce and Blues Hog Tennessee Red and I'm extremely pleased with the end result. This will be my new go-to for pulled pork - no question about it.

Thanks for lookn'!


  1. try this.when you pull fron smoker wrap the butt in foil. then wrap in in a towel. then put it in a cooler for a couple of hours. marinates in its self. Did you call mike at bubbas? Im gonna call in a couple of weeks.

  2. Hey thanks for the tip. Usually at comps, if I finish early, that is is exactly what I do.

    I have not called Mike yet. I figure I'd wait til after the holidays.

  3. Tom,

    I did 21lbs of pulled pork on Christmas Eve. The first one finished in 10hrs and the second one 13hrs. I used the same injection by Chris Lilly but added some Sunny Delight too. They were foiled at 150F and then taken off at 185F. It turned out very moist and the money muscle cut perfectly this time. I still think there was too much hickory wood used again during the smoking. How long do you put the wood on yours for the smoking?

    -Porky Joes

  4. Hey Rich,

    Excellent! 21 lbs is a lot. I saw your posting on BBQ Brethren. Congrats and great work!

    I think you are absolutey right. The money muscle slices up better at about 185*. At Lambs Farm I took my shoulder off at 192* and although it sliced up nice, it still seemed a bit too tender.

    As far as wood goes...for butts, I use dry chunks of wood - usally Weber. Lowes has been carrying some good chunks lately. I forgot the brand name, but decent wood. I do not soak wood anymore. Also, I don't place them directly on the hot coals anymore either. I usually place them off to the side in the firebox. They smolder longer rather than just imediately igniting into a ball of flame.

    I use one (if large) or two chunks (if small) every 45 minutes to an hour. And obviously as soon as you foil, the meat won't get anymore smoke.

    Hickory is bit stronger than say pecan. But typically I use hickory and apple for butts.

    They say you can oversmoke meat and I believe that. The very first brisket I did taste like jerky. Also, I believe smoke should be an ingredient, not the main flavor. But, butts are a large piece of meat and can take a lot of abuse, unlike ribs or chicken.

    How much wood did you place in the firebox?

    What are using for wood? Chips, chunks, logs?

    Oh and Happy New Year too!

  5. Oh, and based on a recommendation from Bill Mehilos of Head's Red, I'll be buying some logs and probbaly cutting them into the size peices I want. Often at times, seems like the pieces that come in the bags like Weber are too small or not uniform by any means.

  6. There's the place at North Ave and Swift Rd where they sell logs. I haven't purchased anything from there yet but do know they sell all types including hickory and will deliver within a certain amount of miles.
    I put two hickory dry chunks every 45 minutes on the coals. The brand is Western that is sold at most stores, I usually buy them at Wal-mart or Meyers but have seen them at most stores. I also use Kingsford Hickory Charcoal.
    At Lambs Farm, I took the pork off at 200F and later when I went to slice it fell apart. Due the weather I used more charcoal and hickory chunks than anticpated so my ribs tasted of this and that was it. The remarks from the judge were correct about the horrible taste but I do not use lighter fluid. This scored me a last place finish. But as I have said before I did the competition for the experience and not expecting a call. This year I plan on doing full competitions instead of just ribs and pork.
    I do know that I need practice the chicken more.

    Happy New Years,

    -Porky Joes

  7. I'll check that place out. Thanks for letting me know.

    Two hickory chunks per 45 minutes does not seem excessive, particularly when foiling at 150*. Maybe the Kingsford Hickory Charcoal had something to do with it. When using Kingsford products, even the all natural briquettes, I do not add fresh charcoal to lit. I start it in a charcoal chimney first, then add it after the initial plume of smoke has dissipated.

    Kingsford Blue and Kingsford Hickory seem to let off a ton of smoke up front that I have found to give my food an acrid flavor.

    Did you add fresh to lit?

    All natural lump is another story. With lump, I'll add fresh to lit.

    We didn't do so well at Lambs Farm either. But with each contest, we learn a ton a more. Lambs Farm was our second KCBS contest.

    Our smokers make it difficult too. We're using Chargriller Outlaws and although a decent backyard smoker for the $, having to re-fule every hour or so makes for a very, very long night.

    I think by next year (2013), I'll be investing in a better smoker. We can also use some better tents with sides too. The wind and cold at Lambs Farm kicked our butts - pun intended.

    But like you, we're still learning and using the contests for experience - although a call would be nice...

  8. when is the 2012 contest forms going to be ready? cant wait.

  9. Excellent. We are very excited too. And great timing as we just started thinking about this. We do not yet have a date, but it's safe to assume it will be in September again. If you have any thoughts and\or suggestions as to how we may make our BBQ better, please post here.

  10. Dont change a thing. It was fantastic with the stage and the bands. 40 teams with plenty of room to work. the venders need to be more prepared with the sales. the press was all over the place and the other teams that I talked to said they were going to be back so filling the card wont be a problem. Im sure it will be alot easier this time and raise alot more money. so thanks for the effort but dont get to big so it would not be fun.

  11. We're planning the same format as last year. I am glad to hear other teams are planning to come back. Without you all, we're nothing.

    Once we figure a date, I will post it here and we'll start accepting applications.

    If you are not alread subscribed to recieve updates from this site, you should sign up. Once you do, you will automatically be notifed when we post the announcement.

    Thanks for the feedback!


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