Published: June 26, 2011
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For this week’s summertime grilling and barbecue adventure we will be doing a real big challenge: Smoking A Pork Butt! Yes, Grilling with Rich fans you heard us right we will be smoking a pork butt to make pulled pork sandwiches. This has been something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time and I am finally getting around to do so. Thanks to my new friends at Wagshals [stay tuned for some great tips on how to pick up the perfect cut of meat] selecting the right pork shoulder wasn’t to hard but I think that this was still very challenging because as always I am going to smoke a smaller amount of meat because I am only feeding two rather than a whole army of people. So instead of worrying about how long the pork butt needed to be in the smoker, instead to know when the pork was ready to be taken off the smoker I had to pay attention to the internal temperature of the pork butt.
Just to let everyone know, instead of using my normal Weber kettle and turning it into a smoker which I normally do, I got to use my next door neighbor’s Brikman smoker which he lent to me for me to use, so I was using the correct piece of equipment for this great adventure. I must say that I was really up for this challenge and I wanted to prove to myself that I can create that perfect piece of meat for enjoyment. So here we go!
So, lets get down and dirty and into the prepping the shoulder. For this great grilling and barbecue adventure I am going to use very simple ingredients and I even decided to use an injector! Yes, Grilling with Rich fans we are going for the gold here.
I really wanted to step up my barbecuing because I think that I caught a serious bug of competition barbecue!! [sorry for the side note on that]
Prepping The Shoulder: Since I have so many friends in the competition barbecue world, I got some serious advice from some serious competition teams like: Pork Barrel BBQ; Brown Chicken Brown Cow just to name a few. One suggestion that I received that I really liked was whatever you rub down the pork shoulder should be injected into the shoulder so that is why I added the Oakridge’s BBQ Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken Rub to my injection. For my injection I used some simple ingredients: Apple Juice, Water and Oakridge’s BBQ Secret Weapon™ Pork & Chicken Rub [stay tuned this Wednesday for my review of the rub that I used] as I said two very simple ingredients nothing fancy. I really wanted to pay attention to both the technique of smoking the pork. Once I get the technique down pat, I will expand and try different injections etc, but for now it is all about making the perfect or coming close to make the perfect pork butt!
During this grilling summertime adventure I had two main challenges: the first challenge was keeping the pork shoulder nice and moist so it doesn’t dry out during the smoking process and the second challenge was again the timing of how long I would need to keep the pork shoulder in the smoker. As I said in the beginning I am not feeding a full army of people, so I got 3lbs of a pork shoulder to make my pulled pork sandwiches so instead of managing the time of the shoulder for this small piece of meat you want to make sure that you get the internal temperature of around 190 degrees. Keeping the shoulder moist was accomplished by using a spray bottle filled with the leftover injection. Once the pork was rubbed and injected I threw it into the refrigerator to let it rest until I was ready to fire up the smoker. In addition to all the great flavors that I used for my pork, I also added some nice apple wood chips to the mix so I really got the apple flavoring in the pork. The one thing that I was nervous about was the Apple flavoring going to over power the flavor of the pork? One important tip with the wood chips, you want to make sure that you soak them in water for about 30 minutes so that when you add them they do not burn remember you want to create SMOKE!!
You will see that answer in my overall impressions at the end. So I got my chimney all ready and my coals around 12:50p.m. so that I would hopefully hit my ideal temperature of 190 degrees around 5ish. Now, the one thing that I did not do is fill my chimney all the way to the top with coals, unlike my last week’s adventure, actually I did the complete opposite, at first I filled my chimney 1/4 way so that I really did a low and slow smoke of the pork.
While the pork was busy doing its thing, I had some time on my hands, so I decided to make a side dish to go with my pork and it was a classic Macaroni and cheese. Now, there were two things that made it completely different then your traditional Macaroni and cheese. But check back tomorrow to read all about it, when I post a brand new recipe!
Okay, back the to pork. Around 3 o’clock I was getting extremely nervous about my pork and I also wanted to check on the internal temperature. So I ventured away from my computer and walked outside to see how it was coming along and using the leftovers from my injection I gave my pork a little spritz of it to make sure that I keep it nice and moist. When I opened to check on the status I was pleasantly surprised to see how it was coming along! So much so, that I added a little bit more of charcoals just to take me to the home stretch but not to many as I didn’t want to over cook it. Also the temperature at 3 o’clock was 110 so I thought to myself I actually might make my target goal of 190 by 5:30p.m. so things overall were looking great so I went back inside and again enjoyed a nice cold one.
Almost Done! – Around 5:20 I checked on both the temperature (which was about 140) and I realized that I almost done and ready to wrap the meat. The plan was to wrap the meat at 155 until I was finished at 190 which then I will unwrap and get it ready for the pulling! I finally wrapped the pork around 6:30 almost an hour later and after adding some additional coals to really help get the temperature up. I had some assistance of Mike from Brown Chicken Brown Cow; his team came in second in Pork shoulder during Memphis in May so I knew that I was in great hands even via twitter. Mike was able to give me some great tips on how to wrap up the pork and I will share them with you:
1) AIR Is BAD! – make sure that you wrap it tight because you want to make sure that you don’t let any air into it. AIR = dry!
2) Temperature and Patience! – As I just said, you want to wrap your pork around 155 until it reaches the internal temperature of 190. To make sure that you maintain that seal, but still being able to measure the temp, just probe the thermometer and keep it in there thru the rest of the cook. And as he said to me, “Now, like a Jedi, you must practice patience. Don’t touch it till you hit 190 internal..”
If you follow these two simple steps then you will be fine!!
Once the pork hit a temperature of 190 degrees I took the pork out of the smoker and let it rest for a couple of minutes before I started to pull it and make my sandwich.
Pulling of the Pork – Okay, make your jokes here and now, I finally got a chance to pull my first pork.. (or that is what she said right?) Now the tricky thing here is that the inside is going to be pipping hot and if you smoked it correctly pulling it off the bone should be extremely easy right? Well, even though I think that I smoked the pork correctly, the meat was extremely hot which made it kind of hard for me to pull. Maybe I don’t have the hands yet or I am not used to the heat of the meat. Does anyone have any suggestions on what is the best way to pull the pork? I just used two forks and a knife to pull the pork, while I did get good pieces, I felt that I could have done a better job. Any suggestions?
Overall Impressions: I really enjoyed the experience of making my first pulled pork. I must say that as always there is something eating your own product that you tended to and cared for all afternoon. A couple of things that I learned. But once I got over the heat, things went according to plan and it all worked out great. There were some minor set backs, for example, even though I injected the pork there were some parts that weren’t dry but lacking some flavoring. I mean don’t get me wrong the pork was flavorful but not all pieces were. Does anyone have any ideas on why that happened? On the plus side the pork had some amazing looking smoke rings, which I was very happy to see.
1) Each smoker is different and the amount of coals that one uses is different. I started off thinking that I needed to use a less amount of coals, that was wrong. I should have also gone with my original gut and put in about a full chimney from the start. I guess you can always add coals.
2) TIME and Patience – Man, it took almost a whole afternoon to get the pork to the right temperature. So if you are going to embark on this great adventure make sure that you have the time to just sit around and also the Patience. Man I really had to practice the second one as I was getting antsy during the afternoon. Now I know why people drink during bbq competitions and have their friends and family around to hang out with them while the food is cooking.
Minus a couple of things, I think for my first barbecue adventure in the pulled pork I did a great job! Even my dog Cooper thought so, even so much that as I am writing this post he is barking wanting more table scraps! Cooper – stay tuned for some great grilling adventures buddy! Oh one last thing to top of the pulled pork sandwich I used some Guy Fieri BBQ Sauce that I got!! Actually Carolina #6!! The one last thought that crossed my mind as I put the final touches on this blog post, is that I have a lot to learn about what makes a perfect competition piece of meat, but I am glad that I have all the time in the world to get it right!
We took A LOT of picture during this barbecue adventure, click here to see all the images! We will be adding more as the week goes on! So check back often and we hope that you enjoy them all as much as I did
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