Saturday, June 30, 2012

High Heat Pulled Pork

Who wants to fire up the grill when it's 103 degrees in the shade?

I do!

Do I really want to babysit a smoker for 12 hours in 100+ degree weather? Not really. That's why I'm taking a page from Mother Nature's playbook and cranking up the heat. 

The Meat 

1 Whole Pork Butt approx. 6-8 lbs

The Spices 

2 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Granulated Garlic 
1 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Cajun Seasoning - Such as Zatarain's
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground sage

Brown Sugar - The darker the better!

The Grill

Weber 22.5 One Touch Gold  - Any charcoal grill will work.

Let's do this!

Combine all the spices EXCEPT THE BROWN SUGAR in a bowl. I usually sift the chili power and paprika through a  wire strainer to break up any clumps. Transfer to a shaker. I use empty spice containers instead of commercially bought shakers.

Damn Clumps!
All mixed up!
The Spices!

Rinse the meat under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a cutting board fat cap side down and trim any excess fat or bone nubs. 

Bone nub on the top of the Butt. Technically, it's the bottom
since the fat cap would be just below the skin. 

Flip it over and remove the fat cap. Yes, Remove all that glorious fat. Contrary to popular belief it will not keep the meat moist and since this recipe is using the high heat method there will not be enough time for it to fully render. The meat is kept moist by internal fat aka the marbling and collagen. Plus, we will be cooking the meat in a pan so there will be plenty of juices to baste it with if you're the kind of person that likes to play with their meat. 



Don't waste the fat! Freeze it for making sausage. I smell a future post.

Place the butt in an aluminum pan. Sprinkle on the spice rub. Get it in every nook and cranny, especially the crannies. Use a spoon or gloved hand to rub the spices into the meat. Using your bare fingers is messy and more rub ends up on you than the meat. NOW rub in 1-2 tbsp of dark brown sugar to the tops and side of the butt.

Setting up the Grill

Yes, that's used  unlit charcoal.
Set up your grill for indirect cooking. Using bricks wrapped in foil create a firebox on one side of the charcoal grate. Place unlit charcoal in 3/4 of the firebox leaving a space for lit charcoal. Light 1/4 of a chimney's worth of charcoal and then dump it in the empty space.

Added apple wood chunks, cherry
wood chips and fresh lump charcoal
Lit added

Now it's finally time to start cooking!

Place the pan of meat on the grill. Add a nice piece of apple or cherry wood. Close lid. The bottom vents are half open and the top vent is wide open and placed over the meat.

I used cherry wood from Imperial Farmers Market.

Now the waiting game begins. Let this cook at 350 degree for 3-4 hours until an internal temp of 155-165 degrees is reached in the center. Rotate the pan 180 degrees half way through. The bottom vent may need to be adjusted to maintain 350 degrees. I had to close mine to 1/4 open. Try not to open the lid for the first 1.5 hours. You can baste it with it's own juices after that.

After the desired internal temp is reach add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover in heavy duty foil. This would be the best time to add more unlit charcoal if needed.

After 1.5-2 hours check the internal temp of the meat. If the center reads 195 degrees or higher the meat is finished. Remove the foil and close the lid for 20 minutes. This will allow the bark to firm up.

Since the amount of liquid will usually double carefully drain the liquid using a turkey baster or spoon. Now remove the pan from the grill and loosely cover the meat with foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Place meat on a clean cutting board and begin pulling the it apart with 2 forks. Discard any fat or connective tissue. If any sections are not tender enough to pull take a cleaver or butcher's knife to them.

You can leave it as is or add your favorite sauce. I like to add a 70/30 mixture of bbq sauce and apple cider vinegar to the pulled pork to keep it moist. A little whiskey doesn't hurt either.

Freshly pulled

Sauced and ready to go!

What, no bbq sauce recipe? Nope, I only have one sauce recipe and I have to keep some secrets. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dragon Ribs

Since 2012 is the year of the Dragon I thought it would only be proper to celebrate with ribs. Sure I'm a month late for the official Chinese New Year but perfection takes time.

The Meat

1 slab of Baby Back Ribs

The Spices

1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/8 tsp Curry Powder
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or shaker.

The Curry powder is a substitute for Chinese 5 Spice powder since I didn't have any. I liked the way it turned out so I probably won't change it.

The Sauce

1/3 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce (thin variety)
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Minced Garlic (approx. 3 fresh cloves)
1 tsp Dragon Spice mixture from above

Combine in a small sauce pan and cook on medium for 10 minutes. Be sure to stir the sauce so it does not burn and reduce heat accordingly. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place in a container and refrigerate.

Let's do this!

Remove ribs from the cryovac package and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with a few paper towels. Sometimes the ribs will stink after removing from the package. The smell should dissipate after rinsing. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs by starting at the narrowest end. Using the tip of a knife pry up a small section of membrane. Grab the liberated piece of membrane with a paper towel and pull firmly. If you're awesome you were able to get the entire membrane off in one pull. Make sure all the membrane is off.
Sprinkle a light coating of rub to the bottom of the ribs. Use a metal or plastic spoon to press the spices into the meat.
Flip over and trim off any excess fat or silver skin. I do not take off too much fat since these will be at a higher temp that normal smoking. Apply a generous amount of rub to the top. Let sit for 30 minutes while you set up the grill. Before placing the ribs of the grill give the top 1 more hit of rub.

For these ribs I used my Weber One Touch Gold. You can set up almost any charcoal grill in a similar way. Using 2 bricks wrapped in foil block off at area for the coals as shown in the picture below. Place a sheet of foil with the ends folded up on the other side to catch the drippings.
Add unlit lump charcoal and 1 handful of dry Cherry wood chips on top. Light 1/8 of a chimney of lump charcoal. When the coals are fired up dump them on 1 corner of the unlit coals. Replace cooking grate and lid. The bottom vents should be slightly opened with the top vent open all the way and placed over where the meat will be.

Once the grill is up to 300 degrees place the ribs above the foiled section. Close the lid and set a timer for 90 minutes. There is no peeking for the 1st 90 minutes. Not to add wood or coals or to show them off. The temps on my grill got up to 350 degrees and that was just fine.

After 90 minutes you can lift the lid and do whatever fire maintenance might need to be done. At this time I added a very small handful of cherry wood chips. Remember smoke is not the dominate flavor for these ribs. I also propped the ribs up on a rack so they could self baste.
I you don't have a rack you can use another foil covered brick to lean them against. Cook for another hour. After 2.5 hours wrap the ribs in heavy duty foil as shown below. Add 1/4 cup of water to the foil package before closing. Make sure the package is tightly sealed . Place on grill for 45 minutes. At this time I needed to add some unlit lump. I also opened the bottom vent up a little to raise the temp back to 350 degrees.

Remove the foil package from the grill. Open one end and pour out any remaining liquid. Be careful there will be steam, delicious smelling steam. Do not try to grab the steam out of the air. It is hot and will burn you. Stay focused so you don't drop the ribs. Place ribs back on the grill minus the rack. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. The temp should be around 300 degrees.

15 minutes before serving sauce the ribs first on the under side and then on top. I placed half of the prepared sauce in a small pan with 1 tbsp of water to thin it out and let it heat up on the grill for a few minutes before applying it to the ribs.

The ribs should be tender but not falling off the bone.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cowboy Pork Chops

I love a recipe that requires a meat cleaver!

This is a great way to take a cheap piece of meat and transform it into some of the best pork chops you'll ever have. They are tender and very flavorful without using a brine or marinade.

What you will need:

The Meat
1 4-5 rib Pork Loin Rib End Roast(not loin end)

The Spices
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried worcestershire powder (optional-sorta) You can get it Here

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or shaker.

The Glaze
1/3 cup of your favorite bbq sauce
1 tbsp dark brown sugar - packed
1 tbsp Dr. Pepper or Cola

Mix together in a basting pot and warm in the grill for a few minutes before using. This was enough glaze to coat each chop twice.

Let's do this!

Get out your cleaver! Actually, depending on your how awesome your butcher is you may or may not need a meat cleaver but have it handy just in case. The rib end of the loin is closest to the shoulder and not as desirable as the center cut loin where the pretty pork chops come from. The roast may contain a thick portion of the spine or chine bones (thin flat bones on the under side of the roast). Loosen the chine bones by running your knife between them and the meat. Some can be pulled off easily and others will have to wait for cleaver time. Using a sharp knife cut each chop from the roast by going between each rib bone. I start from the top of the roast and line up my blade between the ribs and try to slice in one or two motion until I hit the bone joint. You may be able to cut around the joint leaving a rustic looking chop or you may need to use your cleaver. When using the cleaver make sure the meat portion of the chop is completely cut away from the roast. Breaking through the bone to separate the chop is actually very easy if you use a swift, clean stroke. Now - count your fingers. If you started off with 10 and you're down to 9 seek immediate medical attention. Use the cleaver to remove any chine bones as well. Using your remaining fingers feel around the chops for any loose bone fragments. Note: Nowhere do I mention trimming any fat from the chops.

To avoid the need for a cleaver you can ask your butcher to cut it into chops (between the bones!) but where's the fun in that?

Season each chop with the cowboy spice rub. Use the bottom of a spoon to press the rub into the meat.

Set up your charcoal grill for indirect cooking. Don't have one? Here's where I get mine.

Grill chops on the hot side for about 2 minutes on each side. Place chops on the cool side with the bone facing the coals, add a very small handful of DRY apple or cherry wood chips to the coals and close the lid. With the top vent fully opened adjust the bottom vents until you reach a temperature between 375 and 400 degrees. If using a kettle style grill make sure the lid is on so the top vent is over the meat.

Cook for 30 minutes and then flip the chops (bones still facing the heat). Cook for 30-45 more minutes. Total cooking time will be around 1.5 hours. During the last 15 minutes Glaze each chop one side at a time closing the lid for 3-5 minutes between each coat to allow the glaze to bake on. Let the chops rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Notice the awesome smoke ring from only using a small amount of wood chips. Since the chop has a large surface area they don't need much smoke.

The best part was the price. Ok, it was second best to eating them.