BBQ! There’s not too much I can say about making pulled pork – there’s a little bit of preparation time, some variation in ingredients, and the rest is up to the quality of the pork shoulder roast (Boston butt) and how good your smoker is. Food and Fire has a variety of instructions for pulled pork and I’m sure they are all good. I used this one, which incorporated a molasses brine modified from Alton Brown’s recipe. One thing that I find wonderful about food blogs is the endless adaptations of recipes and ideas, how one recipe sparks the imagination and leads to certainly a similar dish, but one that is still your own for what your hands added to it.
For once, I did not make many changes to the recipe. I used a smaller butt portion (4 1/2 pounds), added a little less salt to the brine (9 ounces), and combined a couple of different rubs. We used chunks of cherry for the smoke. After 4 hours of cooking time, I started spraying the butt every hour with a 1:1 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, plus about 1 tablespoon of honey, to help keep it moist and to enhance the bark on the outside of the roast. (I would have used apple juice or cider instead of water, but we forgot to get any at the grocery.)
Since it was a smaller butt roast, it only needed 9 hours of cooking time, the last 45 minutes covered with foil to bring the temperature up in the meat. When it was done, we let it rest for an hour (covered), then pulled it apart by hand and finished it with a light application of Lexington style BBQ sauce, recipe also by Dave at Food and Fire.
The butt turned out really moist with a good texture, and plenty of bark that was neither too fatty or too chewy. In other words, pretty much perfect! We served it with 3 different sauces: The Lexington BBQ sauce, a thicker, sweeter Texas-style sauce by Fox Bros BBQ, and a mustard-based sauce by Dreamland.
It was all good, as they say…
Nah, it was more than all good…it was MEAT CANDY! Yum.
Ok, something about bbq brings out the country boy in me, and thus the soundtrack to pork butt starts off with an early favorite, the International Submarine Band’s only album, Safe at Home. Now, you’re not to be faulted if you’ve never heard of ISB, except this was Gram Parson’s first recorded band, and this record gives an early glimpse of his wonderful voice, great songwriting (“Luxury Liner” and “Blue Eyes”) as well as his spot-on takes on Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and more. A great, great record that only hints at the magic to follow.
Country music doesn’t get much better than the Bakersfield Boy, Buck Owens. Now, you might recall him as the red, white and blue guitar playing guy from Hee Haw with Roy Clark, pickin’ in a corn field, but Buck is more than just that. His work in the ’60s with guitarist Don Rich is legendary, great songwriting and Telecaster twang. He was a hit machine in those days, and one of his biggest, “Sam’s Place” is featured on Tender Loving Care, and it’s almost as tasty as this smoked pork butt.