a weekend in the kitchen and at the bbq… part one

with several family members and friends in the US, nick and i have spent quite a bit of time there over recent years. and one of the biggest attractions is the food of the deep south. pulled pork with north carolina bbq sauce… mmmm…

since nick’s most recent visits we have been keen to try making this ourselves, and this weekend was it. pulled pork #1. there will definitely be more. so the first thing we did was go shopping – one pork forequarter, as close to a boston butt as we could imagine, one thermometer to stick through the lid of the weber, and one bag of hickory chunks.

and then the second step was to google our little hearts out. every one seems to have a different idea of how to do this. some people soak their wood, some don’t. some add all of the coals at the start and control their burning through the air vents, and some add then slowly as the meat cooks. some use a rub, some baste, some add hickory all the way through, and it goes on…

we mostly followed a book that nick had found on his last trip to the US, holy smoke: the big book of north caroline barbecue. fantastic book, talks you through the right cuts of meat, the right sauces and sides but doesn’t assume that you already have a full smoke house or fire pit in your backyard.

here is what we did. this time, anyway…

8pm the day before: ready to salt the meat. we decided against using a rub as we wanted to get a feel for a simple recipe and the foundational smoked flavour of the pork. nick rubbed salt all over, trimming back the extra skin and fat.

11pm: remember to soak the hickory chunks just before we go to sleep!

10:30am of bbq day: we started using the minion method for getting the coals going. this sounds impressive and knowledgable, but really it is basically about getting a slowly burning fire by having your coals light progressively. we started with about 45 coals in each side, just mounded loosely around the edge. then we tipped 20 lit coals evenly over the two minion piles, topping that with some hickory chunks. we then dangled our thermometer through the top until we were convinced we had a fairly even temperature of about 250F. we were looking ideally for something a little lower, but 250 was acceptable.

11:30am: time to add the pork! luckily it fitted.

we kept checking the temperature and although we kept fiddling with the airflow it took quite a long time to get it to sit reliably around 250. i guess this why people suggest you sit around with a beer or two – no point fiddling around too much – you just have to wait and see how things go…

1:30pm: time to make the sauce: Dennis Roger’s Holy Grub Sauce. a blend of cider vinegar, brown sugar, crushed red pepper, cayenne and salt. you really need to let this sit for the recommended four hours for the flavours to come out. we can recommend an old diet coke bottle for this. thanks, Dennis!

4:30pm: time to baste with the sauce. this was the first time we had taken the lid off the weber since we put the meat in, and so we were a little curious as to what it would look like. off it came. the meat looked great, but only one side of the weber had actually been lit! in hindsight, this was probably a good thing. i suspect that the instructions we had read were for a larger weber, and if we had had both sides lit there is no way we could have kept the temperature in the right range. as it was we had trouble keeping it at around 250F which was at the high end for a starting temperature.

we also realised at this time that we needed to crank up the weber a little if we were going to eat sometime that night. the meat at this stage was sitting around 50C and we need to get to the mid 70s! so onwards we pushed, opening up the air vents a little to try to get to around 300F

7:30pm: still going, thumbs twiddling, but the internal meat temperature steadily rising. we were sitting around 315F at this stage but were too hungry to really care.

8:30pm: finally! we had got to around 75C for the internal meat temperature and were ready to take it off and rest it up. which also have us some time to make the sides, coleslaw made with a dressing of mayonnaise and the bbq sauce, hush puppies and fried okra. and of course, heaps of that bbq sauce.

next time, we will definitely try to get things started a little early, and won’t bother with setting up both sides of coals. but there will definitely be a next time!

One Response to “a weekend in the kitchen and at the bbq… part one”
  1. Nick Falkner says:

    One comment is that the book was actually a gift from Byron, I didn’t find it. 🙂

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