September 13, 2014

Happy Belated National Hotdog Day!

I'm back, my hiatus is over.  I have been busy trying to build my BBQ Empire and things are going well.  Let me say, it’s a long way to the top if you want to barbecue!  This summer our weekends have been filled with store demos and markets, but we still manage to find time to cook up some great grub, it's finding the time to blog about that is difficult.  So, I'm a little late with my National Hotdog Day post, but it's the thought that counts right?  Besides who needs a national day to enjoy a delicious hotdog?

Happy Belated National Hot Dog Day!
National Hotdog Day was back in July and we had a little party to celebrate.  And true to our form we made the best hotdogs we could.  Great hotdogs start with quality franks with a natural casing, fresh baked buns and homemade toppings and of course some bacon. Even when it comes to hotdogs we don't mess around at the AlbuKirky Kitchens.

When I cook hotdogs I like to cut a cross in the end of the franks.  It’s a little trick I saw on Amazing Ribs and have been using it ever since.  The cross cut allows the ends to crisp up a bit, it's very tasty, although they do kind of look like the giant worms from the movie Dune.

I cooked a few of the dogs on the grill.  I started by laying them down in the grates and as the dogs cook I roll them across the grill.  It gets them really brown and really maxes out the flavor.


As for the other dogs I got a little stupid.  I wrapped them with a thick slice of bacon and deep fried them in the Disc-It.  Yah, it was stupid all right, stupid delicious!!


We started our hotdogs with the fresh homemade buns, baked by my lovely wife Cheryl.  For my first dog I took the bacon wrapped dog and topped it with fried onion strings and topped it with a little AlbuKirky Seasonings BBQ Sauce.  The other dog was a chile cheese topped with Cheryl’s homemade chili, onions and good old French’s Yellow Mustard.

Chili Cheese Dog & Bacon Dog with Onion Strings
Cheryl decided to for go the bacon dog for a classic sauerkraut dog with yellow mustard.  And of course the sauerkraut was homemade by her sister Patricia.

The Classic Kraut Dog
When it was all said and done these were the best hot dog we've ever made. I don't know how we're going to top this next year but we'll try.  And maybe next year I'll get it posted on time.

August 30, 2014

Let's make a Cubano Sandwich!

Well, this Cubano Sandwich Trilogy has certainly taken a long time to produce.  I shouldn't feel too bad, though, The Godfather Trilogy took 18 years to complete.  The first two installments are considered to be 2 of the Greatest Movies ever made as documented on many lists found on the Internet (and the Internet would NEVER lie to us), however, Kirk reminded me that the third one was a piece of shit.  Let's hope this post fairs better.

To bring this story to a close, I'm going to wind down with the bread recipe and how we put this sandwich together.  Just like any reasonably decent trilogy closer, we're going to answer all of your questions and tie up the lose ends.

Let's start with the sandwich rolls...


I found this roll recipe on King Arthur Flour's website here and it really makes up a nice hoagie type roll.  This is one to keep in the sandwich making arsenal, for sure.  The picture above shows the rolls after they were shaped and left to rise.  Looking pretty good!  I shaped each roll into a small batard using this video here as a reference.  I must have watched this video 20 times.  I used to think that rolling the dough into a log shape would do the trick, but I soon found out that correct shaping creates a nice tight gluten skin which greatly improves the appearance, rise,  and texture of the bread.  It makes a world of difference.      


A slash down the middle and into the oven they go!  It'll be cubano time before you know it!


Out of the oven, nice and golden.  These will make a cozy place for the ham, pork, and swiss to live happily ever after.   

Cubano Sandwich Rolls

4 Cups (17oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Teaspoons sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
2 1/4 Teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons lard, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 Cups (10oz) warm water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast to 1/4 cup of the water (110º) and let it bloom for about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients including the remaining 1 cup of water and stir on low speed with the paddle attachment.  Once the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook and mix for approximately 5-8 minutes.  The dough should be soft and supple.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for approximately 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, use a bowl scraper and working inside the bowl, fold the top of the dough down towards the middle, then fold the bottom of the dough up towards the middle.  Next fold each of the sides toward the middle.  Turn the dough ball upside down in the bowl and let it rise an additional 30 minutes.  

Turn the dough out and divide it into 6 equal pieces.  I like to weigh the dough on a kitchen scale, divide by six, and then weigh out six pieces.  This ensures my sandwich rolls will be nice and uniform.  Cover and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.  Shape the logs into batards (see video link above) about 8 inches long.  Place shaped rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for an hour.  While the rolls are rising preheat the oven to 375º for 30 minutes.  

Slash each roll down the middle, spritz with water, and bake at 375º for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool before assembling your sandwiches.  

Let's assemble these bad boys...

The following is not so much a recipe as it is instructions for assembly, but you will need a few important ingredients:

Yellow Mustard
Thin-sliced Deli Ham
Swiss Cheese
Sliced Dill Pickles
And last, but not least, those fresh baked rolls you worked so hard on. 


Begin with plain yellow mustard on each side of the rolls to get the party started.  Next, add two slices of thin-sliced deli ham on the bottom half of each sandwich.  Top with some of that mouth-watering citrus infused shredded pork.  And finally, lay a couple of slices of swiss cheese on the very top.  I sliced this cheese from a block of cheese and in the next photo you'll see I got a little crazy and cut it way too thick.  Packaged sliced swiss is the better option.  Oh yeah, least I forget, a few sliced dills finish off this mountain of happiness.  I pickled these myself and was happy to crack open a jar for these sandwiches. 


They look pretty good as is, but think about how crispy and melty they're going to get after we press them.  


We decide to press these outside on our Disc-It using our flat disc.  We brushed down the surface generously with melted butter and did the same to the tops of the sandwiches.  Sounds excessive, but the melted butter adds so much flavor, it would be a crime to skip it and this girl is not one to break the law.


A hot cast iron griddle and two foil wrapped bricks provides the perfect weights to give these sandwiches a good squeeze.  Think thin, you two!


No words needed.  I think you can form your own opinion from this pic.


Cut on the diagonal to expose a cross view of those tasty meats and cheese.  If only I had sliced that swiss thinner, these would have exceeded perfection.  Next time, no doubt.  Serve alongside twice fried plantains and you've got yourself a comforting platter of Cuban flavors guaranteed to kick hunger to the curb.   

August 1, 2014

Smoking Cubanos

Well, here I am with my contribution to the Cubano Sandwich Post. As you well know, I’m not as eloquent and prolific as Cheryl, so this post will be relatively short and sweet. More like terse and bitter, but that’s just how I roll.  My responsibility for this culinary endeavor was the pulled pork.  I have eaten many Cuban sandwiches over the years and I have always thought the pork could use a little more flavor and definitely some smoke. 

Pork Butt for Cubanos
My inspiration for my pork seasonings was the Mojo Criollo that I’m so fond of but I didn’t want to cop out and just use it, I wanted to make my own version.  First, I wanted to make a rub for the pork so I started with AlbuKirky Seasoning Green Chile Rub and added a few more ingredients...bitter orange adobo seasoning and some extra cumin. If you don’t have or can’t find adobo seasoning, you can substitute lemon pepper. I wanted to add a fruity tang in the rub to match the flavors of the injection. There is some cumin in the Green Chile Rub, but I wanted to add more to bring out that earthy flavor.

Cubano Rub
¼ Cup AlbuKirky Seasonings Green Chile Rub
2 Tablespoons of Goya Adobo Seasoning with Bitter Orange
1 Tablespoon of Cumin

My vision was to infuse the pork with a lot of citrus flavors because when I think of Latin flavors I think of fruits like oranges, limes and lemons. I made an injection of orange, lemon, lime juice and a little bit of the rub. I was really happy with this injection because it infused the meat with a light citrus tang.

Citrus Injection
2 Cup of Orange Juice
1 Cup of Lemon Juice
1 Cup of Lime Juice
2 Teaspoons of the Cubano Rub

I injected the pork butt with  all of citrus Injection.  Injecting is the best way to infuse flavor throughout the meat.  A tip when injecting...use a lot!  Inject the butt on the top, the side and the end.  You want to get as much liquid and flavor into the pork as possible.  It should take about a quart of injection for one butt.

After the butt was injected I patted it dry and then gave it a good coating of jalapeno oil.  I like the jalapeno oil because it adds a bit of heat to the pork, if you don’t have it plain olive oil will work just fine. Now apply the rub to the pork butt.  Give it a good coating but you still want to be able to see the meat.

The pork butt was about 7lbs and I smoked it with mesquite charcoal at 275º-300º for about 7 hours to an internal temp of 195º.  I pulled the pork butt off the smoker and let it rest a good 30 minutes before pulling.  When I started pulling, the butt just fell apart. Although I didn’t add any sugar to my rub, there was enough natural sugar from the injection to form a nice bark around the pork.  The pork was a refreshing change from my typical BBQ'd butts... it was slightly sweet, had a nice subtle fruity tang, followed by a spicy finish from the green chile and jalapeño. This pulled pork was absolutely amazing and I will definitely be cooking this recipe again.

Check back next week and we'll wrap up the Cubano Sandwich posts.  Cheryl will share her recipe for the bread and the process for making the sandwiches.



July 23, 2014

Getting Smashed...Tostone Style!

Mrs. AlbuKirky here, sharing with you today,  part one of a trilogy of posts inspired by what else...a trip to the movies.  Food in film is not a rarity.  Sometimes it plays a leading character and sometimes it blends into the background.  Sometimes it represents wealth and abundance, and sometimes it's scarcity depicts longing and poverty.  Whatever the case may be it's presence can be powerful.  While the food itself almost becomes another character, less attention gets paid to the people who put it on the plate.

Not so in the new movie, Chef, written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also plays the leading character and acts alongside a handful of his Hollywood homies.  The limited screen times of Scarlett, Dustin, and RDJ has me thinking that Mr. Favreau called in a few favors, which is absolutely fine with me, because the story is carried largely by Mr. Favreau's character, Chef Carl Casper, his loyal sous chef Martin, his son Percy, and his ex-wife Inez, played by John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, and Sofia Vargara, respectively.

Various reviews I've seen online describe the story as predictable, but that's ok because the characters are extremely likable and the story that unfolds feels completely believable.  I felt like a fly on the wall eavesdropping on real interactions between real people.  The only detail that left me feeling bamboozled was the complete metamorphosis of a rusted out, run down taco wagon into a beautiful fully realized food truck butterfly in a matter of only 2 days.  Our spare refrigerator in the garage went out and it took us a full 2-weeks to shop for, purchase, and await delivery of a new one.  Actually, it took 3 deliveries, before everything was completely settled.  I guess it would have played out more quickly if we had John Leguizamo's cousins putting the wheels into motion.

All in all...I LOVED this movie!  I wanted to sit down with these characters and share a meal and a conversation about food with them.  Even better than that, I wanted them to cook for me.  Alas, since this is a movie and that's not a possibility, I continued to watch them lovingly prepare their signature food truck dish, a cubano sandwich and tostones, and I thought to myself...we could do that. And so we did.  Maybe not as elegantly as our cinema culinary heroes on the big screen did, but dammit, we pulled it off pretty well.

Part 1 begins with tostones; delicious, twice-fried, green plantains.  More savory than sweet, because they're not quite ripe, they partner well with the strong flavors of the spicy garlic sauce I prepared to accompany them.  I found this recipe and technique online here.  While the sauce was good, I am going to add a touch of honey next time I make this.  I think the addition of a bit of sweet will round this sauce out and turn it into something I will want to add to lots of dishes.  Plus, the tostones, while savory in their green state, seem to yearn for something to soften the sharp heat of the garlic.

Ideally I would have used a simple wooden tostone press to make these, but numerous trips to all of the Hispanic markets in town left me unim-press-ed...(I made a funny)!  Instead I opted to use a large can of Crushed Pineapple.  I chose this can primarily for it's size and heft, but also because it contained the word "crushed" in the title.  How appropriate.

Shall we begin?

Let's get these lovely green senoritas ready for the dance.  Slice the ends off the plantains off and cut a seam down each side of the peel.  Pull the peel off one half at a time.



Slice the plantains into 1" pieces.



Toss the plantains into their hot oil bath and fry until slightly golden brown.  We took this process outside and used our Disc-It.  No fuss, no muss!



Look at that golden tan!  The first fry blanches the plantains making them just pliable enough to smash for the second fry.  



Tostone Crusher on Make A Gif
Speaking of smashing...no tostone press?  Never fear!  Grab a hefty canned good and go to town.  (By the way, check out this nifty GIFty I made!)



Obviously, our chicas bonitas had a little too much fun at the dance, because now they're smashed.  (I love a pun, good or bad.  I should just apologize now for all of the future word butchery I plan to make when I blog on Kirk's behalf.)


Toss the smashed plantains back into the hot oil for dip number two.  NICE!



After a couple of minutes, they should turn a deep golden brown.  Pull them out and drain them on a  paper towel.  Dust immediately with salt and pepper, and cash in on that crispy, crunchy texture. 


Fried Tostones 

5 Green Plaintains
Oil for frying
Salt
Pepper
(we used Casa Seasoning)

Garlic Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Fresh Parsley (minced)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Lime Juice
5 cloves finely minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat 2 or 3 inches of oil to 375º.  We used our Disc-It outside, the perfect place to fry.

While the oil is heating, peel and slice the plantains.  The peel is thick so cut a seam down each side and pull the peel off in halves.  Slice the plantains into 1 inch pieces.

Place the sliced plantains into the hot oil and fry until they just start to turn golden.

Pull them out of the grease and drain on paper towels.  Once they are cool enough to handle, smash the plantain pieces into rounds using a tostone press or large can.

Place the smashed plantain rounds back into the hot oil and fry again until golden and crispy.

Remove from the oil and drain again on paper towels.  Dust them immediately with salt and pepper (we used Casa Seasoning).

To make the sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve.

Check back and we'll share Kirk's recipe for a Latin inspired citrus-infused pulled pork, my recipe for homemade sandwich rolls, and how we pulled it all together for Cubano Sandwich Night.  


June 30, 2014

Beer Belly

It’s been a bit of a crappy week.  My meat fridge in the garage died.  I know that sounds like a First World Problem, but it really pissed me off.  The reason it really pissed me off was I had to throw away 15lbs of pork belly I was curing for bacon.  My pork belly was not a total loss, though, as I was able to braise a one-pound piece of it for dinner. Considering this one-pound of pork belly cost me $75 it was absolutely freaking delicious. All right, enough crying over rotten pork, lets get on with this week's recipe...Beer Braised Pork Belly.

Beer Braised Pork Belly with Wilted Bok Choy Slaw
Pork belly seems to be the popular girl at the dance these days.  I’m seeing it gracing more menus and the cooking shows sing it's praises in a chorus culinary odes.  Even one of our favorite food vendors at the Rail Yards Market lists it as an omelette option, a mighty tasty one at that.  Since it’s on more menus, it's only reasonable that more of it is making its way into my fat belly.  Partaking of this richly decadent meat treat on a regular basis has given me a better idea of how it’s supposed to be prepared; it's all research in the name of culinary science. But hey, someone has to do it.  You're welcome.  Although, my first attempt at cooking pork belly was mighty fine, there is still a lot to learn in order to get the most out this fatty morsel and the R & D Team at AlbuKirky Seasonings is willing to bite the bullet, in a matter of speaking.   

To begin my culinary adventure, I traveled up the belly and opted to use Pork Side instead. Pork Side is cut a little higher up on the belly and has a higher meat to fat ratio.  I decided to go skinless, but I might leave the skin on for my next attempt.  I started by marinating my pork belly in an Asian dressing prepared by Cheryl earlier in the week.  She got the recipe from one of her favorite food bloggers, Pioneer Woman. I marinated the belly in a ziplock bag with the dressing and placed it in the fridge over night, but I made sure to set aside some of the dressing to serve over the pork belly after braising.

Asian Dressing/Marinade
3/4 cups Canola Oil
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon (additional) Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 cloves Garlic, Peeled
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Lots Of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Just add all the ingredients in a shaker bottle or Mason jar and shake vigorously.

Browning Pork Belly on Cast Iron Plate Setter
Pork belly doesn’t necessarily require smoke to be delicious, so I opted to only slightly infuse a subtle smoke flavor.  Besides, if I over smoked it, the result would just be bland bacon and even though doesn't sound terrible, it wasn't the result I was looking for. Using the Big Green Egg with my favorite mesquite charcoal, I scored the fatty side of the belly and then browned each side of it on my sweet new cast iron plate setter.  The cast iron plate setter is a "grate" tool, a review will be coming soon.

Pork Belly Braise in Beer
After both sides were browned, I placed the belly in a Dutch oven.  Sticking with my Asian flavor profile I poured in a large bottle of Sapporo Beer.  I placed the oven back on the BGE and cooked it for an hour and a half.  I thought if I left the lid off the top would crisp up a bit but it didn’t and the pork didn’t quite have the unctuous texture I was looking for.  Next time I will cook it with the lid on and maybe I will get that soft fall apart texture.

Pork Belly!
Once the pork belly was done, I sliced it up and served it with a drizzle of the Asian dressing, and some pickled daikon radish and carrots. Cheryl made a fantastic Wilted Bok Choy Slaw that's lightness perfectly offset the richness of the meat. The acid from the pickled daikon and dressing cut through the fattiness to create a surprisingly crisp bite.  Delicious.  Seriously, this stuff is not just good, it's delectable.

Braised Pork Belly with Asian Dressing
Hopefully, I will have a new meat fridge next week and one of my First World Problems will be solved.  But seriously, its a pain in the ass to not have a meat fridge and my barbecuing is suffering.  This morning Cheryl had to proof her sourdough in an ice chest, and you all know what that means.....I believe we have officially reached a crisis level.

June 19, 2014

Don't Let Your Meat Loaf

Recently I've had a craving for meat loaf.  I don't know why, it's never been one of my go-to comfort foods, but I wasn't just going to throw a pound of ground beef in a loaf pan and douse it with ketchup and call it good.  No, if I was going to make meat loaf, it was going to be really good and have the AlbuKirky spin on it.


BBQ'ed Meat Loaf on the Big Green Egg
To elevate this meat loaf, I used ground sirloin and ground pork. I seasoned it with my Red Chile BBQ Rub and topped it with my BBQ Sauce.  But what really took it to the next level was smoking it on the Big Green Egg.  It's amazing what some good spices and a little bit of smoke can do to transform the mundane into something really tasty and comforting.

BBQ'ed Meat Loaf

2 pounds ground sirloin
2 pounds ground pork
2 Eggs
2 Hamburger Buns or 3 slices of white bread
1/4 Cup of Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup of AlbuKirky Seasonings BBQ Sauce
1-2 Tablespoons AlbuKirky Seasonings Red Chile BBQ Rub

In a large mixing bowl add the ground sirloin, ground pork, eggs and worcestershire sauce.  Tear the hamburger buns into pieces and add them to the bowl.  Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together.  During the mixing process, sprinkle in the Red Chile BBQ Rub.   Once the ingredients are mixed, transfer the mixture to an oiled loaf pan.  Pour the BBQ Sauce over the top of the meat.

I filled the Big Green Eggs with mesquite charcoal, fired it up and dropped in the plate setter.  Once it was up to about 375º I put the meat loaf in to cook.  It cooked for an hour and 15 minutes to an internal temperate of 150º- 160º.  Since there were two ground meats, I wanted to be sure they were cooked thoroughly.  Also cooking it a little longer allows for that meaty crust to form along the inside of the pan.



BBQ'ed Meat Loaf, I got a little sloppy with the sauce.
To accompany the meat loaf the Mrs. made mashed potatoes and two beautiful loaves  of whole wheat bread.  I cut myself a nice little slab of the meat loaf and topped it with a little more BBQ sauce. It was really good, actually it was better than good, it was truly comforting.  The smoke and tangy BBQ sauce did it's job and brought this dish to a whole new level.  This meatloaf is now going into my regular rotation of go-to comfort foods.



Cheryl's Whole Wheat Bread

June 10, 2014

Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream...That's Right Buttermilk!!

It’s not always steaks and barbeque here at the AlbuKirky Kitchens.  I do occasionally dabble in my other food passion, ICE CREAM!  I’m actually not sure what I love making  more, ice cream or barbeque?  But I don't have to choose, because I can always eat my ice cream after BBQ and enjoy the best of both worlds.  Today I’ve got a recipe that is one of our favorites. It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s absolutely freaking delicious!  It's Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream.


Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream
2 Cups of Half & Half
2 Cups of Buttermilk
4 Eggs
1 Scoop of Vanilla Whey Protein
1 or 2 Cans of Sweeten Condensed Milk
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch of Salt

I add all the ingredients to the ice cream canister and mix with my boat motor blender right in the canister.  Drop in the dasher, put lid on and put it all in the ice cream maker. I use the salt & ice type maker and it takes about an hour to freeze.

My base is always the same half & half, eggs, condensed milk and whey protein. I’m sure you asking, why the whey protein.  It helps the ice cream hold more air and keeps it from getting all icy when you put it in the freezer to harden.  One scoop or 1/3 cup is about all you need; too much whey will give it a funky after taste.


The perfect vehicle for ice cream is of course cake. Cheryl made a this delicious Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake  with a recipe from Pioneer Woman.  My mom used to make this cake and it was always one of my favorites.  There is buttermilk in the cake so it pairs really well with the buttermilk ice cream. But then again what cake doesn't pair well with ice cream??  It's going to be a long hot summer and 've got some more ice cream recipes coming.

May 30, 2014

Smoking Hot Butts

Hope you like the catchy title, but we're talking about pork butts here, so get your mind out of the gutter.  Anyway, I was cooking up some pork butts for a little party we had last weekend.  Just for fun I decided to check my blog for any old pork butt recipes and realized I had not updated my recipe in a very long time. So today I'm going to update my BBQ Pork Butt recipe and share all of my tips and tricks for smoking butts that I've discovered over the past few years through diligent research.  See, I do all the hard work so you don't have to!


Smoking a Pork Butt on the BGE
A great pork butt starts with good meat. I like to use a bone-in butt, they taste better and are easier to cook than the boneless cut.  Boneless butts do not stay together in smoker unless you tie them up with butcher twine, they are like a big meat blob on the grate.  The bone also serves as part of the doneness test, if you can pull it out, it's done. I also prefer the packer butts, there's two in each pack.  Why cook one when you can cook two?

Brine or Injection?  For a long time I was brining my pork butts in a solution of apple juice, salt, sugar, vinegar and molasses.  Although the brine added a lot of moisture to the meat, it just didn't impart as much flavor as I wanted.  I have since converted to injecting, it's faster, imparts more flavor and keeps the meat moist during cooking. 


Pork Butt Injection
Injecting through the cryo packaging

2 Qt of Apple Juice
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher or bowl and set aside a cup of the liquid for spritzing down the butts during cooking.


I like to inject the pork butts while still in the packaging, just push the needle through the plastic into the meat.  Injecting while still in the packaging will minimize the rogue squirts from flying all over the kitchen.  I inject about a quart of the injection liquid into each butt in random spots all around the butt.


Once the pork has been injected, I remove it from the packaging and pat it dry with a few paper towels. Before I put down the rub, I trim off some of the excess fat if it's really thick, but for the most part I leave the fat cap on, sometimes I will score it to help it cook down faster.  I then give the butts a coating of canola oil so the rub will stick, yellow mustard works really well, too.
Pork Butts rubbed and read for the smoker

For the rub, I mix equal parts of my Red Chile BBQ Rub and turbinado sugar.  If you don't have any turbinado sugar, brown sugar will work just as well.  I really like the sweet and spicy contrast and the sugar helps form the bark around the pork.  I give the pork butts a good coating, then rub and all sides and let them sit while I prep the smoker.


I fill my Big Green Egg with mesquite charcoal and light it.  After the charcoal is lit, I drop in the plate setter and drip pan.  On my last cook I fill the drip pan with half water and half apple juice just to try to infuse more flavor into the pork. I close the lid and let the smoker get up to 275º - 300º.  Once its up to temp, I place the pork butts on the grate and let them get to cooking.  At 300º the butts will take about 75 minutes per pound to cook. A 7lb butt will take about 8 1/2 to 9 hours to cook. The only way to ruin a pork butt is to undercook it, so be sure you cook it completely or it will not pull apart. 
During the cook, use a spray bottle filled with the injection solution and spritz the butts down at least once an hour.


Drip pan full of water and apple juice
When the butts reach an internal temp of 195º they are done.  You can also check the doneness by pulling on the bone, if it's loose and pulls out easily, it's done.  Pull the butts off the smoker and let them rest for 20-30 minutes.  To pull the pork apart I have pair of insulated gloves that I use.  You can also use two forks or invest in some claws if you like.  If the pork is cooked right it won't take much effort to pull it apart. Undercooked pork will not pull apart.
Two Pork Butts All Done!
Wrap or not to wrap?  I have waffled on the wrapping for a long time.  I have finally decided, not to wrap.  I just keep my drip pan full of water and let the pork cook.  I know that wouldn't fly in a competition but this is my backyard, not KCBS.


I like small buns so I can eat one of each!
After all that hard work it's time to eat!  I like my pulled pork on a bun with some sauce and dill pickles.  It's even better when the Mrs. makes homemade buns. It may look simple but there is a lot of flavors in that pork.  I can taste the apple juice and molasses from the injection, the bark has a nice spicy sweetness from the rub, turbinado sugar and the apple molasses spritz, and finally there is the mesquite smoke.  I have experimented with other woods and charcoals, but I always come back to mesquite.  For me it adds the flavor of New Mexico. So that's my pork butt recipe as it stand now, in two years I'll probably have a new one.

I hope you all find my updated BBQ'ed Pork Butt recipe helpful. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  I'm always happy to help.  Have a "GRATE" summer!!

May 19, 2014

Chopped

At least once, sometimes twice a year, my sister sends me a care package of Iowa Chops from Amana Meats.  These aren't just any pork chop either, they are really more like a pork steak. Each steak is about 3/4 lb, 1" thick, bone in cuts of pure porky goodness. Normally, I season these chops with my Green Chile Rub and grill them like a steak but this time I wanted to do something a little different....a barbequed pork chop!!  


BBQ'ed Iowa Chops
Anyway, back to cooking. I wanted to infuse the chops with all the BBQ flavor of a pork butt, so I cooked them like a pork butt. First I brined them, then I seasoned them with BBQ Rub.  Next, I slow smoked them over mesquite charcoal and topped them off with a brushing of BBQ Sauce.

Brine

3-4 Cups of Apple Juice
1 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons of Molasses.

I combined all the ingredients in a large sauce pan and brought it to a boil.  I stirred frequently until all the salt and sugar had dissolved.  Once the brine was done I removed it from the stove and let it completely cool.  After the brine had cooled I placed the chops in a large plastic container and covered them with the brine.  To keep the chops submerged I placed a plate on top of them.  Then the whole thing went into the fridge over night.



To cook these chops I filled the Big Green Egg with mesquite charcoal, lit it and then dropped the plate setter in for indirect heat cooking.  I seasoned the chops with a good dusting of my Red Chile BBQ Rub and slow cooked them in the mesquite smoke for about an hour, until they reached an internal temp of 120.  Since I couldn't cook these ribs long enough to build a bark, I at least wanted to get a good browning on them.  I removed the plate setter and finished cooking them over direct heat.  I kept flipping and moving the chops around so they would be good and brown.  On the last flip I brushed them down with some BBQ Sauce and let the sauce set up on the meat, I was being careful not to let the sauce burn.


Iowa Chops on the Big Green Egg
The BBQ Iowa Chops were absolutely amazing, it was all the great flavors of a smoked pork butt packed into a hefty pork steak.  The brine gave it a tangy sweetness, the mesquite gave it a rich smokiness and the sauce completed it with a spicy bite. We rounded out this meal with some fresh green beans, a baked potato and a giant loaf of homemade Italian bread.  Looks good doesn't it?  Well that's just the way we roll around here.





I have to admit, I am down right stingy with these chops, Cheryl and I save them for ourselves and don't share them with anyone, including my sister-in-law Trissi and her life partner Sean.  As I see it, if Trissi & Sean were meant to have some Iowa Chops, my sister would have sent them a box.  I guess I was having a weak moment, because I decided to give in and share our precious pork with them. I know they were just overwhelmed with my generosity.