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First pulled pork experience

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    First pulled pork experience

    I'm a relatively new BBQ chef. I've been an enthusiastic home cook for many years now but I only moved into a home with outdoor space last year. Over the last 13 months I have started to really get into grilling; first with a gas grill, and now this year with a charcoal kettle.

    Yesterday, I made pulled pork at home for the first time ever. My pulled pork experiences to date have been limited to restaurants; in most cases, this was dry meat with a heavy smoke tint. I was looking forward to trying something different. I followed Meathead's recipe from the book faithfully. Here's how it went….

    I bought a 9lb boneless pork shoulder from DeBragga in NYC (I live near Boston). It came perfectly vacuum sealed, shipped overnight on Thursday. On Friday night I liberated it from its packaging while cooking some steaks (hence the live thermometer). I note that the meat had nice white fat - none of that nasty gamy yellow stuff.

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    9lb of pork shoulder is a lot. So I divided it in two (freezing half for later) and trimming the fat off the half I planned to cook.
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    Of which there was quite a bit.

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    I then trussed the meat and started the overnight dry brine. Note the glass of wine to be enjoyed with the aforementioned steak. Went to bed with visions of tasty piggies dancing through the night.


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    Next day: good morning! You can see my cook getting started before 7am with some coals going on the Slow N Sear… Thankfully my neighbors are BBQ lovers as well so nobody was troubled. They were actually out having a coffee on their porch and when I told them what I was doing, they threatened to jump the fence and make off with the finished product.

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    I rubbed the pork with Memphis Meat Dust and enjoyed the sensations under my fingers.

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    Next I filled the Slow N Sear reservoir with boiling kettle water. It burbled as it was supposed to. Some of you with sharp eyes may notice that the charcoals in the SNS were already a bit white. That's because I had used them very briefly last night to sear the aforementioned steak before shutting the grill down. So I thought they were still good today. But I did have to add some additional coals (about 1/3 chimney) at about 2pm, so I suspect that my money-and-coal saving technique may have been the cause.

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    Okay, let's get this pork on the grill!

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    Early morning pork placement. I used an initial wood chunk that was about 4 oz and added some more chunks in the morning for a total weight of about a pound.


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    Over the course of the day I kept the cook at about 225-250. It started to take on a nice patina after just a few hours.


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    And darkened over the course of the day.

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    Eventually getting very dark


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    Meanwhile, I engaged in a BBQ sauce taste-off. I did a head to head comparison of Meathead's KC sauce vs Huskee Shawsh, plus a blend of the two. They are very different sauces, and while I like the complexity of the Meathead sauce, the direct tastiness of the Shawsh was a win between the two. That said, I know that sweet things tend to win blind tastings due to quirks in the human palate (e.g. fat wines beating subtle ones, or new Coke vs original Coke) so I can't eliminate the possibility that the sweetness of Huskee led me down that path.

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    At about 6pm, when I was ready to eat, the meat was at 200 degrees. I never had a true stall during the day but it definitely slowed down at about 170. Anyway, even though Meathead said to wait until 203, I was hungry so I took it out.

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    It was notable to me that it had much more of a gamy pork scent upon cutting. But this was the flavor of real pork, not that store bought stuff that tastes like chicken. I suspect that scent came from the gelatinized connective tissue and/or melted fat. Anyway, once I cut into it with my awesome OXO meat claws, the scent dissipated.

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    The final product (served with cornbread, Huskee shawsh, and Kale) was excellent. This was much better than restaurant pulled pork - more tender, better balance of smoke flavor, and, critically, not dry. There was plenty left over to put in eggs and other day-to-day cooking this week.

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    Overall, this was a fun, easy cook that was absolutely worth it! The meat was tasty, tender, and better than I could buy outside the house. Thanks to Meathead and Huskee for the recipes!!

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    Last edited by pinot59; June 22, 2020, 04:34 AM.

    #2
    Great job and write-up. To save some time in the future, you can trim and brine meats before freezing. That will eliminate you having to thaw and then brine. In fact, some here take brined protein straight from the freezer to the cooker.

    Comment


    • pinot59
      pinot59 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the tip! That makes a lot of sense

    • Medusa
      Medusa commented
      Editing a comment
      Brining Beef and Pork before freezing works very well. Nice Cook!

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      I've recently started this. I brine and rub the pork butt, then freeze it. Take it straight from freezer to smoker. Only adds about 30 minutes, or so, to the cook. Comes out great.

    #3
    Great job indeed!

    Comment


      #4
      Great job. One nice thing about pulled pork is that it freezes well and is easy to reheat for fast tasty meals anytime.

      Comment


        #5
        Great job...I would eat that for sure!

        Comment


          #6
          Great looking cook!

          I guess I am spoiled in that most local BBQ joints around here that serve pulled pork do a passable job, although I prefer mine by a long shot. Guess it's the difference between being in Alabama and being in New England.

          Comment


          • Dan Deter
            Dan Deter commented
            Editing a comment
            Same here in NC, I can generally find some pretty good pulled pork . But I've been in the NE, Midwest, and West Coast and for some reason tried places "NC Pulled Pork" and been sadly disappointed. That said, the best I've had has still been at various pig pickins.

          • pinot59
            pinot59 commented
            Editing a comment
            No matter where you are it's almost always better when you make it yourself!

          #7
          Really nice job. I did my first pork shoulder last year. Getting that first one done is a great feeling.

          Comment


            #8
            Nice cook and great write up!

            Comment


              #9
              Very nice job. Maybe you could add a few pictures next time.

              Comment


              • pinot59
                pinot59 commented
                Editing a comment
                I have 19 pictures - so it was that or write 19,000 words!!

              • HawkerXP
                HawkerXP commented
                Editing a comment
                Just giving you a little poke. All in fun!
                It was done very professional looking. Like a cookbook. Thanks for sharing!

              • pinot59
                pinot59 commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes, totally interpreted in the spirit of good fun! I always like posts with lots of pictures plus I really enjoy photography. I did another post about a grill hardware issue that even contained animated gifs.

              #10
              Looks great!

              Comment


                #11
                Great looking cook!

                For pulled pork, my go to sauce is a simple Lexington dip.

                I also have bbq thieving neighbors! Best defense is to get a couple of guard dachshunds.


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                Last edited by BFlynn; June 22, 2020, 02:59 PM.

                Comment


                • pinot59
                  pinot59 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I will try the Lexington Dip! I've made the Mop Sauce before but it just seemed thin, watery, and acidic. But the addition of ketchup and sugar sounds like a winner.

                  I, for one, would have difficulty making it past those guard dachshunds!

                #12
                Looks like you nailed it!

                Comment


                  #13
                  I’d eat it

                  Comment


                    #14
                    You can also throw that pork shoulder in a stand mixer with a dough hook and it will pull.

                    There's a post here somewhere with a video

                    Comment


                    • pinot59
                      pinot59 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Whoa! Sounds like I'd have to clean it thoroughly before my wife made brioche with it again...

                    #15
                    Great job on that! Plate looks delicious with the cornbread and such.

                    Comment


                    • pinot59
                      pinot59 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Thanks! I am happy to confirm that cornbread goes well with pulled pork...

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