Pulled Pork Shoulder

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Lessons I Learned:

  • Use a larger cut of meat (you lose10-15% weight after trimming)
  • The plateau is real! Trust your thermometer
  • Watch those temps! Continue to cook through to 190
  • Use all vents on the smoker not just the ones easily accessible

Skill Level: Intermediate

Cook Session:

I started with 2 smaller shoulders I picked up from the grocery store about 5 to 6lbs each. I saw a 10 lb shoulder and thought it was way too big. Forgot that once you trim the fat cap off you loose some weight. Otherwise the meat looked pretty decent. A nice red vs the pale pink you see of most commodity port

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Next step was the trim the hide and fat cap off each shoulder and slather each with yellow mustard to give the rub something to hold on to.

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I used the same rub as I did my spareribs during my last cook. I’ve been researching for some other rub recipes and found a really good on on amazingribs.com.

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Rub recipe

  • 1/4 cp raw sugar
  • 1/4 cp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tsp crushed chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed Fennel seed (used mortal & pestle)

Here’s what they looked like after mustard and rub was applied. I then wrapped them and put them in the refrigerator over night.

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What will be different about this cook is that I will be trying out the Maverick 732 Remote BBQ Thermometer. This thermometer has probes for the smoker rack and the meat. You can set alarms for meat and smoker. Plus, I can check the temp from the comfort of my house or deck and not have to run to the backyard every 30 minutes. degrees. My target temp for this cook was 225 – 250 range.

You can see from the pics below how off my dome temperature was from the grill grate. The delta was anywhere from 25 to 50

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Once the grill hit 225, I added both shoulders to the top rack and went back to minding the temps. The Thermometer really helped me gauge and get a feel for the temp profile a little better. I had no problems staying within my range. The WSM with a water pan, is excellent at staying in the 250 – 275 range.

At about the 6 hour mark, the shoulders hit 165 and plateaued. I’d read about this before, on various sites. It is caused by the moisture coming off the meat and evaporating thus cooling off the meat. The meat stayed their for over 2 hours. I had to force myself not to look or mess with it. This is necessary to break down the collagen and connective tissue to make the shoulder tender. I had to literally tell myself that I was cooking to tenderness not doneness.

Once the pork hit 190, about 9 hours total cooking time, I wrapped them and let them rest for 30 minutes.

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Once they were rested I pulled out my Bear Paws pulling tools and went to work. The big bones pulled straight out with no effort at all. Look at that smoke ring! I must have stood in the kitchen for 5 minutes just pulling and snacking before telling any body else it was ready.

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My family loved it!

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Memphis Rubbed Lollipop Drumsticks

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Lessons Learned:

  • I need to sharpen my kitchen shears
  • Monitor temps on the smoker better
  • Next time I will dip the bone as well for a better sheen/presentation
  • Maybe invest in a drumstick holder for more uniform appearance

Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate

I got this recipe from my man Malcolm at HowToBBQRight. If you want to take your BBQ to the next level, he’s got all kinds of videos, tips, tricks, etc. Pretty down to Earth guy too.

As always, I started by mixing my rub together. This is a standard recipe that I go to often. Mix it up real good. You can apply it with your hands or a good shaker bottle if you have one. I prefer sprinkling and rubbing it with my hands. And as I always say, “Rubbin’ Son, is Racing!”

Memphis Rub Recipe:

3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground ginger powder
2 tbsp onion powder

Skinning the legs:

With a sharp knife, cut down to the bone just under the knuckle end of the drumstick. Be sure to cut through the tendons and connective tissue to the bone. Once you are done you are going to pull the skin and cartilage up and over the knuckle. I found it easier to use a paper towel to grasp the skin and pull it off. Once done, push the meat down as far as you can toward the other end of the bone. When the chicken cooks, the meat is going to shrink down the bone and gather at the meaty end. Here is where having dull kitchen shears made the job of snipping the tendon so frustrating. I ended up going with my large Chef’s knife to get the job done.

 

Skinned and ready for wrapping:

Here is a shot of all the legs with the skin and cartilage pulled off ready for wrapping.

 

Bone ends wrapped…

One of Malcolm’s tips is to wrap the bone ends in aluminum foil. This keeps the bones from turning black from the smoke and heat. This is for cosmetic purposes only. I’m sure they would taste fine without it. I just took a small piece of aluminum foil and wrapped the ends prior to applying the rub.

 

Wrapped, rubbed, and going on…

Here’s a shot of them going only the smoker. I didn’t have a drumstick holder and my pan was a bit too large to get them to stand vertical without some help. So I used some skewers and threaded it through the drumsticks. I melted a stick of butter in the bottom of the pan to give the drumsticks additional flavor during the smoke.

 

Smoke/Roasting at 300 degrees for 2 hours…

One of the reasons I love my Weber is that it will hold steady without any help. IF YOU KEEP AN EYE ON IT! I used one Weber Chimney of lit Kingsford coals, and another half of unlit on top. Since I was shooting for a cook in the 2.5 hour range I wanted to make sure I had enough heat. I lined the water pan but did not fill it. Although you can’t see it in the above picture, I have a rack of bratwurst on for my boys as well. I added 1 block of Cherry wood per hour to the cooker to keep a steady smoke but not too overpowering. Once the smoker approached 275, I closed two bottom vents and left one open 100%. As always I left the top vent open 100%. I checked the temp every 30 minutes. First hour I was fine, Second hour temps begin to drop too fast and I had to open all the bottom vents to 100% to recover. Ten minutes later the temp was back where it needed to be. I’ve since ordered the Maverick 732 Remote BBQ thermometers to help me keep a better eye on temps when I’m inside the house.

 

Putting on sauce at 2 hour mark…

At 2 hours the legs were ready for the sauce. I brushed them with a 50/50 mixture of Sweet Baby Ray’s and Honey. After giving them a good coat, I put them back on for 30 minutes to tighten up the glaze a bit and let it caramelize. This is a shot after 30 minutes of glazing. Overall a good cook, and the family enjoyed them. So if my boys will eat it, it has to be good!

Apple Roasted Honey Drumsticks

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After the less than stellar outcome with the Butterflied Turkey I wanted to do something easy with this cook. So I figured I would go back to a basic, drumsticks. I recently bought a new grill cookbook, Myron Mixon’s Everyday Barbeque and was dying to try the brine recipe in it.

Lessons Learned:

  1. These could have been fine smoke roasted in the 325-350 range. They didn’t need to have the slow and low treatment that a roast would need.
  2. A continuous supply of Apple chips was the perfect amount of smoke.

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Brine: I used Myron Mixon’s apple juice brine, and brined the drumsticks overnight.

Brine Recipe: (enough for 2 1 gallon freezer bags)
  • 6 cups apple juice
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups kosher salt

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Drumsticks fresh out of the brine and being toweled off…

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My favorite part, applying the rub…

Rub Recipe:
  • 1 cp. light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper

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Drumsticks all rubbed up and resting. My kids, who don’t like anything with spice or flavor, actually requested some “blank” drumsticks. No rub, just smoke and sauce!

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For this cook I went for a slow and low setup with about 3 hours of fuel. I have a continuous ring of Apple chips on top of the coals. This should get me a nice steady stream of smoke but not too much to overpower the meat with a sooty taste.

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For the sauce I went with a straight 2:1 mixture of Sweet Baby Ray’s and Raw Honey. Heated and mixed together. I mixed this about 2 hours before using.

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This is what the Chicken looked at the 2 hour mark. You can see that the ring of coals and chips have burned through half of the fuel. The grill was in the solid 225-250 range. A bit lower than necessary for chicken. But since this was going to be a long smoke I had plenty of time and fuel.

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I went ahead and added some sauce on the drumsticks. And left them on for about 30 minutes more. I ended up not having to go the entire 3 hours at all. Temps on the drumsticks at saucing were at 160.

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Close up after applying sauce:

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I pulled the chicken off, gave another coating of sauce, and covered with foil and let sit for 30 minutes. These were so good, and fall off the bone soft! A couple didn’t even make it to the photo shoot. Sacrificed to Cook’s Privilege! The apple wood left a mild taste, more subtle than cherry. It was a great compliment to the brine!

“Slab o Meat” aka Beef Round Top London Broil

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I’ve been itchin’ to cook something this whole week. I originally was going to make some pulled pork. However, I never got to the butcher shop so I went shopping in my deep freezer.

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I found a “slab o meat” that my wife bought on sale at the supermarket. I guess the technical name is Round Top London Broil. All that I learned after researching this cut of meat is; it is lean, tough, and usually not worth the few dollars it costs. So I figured I’d throw this on the grill slow and low, and see what happens.

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I used my standard rub:

Classic BBQ Spice Rub:
  • 4 tbsp Kosher Salt
    2 tbsp brown sugar
    2 tbsp garlic powder
    2 tbsp paprika
    1 tbsp celery seed
    1 tbsp ground cumin
    1 tbsp black pepper

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Liberally season with the rub…

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While the meat is resting after being rubbed, I set up my grill the in the “Ring of Fire” formation. Two single rows of briquettes in a circle, with a single row on top. This configuration should give me 250 degrees for at least six hours. I placed small Mesquite chips around the ring so there would be light smoke continuously throughout the cook.

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Putting on the slabs…

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1 Hour in, a solid 250 degrees…

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5 hours later, and the temp is just starting to dip a bit from 250…

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This is what the meat looked like when I opened the grill. I took a “Chef’s Privilege” piece from the piece on the right. Man was it good!

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I wrapped the 2 in foil and left them on for one more hour. In hindsight I probably should have moved the whole wrapping back an hour. But whatever, it’s “Slabbo meat!”, as my six year old calls it.

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Finally pulled off the grill… I let them rest in the foil a bit before unwrapping. About 15 minutes.

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Unwrapping the meat… I swear every fly in NE Philadelphia started slamming into my screen door once I unwrapped these bad boys! They filled my kitchen with the smell of beef and mesquite.

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Slicing her up on my favorite cutting board…

Lessons learned: If my wife buys “Slabbo” meat again, I may try an overnight marinade and maybe spray it throughout the cook session. But overall, not too bad.

Crispy Pastrami Wings

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After my recipe regarding the crispy grilled chicken breasts, I decided to work on a similar recipe for wings. But the past 3 weeks have been a bit hectic here in Philly; a trip to DC for work, then Hurricane Sandy, then I caught a nasty cold during the Hurricane, and now a Nor’easter is blowing through with rain and snow tonight. So, since I had this recipe on deck the week before all of this started, I’m finally posting it.

This is a variation of a recipe from Chef John of AllRecipes.com. His stuff is usually pretty good. I had no problem changing this and adapting it to my purposes. Let me give you the run through and play by play.

The Line Up:

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The Dry The Wet
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 pinches chili pepper (Aleppo is what I used)
  • 4 tsp. corn starch
  • 24 chicken wings, separated at joints. (tips thrown away)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Step 1: Mixing the spice rub

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Add all the dry ingredients (except the corn starch) together in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. I used a small whisk to mix and blend the ingredients together. Nothing like a bowl of freshly mixed spices!

Step 2: Splitting the wings

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Here I’ve split the wings into the drummettes and flats. I’ve tossed the tips, as I never really use those for anything. Some people like them I guess, but as for me, NOPE! I’ve lightly coated the wings with olive oil and rubbed them down with my fingers.

Step 3: Season with the spice rub

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In this shot I’ve just begun seasoning the wings from above. I usually take a few fingerfuls of spice mixture and “Make it Rain” from above. With this recipe you’ll season the wings twice. So be sure to make sure you pace yourself with the rub so you have enough to last 24 wings twice. I just flipped these in the bowl a few times and they were evenly coated.

Step 4: Adding the corn starch

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Here I’ve lightly sprinkled some of the corn starch on this set of wings. Since I’ve cut back on my consumption of wheat I needed something to take the place of the flour in Chef John’s recipe. In my previous recipe I used ground rice to give a bit of “crunch”. The ground rice was able to stand up to the direct heat well. But since I’m cooking these indirect I wanted to see if the corn starch would perform as well as all-purpose flour as a binding agent. Toss or stir these well to coat with the corn starch. Once finished…

Step 5: A Final toss…

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Here’s what the wings look like with the final coating of spice and one last toss session.

Step 6: Cook ’em!

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Cook these at a medium-high heat 400 to 425 range worked for me fine. I used some parchment paper to keep them from sticking to the pan. 20 minutes into the cook, flip them over and cook on the other side. In the picture above you see them just as I was about to bring them to the kitchen. Let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. The juices will re-distributed and the skin will crisp up a bit.

Step 7: Hide ‘em!

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These were unbelievably good! I’ve since made them twice since I first tried this recipe and have been able to produce consistent results with them. The whole family blew through these in about 2 days. But it was well worth it!

Try ‘em out and let me know what you think!

Butterflied Smoked Chicken

For this cook, I am started with a standard Perdue fryer. I need to find a good Amish butcher so I can get some organic free range birds to play around with. My local grocer stopped selling organic Kosher so I have been using Perdue birds.

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Here you see I’ve cut through the back of the chicken to one side of the backbone. When I butterfly I usually leave the backbone in, vs cutting it out. There is some decent flavor that gets missed when you pull the backbone out.

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Here the bird is flipped over and you can see where I left in the backbone on the left side. Next step is removing the keel. Which I will show in the next shot.

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After spreading the two halves of the bird, I position a sharp chef’s knife against the upper edge of the keel as in below. Using a slight cutting motion the blade will cut a small indentation into the bone. Once done, spread the bird with slight pressure and the breastbone will split. Then run your finger along the underside and pull the whole thing out in one shot.

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Here is a picture of the bird after the center breast bone has been pulled out.

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I flipped the bird over and cut two small slits in the lower part of the breast halves to tuck the drumsticks in as in the below picture. I season with rub with the drumsticks untucked then tuck them back in before I place on the grill.

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Applying some rub. My basic recipe is as follows:

Wet Ingredients Dry Ingredients
  • Rinse bird with water (dry with paper towels)
  • sprinkle with 2 tbsp lemon juice lightly rub all over bird
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper

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Going on the grill with some spare thighs I had leftover from an earlier cook.

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Not too bad if I do say so myself. I pulled the thighs off earlier than the butterflied bird as they were finished sooner.

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Basil & Garlic Pork Tenderloins–Part I, the prep…

It is my firm opinion that every grill cook needs a supportive beverage. Preferably one with some alcohol in it. For this prep session I’ll be turning to an old favorite, Sam Adams Octoberfest.

Step 1: The Beer

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Step 2: Ingredients (Wet and Dry)

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This recipe is based upon a recipe from Adam Perry Lang’s BBQ25 cookbook. I revised it a bit using the fresh basil growing my garden in front of my house. There is nothing like using fresh herbs. Just bringing the basil in doors filled my downstairs with its smell. Here are the list of ingredients for the brine/marinade

Dry Ingredients Wet Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (homemade)
  • 1 tsp blk pepper
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried crushed Aleppo Peppers (Williams-Sonoma
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 6 cps cold water

Step 3: Making the Brine/Marinade

I guess this mixture is more a marinade than a straight brine. But  I guess it is functioning as a bit of both since it has kosher salt and brown sugar. Do yourself a favor and use fresh herbs and brown sugar. The payoff is worth it. After all, you will be eating this. In the picture below I’ve minced the garlic (peeled) and basil in my food processor. In the other container I’ve mixed the dry spices.

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Step 4: The tenderloins

My wife picked up this pack of pork tenderloins at our local Giant Supermarket. I was originally going to cook Bone-in Pork Loin Roasts, but these were on sale. As you can see, I was accommodating.

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Step 5 – Brining/Marinading

Here you see two tenderloins in a 1 Gallon ziploc freezer bag. I split the resultant mixture in half and poured it over the tenderloins in both bags. I plan on marinading these overnight and cooking them tomorrow. I’ll be back with the second half of this post after I cook these.

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