Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy National Barbecue Month

Ah, the month of May when the minds of all native Hoosiers turn to warmer weather, planting time, outdoor activities, and the opening of the Speedway. And with the roar of race cars will come the lovely fragrance of victuals sizzling over hot coals. Yes, May is National Barbecue Month, a time to contemplate that ancient sport of burning meat over some sort of open fire.

A couple of years ago I went in for a nice gas grill so that I could start smoking pulled pork on the deck. I know, I already hear the cries of blasphemy from the hot coal and smoker contingents, but give me a break I'm only a part time plein air chef! It's hard enough to find time to fire up the gas grill, let alone stoke up a smoker or spend a few hours tending hardwood charcoal. I do spend 8 or more hours minding my pulled pork and keeping the hickory chips in the smoke-box from bursting into flame. I figure that's good for an amateur.

Back when I started my quest for good, homemade pulled pork, I think I promised I'd report on the recipe I developed and (after two years of trial and error) I've come up with my personal recipe. The following recipe comes from a base I found online that I tuned up to match my preferences. I recommend that you look through what's available out there (and there's a lot of variations) and then make changes to suit your taste. The important point is that there is no one "right" way to do this thing. Pulled pork is a food of poverty, therefore one that is meant to take advantage of whatever spices and herbs the chef has on hand.

1T Garlic Powder
1T Onion Powder
1T Chili Powder
2T Cayenne Pepper
1T Kosher Salt
1T Ground Black Pepper
1T Paprika
.5C Dark Brown Sugar

You can probably tell that I like sweet-hot barbecue from the ingredient list! Put your dry ingredients in a zip-lock bag, zip it up, and shake well to mix. Then sprinkle your pork butt liberally on all sides, massaging the spices into the meat. I put the whole thing in a sealed container and let it sit in the fridge over night before beginning cooking.

Whether you smoke the pork (preferred) or cook it in an oven, the key is low and slow. You will want a temperature of 225°F and use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. When you hit 200°F in the center of the roast you're done. Remove the roast from the heat, cover with foil, and let it rest a couple of hours before getting to shredding.

My current favorite way to eat pulled pork is to imitate a dish from Squealers, one of my favorite Indy BBQ joints (pay the west side location a visit, they're the best). Pulled pork nachos! This year I think I'll start working on making my own BBQ sauce to see what I can come up with. As always, I'll (eventually) give you a report!

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