Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-B-Que, BBQ, barbicue, Cue, or straight up “Q” – However you fancy spelling it, they all refer to the same exact thing.
My goodness, just saying it out loud makes me hungry.
The USDA’s notion of barbecue is something not too dissimilar from cooking something over hot coals or wood fire at a certain temperature for X amount of time. I would agree. Although does this not apply to gas grills? That won’t matter for today.
I have always been under the impression that the word barbecue came from the french phrase “de la barbe a la queue,” which translates to “from beard to tail.” This is a nod to the days of yore in the southeastern region of the United States(discounting Florida), often referred to as the “barbecue belt.” The idea of barbecue during those times was laying down essentially whole hogs on sticks laid across a pit filled with hot wood or coals.
Today, we focus on the modern, more contained version of that (to trap more smoke of course, why else?)
Although I wasn’t able to get my hands on an entire swine that I could throw in my smoker. I was, however, able to get my hands on a ten pound pork shoulder, or Boston butt as they called it in the pre-revolutionary days.
My vehicle of choice for this culinary endeavor is a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker. This was sent to my father by Audi after buying a new car… Without a shadow of a doubt, the smoker quickly became mine. The Big Puma didn’t put up much of a fight.
I’m fairly new to
smoking things smoking meat over burning wood, so I’m still feeling my way down the pitch black hallway in sunglasses that is multi-hour smoking. What I do, in fact, know is that if you smoke something correctly over a long period of time, with low enough heat, you’ll find this vibrant, robust, pink ring of vivid smokey flavor just under the outer bark layer of whatever chunk of flesh you can procure. This is the goal. That and soft, tender meat.
I will reach this goal. I will get to the soft, tender pink ring (read: whispering eye) that the gods of Q speak of.
I will turn this smokey, coruscating vessel of pork shoulder into the greatest sandwich in all the land.
We begin with nothing less than our beloved 10lb Boston butt. Long before a single coal on the fire even begins to conceptualize the idea of being en fuego, we must brine our beautiful butt in an apple cider-onion-garlic brine.
I simmered a gallon of apple cider with a cup of brown sugar and salt until the all the granules of salt and sugar had dissolved into the liquid. Allowing time for it to cool after.
I then added a few onions, a couple sliced-in-half garlic heads, and sprinkled some red pepper into the delicious smelling vat of briny goodness.
Leave that alone in the fridge, covered for 1-2 days.
After 1-2 days have passed, wash the brine off.
Rub the newly-brined butt in a mixture of white and brown sugars, crushed black pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and most importantly, paprika. Just make sure the base of everything is the sugar so you can get that nice caramelization for a solid bark.
Now we can fire the coals. Let that smoker get up to about 200-240 degrees, low and slow baby!
The rule of thumb typically goes for one hour of smoking per pound of meat. I went an extra hour for good measure. More is more.
11 hours later and… LOOK AT THAT FREAKING BARK.
After smoking something for that long, the tenderness of the meat is at an unfathomable level. The only way to achieve actualization of tenderness is to take two forks, and pull that butt apart! This is where the name “Pulled Pork” comes from. Meat so tender, you can just pull it apart.
For the TRUE test of BBQ quality, we search, but not far, for that illustrious pink ring. In the name of Myron Mixon himself we found it:
I cut my own slaw, slapped some on a toasted bun, mixed some of the pulled pork with some barbecue sauce, and you don’t need much else after that. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
The other 8.5lbs of pork lasted me about three days of snacking. It was most excellent for eating the the best way to eat things: after midnight.
More to come, keep your eyes peeled.
Beast on, Fellow snackers!