Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

A Mid-Summer’s Feast: Pulled Pork and BBQ Ribs!

Every once in a while, a pit jockey develops a hankering to cook something big. Something epic. A festering itch not particularly, nor suitably scratched via IMG_45871anything you’ll find in the simple realm of hamburgers or hot dogs. Nay, it is a bit more involved than that. It usually requires big, obscene chunks of pig, and it usually takes protracted quantities of precious time. And such was the case today, under gorgeous, blue, Minnesota skies, and darting tweety birds, that we would mark off an entire day from the calendar for the simple pleasure of slow smoking some meat, and then of course,  ingesting it at day’s end. It would be a long and taxing day, and would test my wares of loitermanship, beverage reservoirs, and patience with the pork. I was motivated, tho, you see. I had the itch to go big. We’re talking slow-smoked pulled pork here, and BBQ pork ribs. Its everything we get into BBQ for in the first place. The real thing. And it’s what we’re called to do! Let’s get after it shall we.

So it was, I arose on my day off at the most ghastly hour of 5:30 in the blessed morning in which to ply my craft afield. Still in my man pajamas, and whilst the morning sun caught the dew off the freshly hewn lawn, I stoically gathered my coals in one accord, taking flame to the political section that which made residence up the rusty arse of the old, charcoal chimney. Smoke signals soon spiraled aloft, declaring the day’s journey in meat thus embarked. And speaking of bark, lets head inside and rub the butt down again.

First on the pit is the eight pound bone-in pork shoulder, often called the “butt“. I know. What can you do. Anyways, the evening previous, the shoulder/butt was slathered in a cheap mustard, and hit with a commendable mass of Grill Mates, Sweet and Smokey Rub. Then we wrapped it in plastic, and left it alone in the fridge to marry over night with its new flavors. And here this morning, it’s time to hit it up with additional rub yet again. The rub is one of the most significant contributions you can make to the flavor profile of the pork, so do it up good. Ye need not hold back here. For the more liberal the rub, the better your bark tends to be later on down the road. And most pit keepers worth their tongs, always aspire for a robust bark.

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The fire bowl of the Weber Smokey Mountain was set up accordingly. A chimney full of fiery coals dumped right smack in the middle of a ring of unlit coals. For you newbies, and budding pit masters alike, this is what we call the Minion Method. And it is an extremely effective technique for long, sustained smokes. To learn more about this method, and you really should if you plan on delving far into the BBQ arts, do read our write-up, The Long Burn: The Method of Jim Minion, to get the low down on this classic technique.

Anyways, the butt was gently placed on the lower grate of the WSM, fat side up. Tossed some hickory and apple wood chunks on to the coals, put the lid on, and then did the only sensible thing I could think of at the moment – I went back to sleep!

About five hours later, two of which were spent belly-up counting little pigs jumping over white picket fences, I gradually came to, stretching like a lazy house cat in my soft, easy chair. Ah the rigors of BBQ. I scratched my belly and glanced out to the patio, gazed momentarily, and smiled. Nothing is quite so fine as waking up in your man chair to see your pit stoically puffing away in the afternoon sun. It calms a man, and settles well in his soul. It really does. Morale is always at a high, when wood smoke gently curls for the sky. Anyways, time to get up again. For there are pork ribs to prep. And here is how we did it.

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The first order of business, naturally, is to remove that ornery membrane. That thing is on there tighter than a tick on a hound dog, but you can do it. The reasoning to remove it is two-fold. One, because chewing on it is rather like gnawing on the important end of an old, plastic fly swatter, and two, removing the membrane will promote better penetration by your rub and wood smoke. Say what you will, but this thing should be pulled off. The trick most folk do is slip a butter knife in on top of a bone, but underneath the membrane, wiggle it on in there, and pry it upwards. Then, and with a paper towel to assist in grip, thus peel the membrane down the length of the ribs. Mission accomplished. You might not get it at first, but after a few times, and a smattering of patience, you will wax of an old pit maestro, adept in your craft.

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Once the membranes were peeled, we dusted over the racks accordingly. One in a fair amount of Famous Daves Rib Rub, and the other rack we made a bit more of a production of. Firstly, sprinkling on a light layer of brown sugar, then a layer of Grill Mates Sweet and Smokey rub, then yet another layer of brown sugar, to seal it all in. Mercy! At around five hours into the pork shoulder, we put these ribs gently on the top rack of the Weber smokey Mountain, and added a couple more chunks of hickory wood. Things were chugging along nicely now, and precisely as they should. Time for a lovely beverage and yet another pit-side repair.

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Here is where most smoke wizards are at their very best. Down time. Frankly, it’s half the reason we BBQ in the first place. That hallowed slot of clock in which our feet thus prop like a gentleman of leisure, and all the world seems to spin fairly about thee. It is a time where a man proper can spend exorbitant and considerable amounts of it, doing seemingly nothing at all. It’s a case-in-point example, where as my elder brother would say, “doing nothing sure feels like something“. And it does. Just watching the smoke curl from the pit, with a cold beverage in hand, we are at once and assuredly at ease. Head master of our own protein-rich kingdom. For a while at least, and maybe more than that, we want for nothing else.  Say what ever you will, but that is no small thing. And the cloud shadows quietly parade over the house tops and the thick green grasses below.

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After fashion, about two and one-half hours I should wager, we wrapped the beautiful, mahogany-colored ribs in foil, along with a hearty splash of apple juice for a steaming agent. This simple trick will take your unruly pork by the hand, and escort it unto the savory realms every time. Reminiscent of taking them to the spa, if you will, and pampering every last muscle there. And an hour and half of this treatment is about all you need. Use your pit master instincts. Remove from foil, and place them back on the pit to tighten up a bit. Only during the final half hour did we lather on the Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar sauce. Man! And yes, that’s chicken thighs you see there on the pit. Hey, we like meat!

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Oh buddy! You must excuse us here whilst we make the acquaintanceship of this smokey pork rib. It’s for quality control reasons you see, and a pit master’s privilege.

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Now this is what you call a most suitable bark on your butt. Mercy! To the uninitiated eye, it will parlay thoughts of great remorse in your behalf. Onlookers may even want to buy you supper, they feel so sorry for your mass of blackened rubble there before them. But this is how it should be. Ten hours of low and slow therapy, people, gently curling wood smoke, two naps, tweety birds, slanting sunbeams, and a good share of manly beverage, equals sublime smokey pork satisfaction. Or something like that. You know what I mean. The shoulder/butt was brought to 197 internal, until the bone came out clean. Mission accomplished. And amen.

*Let the meat rest a while before you pull it, to redistribute its delicious juices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 responses

  1. Love me that piggy! Makein’ oven Kalua Pig today, seein’ as I don’t have an Imu (that’s Hawaiian for an underground pit pven) http://mykitcheninthemiddleofthedesert.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/1136/
    😀
    ALOHA ya’ll at POTP (hug that like girl for Auntie, wouldya)

    July 24, 2014 at 10:08 am

  2. You know, maybe David should take heed to this posting. He has never arose at 5:30 on a day off to smoke pork… he always waits until after 2nd nap and then it smokes well past supper time and is served at yuppie dinner time…lol! Looks great!

    DMS
    TheMountainKitchen

    July 24, 2014 at 11:04 am

    • Ah well, a man needs to do what a man needs to do on his day off. I understand. Even so, let it be said, there is nothing quite like the aroma of wafting wood smoke in the wee wee hours, whilst standing there in your pajamas. You just know, as surely as you know anything, that it’s going to be a very good day.

      Loved your cedar plank salmon post. Awesome!

      July 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      • Yes, grilling in your pjs in the morning and on into the day is a good life!

        Thanks, the salmon was delicious! 🙂

        July 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm

  3. Dude … your posts always make me smile. And then, of course, makes me want to go fire up my grill. 🙂 Thanxxx.

    July 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    • Many thanks. I figure the few minutes folk spend reading a given post, is time they’ll never get back. So might as well give them a good memory at least, in return. That’s the plan anyways. Don’t reckon it always works tho. But we try.

      Cheers!
      -PotP

      July 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm

  4. Liz

    Excuse me while I moan in a most unladylike fashion–that looks amazing. Drooling.

    p.s. Did I mention I bought pork belly at the St Paul farmers’ market and my husband is reading (and you-tubing) up on how to smoke bacon. If you’ve made bacon, any and all advice appreciated!

    July 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    • Haha, thanks Liz.

      No, I never heard about your pork belly. Lucky person you. I’ve never done bacon yet, but I’ve read all about it, and I know how I would do it. It’s just been a matter of getting that pork belly, which for what ever reason, eludes me.

      The cure I would use is the usual affair. Salt and brown sugar. I forget what kind of salt exactly. Then, I’d add some maple syrup in there, cause I just love maple flavored bacon. Man! As far as the pink stuff, which most people put in their bacon, I would skip that all together. It’s just another chemical I figure we don’t really need. I’ve seen other people leave that stuff out and do just fine. The only thing you’ll have to do is freeze what bacon you don’t plan on using soon. I can do that, I figure. No big deal. Anyways, I then would cure it for about 10 days in the fridge, rotating once every day. Once cured, I would smoke it with apple or hickory or both, until the internal temp got to a safe eating temp, like 165. Then, being a man and all, I would slice that sucker up into nice, thick slices, and then proceed to fry it up, and ingest accordingly. That’s how’d I do it. I just haven’t yet. I need to tho. Does that St Paul farmers market still have some, and if so, what is the going price of a pork belly these days?

      I’ve heard homemade bacon will blow anything you’ve ever had elsewhere away. So be warned, your bacon ignorance is soon to be shattered! Never again will you want it from the store.

      -PotP

      July 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      • Liz

        Thanks for the tips! Especially appreciate the permission to not use the pink salt–yuck. My husband has the pork belly marinating as I write. You can buy it from most meat vendors at farmers’ markets. I found mine at the St. Paul market, though it wasn’t cheap. Ten dollars per pound (!!!) and I bought a three-pound slab. Spendy bacon it will be, but all in the name of research. Will report back. Appreciate your insight much.

        August 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

  5. Nick Trandahl

    The bark on that is so out of control! It looks positively scrumptious! I hope your summer is going well, gents!

    July 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    • It’s Nick!! Long time old chap. We have missed your spice of character around here. Hope all is groovy on your end of the earth, likewise. The summer goes good here.

      And yes, that bark was delightful. Packed with every flavor sporting of worthy BBQ. Something the crock pot just can’t do. But that’s another story.

      Nice to hear from you, and thanks for stopping by, dude!

      July 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

  6. Ron Duke

    Its 8am here now, to late for a low and slow shoulder, but there is always tomorrow. The butt, ribs, chicken and some homemade slaw and potato salad, you have a Royal Flush. As always I love to read your posts, you inspire me to BBQ greatness.

    July 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    • Thanks Ron. We actually did have home made slaw and tater salad, beans and corn bread too. It may have been a hand higher than a royal flush.

      Happy Grilling, Ron!

      July 24, 2014 at 6:59 pm

  7. Nothing iike a fall off the bone tender smoked butt. Pretty much a perfect butt you have there my friend.

    July 24, 2014 at 5:53 pm

  8. Another outstanding job! We are already planning our next slow smoked dinner for next week. Enjoy the summer months there in Minnesota and know that we are thinking about your down here on the Equator. God Bless.

    July 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    • Thank you kindly, John and Mary. Many thanks indeed. It has been a beautiful summer thus far, in the land of many lakes. Lovely to the last leaf, croaking frog, wailing loon, and soaring bald eagle. Memories of the harsh winter are now but a distant fantasy it seems. And for a while at least, its darn near as pleasant as Ecuador I think. Darn near.

      I do trust you will blog about your up and coming slow smoke adventure. That last one you did was just fantastic. Life is even better in Ecuador when you have a bbq pit!

      Bless you and Mary
      -Potp

      July 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

  9. Saturday will be my 5:30 call. We are having our 67th annual family reunion. Meat of choice- grilled hog! Half a hog that is. I was bestowed the honor a few years ago and the only way off the task is to die. I guess I will be enjoying time with my grill for the next 30 years.

    July 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    • Very nice. A pleasant tradition sounds like. And it’s good to feel important I guess. Half hog on the pit. Sounds like a good time. Post some photos, we’d love to see them.
      Thanks for chiming in!
      PotP

      July 24, 2014 at 10:39 pm

  10. It never ceases to amaze me PotP how you blokes create such wonderful dishes, time after time. This had me slavering, that pork looked soooo good. The best thing though is you have such a bloody good time doing it all.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    July 25, 2014 at 2:35 am

    • We do have a good time, indeed. I must admit. And it’s easy too, when its such a beautiful day, and there is the smell of sizzling pork a’waft in the air. Tweety birds chirping, and warm sun beams everywhere. Even so, it’s equally as fun it seems, deep into a Minnesota winter, with snow banks towering, and wind chill cutting to the bone. It’s just a different sort of adventure at the pit then. And it’s all fun. Hmm. It’s passion, Laurie….Passion!

      Cheers!
      _Potp

      July 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

      • Well, I can see the passion there and it’s heartening too. There’s nothing like becoming involved deeply in your endeavours. Now get that smoker going and throw a big steak on it.
        Cheers
        Laurie.

        July 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm

  11. I have been hankering for some ribs lately and you just made it worse. *sigh*

    July 25, 2014 at 7:33 am

    • Well that happens when you read a BBQ blog! Rib are so good. You must rectify your problem at once, and head to the nearest pig out joint. Or better yet, make your own!
      Take care!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

      • My own are the best unless I drive a couple of hours to this place at the crossroads….. It’s called the Hashknife. Hmmmm…. Road trip!

        July 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

  12. Ah a fellow mustard slatherer. I do this as well prior to the rub. Got it from Paul Kirk. Good to see you are at it in a big way, reveling in a little summer weather for a change. I’m in the middle of making some bacon and formulating the requisite post. See you in cyberspace soon! Thanks for another great post.

    July 25, 2014 at 9:02 am

    • Ah very nice! I shall look forward to your bacon write-up. I need to do bacon sometime too. I suspect every pit keeper ought to do it at least once, just because.

      Happy Grilling, Mr. Quincho!

      July 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

  13. Yes, you can pass that piece in the seventh photo, that’ll do nicely… 🙂

    AV

    July 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    • I would, but I kind of ate it all. You know how it goes. It was good tho. I love ribs !

      Thanks!

      July 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

  14. Oh dear. That looks soooo effing good!

    July 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm

  15. I’m sitting in bed on Saturday morning reading this. My gut is rumbling so much, the Wife has just told me to go and eat breakfast. Thanks for that!

    July 26, 2014 at 2:06 am

    • Haha, it’s usually wise practice to listen the Wife. Perhaps ribs for breakfast is the fair compromise here!

      July 26, 2014 at 8:59 am

  16. now that is how to wake up in the morning!!

    July 26, 2014 at 2:50 am

  17. Nice looking pork there PotP. The bark is amazing. Trying some baby backs this weekend.

    July 26, 2014 at 7:39 am

    • Thanks Bill. I trust your baby back weekend goes as planned. A pleasant way to pass a weekend indeed. good times.

      Take care, Sir!

      July 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm

  18. DAMN !!! Good ‘n hungry NOW !! *drool*

    July 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    • I don’t know why, but we get drool all the time around here. Always wiping up that stuff. Its cool.

      Thanks man!

      July 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

  19. Hey fellas. I’ve been meaning to pass a great book your way. Have a gander at “The Meat Hook Meat Book” by Tom Mylan. If you ever get the DIY urge to do some butchering it’s pretty informative and there are some great recipes in there as well.

    July 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    • Nice. Thank you kindly, Mr.quincho. So far your book recommendations are one for one. I have no doubt this one will be worthy too. I look forwards to checking it out. Many thanks!

      July 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

  20. Reblogged this on Empires, Cannibals, and Magic Fish Bones and commented:
    Smoke like Odysseus hanging out with his swineherd, read “A Mid-Summer’s Feast” and get your pig on! Pork, Homer and a Belgian Farmhouse Ale, I’m thinking. Pairing the right worlds with grilled meat and drink matters.

    July 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

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