Pulled pork, bacon, back ribs… I love them all. Last week I made pork tenderloin and all week I’ve been thinking about doing pulled pork. I think about it often, but I rarely make it because of the time commitment necessary and my lack of planning. If you have the time though, make them, it is worth it! For me, this weekend seemed like the time to try and get them done.
For the first weekend in some time we didn’t have any caterings. We did pass on a few jobs that came up so that we could have a weekend off and spend time together. As always there are a ton of things we need to do, the most important is to start working on the business plan for the new location, but we decided to take a complete break from all things Dish!
We are pretty excited/scared to death about the new location. The owner of the property is going to be breaking ground in the next few weeks and we expect the building to be completed late spring or early summer next year.
My first big project is completing the business plan so we can go out and start looking for private investments. We started Dish with all private loans so I’m hoping some of our initial investors will come back and support us again, but you never know with the current state of the economy. Since the value of our house has dropped $80,000 in the past two years, doh!, there is really no line of credit left available so raising the money is really make or break.
Many people ask us why we want to open another location and warn us of all the things that can go wrong. Ultimately it all comes down to the lack of kitchen and prep space we are faced with each day. Imagine if you can, trying to prepare food for the restaurant customers while trying to produce food for 50 to 100 people for lunch deliveries while trying to prep for a 100 person party, all in less than 100 square feet of kitchen, one half-sized convection oven and portable burners. Our home kitchen is twice the size of our restaurant kitchen! I think in the last year we have had to turn down as much business as we have taken because of the space constraints.
So enough of Dish and my current concerns. On Saturday I made what I thought was exceptional pulled pork sandwiches. Making pulled pork is a two-day affair, but don’t be afraid. As long as you do a bit of planning the prep and method are fairly easy. The recipe presented below is a combination from America’s Test Kitchen and Steven Raichlen. The rub, sauce and the coleslaw come from Raichlen, who by the way has great grilling books that I can’t recommend more. The method, which shortens the overall cooking time comes from America’s Test Kitchen. I can’t say enough about their books. If you are just learning how to cook they are the best books to start with.
First let me share a few important tips:
- When barbecuing with indirect heat using charcoal you will need to add fresh coals every 45 to 60 minutes to maintain the temperature. In the past I would add unlit briquettes to my coals but I noticed that it took too long for them to burn and put off heat which meant uneven heating. Now instead of emptying the entire charcoal starter of lite coals into the barbecue I leave 3 or 4 at the bottom, then add 10 fresh coals on top and set aside. By the time I need to replace some of the coals in the Weber these coals are ready to go.
- If you are going to marinate or rub a big piece of meat, like a pork shoulder, don’t marinate it for less than 3 hours and 8 to 12 is ideal.
- Invest in a good instant-read thermometer. I can almost tell, by touch, when my tri tip is done, but when it comes to other cuts of beef and pork, I’m very much at a loss. The best part of the thermometer is that I know for sure when something is done and I know for sure that I’m not going to make anyone sick!
Without further ado, here is the recipe.
Please let me know if you make it and please share your barbecuing ideas for pulled pork. The more the merrier.
North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches (serves 4 to 6)
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your fingers.
- 1 5-6 pound Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast)
- Vinegar sauce (below)
- 10 to 12 hamburger buns
- Coleslaw (below)
- 2 cups of wood chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
- 1 disposable aluminum pan
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups of water
For the vinegar sauce combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste, add more brown sugar and/or salt as necessary. The sauce should not be sour, but piquant.
- 1 small head green cabbage
- 1 cup Vinegar Sauce
Finely chop the cabbage by hand. Place in a large bowl and stir in vinegar sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes, then taste and add salt or sauce if desired.
Okay, on to the pork…. Rub the spices onto the pork shoulder, covering all sides. Cover it with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to 12 hours.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low. You want the temp in the grill to be 275 degrees. I lit one charcoal starter half full, about 40 briquettes for a large Weber. Open bottom vents fully. Once the coals are ready, place them on one side of the grill, 2 to 3 briquettes high, leaving 60% of the grill empty. Place 1/2 of the wood chips directly on charcoal. You need to place the other half one hour into the cooking.
If using a gas grill it should be easy to get the temp to 275. You will most likely leave the back burner on med-high and turn the others off. You will want to make a smoke pouch. You can do this by placing your soaked chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, cover the chips with the foil, making an enclosed pouch. Then poke holes in the top so the smoke can escape. You will place the pack on top of the burner that is producing heat.
Unwrap pork and place in a disposable aluminum pan and place on grate opposite the side with the charcoal. Open the top vent three quarters of the way, cover. Cook, adding about 8 to 10 briquettes every hour to maintain an average temperate of 275 for three hours.
I used an oven thermometer, placed through the vent hole, to track the temperature in the grill. You can adjust the temperature by opening and closing the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. If you see the temperature on the grill going above 315 you can close the vents more on top. If you have the top fully open and the temp starts to fall to below 275 then add more briquettes.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Completely wrap the pan holding the pork with heavy duty foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the meat is fork tender with an internal temperature of 195 degrees. This will take 1 1/4 to 2 hours depending on how consistent the temperature was in your barbecue.
Take the foil-wrapped pan out of oven, slide into a brown paper bag. Crimp the bag shut and let it sit for 1 hour. This allows any remaining collagen to melt and is worth the wait.
Put some heavy duty gloves on, or use a fork and pull the pork into pieces, discarding bones and skin. You are looking for pieces that are 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of vinegar sauce to the pork and combine.
Toast your buns, if you’d like, add some mayonnaise to one side of the bread (yum), mound the pulled pork on the bun and top with coleslaw. Devour!