The rub is my own recipe, but is really not that original. It follows the typical rules of sweet/salt/hot/and spice balancing most comp pitmasters observe, and is similarly restricted to the ingredients common to the environment. It’s an excellent rub for beginners and for situations (like comp) where you don't want to get too far out of the envelope. It also makes an excellent popcorn seasoning salt.
The injection liquid is very close to the Chris Lilly recipe published in Peace, Love and Barbecue, as well as all over the web. The differences are based on personally observing Lilly make his injection at a Memphis in May competition.
The sauce is an upscale version of a Carolina mustard sauce, introduced to me by my girlfriend during the mid seventies who originally came from Savannah. How it got to her is one of those Southern woman’s stories involving friends, relations, acquaintances, etc., I couldn’t possibly tell well. It’s a great sauce – but a little too tweaked for competition.
(Feeds 8 to 12)
8 to 10 lb pork shoulder
Smoke wood: Preferably Cherry, Pecan, Apple, other fruitwood, or Hickory
(Optional) Injection, recipe follows
Dry rub, recipe follows
Baseball mustard or mix of 1/2 dijon mustard and 1/2 mayonnaise for slather
Barbecue sauce, recipe follows
COMPETITION STYLE SHOULDER AND BUTT RUB
(Enough for at least 3 butts)
1 cup brown or turbinado sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup paprika
2 tbs onion powder
2 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs freshly cracked plack pepper
1 tbs California chili powder
2 tsp ground ginger powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
CHRIS LILLY STILE SHOULDER AND BUTT INJECTION
3/4 cup filtered apple juice or cider
3/4 cup white grape juice
1-1/2 tsp table salt (or 1 tbs kosher salt)
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
UPTOWN CAROLINA MUSTARD BARBECUE SAUCE
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup dijon mustard
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (to taste)
2 tsp to 2 tbs hot pepper sauce (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Technique -- All of the Above:
If the butt is very fatty, trim it slightly. Otherwise, it’s fine as it is. Much of the surface fat will render, while the rest will help moisten the final product.
Mix the dry rub ingredients together, so they’re evenly blended.
If injecting: Mix the injection ingredients, and heat them over a low flame only until the salt dissolves. Allow the injection liquid to cool until it’s comfortable to handle.
Inject the but with as much of the injection liquid as it will hold.
Figure the approximate cooking time at around 1 hour per pound at 225F, and estimate your cooking time accordingly. Then allow an extra three hours to make sure that even if cooking goes slowly (sometimes it does, it’s not entirely predictable), the butt has plenty of resting time. In addition, allow at least half an hour to preheat your smoker, more depending on the type.
Prep your smoker to run at 225F at the cooking grate and preheat it.
Slather the butt with the baseball mustard or the mustard/mayo mix.
Generously cover the butt with rub, and rub as much as possible into the surface.
Depending on the type of smoker, if smoke wood needs to be added separately, add it just before the butt goes in.
Introduce the butt into the smoker, insert your thermometer probe, and get the smoker closed.
Estimate your cooking time. An 8 pound butt will take about 8-10 hours at a steady 225F. A 10 pounder, about 10 to 12 hours. At 250F, figure 50 minutes a pound plus 1 hour 45 minutes. At a steady 275F the timing changes considerably -- it's a fine temperature for brisket but too hot for pork. Probably a good idea to hold off cooking a butt or picnic that hot until you've got a better idea of how to deal with the inevitable issues (bark too tough, for instance)
I know that's a long time to cook without doing anything to improve the process or at least check on it. But, NO PEEKING.
Continue adding smoke wood, as needed, for roughly the first half of the cook if using a fairly strong wood like hickory or oak. Lighter woods like pecan and fruit woods can go a little longer. Mesquite should be watched very closely and discontinued at or before the halfway mark. Pork can absorb a lot of smoke happily, so you’ve got some leeway. But meat cooked in small smokers is sensitive to over smoking and will be acrid rather than sweet. Smokers large enough to be used as “stick burners” allow a lot more flexibility. No doubt you’re curious. It’s not the smoke, it’s the creosote.
The most common cause of bad barbecue is PEEKING. NO PEEKING. A butt doesn’t need to be basted or mopped. Although you can add some texture and flavor with the process, I recommend not doing it the first few times.
Do not open the doors (or lid) on the cooking chamber for any reason related to curiosity. NO PEEKING.
If, to deal with an emergency, or a necessity (like reloading the water pan), you must open the door on the cooking chamber, get it closed as quickly as possible. Cool air is the enemy. NO PEEKING. (Sensiing a theme yet?)
At some point after the pork hits an internal temperature of 150F, but before reaching it's final temp (195F) the internal temperature will "plateau" and stop rising for anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes -- causing panic in the breasts of people new to 'q. When it finally does start rising, the first 6 or 7 degrees will (seemingly) take forever. Normal. Don't panic.
The phenomenon is called "the stall," and is nearly inevitable with large cuts and low temperatures. Itl reflects changes in density and a property of certain types of molecules to absorb more energy than others -- especially when they're undergoing something very like phase change. That is, the heat energy is denaturing connective tissue, melting fats and doing other wonderful work just outside of the center. Leave it alone. Don't worry. And (wait for it), NO PEEKING.
If you want sliced pork, cook to an internal temperature of 185F - 190F. For pulled pork, cook to 195F - 200F. Many people pull the bone as a test for doneness. Warning: The bone will come out easily before the meat is truly ready to pull.
Wrap the meat in aluminum foil or commercial cling wrap (I prefer cling wrap), and allow it to rest at least 45 minutes before pulling. That’s right. At least 45 minutes. You can rest it for as long as 6 hours in an appropriately prepped insulated cooler. It will not only stay in the “safe zone,” but will be hot enough to make uncomfortable pulling.
While the meat rests, make the sauce. If you don’t want mayonnaise “bubbles,” you can mix the mustard and mayo, then slowly whisk the vinegar in until it’s entirely incorporated. Alternatively you can mix everything in the blender. Add the syrup and hot sauce last, and in the smallest recommended quantities. Add a few turns of black pepper, just enough so that the odd speck is visible in the sauce. Finally, adjust the syrup, hot sauce and pepper amounts taste.
Pull the pork with your hands (my preference), two forks, or claws. Don’t break the pork up too fine, or it will be stringy. As you pull, layer it into a pan. Moisten each layer with a little bit of sauce before covering it with another. Use the barbecue sauce sparingly, the idea is to keep the pork moist while it sits, and compliment without altering its flavor.
Finally, mix the pork up, so Mr. Brown, Miss White and the sauce are evenly distributed.
To serve for lunch or light supper: Moisten the bottom of warmed, soft bun with sauce, mound the pork on top, add more sauce if you like, cover with cole-slaw, moisten the top of the bun with sauce, and serve it alongside.
To serve for dinner: Simply mound the pork the plate, garnished with your favorite barbecue accompaniments. As you may have gathered from the luncheon instructions cole slaw and good breads are musts. Put some of the reserved sauce in a boat or squeeze bottle (hey, it’s barbecue!), and pass so guests may help themselves.
Variations, 1: Once you’ve got control over the rub making and rubbingbing processes, you may want to consider some deviation. For instance, mixing the rub with toasted, ground fennel and coriander seeds, at a ratio of about 3 rub to 1 seeds. A stronger fennel/coriander mix was popularized by Michael Chiarello. Alton Brown recommends something very similar to the Chiarello rub. A different, interesting addition to the rub is ground cocoa and cinnamon. If you choose that path, go carefully. Yet another approach is “wet rubs.” These are pastes made with the usual dry rub suspects, a little oil, juice, or whatever, fresh onion and a blender or processor.
Variations, 2: An injection liquid recipe that more closely follows my own, current tastes would include adding some peach liqueur into the injection mix (and cooking off the alcohol), in place of about 1/3 of the grape and apple, while tripling the amount of ground ginger, and eliminating the powdered chili and cayenne from the rub.
Variations, 3: You may use any barbecue sauce you like. By the way, there are a lot of ways to skin the Carolinas’ vinegar sauce cat. One of my favorites is 2 cups cider vinegar, 2 tbs white sugar, and 1 tbs each black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Hope you like,
PS. These recipes are original and my creation. If you want to share them you have my permission as long as you credit me, Boar D. Laze. I would consider it a kindness if you would also mention my eventually forthcoming book, COOK FOOD GOOD: American Cooking for Beginners and Intermediates.