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Competition Style Barbecue Pulled Pork, Plus Dijon Vinegar sauce

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
A good pulled pork blends a few elements, each of which blends a few elements, and in turn each of those blends a few elements of its own. At its most basic the sweet, spicy, barky, outside (Mr. Brown), mixes with the moist, juicy, sweet, tender, unctuous interor (Miss White) – chaperoned by a plain or sesame seed bun, coleslaw and a thin barbecue sauce. This particular recipe is very representative of KCBS and Memphis in May type competition barbecue.

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

(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


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


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.
post #2 of 49
The mustard sauce sounds good, I am going to have to try that one this summer. The rest is standard pulled pork. The wood use is right on especially in small pits like the ECB or Weber, if using a stick burner keep the fire small and hot and the creosote won't rear its ugly head. I could stand downwind in the smoke from my stick burner, it was sweet and clean along with being almost clear. Large amounts of thick dense smoke are bad in any pit.
post #3 of 49
Thanks! I've been waiting for something like this >>>

Do ya see the big smilie face? Yep, that's right...a big smile right at ya!

I'm looking to go to a KCBS event this year, any suggestions on a good one to hit? We've got a couple of events that are local...but they're really lacking.

thanks again!
post #4 of 49
just plain water in the water pan?

recommend any brining?
post #5 of 49
Thread Starter 
Liquid, sand, fire bricks, wet sand is dependent on the particular smoker. I'm not too familiar with yours, but understand liquid or wet sand are the best choices. If you go liquid, you can add beer, wine, herbs, or whatever you like to the liquid. It won't make much difference to the taste of the pork, but your backyard will smell good.

An advantage to damp sand is that it won't run out during the cook and require refilling.

The advantage to water is that it will keep the environment in the cookchamber more humid, which in turn helps stabilize temperatures (promotes a juicier product) and acts as a bar to dry air (which would strip moisture). After human error, dry air is probably the biggest enemy to good barbeuce.

If you were to brine a whole butt or picnic, it would need at least 24 hours in the brine, and maybe longer. You'll find injecting works better in terms of both flavor and texture. Pick up an inexpensive injecting syringe for now, and you can move up to a better piece of equipment later. I didn't mention it in the recipe,but lots of small injections work better than a few big ones. You'll get the hang of it after the injection liquid starts shooting out the other side a few times.

If you can't get the injection thing together, or just plain don't want to, then brine. A medium brine is about 1/2 cup of table salt, and 1 cup of sugar per gallon of water. Of course you don't have to use plain water -- I like to use some fruit juice and/or nectars and plenty of onions. Pork loves both of those.

Some of the best butts I've made were built around combining peach, ginger, onion and maple with at least two of those in the injection (or brine), smoke wood, rub, and sauce respectively.

You didn't say this, so I will: IIRC your smoker runs at a more or less constant 250F, if that's true figure about 45 - 50 minutes a pound to 195F

Smoke wood chunks work much better than chips.

Hope this helps,
post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
Hope you like it. It's my go to for pulled pork.

Well yes and no. I'm trying to teach how to make a good, old-fashioned, U.S., southern-style pulled pork. It's the pulled pork flavor profile a KCBS certified judge is trained to rate highly. I'm not trying to impart competition secrets, my own favorites, or a highly tweaked "my way or the highway" recipe. Rather, I want the reader to develop the skills necessary to move on confidently to her (or his) own improvisations.

It is unashamedly down the middle.

Without getting too deeply into the techniques which make big offsets, small offsets, large cabinets, small cabinets, insulated cabinets, uninsulated cabinets, kettles, good bullets, bad bullets, charcoal basket, no charcoal basket, etc., different from one another -- that's basically what I was trying to get at.

Someday we'll get together and cook. If it's as good as talking 'q with you, no one will go away hungry.

post #7 of 49
my injection mix is in the fridge and ready and my rub is pre-mixed. everything is ready to go for tomorrow morning.

I'll give the sauce a shot, but I think I'm going to give another one a shot as well to give 2 sauces a try (for the missus)

I tested the smoker today, and you are correct, it held a steady 250 for over an hour.

Also stole dads maverick smoker thermometer that monitors both the meat and the smoker.
post #8 of 49
Thread Starter 

post #9 of 49
Oh GREAT! NOW we have the "Hawaiian influence"!:lol:
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #10 of 49
I have a brisket going in the Traeger tomorrow night at midnight, haven't decided on a rub yet. For beef I prefer a sugar free rub and often toss one together from whatever sounds good at the time :lol:
post #11 of 49
Thread Starter 
The Jack Daniels if you can get to Kentucky in October. There are some pretty good comps in the midwest during the summer, too. Ideally you want to find one that's got something going on besides the competition itself -- like a blues festival. There are several good ones in the midwest region. Still, if you're smart you'll find another reason to be wherever it is you're going -- a golf course for instance. Not that watching a stranger cook a brisket for fourteen hours isn't facinating, but there's surprisingly (unsurprisingly?) little drama at comps. Eespecially KCBS comps. :mad: Here in California teams aren't allowed to give away or sell samples -- which makes it kind of hard on the spectators. I'm not sure if the rule is national or just state wide, as it went into effect after I stopped competing.

The KCBS site has a schedule.

You may also want to check out The Royal, and Memphis in May competitions. In some ways they're a lot more fun for spectators than KCBS comps.

Probably the best thing to do is join your state KCBS barbecue society. They'll hook you up with the newsletter, the state internet forum and so on. You can get a copy of the rules, learn about the subtleties of presentation, the idiocy of judges and so on. When you do go to a comp, at least you'll have some idea of what's going on. If you're thinking about competing yourself -- good for you! You absolutely should. Lots of fun. You may even want to take a judging class -- highly recommended.

Last but not least, start poking around barbecue forums. Chef Talk is very nice, but it's hardly a specialty site. There just aren't enough of us with 'q experience to generate the breadth or depth of information you're starting to crave. It's nice to hear a lot of ideas. And in 'q especially, it's nice to hear from people who own the same rig you do -- or at least something similar. A big part of the game is fire management, and that's so equipment dependent.

post #12 of 49
Thanks BDL and just in time too...i have a shoulder I need to cook.
post #13 of 49
You'll find lots and lots of recipes and techniques for Boston Butts posted here.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
post #14 of 49
update, she's holding steady at 240, meat is at 76....she's smokin'

doesn't seem to be the most airtight lid, but there certainly is enough smoke with 3-4 chunks in
post #15 of 49
They all leak, even my WSM leaks. DO NOT concern yourself about slight leaks; but, lifting the lid to take a peak will probably add about 15 minutes to the cooking time. Is the 240 F measured at the lid or at the grill? If at the lid you're okay but if measured at the grill the temp may be a bit high.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
post #16 of 49
Thread Starter 
The seal will improve somewhat as gunk builds up around the seams with use. Brinkmann's are drafty. That's one of their major problems, and why you'll eventually look for something better.

post #17 of 49
3-4 chunks seems like too much in that Brinkman.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #18 of 49
I quickly realized that. 2 seems perfect
post #19 of 49
240 is acceptable for shoulder. My Klose liked to settle in at 250 so thats what I cooked at most of the time. Every pit seems to have a sweet spot where things run right so learning to cook at that temp helps but 225-275 is in the acceptable range for low and slow. Some people are doing brisket hot and fast at 350 and above with acceptable results but I don't think the fat renders as well.
post #20 of 49
Thread Starter 
When the wood first smolders you'll get some fairly thick smoke. After five minutes or so, it should start settling down quite a bit over the next five minutes. After that, you should very little, if any, visibile smoke; but should have a good smoke aroma.

If instead you're billowing smoke -- that's a bad thing. It means you're probably using too much wood (easily correctable), or burning your wood up -- which is usually a function of too much heat or too much draft.

If your wood chunks burn rather than smolder, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and pierce the foil with a few small holes. Remember: It's a smell test. If you can smell good wood aroma, your food is smoking. Also bear in mind, with a small cooker, it's better to err on the side of too little smoke than too much.

The wrap thing, aka "smoke bomb," is the sort of last resort you try with small, inexpensive smokers. It's not something you'd do with a bigger, better pit.

How long your chunks will smolder, before burning up and needing replacement depends on the size of the chunk, type of wood, how well cured it is, how dry it is, heat of the pit, and God knows what else. With the little I know about what's going on with your little electric ECB, I'm guessing a little more an hour between reloads. FWIW, one decent size chunk at a time should do it.

If it smells like smoke, it's smoking.

Do you have enough beer?

Let's save brisket for another time,
post #21 of 49
coming up on 6 hours, it was a 7.4lb butt. Internal temp 162.

I'm imagining it looks good. :D

anyone have a "close to regular ol BBQ sauce" recipe for the missus?
post #22 of 49
some pics...

post #23 of 49
There are different schools of thought on BDL's smoke bomb, or more technically smolder vs burn. As I understand it, it comes down to creosote formation and condensation. And I prefer the burn to the smolder. You'll have to experiment with your wood chunks to see what you like in your equipment.

Wood creosote condenses on surfaces readily at temps below 250 which is prime barbecue territory. How much condenses depends on how much you're forming with your combustion. A smolder with wet wood produces more creosote than a dry wood burning, mostly because the temp of the dry wood fire is higher. A related note, you generally don't want to use fresh wood chunks, but chunks that have aged a year from cutting.

But as Mary B alluded to, your heat source and its distribution to the cooking grate enters in to it as well. Charcoal (lump only), vs wood, vs electric in your case.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #24 of 49
Thread Starter 
The problem with burning chunk in a small, electric bullet like RPM's, is that if you let it burn (in flames) you'll have to reload every 15 minutes.

Phil, if you mean something other by "burn" than "in flames," than that's what I mean by "smolder."

post #25 of 49
also, if it dos burn (in flames) the temp seems to skyrocket, ;) found that out the hard accidental way...

seems like the thermometor is stuck on 180 though... smoker temp 238
post #26 of 49
Thread Starter 
Oh Jeeze! My bad. I'll amend the recipe later.

I forgot to tell you about the dreaded "stall." The good news is that you came up on it at a fairly high temp -- which usually means it won't last all that long.

The stall is typical of butts, picnics, shoulders, briskets and other large pieces. For whatever reason (it's a little bit of cute biochemistry and thermodynamics too, let me tell ya), the internal temperature, which has been rising pretty steadily, just plain stops rising. Your job is to just wait it out. Don't crank the temp, don't wrap, don't do anything. Just let it go. After anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes the temp will start raising again. The first five degrees or so will go pretty slowly, afterwards it usually starts rising pretty quickly again.

Have a beer. Don't worry. Wait. Pull at 195.


PS. About the flame/temp thing. It's called "peaking" and has to do with the fact that flame begins at one temperature, but the wood continues to burn at a considerably higher temperature.

The whole set of questions relating to smoke, heat, etc., are grouped together as fire management. It's one of a couple of reasons it's helpful to have someone familiar with your particular cooker -- or at very least something very similar. They're all very difficult. When it comes to fire management, a lifetime of experience with a medium sized offset is very little help with an electric bullet.

Different strategies work with different rigs; Some very successful techniques simply won't translate. The reverse is also true. Take for instance the "smoke bomb." It would be a first choice using a propane grill as a smoker; a last resort in a bullet like yours; and simply stupid in a mid-sized or larger offset.

The choice has nothing to do with creosote formation, but is about temperature and frequency of reloading.

Now that we're four paragraphs into it, it might be a good time to say that this thread isn't a particularly good place for the conversation. But it's worth thinking about to highlight that every rig type is idiosyncratic, some rigs are darn near sui generis, and you have to match your technique to whatever equipment you're using.
post #27 of 49
at 187....

pullled out a VERY good and expensive bottle of Anejo tequila someone recently brought back for me from Mexico.....I'm not a straight tequila drinker, and....well this tequila is too good to use for say, even a properly made margarita....so. I did it justice in a mexican tequila old-fashioned type cocktail.

2oz anejo tequila
.25-.5oz agave syrup (or 1 teaspoon of agave nectar)
dash of orange bitters
dash of angostura bitters

stirred, then poured over rocks in an old fashioned glass, preferably a giant ice cube.....garnish with a flame orange peel. Im sure you can just do agnostura bitters and a lime twist, but I like orange...

agave syrup is just 1:1 water:agave nectar.

update after typing that above...188.
post #28 of 49
I mean not soaking the wood and not hindering the oxygen. Wrapping in foil is an oxygen control technique, but this is also a high creosote technique. You want a CLEAN burn for a clean flavor.

I know this isn't a common opinion but I recommend you give it a try. It does take an adapted technique to manage temps but I think the flavor is better.

In an electric Brinkman, a dry chunk of wood half the size of a fist should last about an hour.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #29 of 49

a few cocktails down, and now into the rest of last nights bottle of wine (which is a rarity)
post #30 of 49
That's about when I pull it, but my boiling point is 201 so I don't have the buffer you do at a lower elevation.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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