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What are the effects of braising on a dry rub?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I'm slow cooking a pork shoulder in the dutch oven this weekend, and the various recipes I've looked at cover every possible combination of cooking methods, which has me confused. It also got me wondering about potentially 'bad' combinations, that would create tastes and reactions that I probably wouldn't want.

Specifically, I'm wondering about the effects of attempting to sear a piece of meat that is still thoroughly covered in dry rub. Wouldn't the spices themselves get burnt and ruined, rather than the meat getting a nice maillard reaction?

I ended up putting a dry rub on my pork (2 tsps each of paprikia, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, 1 tsp each of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, salt). I'll let it sit uncovered in the fridge for an hour or to to absorb the salts and redistribute within the meat. But what should my next step be?

Some recipes suggest that I should pat down the meat and remove most of the dry rub, then sear and braise. Others say keep the dry rub on, don't sear. Whether I braise or not, I plan on adding liquid to the pot (1 part each chicken broth, apple cider vinegar and mustard).

Given that my end goal here is pulled pork and not a roast, is braising beneficial? If it is, should the dry rub be removed first? Also, any suggestions re my rub and liquid mixes?

Thanks for your feedback all!
-Sam
Edited by Sam Mohyee - 4/15/13 at 10:15am
post #2 of 11

I think maybe the problem is first your understanding of what a braise is.  Braising is a combination cooking method using both dry and moist heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.  When done right, or even not so right, braising will not really burn anything as much as cook the death out of it.  As an example, my wife can't make a pot-roast for the lov'a Jebus, that isn't falling-apart over-cooked dried-out meat by the time it hits the plate.  It doesn't make any difference what cut of meat she uses.  

 

I use dry and/or wet rubs on lots of stuff I braise.  If I let them sit (almost always), as you did, it is usually for a 3-hour time.  I'm never gonna remove anything.  Why put it on if you're gonna take it off?  One(1) particular reason I like braising is that it causes all kinds of good stuff to melt off and combine in the liquid in the pan, which can be reduced into a tasty sauce/gravy.  A specific negative example unfortunately of this is baby-back ribs.  All I get melted off of them is fat.  Fat doesn't reduce into anything, it's just greasy.    

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

My mistake! When I said "braising" I was referring specifically to the part where you sear the meat before adding the liquid and cooking at low heat. 

 

Any thoughts on the effect of that searing on a particularly thick coating of dry rub?

post #4 of 11
If braising, always brown and braise. Don't go too heavy on the rub, but certainly don't wipe it off or rinse before cooking. Give it a nice sear on every side till nicely colored, remove it from the pot add the liquid and get it hot. Put it back in the pot, cover, and throw in the oven at 225 for 5-6 hrs. I guess i'm a litttle confused when you say "whether I braise or not, I plan on adding liquid to the pot." Braising is simply slow cooking in liquid. You can also just cook the shoulder dry. Rub it good, let rest for awhile. Crank the oven to about 475-500 put it in the oven uncovered on a roasting rack and immediately reduce the heat to 225. That should give it a decent crust. It might take a little longer for everything to break down cooking it dry.

I think your rub is a little unfocused and too heavily spiced. That is a lot of cumin in comparison to everything elese. I'd omit the cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon as well. A little too much going on with all those flavors. Whatever rub you use make sure you salt heavily ( more than you think) with a good coarse kosher salt. Also, in my opinion that is WAY too much vinegar and too much mustard in the braising liquid. What I do is, after searing the roast, toss in some onions, whole cloves garlic, jalapenos deglaze with stock bring to a simmer and then proceed. The spices cooked into the bottom of the pan will flavor the liquid nicely. No need for vinegar or mustard. After the shoulder is cooked strain the liquid and add a little bit back into pork after its shredded. Thats how i've had success with pork shoulder in the past. Hope this helps a little.
post #5 of 11

Depends on the rub ingredients.  Sugars burn easily in a sear for example.

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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 11

Don't change your rub at all ... unless YOU want to.  Don't add or subtract ingredients ... unless YOU want to.  Everyone has their own blend/mix/rub recipe that they think is the best.  And it's all good that way.  I've seen actual fist-fights over chilli with or without beans.  Those same guys were fighting over bbq sauce too.  The differences in Carolina, StLouis and Texas. 

 

As for my thoughts (opinion, nothing more or less), on searing with a heavy rub ... I wouldn't do it.  I'd roast it uncovered in a very hot oven for a short time to get some crust/color, then seal it up in a pan for braising. 

post #7 of 11

I make this type of north-carolina style bbq often and I use a dry rub too.  I use a whole pork shoulder (butt), and put a rub on it and let it sit out until it comes to room temperature.  Then I place it in a roasting pan, at least 2inches tall and cover it tightly with foil.  Place in a 500F oven for 15min and then turn down to 250 for about 5hrs.  I don't add any liquids, it just braises in its own juices and believe me, it gives off a lot of juices/fat.  When it's done I remove it from the juices and let it rest for about 30min before pulling.  After I pull the pork I mix in the vinegar/mustard/cayenne mixture and toss.  Adding vinegar to the braise changes the flavor of the vinegar, really mellows it out a lot and doesn't give you that bbq tang you're looking for.

 

I do not sear the pork butt for pulled pork.  With a rub like that you are in danger of burning it.

 

Another good way to go about it is to stick it in a smoker.

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post #8 of 11

Everyone's right.

 

You can leave the dry rub on for the sear.  "Sear," by the way, is the word you're seeking.  You don't want to burn the spices in the dry rub.  The key is stopping the sear after the spices toast but before they burn.  Knowing when to quit is a big thing with any artistic endeavor. 

 

In order to slow cook a pork shoulder, you don't need to braise.  You can dry cook as successfully.  The best method depends on the results you're chasing.  What are you going for?

 

BDL 

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I went ahead and tried the sear on my pork. As I feared, the dry rub was fried and blackened after 1-2 minutes on each side, which is probably not enough to get the maillard reaction one look for when searing.

Ultimately though, it turned out great :-). Braised for about 5 hrs in 4 cups water, a chopped onion and 4 cloves of garlic, with a small pour of apple cider vinegar.

I think I put in more water than I needed. Gave up on reducing it after boiling it for 30 minutes. Also, though tender, the pulled pork tastes a bit dry. My guess is I overcooked it - I measured the temp at 200 after 4 hours, then turn eds down the oven to 225 and left it in for another hr.

Next time I'll try with no sear. I'll ditch the cloves and nutmeg, maybe try adding parsley and orange zest to the rub. I'll braise with only 1 cup water and add some orange juice.

Then, once I've pulled the pork and covered it with the reduced braise juice, I'll stick it in the oven to broil and get the tips nicely blackened.

What dry rub ingredients do you think most complement your pulled pork?
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Mohyee View Post

So I went ahead and tried the sear on my pork. As I feared, the dry rub was fried and blackened after 1-2 minutes on each side.

 

Well, you were warned that that would happen.  But sometimes we do need to learn it for ourselves, been there. 

 

My rub for this is onion powder, garlic powder, salt/pepper, cayenne, paprika, and thyme.  You can put parsley, but don't expect it to give any flavor, fresh herbs do not hold up very well in the long cooking process.  It's more useful to put the parsley in fresh coleslaw where you can really taste it and slaw is the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork imo.

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 11

Whenever I smoke a pork shoulder, I add some of the pan drippings back on top of the pulled meat.  I don't see the point of the sear on a heavily rubbed shoulder.  Have you ever seen a bbq'd shoulder after being cooked for 6 hours?  The bark gets very dark, I would not want to speed up that process with a sear.

 

Transferring that method to an oven instead of a smoker works very similarly (often I start bbq in the smoker and finish in the oven so I can get some sleep).  Rub the shoulder the day before.  Roast in a pan on a rack with a little liquid (water, apple juice, etc.), but realize that the meat will be giving up a ton of juices as the collagen melts.  Let it go at 225 F until a skewer (or temperature probe) slides in very easily.  Some of my best pork BBQ wasn't done until 205 F.   You can also experiment with injecting and/or brining if you are consistently producing a dry product.

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