Root Beer Smoked, Pulled Pork
Labor weekend's here, 2008, and nobody's doin' anything around the dock. So, I decided that I would invite a few of my neighbors and make something that I haven't done before.
My local grocery store had Pork, Boston Butt (shoulder) on sale for $0.99 / pound, and I figured that would be a great start for an inexpensive way to feed about 20 people. I added 2 cans of beans, made my "30 Minute Baked Beans" and made a potato salad with homemade mayonnaise.
After it was all said and done, I fed about 25 people, and had about 1 cup of beans, 1 1/2 pounds pulled pork, and no potato salad left over. All for a total cost of about $25.00. We all had a GREAT time, and I got to try something new. If you're concerned about serving spicy food, this recipe made a finished product that was just a little spicy without being overkill. People that really don't like spicy foods loved it. However, if you want to make it hotter, you can add additional Butt Kickin' Blacken to the dry rub.
Now, if you want to do a similar thing with Country Style Ribs, I would just cut the cooking time to about 1 1/2 hours (so you don't dry them out). and you can change the oven time to about 1 1/2 hours also.
This may not be the "Classic" way of cooking pulled pork, but I don't have a smoker, or 12 hours to smoke the meat. All I'm working with is my little 18" Boat Grill.
Dry Rub Mix
- 1/4 Cup Butt Kickin' Blacken
- 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1/4 Cup Instant Expresso Coffee Powder
- 14 - 16 Pounds Boston Butt, 2 pieces
- 2 Cups Hickory Chips, as needed
BBQ Mop / BBQ Sauce
- 2 Liters A & W Root Beer
- 1 Cup Rub
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Mustard
1. The day before:
Make the Dry Rub by placing the blacken, sugar, cocoa, salt, and coffee granules in a stainless bowl and mix well, being sure to break up any lumps from the sugar. This makes 4 cups of my Dry Rub.
2. Take the pork out, rinse, then dry. it well.
Place the wood chips in a non-reactive bowl with water to soak overnight.
3. Trim a bunch of the fat off, leaving about 1/4" layer. This help to limit flare-ups due to the dripping, melted, fat.
4. Pour some Dry Rub on and rub in well on all sides until all the meat is really coated. I used about 2 cups of the dry rub mix to do this. Place the pork in a non-reactive pan, cover and refrigerate overnight. This is a dry rub marinade.
5. The next day, (this can be the morning your serving the pork, (you've got to start early, I started smokin' at 10:30 AM and served the meat at 4:00 PM).
Make up the Root Beer Mop by first putting about 1 1/2 liters of the root beer in a wide pot, and turning the heat to high. Let it boil, uncovered for about 1/2 hour, then add 1 cup of the dry rub you saved from the night before. Continue to boil for another 10 minutes or so until this liquid has been reduced to about 1 quart. You'll notice that it's thickened up a bit (you can also do this the night before).
Let it cool a bit, then place 2 cups of this root beer bbq sauce in a quart jar, add the mustard (the mustard will help the oil stay blended). then the oil. Place the top on the jar, and shake until blended. Save the rest of the reduced liquid for later, to be used as a root beer bbq sauce.
6. Start the grill. If your using gas, place one burner on and turn the heat to medium high. If your using a large charcoal grill, Start the coals, when they're going good, push the hot coals to the edges of the grill in order to keep direct heat away from the pork. Now, I've got a small grill and I've got to have the coals spread out over the whole bottom. After I get them started, I sprinkle them with some of the water from the chips to cool them down. put the chips on, the add the meat.
If your using either the gas or a larger charcoal grill, you can make up a couple of packets of 1 cup of chips, wrapped in aluminum foil with a few whole poked in the top. Use these one at a time, directly on the burner, or coals, until they stop producing smoke. Then replace it with another one.
7. Take the partially cooked pork off the grill and place it in a 2" deep pan large enough to hold it with a little room around the outside. Dump any leftover Mop in the bottom, add about 1/2 of the leftover reduction, and additional root beer to make up about 3/4" of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and place in an oven preheated to 225 degrees. Cook for 3 hours, without messin' with it. The meat will be steaming, and come out real moist when it's done.
8. Cook (smoke) at about 225 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours turning and basting with the mop every 1/2 hour or so. You could do it as real Smokin' and do this for about 12 hours, but there's no way I really want to spend that time fussin' over the grill. I find that during this short period of time, I'll get some nice burnt crust on the outside (the Bark), some nice smoke flavor to the meat, and the meat won't dry out.
After about 2 hours, or so, you can begin testing for doneness. You'll know it's done, when the meat has pulled away from the bone, and the bone slips out easily. Don't Overcook the pork, or it won't the the right texture.
Save the rest of the root beer reduction mixture for "Root Beer Baked Beans".
9. Take the pork out of the pan, place on a platter, and cover for at least 15 minutes, and up to an hour. This lets the meat rest, and gives the juices time to redistribute themselves within the whole piece of meat.
10. While the pork is resting, pour the drippings from the bottom of the pan into a 2 cup measuring cup. Let it sit for about 10 minutes for the oil and fat to rise to the surface. Skim off most of the fat and reserve the balance. You can skim it directly from the pan, but I find that a narrow container concentrates the oil on top and it's easier to skim off. Set this aside.
11. Place one of the butt's on a large cutting board, and pull out the bone. At this time you can slice it, tear it, chop it, pull it, whatever you want to do to get it into a small, chopped state. As you're doing this, put the pulled pork back into the pan you just cooked it in. After you've chopped up the pieces of meat, dump the drippings, any leftover root beer barbecue sauce all over the meat and stir it in well. This helps keep the meat moist while it's waiting to be eaten.
12. Serve with 30 minute Baked Beans that you;ve might have added some of the root beer bbq sauce to, Slaw, and Potato Salad. Have enough rolls for about half the meat, because a portion of your quests will eat it on a platter without the bun. If you've got an older crowd, more than half will not use a bun. If younger, more than half will have it on a bun.
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