Central to this party, is the barbecue. When I say barbecue, I mean pork that is smoked for hours, shredded, simmered in sauce, and served on a bun. Later in the summer we'll have our annual rib barbecue. But for our birthday its always pot-luck, and I smoke some pork butts. Since this is a food blog, let's get right to the goods. Here's what we made for our party this year:
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
|The one in the middle is
the local picnic ham.
Unfortunately, I didn't plan things well and the shoulder didn't defrost in time. However, there was a single Picnic Ham that I was able to get defrosted, so we did half local. The butts came from Costco which is where I normally get them from. I've looked into other places in town for local meat, but none of them sell whole butts at a price that is reasonable. Considering we're talking about a 8-10 lbs chuck of flesh, getting 2 or 3of these can get expensive if you are paying $4-$5 per pound for local meat.
Anyway, in my experience, running the smoker around 250 means keeps the cooking time at around an hour a pound to get to an internal temp of 185-190. So, for an 8 lbs shoulder, you'll need 8 hours of cooking time at 250. This will produce a nice crust, a quarter to half inch smoke ring, and make the meat soft enough for shredding with forks.
For the pulled pork, I use my own rub which is a modified version of a Memphis style rub I found online. The print out I have actually says the original rub recipe comes from The Barbecue Bible, but I checked my copy and couldn't find it.
Jason's Pork Rub
This is my "magic powder" (a la Mike Mills). I altered the original with the garlic powder, oregano, and chipotle powder to give this rub a touch of herbiness and a little more heat. The sugar-paprika-pepper combo is pretty normal barbecue flavors and seemed too dry to me, especially for Oregon. To alter this rub for fish or chicken, just reduce the paprika and black pepper and increase the garlic and oregano.
|Don't be shy about laying on the rub. It will make a nice crust.
|The beast at work.
|2 butts, a pot of beans, and smoked cabbage (in the tin foil) on the smoker.
|The picnic ham ready for shredding.
Last year, while looking for something different, I found a recipe for smoked cabbage in The Legends of Texas Barbecue. My first thought was "gross." My second thought was "cabbage is cheap". My third thought was "I'll give it a try if I have room in the smoker". It was outstanding. If you haven't had smoked cabbage, I highly recommend it. Uncle Kermit's Barbecued Cabbage is outstanding and simple.
|Cabbages cored and packed with spiced butter.
Butter (one stick per cabbage)
Make a spiced butter and pack the entire stick into the core of the cabbage. The cabbage will groan and seem like it's going to burst from the butter. Wrap in tin foil and stick it in a smoker for a couple hours. Cut into wedges and serve. Wonderful.
Peace, Love and Barbecue. The Lexington Barbecue Red Slaw recipe was a good match, especially since I added a little too much chipotle pepper to the first batch of pulled pork. Cole slaw still isn't my favorite thing, but this was about as good as I could ask for. Note: make this the night before so it has time to marinate. Otherwise, it just tastes like cabbage and vinegar.
|Mama Faye's didn't last long!
Beyond that, everything else was provided by the people who showed up. In normal pot-luck style we had all sorts of goodies to choose from and they were all delicious.
Here are some random pictures from the barbecue and some of the people who showed up to help us celebrate our birthday...and eat!
|There was a lot of food!
|Marsh mellows too!
|The real power of barbecue...bringing friends together.