What is being said....

"I need dessert for my blood sugar."

Mallory, 7 yrs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

13 Hours to Graceland

The day had finally arrived.  After all the planning, research and shopping, it was finally time to have the rubber meet the road.  I was just hoping my meat didn't turn out like rubber, or taste like road.  I ended up changing my original plan and decided to cook on a higher temperature of 270*.  This would hopefully reduce my cooking time to 12 hours and not require me to be up all night babysitting the smoker.  I got up at 0300 and got started.  Time to preheat the smoker, soak the wood and unwrap my stinky butt.  Oh, I also decided to modify my wood for the smoke.  I read that cherry wood is mild and is best when mixed with other woods.  So I did a 50/50 mix of cherry and hickory.  Here is the picture of the butts before going into the smoker.  I put one directly on a rack and the other in a pan. The butt on the rack would be on top and it's juices would drip down onto the other in the pan.    You can also see the wood chips and wireless thermometer (life saver!).

I get the meat into the smoker at 0340 which has been preheated to 317*.  This is as high as it would go with an outside air temp of 25* (thank you Jynelle for the wireless thermometer!).  Once the door was closed I waited for the box temperature to even out and finally got it to settle at 270*.  Well, it's time to lay on the couch and rest for a bit.  I figure I'll be up in a couple of hours and check the temperature of the box and refill the wood chips.  I ended up waking almost 4 hours later (comfy couch) and I expected to see the box temp way high or low (I didn't set the alarm on the thermometer).  Well, it was right on 270* just as I had left it. The meat was already at 154* and there was still some smoke billowing out of the vent.  Outstanding! Smoking meat while sleeping and doing it like a Boss! I soak some more wood chips in preparation of replenishing the box and tenting my meat once it hits 160*.  The meat hits 160* a short time later.  I change my mind about tenting as the meat only has 40* to go and I still have 6 hours before I want to pull it out to rest.  Looking and smelling fantastic!

Added more wood at 1300 but just cherry chips this time.  There were still quite a bit of hickory chunks smoldering.  I may have over-packed the smoking box. The temp on the box keeps wanting to rise above 270*.  I chalk it up to the outside air temp going up, but discover I had forgotten to refill the water pan. It was bone dry.  (the water pan is used to maintain a consistent temp in the box and prevents large temp changes when the door is opened)  While I was filling the water pan, I checked the temp of the lower butt (the thermometer was in the top one).  I discovered that this butt is 11* cooler than the top one.  I tent the pan in hopes it will catch up with the other one.  I also find another thermometer and put it in that butt so I have two going now and can monitor the progress more closely.

I prepare a Finishing Sauce which is made up of Apple Cider Vinegar, brown sugar, Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  This is supposed to be drizzled over the pork once it's pulled and can be added to taste by those wanting more.

After almost 13 hours (12:57 exactly), the top butt is at 199* and the lower one is at 202*.  Both are in range (195*-205*) and ready to be pulled out and rest for 1-2 hours.  Here they are:

They're burnt you say, but you'd be wrong!  That outer layer is called the bark and is not close to being burnt.  It is crisp and flavorful (so I'm told.  I haven't tasted it yet) and it is what true BBQ'ers shoot for (that is why some don't like to tent the meat as it can prevent the bark from forming).  I wrap the pan in foil and place it in a cooler with a blanket to take up the extra room.  They can rest like this for 3-4 hours and still be warm (safe) to eat.

We head over the river and through the woods to grandma's house and it's ready to be pulled.  Jynelle got me these great heavy duty silicone gloves to be able to get meat on/off the rack or to pull meat.  Did I bring them?  No.  We (Jynelle wanted in on this) used latex gloves and burnt the crud out of our fingers.  (won't make that mistake again).  The good news is if I'm ever arrested, they won't get any good finger prints off of me.

This is the first pull and you can see the smoke ring about the first 3/8" around the edge (darker pink). Outside of the bark, this is the other "tell" that true BBQ'ers shoot for.  It is supposed to indicate you've smoked your meat long enough.

And finally the full pan of pulled pork.  I have to say, the meat was fantastic!

I drizzle just a little Finishing Sauce over all of the meat, but don't want to overdo it.  I worry it may be too spicy which would ruin it for some people. I did add some more Finishing Sauce on my own sandwich and I have to tell you, I wasn't that impressed.  It was good, but not the best pulled pork I've ever had.  Everyone else was very complementary of it and said it was good.  I didn't know if they were just being nice or if they actually liked it.  Later after thinking back on my day, I realized I didn't add any BBQ sauce to my sandwich! Now the meat by itself is good.  With the Finishing Sauce it's not bad - a little tangy.  But with the BBQ sauce on it (not a lot mind you) that meat is out of this world! And the fact that I worked all day on it made it the Best Pulled Pork I had ever had (and am still having for lunch!).

Now I'm trying to decide what to do next.  The brisket is still out there and I told Jynelle that I would do one for the Super Bowl if the Broncos or Seahawks made it there.  Well, I don't have to worry about doing one for the Broncos, but there's a shot I'll be doing one for the Seahawks.  Mallory has also said she'd like smoked hamburgers for her birthday........

One final note.  Friday before I got going, my friend Dale send me a verse to meditate on.  He didn't know I was getting ready to BBQ on Saturday, but I think he had a little Help in his selection: Philippians 4:6-7 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.



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