Memorial Day Celebration Preparations

I got soooo close to getting the flavor out of my pinto beans last week I wanted to try again. Also, I loved the Mac and Cheese we made for our Dinners for 8 group a couple of weeks back; they were at the other end of the table and I only got a spoonful before they were gone.  Finally, I’d been thinking about doing pulled pork with an injection rather than a brine. With a 3 day weekend, I thought I’d make a complete barbecue meal, even if it was just for Carla and me.

Then we got to talking with Starr at yoga Thursday night and she was talking family party. You don’t have to ask me to a party twice; we jumped at the idea. We’d have a good start on the food; and it’s easy enough to add another pork shoulder on the Mak. It’ll cook 2 as easily as 1. In turn, that gave me the opportunity to do the 2nd half of the pulled pork showdown. Back in March I cooked a couple of pork butts: one brined  and rubbed and one with just rub. The brined butt won hands down. Now it’s time to compare a brined butt with an injected one.

Today is all about getting the pork butts done. Early this morning I put one in a brined of molasses, salt, and water. Then a new sauce: Piedmont sauce. You start with some sweet KC barbecue sauce; something like Sweet Baby Ray’s; then you add some (er. a lot) of apple cider vinegar and some other spices to make a thin vinegary, hot sauce that North Carolinians love. I thought about using my last cup of homemade KC sauce, but decided to provide that as an alternate sauce for folks. There are a few recipes on the interweb; here is the mix I’m going with:

  • 1 cup sweet BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon (!) red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

No doubt about it; this is a grown up’s sauce.

Simmer for 15 minutes.
“A little sauce for the dippin”

Then I turned to the butt rub. This is Alton Brown’s basic rub for pulled pork. This is where I got hooked on cooking. I built a home made smoker like the one shown on the video for a few years. It turns out

delicious food. I’ve used it for years; it smells divine
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder

Around 4:00 I created the injection

  • ¾  cup apple juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ½  cup sugar
  • ¼  cup kosher salt finely ground
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • Juice of ½  lemon
At 7:00 I took the brining butt out of the solution and injected the other one. Brined on the left; injected on the right.
Rubbed up and ready for the smoker

I got the two butts on the grill at 8:20 PM. They are on the top rack sitting over drip pans with water, beer, and apple juice. Unfortunately, my grill remote control is on the fritz. But I’ve got it programmed successfully and it is on the back deck just outside our bedroom where I can keep an eye on it over night.

The plan is to smoke for 1 hour; raise up to 225 until the brined butt hits 145; then boost the temp to 245 until the butt hits 195. This will run overnight; I figure 12 hours minimum.

10:30 AM. The butts hit the stall at 165* for a few hours. After 14 hours they are climbing into the high 170’s. The smell on the back deck is wonderful.

3:00 PM. It took 17 hours for these two butts to completely cook. I finally figured out that the temp on the top rack was lower than the temp where the sensor is. I think that cooking on the upper rack over a couple of aluminum pans cuts the heat getting to the top.

Here is the 2nd butt after it came off the smoker. If you aren’t used to seeing smoked pork shoulders, this may look hideous.

I’m also cooking a pot of beans:

  • 1 lb dried pinto beans brined overnight in a solution of 4 quarts water and 3 Tablespoons salt. The sodium ions help break down the tough skin for smooth beans
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
Boil them for about 3 hours.
And the prep for mac and cheese. This was Carla’s mom’s recipe. You can find my write up here
Ready for the oven
Out of the oven
And the beans

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