Sunday, May 19, 2013

What's on the Grill #272: Pulled Pork on the Kettle

One of my favorite things about the Weber kettle is its versatility.  Direct or indirect, the meal possibilities are endless.  

By far one of the more pivotal moments in my Weber upbringing was my first Boston Butt Roast.  (Why the strikethrough?  See here.)  Growing up, grilling was synomous with steaks, burgers, and badly burnt chicken.  True BBQ cooking was completely foreign.

By the mid nineties, the mystery was gone and I was slowly indoctrinated into low and slow.  I've never looked back.

Lately, Sundays have been BBQ days.  With all of the work it takes getting the house in shape for spring, dinner tends to be overlooked as the chores and tasks pile up.  However, by starting dinner before breakfast, I have the comfort of knowing dinner is on target and as an added benefit, I can take in its smells all day long.

If you have never smoked pork or brisket on a kettle, I urge you to give it a shot.  I've covered it before on these pages and a few years ago, posted a step by step tutorial to Instructables.  Amazingly enough, it's been viewed over 75,000 times and in so doing, hopefully helped some people step up their grilling game.

Even though I've been down this road before, I always like to tweak the process.  Here are some added tips:

While wood chips are nice, I prefer chunks.

Lighting the Chimney

Yeah, soaked wood chips work great, but I prefer the staying power of chunks.  They tend to burn, burn, burn.  Plus, there is something more primal about using actual pieces of wood versus machined chips.

Grind your spices

Purists suggest the shelf life of ground spices is only a few months.  I don't know about you, but I've got spices in the cupboard that remember doing the Macarena.  

In order to reduce my spice hoarding, I've taken to grinding whole spices.

Spice Grind

Using a coffee grinder dedicated to spices, I can mix and match the exact amount of what I need.  Even if I add in some pre-ground spice, I'm ensured a great consistency of the freshest spice mix possible.

Use mustard to help bind your rub to the meat.

Boston Butt

By slathering good old yellow ballpark mustard all over the pork, the rub has something to stick to, meaning more rub on the meat and less on the counter.

Mustard Slather

There is no flavor impact from the mustard, it's really just yellow "glue".

Rubbed Pork

Check for "doneness" with the bone pull

There is nothing more beautiful and drool inducing than a cooked pork shoulder.

Smoked Boston Butt

Even though it may look "cooked" over the course of the last few hours on the grill, the best way to ensure doneness is with a thermometer.  Don't take it off the grill before it has an internal temperature of 190 F.  

Don't have a  thermometer? In that case, find the bone and wiggle.  

Wiggle the Bone

If you can cleanly pull the bone from the meat, your can count on your pork being perfectly done.

It's done!

Mark the bottom vents

Air flow is the key to regulating temperature on the kettle.  Unless you want to hang out on your knees trying to figure out what position the ash catcher's vents are in, I suggest pre-marking them.

Vent Marks

C for Closed, H for Half, O for Open.  No dirty knees and no guessing.

Pulled pork is a delicious treat that can last for several days.

Pile o' Pork

I'm almost always guaranteed leftovers, which is great, because not only is pork great right off the plate, there are so many other things you can do with it.  Stuffed Peppers or pizza anyone?

Next time you have a long day of work planned, be prepared to start dinner before you crack your morning eggs.  Use these tips, fire up the kettle, and be prepared for a lot of awesome pork.

How do you use your kettle for BBQ?  Let me know in the comments!

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