|Instructions:||Part III - Cooking|
Well here we go. This is really the easy part if you're lazy, or the hardest thing you'll ever do if you are a type A personality.
The purist will use an open pit and hickory wood burned down to coals with an entire hog laid wide open and flipped every 3-6 hours with no rub and using a vinegar base moping sauce to keep meat moist for say 16 to 24 hours. That's OK and God bless em. You and I can't eat that much meat and besides we all own Eggs or K's. Now that I have eliminated most of the purist out there, we will talk about how we can have as good, or in my opinion, better pulled pork than them boys.
This process is best done between 11PM to 1AM due to the cooking time required. You can expect to eat about 5 to 7 o'clock PM the next day. If you want to remain as pure as possible don't use the rub. I use the rub and I like the way it tastes. Hey, advice is like a house guest you have to listen to when they are there, but you don't have to ask them back. Cover the pork as thickly as you can on all sides with the rub. Set it aside to rest (You, not the pork, this is supposed to be fun, not work.)
Take a couple of sips of whatever you're drinking and try to remember that this stuff won't cook if we don't go light that load of lump we put into the egg about a week or so ago. Oh yeah! (You thought I forgot didn't you!) This is the great part as there are many ways up the mountain. I like two methods:
Using a 1 inch square of fire place lighter, placed it in the middle and on top of the lump. Light it.
Use a chimney and put a fist full of lump in it, place newspaper under it (the second most useful thing news paper was made for, the first being the bottom of bird cages) Light it.
When the coals in the chimney are going good, or the fire place starter is burnt out and you have about a fist full of coals glowing you're ready. Some folks like to place pieces of chunk or chip, soaked or dry, into the fire now, and some spread it around so they get smoke over different times while cooking. I prefer to use a single fist size piece of dry hickory placed dead center and on top of that little fist size of coals we just fired up. I think that too much smoke takes away from the delicate taste of pork and have found that this one piece will cold smoke the pork and leave a good size smoke ring in the meat because I'm going to place my pork on the grill now. If you're going to use a heat defector e.g. pizza stone and bottom rack, place them on now and put the fire ring in place. If you use the suspended type drip pan or the stones on top, do it.
Close the lid on Mr. Egg, open the bottom vent all the way and open Miss Daisy all the way. Let's stop here and explain why I have done it this way. The smoke will flavor the meat before the heat sears the meat and seals in the flavor. Since the fire is small, and Mr. Egg cool, we will get maximum smoke for a long time if the top vent is kept narrow (for those using slide metal vents).
Put your Polder probe half way into the thickest part of the meat. Place the main guest on a rack, pan or take him directly to the grill. I use the rack and a pan to keep the grease from dripping onto the fire/stone and causing excess smoke and flare ups. Now some put an amount of water or part of the Vinegar sauce in the bottom of the pan for moisture and flavor, not me. Lift the lid place the meat inside and close the lid. Plug in the polder and set the temperature alarm for 200°.
You're working way to hard, sit down and stare at the dome temperature gauge and sip some more of that Jack Daniel's, or what ever sissy drink you happen to have, until the thing reads about 195°. Close the bottom vent until the heat stabilizes around that heat level. Remember this is pulled pork (low and slow), not steak (hot and blast furnace). That is the tricky part because it could be wide open or only about ¼ inch. I can't tell you this part because it depends on many factors. (wind, temp outside, whether you used heat deflectors, size of pork, etc.) This is better known as the type A personality test. If you have to ask you already are one.
Now you may either party all night long or like me go to sleep. I definitely am not type A. When you wake up in the morning look at the dome temperature gauge to see if it is still about where it should be. If it is, look at the Polder if it says 185-195° you are either cooking a very small piece of pig or you have a gale force wind blowing directly up the bottom vent. If your fire is out go back and reread my post II of IV on how to build a fire and this time follow the direction and plan on eating late that night or tomorrow. For the rest of us, some time later on in the day the internal meat temperature will stabilize around 175 to 185°. At that point kick open the bottom vent and throw caution to the wind. Even if it reaches 275-300° in the dome you ain't going to hurt that meat. Some time later, and believe it or not it might be hours later, the internal heat will reach 200°.
Remove pork now and wrap it in foil until you are ready to eat. By the way, after you put the meat into Mr. Egg, and close the lid.....LEAVE IT SHUT STUPID until the meat reaches 200°. Barbeque will not cook by you looking at it. This is like religion, you will just have to trust that it is so. I'm only hard on you because I love you, and it is for your own good.
OK, next time we wrap this puppy up with how to serve pulled pork and some normal side dishes. Happy trail to you until we meet again,
Part IV - Serving
There are at least three traditional dishes served at almost every pulled pork joint I can remember. There is a fourth that I personally like. The first is Cole slaw and if you don't serve it, it surely is a sacrilege. This needs to be made 12 or more hours ahead of time, not that it isn't good or eatable when fresh, its just not right. There are a lot of great ones out there and here is my favorite.
Mary Lee's, "I Fought the Slaw and The Slaw Won".
These are from the Jack Daniel's old time Barbecue cookbook by Vince Staten. (with an Elder Ward twist)
· 3 LBS. cabbage
· 3 ribs of celery
· 1 onion (yellow)
· 1 bell pepper
· 3 carrots
· 2 C sugar (Hawaiian when you can get it.)
Shred, chop or dice all and mix with sugar. Set cabbage mixture aside.
· ½ Cup of white vinegar
· ½ Cup of Apple Cider vinegar
· ½ C olive oil (my twist)
· 1 tsp celery seed
· 1 tsp (kosher salt)
Bring all to a boil and pour over cabbage mixture and chill overnight.
Mamaw's German Potato Salad
This is the one non traditional dish
· 4 C cooked potatoes, cubed
· 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp (important for flavor) & crumbled
· 1 C celery, chopped fine
· 3 green (spring) onions chopped tops and all
Combine all ingredients & put in baking dish.
· ½ C mayonnaise
· ¼ C white vinegar
· 2 tsp sugar (Hawaiian)
· 1 tsp mustard (French's of other liquid cheap)
· 1 tsp salt (kosher)
· ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
Combine all and pour over potato mix and bake @ 350* for 20 min. Egg or K is best but oven will do.
As an aside: My Grandmother and Grandfather on my fathers side lived on Barcus Creek outside of the small town of Whitter, NC. We knew them as Mamaw & Papaw (This is Cherokee for your grandparents if I remember correctly and has nothing to do with the recipe)
· 2 C cornmeal
· 1 C all purpose flour
· 1/3 C sugar
· ¼ tsp baking soda (Arm & Hammer)
· 3 tsp baking powder
· 2 tsp salt
· 1 tsp black pepper
· 1 onion chopped
· 2 eggs (chicken type) B^)
· 1 C buttermilk (no 2% stuff here)
· 1 TBS butter unsalted, melted
· Peanut oil (enough to fill a cast iron skillet at least 3+ inches deep)
Combine all ingredients except the oil. Peanut oil is my favorite to cook this in and here is the important part, make sure the oil is hot enough to evaporate a drop of water when it is dropped in the oil. You must use high heat and never cook too much at one time or it will cool the oil and the hush puppies will be soggy. :~(
When the oil reaches temperature, take a teaspoon and scoop enough dough mixture to create a ball that is just a hair to big to eat in one bite. Carefully drop this into the oil. When it floats and is golden brown, use a wire strainer to lift out of the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Break the first couple open to be sure that they are done inside if not cook a little longer this is a feel thing but not hard to get. (THIS IS THE LAST THING YOU DO BEFORE YOU EAT AS THEY ARE AT THEIR BEST PIPING HOT AND GO DOWN HILL FROM THAT POINT ON.) They are not bad cold or cool just not great.
In the old days it was common for the kitchens to be built a good distance from the main house on the plantations down south to keep from burning them down. They were wild times and all folks kept hound dogs running lose in the yard to keep away unwanted guest and for protection against the less savory type known to steal and kill. The poor slaves and servants of that time had to navigate the area between the kitchen and the main house. This involved carrying large amounts of food that could be a handful and no one was there to keep the packs of dogs out of the food or from jumping up and knocking them down and you can bet that the owners didn't care for a loud ruckus for no reason at all. You can imagine who was held responsible if that occurred. Hint it weren't the dogs. So the slaves use to make these corn balls up, place them in their apron pockets, and as they walked toward the main house with the food they would throw them to the dogs and say "hush puppy hush puppy". The rest is history and after trying these you'll see how lucky those dogs were.
One last thing, here is my twist. If you're a chili head, or as we us to say, a real man, try chopping up 1 jalapeño pepper, seed and all, per cup of dough, or if company has a mild taste, fix half with half without. Boy howdy!
The third thing that is ALWAYS served is ice tea presweetened with sugar. People out here in California make some great dishes but what they call ice tea, well, suffice it to say that it does have tea in it. Boil 2 C water, when it is roiling, drop in 6 family size tea bags. Cover with a lid and shut off heat source. Find something to do for an hour but don't you dare lift that lid until it has sat there at least one hour. Add one cup of sugar, stir, and place in gallon container. I like to add as much ice as I can to finish cooling it down. Fill glass with ice pour in finished tea. Enjoy.
The last item is the all American dish, French Fries. I like em and I eat em but with pulled Q it is the last thing I touch on my plate. So if you will forgive me I'll not go into any detail here about fries.
Well what about old Porky Pig we have been writing about for weeks now, what do we do with him? You will need a chopping board or block, a large knife or clever, and a large pan to hold the finished product. Two other items I find useful are, a large fork of the carving type, and a trash can with liner installed. If you have dogs you will not need the later item until they are stuffed.
No matter how you serve your pulled pork, it ain't pulled unless you pull it. If your a real woman you probably can place your hands in boiling water and still smile, not me, and hand pulling hot pork is only slightly worse in my opinion. Use that giant fork and shred the pork in a raking manner with the grain. This will leave string like pieces of meat in piles. When and If you come across pockets of fat or there was and is a cap of fat on the outside, you have just found the dogs first serving or the reason that we have the trash can. Continue to shred the meat and feed the dogs or trash can all the excess fat and any bones that you find. Try to refrain from drinking beer or other expensive drinks during this time as your hands will be extremely slick.
When this task is complete there are only two more things to do; one, cut the pulled meat into either 4-5 inch long pieces or into ½ inch pieces. If you're making sandwiches you'll enjoy them more in the smaller cuts and if you're eating it on the plate the longer will do much better.
1) Sandwiches have to be served on the cheapest white bread buns money can buy. Remember the pork is the thing here. When you use the vinegar finishing sauce here is how you do it. While the meat is still hot, drench it with the sauce in the holding pan and let it set for a few minutes. This will let the meat absorb the flavor and moisture of the vinegar sauce. Place as much pulled pork as you can place on the bun without losing it. Then scoop half as much of that seasoned cold slaw on top of that then cover and eat it NOW! With all the ice tea you can stand.
2) If you're serving the vinegar sauce style pork on a plate just serve it like any civilized person then pig out.
3) For the piedmont style sauce, treat sandwiches like number one above.
4) Piedmont style in a plate; place the steaming hot sauce in a common pot center of the table and it's every man, woman and child for themselves. If you're an avid reader of Miss Manners, you may wish to place a small bowl of sauce at each place setting for the convenience of your guests, but to keep them in check you had better preserve it instead of letting each dish out what they want as some body will go wanting. Or you could make a triple recipe.
Well I hope you derive some form of enjoyment from the time we have spent together either in the reading but hopefully in the savoring of this fine traditional food that is truly American, and that had its origins in the great state of North Carolina. You may thank Spin & Mrs. Spin for their encouraging me to attempt this endeavor. They are first class people.
Well good night and God bless,