February 20, 2012

Smoked & Pulled

"Feed your fire and quit liftin' the lid." Sage wisdom from Bobby Mueller, son of Louie Mueller, founder of the eponymous Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor, which is a perennial contender for top-spot in the state. The current Texas Monthly feature covers Bobby's son, John, and a former employee of his, Aaron Franklin; each has opened a new joint in Austin recently (respectively, J Mueller BBQ and Franklin Barbecue) and in the process seem to be remaking the landscape of this fine smoked foodstuff. I read the article a couple Saturdays ago and immediately started itching to smoke a little something of my own. At last, this weekend, the itch was scratched.

Our pit has been dormant for a period long past which I'm comfortable admitting. Out of practice and a healthy dose of rain (soaked wood and soggy air) dictated I start back with a more forgiving cut. Brisket is delicious, but you can charcoal it real fast and without warning you're tearing at cheap shoe leather. So I went with swine... a good fatty shoulder cut, used the South over for pulled pork sandwiches and (closer to home) in tamales and tacos. 

My protein dealer of choice, per usual, Bolner's, a 98 y.o. meat market that'll satisfy most any butchery need you've got. Cabrito, whole hog, Akaushi if you're feeling confident. En route the Z and I dropped by Triple J's for a mid-afternoon michelada. Each of these establishments and the service they deliver deserves its own space here, but I mention it in passing merely to illustrate the impressiveness of my meat-and-vegetables-in-one-go errand running... there's a lot of tomato in that Shiner.

So back at the house, I rubbed my 8.59lb pork butt with a liberal dose of cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Trimmed a little fat off in hopes of rendering some lard though maintained a good cap for cascading flavor. 

By 9:30a the wood was cooking, fire box was hot, and the meat went on fat side up. Babied the box constantly, cooking initially for three hours. At the turn I mopped it with brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Two more hours in the smoke, then we triple foiled it to steam for three more hours. At last, and for good, we lifted the lid. Eight hours on the pit and we got it to 180^. In the money. At 190^ it'll fall apart in your fingers but I didn't have the fortitude to wait any longer, not with that crust. 

Snagged a cole slaw recipe from one of the Z's go-to's, charred some buns and enjoyed a warm February afternoon with friends... when the backyard smells of smoke I always expect a few folks to waft through the front door, just to see what's worth seeing, and to maybe take a pull of their own. 

well aware that this is far-too-hot 


GSV JR said...

The cider vinegar mop is the key. Folks go on and on about rubs, but it's the mop that really gets that meat to break down and really adds a complexity of flavor.

Did you smoke it or just slow n low it? I've got a porch fulla hickory from a tree that fell on my in-laws property i've got to get into.

Amatourist said...

Slow and low, though keeping it consistently around 250 was a battle. In the end what would happen is I'd let it sneak up to around 280, then I'd open the box and vents and get it down to 240. Then it'd heat back up, then back down, and back and forth we danced all afternoon. Kind of therapeutic, actually. And as you know well, worth the effort.

That hickory will be nice to get in to. Such a clean smoke.

Matthew Hranek said...