Hi everyone and thanks for tuning in to the last post of 2013 and a special thank you for the amazing support you’ve given this blog over the past 12 months, it’s been humbling and thoroughly incredible!
This year’s been full of joy, wonder and the odd bit of difficulty thrown in here and there for good measure. But as many things do, this year ends on a high with a packed house full of good friends enjoying the greatest piece of barbecue there ever was or ever will be…. legendary Pulled Pork!
I decided to post my version of things given that there are about a zillion different blogs, recipe books and videos that show you how to smoke the perfect butt! I also won’t go into the etymology or history of the Boston Butt, you can google that any other time you like. Our adventure for this year’s annual pulled pork (and New Year’s Eve) party started with ordering a 6.6 kg (14.7 pound) bone-in and fat cap on, pork shoulder from our friends at The Butcher. Now if you knew what we have to pay for Boston Butt here in Singapore vs. the US or Canada, you’d surely fall off your chair. Suffice it to say, it’s worth every penny even though it makes you cry when I read about people purchasing pork shoulder for dollars a pound. Anyway, I let the shoulder rest up in the fridge from Saturday to Monday and came home eagerly on Monday afternoon to start my prep.
Now, let’s talk about my butt for a bit…(try to read this without snickering…)
I rinsed my butt thoroughly, with cold water and patted it dry with some paper towel. I added another couple of pieces of butcher’s twine to make sure my butt was properly secured for a long smoke. Next I poured a small amount of vegetable oil into a bowl and proceeded to cover my butt, making sure I got every nook and cranny too so that my rub would stick. Next I coated my butt with a serious helping of my standard rib rub (recipe found here.) At this point, I wrapped my butt in cling film nice and snug and popped it back into the fridge for just over an hour. Don’t leave your butt rubbed up for too long as you’ll end up losing a few ounces of water if you leave it overnight. About an hour or two will do just fine before you put it on the cooker.
As my butt was resting in the fridge, all rubbed and wrapped up, I went to set up the Big Green Asian Egg. First, I cleaned it thoroughly, carefully removing both the fire ring and the fire box to ensure I got every last bit of ash and soot out of the Egg. I wanted the last roast of 2013 to be absolutely perfect, so a little extra effort made me feel pretty good. Now I reassembled the Egg with the fire grate, box and ring all put back in place. Next, I had to build my fuel stock to ensure I had more than 24 hours of fuel ready to slowly burn. I used an entire 6 kg box of Topps hardwood charcoal and built what looked like a Viking funeral pyre. The Topps charcoal looks like burned out logs so you can lay them across in one direction, and then again at a 90 degree angle, building it higher and higher as you go. Now in between the layers of charcoal I added a good helping of hickory and apple wood chips. I built up the stack to the top of the fire ring and was now ready to prepare the final pieces for a very long roast. I inserted two fire starters on the left side of the pyre pretty much at the top. The theory goes that as it lights, the fire will travel to the right and then slowly burn down as she goes. I can’t tell you how important it is to make sure you stabilise your temperature before you add your butt to the cooker. Why? Well, if you don’t you’ll be “faffing” about trying to chase the ultimate temperature and you’ll get it wrong. Take your time to do this part right.
When I was finally ready, I lit the starters and let it catch with the dome up for about 5-7 minutes. Then, I added the BGE plate setter in the legs up position along with a water pan with a good 2″ of hot water. On top of that, I added the grate and put two ambient temperature probes in place, ready for a long night of measuring. I closed up the dome, adjusted the baffle and daisy wheel and waited for about 35 minutes to get the BGE to 225F (107C.)
At 4:00 pm local time I removed my butt from the fridge, unwrapped it carefully and added just a small dusting of the remaining rub. I placed the butt on a wire rack with the fat cap down. I inserted two probes into my butt (OUCH!) and then kissed my butt goodbye. This year, my challenge was not to peek at all, until it was ready to pull off the cooker.
The overnight smoking can be a daunting task for many backyard warriors. If you get your temperature stable, this doesn’t need to be a stressful time. Just make sure you’ve got fresh batteries in your thermometers and you’ll be fine!
I got up once or twice throughout the night and that was just to adjust the daisy wheel a smidge. The ambient temperature never exceeded 240F or dipped under 215F. I was really pleased at how incredibly well the Big Green Asian Egg handled the overnight burn. I got up at 7:00 am and everything was stable at 178F internal temp and 226F ambient temperature. Absolutely perfect. So now fast forward a few hours and you’ll experience “the second stall!” It’s nothing to worry about and with a chunk that big, it makes sense. From 7:00 am to 7:00 pm the temperature only had to rise 25 degrees. Well, that took exactly 12 hours to accomplish. You’ll end up hovering in the 190’s for what seems like forever. Just keep the faith at this point and carry on!
OK, so the official time for removing this butt from the cooker was…27 hours and 44 minutes and 6 seconds – that’s when we hit the target temperature of 203F (95C). I took my butt and wrapped it tightly in 4 layers of aluminium foil then a thick towel and placed it into an empty cooler. I kept the temperature probe in and watched my butt climb up by another two degrees over the next 1.5 hours. At 9:27 pm our guests were ready to dig in, in fact it was our pal Rupert (a 2m hefty German lad) who simply pointed at his stomach and said “It’s time!”
To catch all of that pulled pork lovin’ I set up two bowls. Next, with a slight twist to the left and right, I pulled the shoulder blade out and it came out absolutely clean, a sure sign that the butt was 100% perfectly cooked. I used heavy duty oyster shucking gloves to pull the pork and in about 20 minutes, we had 2 bowls full of chewy bark, smoky, juicy and tender pork that was ready for bunning and saucing!
I won’t go into any more detail as this post is already long enough and I’m really battling a bit of a headache this morning. If you have any questions or if I’ve missed anything really key, let me know and I’ll happily update the post.
Needless to say, we all had a wonderful evening and brought in the New Year with an epic meal. Thanks to my darling wife Heather for going the extra mile to make 4 separate desserts along with the slaw!
Happy New Year world and let’s have a healthy, safe and fantastic 2014!!!
Overall Heather Rating: OFF THE CHARTS!