Sunday, July 24, 2016

How To Pull or Chop Pork

This isn't how to smoke pulled pork, I've already done that before.  

No, this is all about different methods and tools for breaking down that big hunk of smoked pork shoulder down to the delicious bits and pieces that end up your sandwich.

First, some general pointers.

  • Smoked pork is best after it has rested for an hour or more.  Known as F.T.C. (foil-towel-cooler), just put your foil wrapped butt into a warm cooler, cover with a towel, and leave it closed until ready to pull.  We usually stick ours into one of our Cambos.  When we have a lot, more than 8 butts, we'll stick them in my Yeti 75 (holds 12) or an Igloo 150 quart.  The trick is to pick something the right size.  For whatever you use, to have as much meat in the cooler/cambro as possible with only a little empty space so it will stay warmer, longer.  
  • For transporting pork to a different site for serving.  My first preference is to haul it there whole and pull it on site.  Smoked pork holds better whole and the spectacle of breaking it up in front of your guests adds impact.
  • Pulling pork after the butt is cold.  Don't.  If for some reason you can't pull it while still warm, you will need to slowly reheat it.  With it still wrapped in foil, put it in a 200°f cooker or oven for an hour or so to get the chill off first.  
  • Work quickly.  The meat will start drying out as soon as you break the butt open until you have it pulled, stored, and covered.  
  • Taste and season the pork while pulling.  Sample pieces from all over - the horn, money muscle, and roast muscles - to get a good idea of where the flavor is at before you start adding. We usually use a fine ground, sweet and spicy rub for this.  We'll also drizzle a small amount of Carolina vinegar sauce when chopping pork; not enough to douse it, just enough to add a little flavor.  
  • Save the juices from the foil wrapping and add some of it back into the final product for extra flavor and moisture.
  • Pulled versus chopped.  This is just a personal preference.  Pulled pork is just that - the meat pulled apart, leaving bigger pieces and strands.  Chopped is further processed into small pieces for a different texture.  You will get a higher percentage yield from chopped pork than pulled pork because you have less waste or scrap.  


Two Forks

This is the original way we first started pulling pork and we still do this depending on what is available.  Break the pork into large chunks and then using two large serving forks, pull the chunks into "threads".  Stick the forks into the middle of a chunk, pressing down on a cutting board, and pull the forks outwards.  

This is the most meticulous of all of the processes.  Look for any gelatinous pieces of fat and discard them.  If you find any pieces of bark (dark outer crust) that overcooked and got hard, discard them as well.  But that is where all of your flavor is so try not to over cook :)

By Hand

The pork should still be very hot so you'll want some heat resistant food gloves.  Silicone gloves are good for this and come in two styles - straight silicone and silicone with a fabric lining.  I use the straight silicone gloves because they are easier to keep dry but that's just a personal preference.


I picked up this technique from World Champion Pitmaster, Chris Lilly.  He just pops out the bone and then smashes the pork butts down like in this video from the NY Big Apple BBQ Block Party.  It works when you're in a hurry and only requires a set of heat resistant food gloves.  Obviously if you are rushing then you are not going to get the quality control of picking through it.  Usually I'll do this part, push it to the side for a teammate or two to pick through it, and I start on the next one.

There are a TON of these orange style gloves available and the prices vary pretty widely ($9 to $25) so comparison shop.  I haven't come across any that are poor quality yet.  I use them a lot for handling ribs, butts, and briskets as well as pulling the pork.

Bear Paws

Bear Paws are one of the original pork pulling tools.  They are cheap, easy to keep santized, and a slew of people swear by them. You use them just like you would forks, but hold your hands like this.


They are effective and get the job done.  They've just never been my favorite because they feel a little awkward to me.  These are very popular and there's nothing wrong with them, that is just a personal preference.

Meat Rakes

Meat Rakes are similar in concept to the Bear Paws but execute that product in a slightly different way.  They have metal tines for tearing the meat apart instead of plastic tips that can dull.  They are also dishwasher safe.  They cost twice as much as Bear Paws but I prefer them over Bear Paws because
  1. The tines are closer together than Bear Paws so they shred the meat smaller than the Bear Paws with each pass, making them work just a little quicker, and 
  2. My wrists feel like they are in a more neutral position when I use these vs the position I use with Bear Paws.



Again, this is just my choice.  Pick which is better for you.

Cleaver

At some BBQ joints you can find a worker with a pair of cleavers chopping away at pork in a blur with alternating strokes like he/she is beating a drum.  It amazes me that they have all of their fingers but these folks have been doing this every day for years.

The way I use it is in conjunction with some of the other tools I have mentioned.  I pull the pork first.  If I am wanting chopped pork, I rapidly chop back and forth across the pulled pork in two directions.  
Prices vary, I've seen them as cheap as $15 and almost no limit on the upper end, but you can get a decent one for $50.  Look for one with a thick blade that extends all the way through the handle (full tang).

Drill Attachment

I always thought this was overkill until we started cooking at the Kentucky State BBQ Festival where I cooked with our Memphis In May team.  We go through hundreds of pork butts each day so speed is of the essence.  One of our teammates makes a version of these.  This one is a RO-man pork puller that we bought online.

Best practice is to use this with a brand new drill that is only used for this to avoid cross contamination from a dirty drill that splits time in the work shop.
It works by pulling the bone out of each of 2 to 3 pork butts and putting them in a large stock pot. Then just insert the pork puller, add any additional seasoning, and whirl away.  It breaks down the butts into pulled pork very quickly.  Want chopped pork instead?  Just use it for another minute longer.



We typically only use this for large scale service, like the Kentucky festival, Christmas parade, or charity events.

So there are some options for pulling or chopping pork.  As I mentioned several times, it's all about preference and what works for you.  You don't need anything more than a couple of forks.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post and paid full price for all of the tools that I mentioned.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Event Announcement: 2016 Pensacola Eggfest dates announced

I've written several times about the fun, food, and good times that go on at "Eggfests".  Eggfests are BBQ festivals where teams of Big Green Egg users 
  • get together, 
  • cook lots of food, 
  • give out samples (unlike BBQ contests), 
  • indulge in a beverage or 3
  • enjoy entertainment, and 
  • typically raise money for a charity.  
Usually I'm writing about them after the fact and showing you what you missed.  Well here is a heads up for the 2016 Pensacola Eggfest - one of the premier Eggfests in the Southeast.  It has the best Eggfest venue as it is held in the Blue Wahoo's Stadium and over looks the bay.


Pensacola Eggfest
benefiting Chain Reaction
Sunday, November 13, 2016
11am - 2pm

This truly is a destination Eggfest.  With the beautiful white sand beaches, hot fishing year round, and plenty to do, you should make it an extra long weekend and enjoy what Pensacola has to offer. The weather in your area will probably miserable by mid-November so plan a trip down to the Gulf coast!  
But you should go ahead and plan now - they sold out last year!  Your $25 "taster" ticket ($35 at the gate if any tickets left) will get you in the door and access to samples from some amazing cooks.  Order your tickets here

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloins with Bacon Gravy

One of the posts that Char-Broil asked me to develop was something "bacon inspired".  

When brainstorming that one, I thought about how many recipes you see that are "bacon wrapped whatever".  It always sounds good but the execution is usually lacking and the bacon comes out half cooked.  

That made me think of a horrible entree that I was served at a restaurant a few months ago.  It was "bacon wrapped pork tenderloin medallions, smoked and grilled".  I had this dish at the same restaurant once before and it was pretty good.  The second time though it came out like this [restaurant name withheld because they generally have made decent food].

That's funny....I don't recall ordering "oh hell no". 

Before the server could put the plate down on the table, I was hit with a strong smell of foul smoke.  The pork smelled like someone trying to light a wet bag of charcoal briquettes.  I'm pretty sure that they had a grease fire while "smoking" them.  The bacon was rubbery, barely even cooked.  

So I decided to do a spin on that dish.  I used Chef Adam Perry Lang's high/slow technique that he does for bacon wrapped beef filet and adapted that for pork.  That made the bacon perfectly cooked.  To complete the dish, I served it with bacon gravy because....bacon.  

No soggy bacon or dirty smoke here.

Hop over to Char-Broil to see the full recipe and get other great tips and grilling recipes.  

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I partner with Char-Broil and am compensated to produce content for their online presence.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sonoran Beef Tri-Tip Sliders

This is one of the recipes that we made at our grilling demo earlier this summer at The Great Backyard Place, Knoxville's Saber and Grill Dome dealer.  It's a Sonoran Beef Tri-Tip Slider and we served it with my favorite way to do corn - elote aka Mexican street corn.

How to cook beef tritip on a gas grill
There's no avocado pictured because I'm forgetful.  It was sliced and sitting off to the side the whole time.  

Sonoran Beef Tri-Tip Sliders

Published 07/21/2016
We season beef tri-tips with our basic beef rub and layer it with our fajita seasoning, then reverse sear it on the grill. Sliced thin and served on toasted slider rolls with avocado, roasted pepper mayo, and a tomato based hot sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 ea Beef tri-tip 2-2.5 lbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Beef or steak seasoning 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Fajita seasoning 
  • 8 ea Slider rolls 
  • 1 ea Avocado peeled and sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoon Roasted red pepper 
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin 
  • 1/4 cup Tomato based hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Finely mince the roasted red pepper and whisk into the mayonnaise with the cumin. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  2. Season the tri-tip all over with the beef rub and then the fajita rub. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-8 hours before serving.
  3. Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat to low heat - 250-275°f. Unwrap the trip tip and slow roast the tri-tip until it is an internal temperature of 127°f - about 1 hour. For the Saber IR Grill, this will be turning on the far left burner on high and letting preheat for 20 minutes. Place the tri-tip on the upper level on the far right side and cook until done.
  4. When the tri-tip reaches an internal temperature of 127°f, remove it from the grill and allow to rest until the internal temperature stops rising (probably around 133-135°f or about 7-10 minutes).
  5. Crank the grill tempature to very hot. With the Saber IR Grill, your far left burner is already there. Place the tri-tip over very hot heat and sear for about 1 minute per side. Remove from grill.
  6. Toast the slide buns on the grill. Slice the tri-tip thinly against the grain. For each slider, top the bun bottom with a few slices of the beef and avocado. Drizzle with the hot sauce and slather the top bun with the roasted pepper mayo.

Yield: 8 sliders

I used our recipe for Beef Rub and Fajita Seasoning but you can use your own favorite recipes or buy commercially available seasonings if that floats your boat.  If you want a more basic beef rub than my recipe, you can always just mix 3 parts kosher salt, 2 parts black pepper and 1 part granulated garlic. For the hot sauce, I used Albukirky's Anchonero Hot BBQ Sauce.

Just getting set up in the morning, you can already see dark skies to the West.  We have a 100% record at The Great Backyard Place.  Three demos and three rain outs.

The Saber gas grill is the best gas grill that I have ever used.
A better view of the Saber 500 (Cast) that I used.  As I wrote in detail in my initial review, this is the best gas grill that I have ever used.  It's well built and easy to assemble.  I love the divided fire box that let's you truly cook at 3 different temperatures at the same time.  The unique grate system yields pure infrared heat that produces excellent food.  Sure, I'm typically a charcoal guy but I really enjoy cooking on this grill.

How to tell where to slice a beef tri-tip roast.
Tri-Tip typically have a boomerang shape and the grain of the meat runs 2-3 different ways.  You need to be aware of this so when you a slicing the roast, you can cut against the grain (90 degrees across it).  If you cut with the grain, you will have long muscle fibers that will be make the meat tough to chew.  I usually slice it into two pieces right where the red line is and then slice against the grain from there.

Meat boomerang!  Seasoned and ready to go onto the grill.

Use a remote probe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the tri-tip while slow roasting so you get it perfectly done.
Thermoworks ThermaQ is a professional grade commercial style remote probe thermometer.
Notice the maximum or peak temperature of 135°f.  First, if I was serving this just as slices, I'd pull the meat around 125°f but for sandwiches I take it a nudge further like this.  Second, it is important for the internal temperature to start falling before doing the sear.  That gets the energy going in the opposite direction so the 2-3 minute sear won't cook the inside any more, it will just put color and flavor on the outside.

I love tri-tip.  It's almost as tender as a beef tenderloin but it has more beef flavor.

Slicing the tri-tip at the demo.

Annnnnnnd then the rains came.  We were able to feed folks and talk about the grills for about 2 hours before it started raining so it wasn't a complete rain out.

beef tri-tip recipe for the grill
Deliciousness!
We weren't sure whether we were going to do this recipe on the Saber grill or the Grill Dome kamado grill until that morning.  The recipe works excellent on either grill.  If I was doing this on a kamado grill I'd preheat it to 250°f with a heat diffuser (plate setter, stone/spider) and slow roast it for the same time.  Then pull the heat diffuser out, bring up the temp, and sear the roast off just like we did on the Saber.

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received my Saber 500 for free for review but receive no other compensation from Saber.  To find out more about this premium gas grill, check out their website.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fire Roasted Pork Enchiladas with Green Chile Cream Sauce

Enchiladas rock as comfort food and as a way to use up leftovers.  Green sauce, red sauce, I don't care, I like them all.  I made these enchiladas using some of that Tex-Mex smoked pork and a variation of that Green Chile and Cilantro Crema we recently made.

Leftover smoked pulled pork recipe ideas.

You don't have to make the Tex-Mex smoked pork but it sure adds to this dish.  But if you are a barbecue dude with regular leftover smoked pork, you could use that.  Us barbecue nuts almost always have some leftovers stashed away in the freezer somewhere.  If you are lacking leftover pork, you can just buy some sauce free smoked pork from your favorite local BBQ dive.

For the cheese, we just used a 4 cheese Mexican blend.  For the chiles, we fire roasted 1 poblano, 1 jalapeno, and 1 bell pepper but you can use 3/4 cup of whatever roasted chiles that you like.  You can even use 6 ounces of canned chiles but fire roasting them yourself is WAY better.

We find this dish works best with two people.  One person to dip the tortillas and the other person to stuff and roll them.  

Fire Roasted Pork Enchiladas with Green Chile Cream Sauce

Published  07/12/2016

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Tex Mex smoked pork or other leftover pulled pork
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 12 corn tortillas
For the Sauce
  • 3/4 cup fire roasted chiles (1 poblano, 1 jalapeno, 1 bell)
  • 1 cup crema
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp NMT fajita rub
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic
  • 1 shredded tortilla 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

Instructions

  1. Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat it to 350°f.
  2. In a small pot over medium heat, combine the chiles, crema, chicken stock, fajita rub, lime juice, garlic, and tortilla pieces.  Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cilantro and smooth the sauce by processing it with an immersion blender or in a blender.
  3. Ladle one large spoonful of the sauce and spread around on the bottom of a casserole dish or half steam pan.
  4. One at a time, place each tortilla in the cream sauce to soften.  This should only take 2-3 seconds a side.  If the tortillas are stiff and break when you try to roll them, they need to stay in the cream longer (or turn up the heat).  If the tortillas fall apart, they need to be in the cream for a shorter time (or turn down the heat).
  5. As soon as each tortilla is dipped, place a "shy 1/4 cup" of the pork and a "shy 1/4 cup" of cheese down the middle of the tortilla.  Roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down in the pan.  Repeat until finished.
  6. Sprinkle any remaining cheese over the assembled enchiladas and drizzle some of the remaining sauce.  Reserve 1 cup of the sauce for serving.
  7. Place the casserole dish into your grill, close the lid and let roast for 30 minutes.  Check the enchiladas at the 30 minute mark to see if the tops are golden brown.  If not, recheck every 15 minutes.  They should finish somewhere between 45 minutes and one hour.
  8. Serve by drizzling some sauce on a plate and placing 1 to 2 enchiladas on top.
Yield: 10-12 enchiladas

Note:  When we first did this, we warmed the tortillas in cream by itself and then added the cream to the sauce once we were done.  But then we realized it made more sense to just add the cream to the sauce to begin with and use the sauce to warm the tortillas.  Either way works.

The Big Green Egg Mini-Max is great for searing steaks, chops, or charring vegetables.
Charring the chiles on my Big Green Egg Mini-Max.  A poblano, 1 jalapeno, and a bell pepper give you right at the amount you need with a mild spiciness.  Swap the bell out for another poblano and maybe 2 serrano chiles for more heat.  The grate pictured is a small Craycort with the griddle insert in.  I bought my Mini-Max from Mannix Pools in Winter Haven, FL.

Great creamy enchilada sauce for Tex-Mex foods, Mexican food, and anything.
Allow the sauce to simmer but don't let it come to a full boil or it will separate.

Spoon just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.

As mentioned, the first time, I made the sauce, then soaked tortillas in cream, and then added the cream to the sauce.  Now we just add the cream to the sauce to start with and warm the tortillas in the sauce.  You have to move quickly - too short/cool and the tortilla's break instead of bending.  Too hot or too long in the cream and the tortillas fall apart.  "Just right" should be about 2-3 seconds per side.

Since you are using leftovers, the pork will be cold.  You don't need to warm it up, cooking in the oven will do that.  

Roll the ends up so that they overlap and then put them seam side down in the pan.

How to make homemade enchilada sauce.
You can roast the enchiladas as is once they are soaked but we like to cover them with more sauce so they cook extra tender and have more flavor.

And by a little I mean a lot :) 

I cooked this batch on one of our Big Green Eggs.  My indirect set up was a cast iron plate setter and a Craycort grate.  You can find the cast iron plate setter at most Egg dealers or online at Smokeware.

Excellent enchilada recipe for kamados like the Big Green Egg, Grill Dome, Kamado Joe, or Vision.
This enchilada sauce recipe is fantastic and it rocks with the Tex Mex smoked pork.  Make extras because they reheat very well.  


Great Americana BBQ Festival
There are still spots available for the Great Americana BBQ Festival on August 27th at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, TN
  • This is a KCBS, Jack Daniels qualifying event with a pro and backyard division. 
  • The total purse is $8,000 and they are accepting applications until July 31st or until the event reaches 60 teams.
  • Power and water will be provided to the teams and checks will be available for pickup at the awards ceremony. 
  • TN distillers guild is providing a bourbon tasting area and music city roots will provide live music all day. 
Franklin Noon Rotary Club is hosting the event and all proceeds go to rotary to put back into the community.  Visit their website for more information. 

We can't attend this event but you should check it out.  Nibble Me This BBQ team's next competition is next month at McMinnville, TN for Smokin' In McMinnville.
 
Check out KCBS for other BBQ contests in your area.  Whether you compete as a pro, enter a backyard (amateur) division, serve as a certified BBQ judge, or just visit, competition BBQ is a fun sport to support.

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Char-Broil: Brisket on the Performance 780

Wanting to grill a brisket on a standard charcoal grill?  I did one for Char-Broil using their Performance 780 Charcoal Grill and you can find that link here on their site.


I love smoked brisket!  It's probably my favorite BBQ these days.


Chopped brisket and fried egg slider.

Later today I'll be grinding a small brisket and using that for some killer burgers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Product Review: Kirk's new Albukirky Anchonero Hot Rub and Sauce

Kirk Muncrief is a longtime fellow Egghead and BBQ food blogger friend of ours.  He also makes and sells a few rubs and sauces.

His Albukirky's Green Chile Rub has long been a favorite of ours.  It has a bold but simple flavor profile of black pepper, green chile, garlic and salt that is fantastic and outside of the usual rub flavor profiles. This Summer Kirk has introduced his latest concoction - Albukirky's Anchonero Hot Rub and Hot BBQ Sauce.  

This is one of the best spicy hot BBQ sauces I have tried for barbecue.
It wakes up food with the fire of habanero and the smoke of ancho chiles.

When I was writing up my notes, one sentence said it all - It wakes up food with the fire of habanero and the smoke of ancho chiles. Those two chiles are the namesake and foundation of both the rub and sauce.  Ancho chiles are dried/smoked poblano chiles which are pretty mild and as a dried ground chile add a sultry smokiness to foods but not too much heat.  Habanero chiles are a small orange chile that packs a lot of heat with a slight citrus-like flavor.  

I used the rub and sauce on some bone in pork chops and grilled them on my Grill Dome kamado grill.

Albukirky's Anchonero Hot BBQ sauce is perfect for spicy grilled pork chops and chicken
These weren't thick pork chops so I just grilled them direct at 400°f about 5-6 minutes per side.  The grates pictured are from Craycort.  Those inserts come out and you can put in griddles, chicken thrones, or a vegetable wok.

I grilled some corn as a side but went with a sweet rub on that.

Wow!  This rub announces itself with authority.

This past weekend we made a couple of Tex-Mex style smoked pork butts.  I seasoned one butt with just the Green Chile Rub, which is always a favorite of ours.  I seasoned the other pork butt with a moderate layer each of the Green Chile and Anchonero rubs.

I had thoughts that I might have used too much of the Anchonero rub but pork butts have a lot of meat volume to surface area ratio so you can go heavier with seasonings compared to say - a pork chop.

I smoked both butts on a Grilla pellet cooker.  I was going to use one of my kamados but I had an unrelenting migraine and needed this cook to be as easy as possible.

The butts developed a nice color.

We got quite a smoke ring from the pellet cooker.  Pulled the meat and since we were using it for tacos at work, shredded it.

For work, we served them food truck style with the Tex-Mex pork, cilantro-lime slaw, pico de gallo, and topped it off with the Anchonero sauce.

This is not your same old Southern BBQ sauce.  It had Kirk's golden Albukirky touch and a Southwestern flare.

Before I give my thoughts on these, I should explain my heat preference.  I like foods that the general public would consider spicy but chileheads would find laughable.  So I like things such as Cholula hot sauce or ground chipotle powder.  

Anchonero Hot BBQ Rub ($6 per 6 oz shaker)
For the Anchonero Hot BBQ Rub, it is on the upper range of my heat tolerance.  It has sugar, paprika, and garlic but the predominant flavors are heat and a smoky-earthiness.  The texture of the rub is fine and it brings a nice bright red color to foods.  Depending on your heat preferences, I'd say go lightly with it on small cuts like chicken and chops.  It absolutely rocks on big cuts like the pork butt.  Everyone at work gave me very favorable feedback about it.  This is definitely a great "something different" for pork butts.  Anchonero pork butts are perfect for tacos, nachos, and heuvos rancheros.  

Anchonero Hot BBQ Sauce ($6 per 16 oz bottle)
For the Anchonero Hot BBQ Sauce, I'd say Kirk nailed the name - it is part hot sauce, part BBQ sauce.  For me, it starts off warm, picks up heat and finishes with a kick in the back of the throat.  It has turbinado sugar in there but you won't get a lot of sweet in the flavor profile, it pretty much gets straight to "the flame dance".  

Funny story.  When I first did the pork chops, I put the rub on pretty heavy and I could barely eat mine - it was "flames shooting out of the nose" hot.  My adult son ate them as leftovers and said that they were some of the best I've ever made and that the sauce was amazing. So your heat preference will go a long way in whether you will like this new line or not. After trying it on several things, I give it two thumbs up but it is what it says it is - a HOT sauce and a HOT bbq rub. 

Breaking Bad was set in Albuquerque and one of my favorite quotes from that series sums up how much Albukirky Anchonero Hot BBQ Rub you should try at first on chicken, pork chops, or ribs - 
"If that’s true, if you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course… would be to tread lightly."

This stuff is great, but it does have a kick to it on smaller cuts of meat so tread lightly.  That said, it's also now going to be my first "go to" recipe for Tex-Mex style pork butts.  Everyone at the office loved it.  Thanks, Kirk!

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We know Kirk and he gives us free or discounted product from time to time but we also buy product from him at full price.  Albukirky's is a small business, owned and operated by a great BBQ dude. We received no compensation for this post.