Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

I have been craving pulled pork all week long but when we got to Kroger's, all they had was little 4-5 lb pork butts (aka boston butts, it's the butt of the shoulder...not the south end of a north bound pig). Fortunately, they had one left in the back and it was a nice 9 pounder. I just don't like smoking them if they are under 7 lbs, they just don't do the same.

Note: This isn't a "how to" post. If you're interested in that, ask in the comments and I will send you some excellent resources.

I rubbed the meat with a light layer of Billy Bones Competition rub and let it sit while I set up the Big Green Egg for a 15 hour cook (1.5 hours per pound in general). I cleaned the Egg out for good air flow and then loaded it fully with Full Circle lump charcoal and chunks of hickory. I hit the meat with a layer of Billy Bones Original rub just before it went into the smoker running at 250 f (temp at the dome, grate temp would be about 225 f) at 6:45 last night.

"If you're lookin' then you're not cookin' " is the old BBQ saying. During the entire 15 hours, I only opened the Egg twice, to add a chunk of hickory. That's one of the great things about a Big Green Egg, you can cook seemingly forever on one load of coal. I've gone 18 hours and had coal left over.

At 9:38 this morning, almost 15 hours on the dot, the pork butt hit 190+ degrees and was ready to come off. That's one hunk o' pig!Then I double wrapped it in foil, stuck it in an empty cooler and put two beach towels on top of it to let it sit for 2-3 hours. The magic continues happening inside there, even if it's not on the cooker.

Meanwhile, I made my favorite slaw and pulled pork bbq sauce, a thin Piedmont style vinegar sauce.

Lisbon Fire Department BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork
(This recipe is very personal to me as it was the first real NC BBQ I ever had as a kid and my grandmother gave this recipe to me on a 3 x 5 card shortly before she passed away.)


1 gallon vinegar
4 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce red pepper
2 sticks margarine
1 gallon catsup
4 ounces Hot sauce
1 ounce black pepper
Salt to taste
1 cup honey

Combine and heat over medium heat until flavors blend.
Could be easily reduced to 1/4 recipe which would still make 1/2 gallon; however, should keep for ages in the refrigerator. The Fire Department used either a whole pig or whole fresh hams.

Cole Slaw (from Ultimate Chili Cheeseburger recipe)
1 pound green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head), thinly shredded
1 large carrot peeled and grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 small onion minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Ground Black Pepper

1. Toss cabbage and carrots with salt in colander set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

2. Dump wilted cabbage and carrots into the bowl. Rinse thoroughly in cold water (ice water if serving slaw immediately). Pour vegetables back into colander, pressing, but not squeezing on them to drain. Pat dry with paper towels. (Can be stored in a zipper-lock bag and refrigerated overnight.)

3. Pour cabbage and carrots back again into bowl. Add onions, mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar; toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now we "pull" the pork by shredding it into pieces with two forks. The cooking process has turned all the collagen and fat into goodness, so the meat comes apart very easily. The only down side is that all of the "quality control sampling" that goes on during the pulling part tends to leave me full before we've even eaten:)

Finally, 18 hours later......heaven!
The final yield was about 4-5 lbs of delicious bbq pork. We vacuum sealed about half of it to freeze. We'll eat the rest over the next few days. Great stuff!

Cooking Log: I find these work well with the long cooks required for BBQ. They help me remember what went right (or wrong) so I can tweak my performance the next time.

For printable version, click here:
Lisbon Fire Department Bbq Sauce For Pork


  1. Looks like a masterpiece. I'm jealous. I've resited buying a big green egg simply because of the price tag...looks like it just might be worth the expense.

  2. If I lived up there, I definitely would if nothing else than for being able to smoke/cook in the winter. Ceramic cookers work great in weather in which I would NEVER consider using my offset smoker.

  3. I would so love one of those sandwiches right now. It's 11:00 at night but I would still eat one if I could. Excellent recipe Chris.

  4. I'm trying this the next time I have 18 hours to kill.

  5. Hey thanks for checking out my blog - I decided to check out yours and your food looks delicious - I wish I had an egg too!

    Plus, I love the cooking log - that's why I started my blog, but I like your format!

  6. Woo hoo, food porn! Hey, sorry for my absence but I've FINALLY been catching up on blog reading and noticed that you took down "Insane Thoughts...." so I'll have to change my link now. BTW, Krogers are Mormon, at least the last I heard.

  7. My first thought was YUM! You're singing the Rose Garden song and I'm humming to Sir Mix A Lot. :P

  8. I'm assuming that's 2 tablespoons of margarine in the BBQ sauce?

  9. Actually, it is sticks, not Tablespoons. She told me that it HAD to be margarine and not butter, but I've almost always used unsalted butter instead. It sounds like a lot, but this recipe was written with gallons of vinegar and catsup. When you scale it down, it sounds more reasonable.

  10. I made a "butt" today and used the BBQ sauce recipe listed here. Awesome! I cooked mine (6.5 lbs) at 200 degrees for 20 hours, then rest in the cooler for an additional 3 hours with a towel (good touch). Mixed in a little mac&cheese recipe from Cooks Country and it was ON. The slaw recipe was also good, although I used a pre-made cut slaw (lazy). Suzette's sister Jennifer came over and made some fried green tomatoes also. Talk about a southern meal!

  11. ...and yes, I still have lump left in the BGE to spare - even after 20 hours of cooking. For those that don't have one, it's an investment for sure, but well worth it.

  12. Oh one other thing (sorry for so many comments): In the drip pan, I put equal parts apple juice, water, and vinegar along with any extra rub that fell off the meat. The meat was friggin tender!

  13. Hey Chris!

    Remember me from AOL journals? "You think you know, but you have no idea" was the name of mine... I somehow lost you when we migrated...but I found you again :)

    OMG you've made me so hungry...the recipes sound great thanks so much for sharing... I told my Mom about your blog as well...she added herself as a follower too...she loves to BBQ so I know she will love your blog...

    I've never seen the Green Egg I don't think...I'm gonna have to look it up on here...where can you purchase such a thing? It sounds great...


  14. OMG, a cooking log? It's like your workout log, but for meat :P I'm impressed that you have the patience. Men work so differently than women in the kitchen (or on the grill in this case).


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