Pork – The Good Kind

The weekend before last Nelson and I ate at Pappy Red’s, a truly wonderful barbeque joint in town. At some point the talk to turned to us trying our hand at cooking some meat. Ribs. Pulled Pork. Maybe a whole pig just like we’d seen on the Anthony Bourdain show. Mmmmm. Well….maybe.

Anyway, this weekend we took a shot a pulled pork. We tried two methods of cooking Boston Butts to see which was better, whether we could even tell the difference, and whether the difference was worth the bother.

The short form was a recipe from Food magazine. A very simple and tasty recipe cooked in a Dutch oven in the stove. We used our cast iron pot. It took a total of 5 hours prep, cooking, and pulling (shredding) time. The long form was an Alton Brown recipe (our current cooking crush). This used a 10-hour brine followed by a 10-hour slow cook in a smoker.

We planned on having pulled pork Saturday and Sunday as sort of a taste testing weekend. We invited Vicki and William along for the ride with no complaints heard.

I dragged Nelson out of bed Saturday morning to help with the shopping and off we went. We stopped by Publics to get most of the stuff and check out the meat. The plan was to see what pork they had and compare it to Ferguson’s Meat Market. We ended up with a 4-pound butt from Public’s and 18-pounds of Butt from Ferguson’s. By far, the better deal was at the Meat Market, but the little 4-pound butt we snagged from Publics was on sale for just ten cents a pound more while a dollar a pound less than the others. Makes you wonder why it was on sale, but we cooked it that day so it wasn’t going to matter much. Ferguson’s is pretty amazing. In the 14 years we have lived in Cumming, knowing it was there, and with Mary shopping there sometimes, I have never been inside. I have a feeling I will be there often now.

We got the rub on the small butt with its cider-based baste and put it in the oven. While that cooked, we put the two big butts in a molasses flavored brine to soak for 10 hours. I made some sauce (Emeril) and put it in the fridge to mellow. The little pig came out of the oven and was shredded.

Then we did other stuff. Nothing to do with the kitchen and nothing went as planned so I am not going to talk about it other than to say we did not spend money, which is good for now.

Vicki, William, and the boys came over for dinner. It was good.

The big pigs came out of the brine about 9:00pm. The Alton Brown cummin-based rub went on thick and they went onto the grill about 10:00pm. We had to use the grill as our smoker because our smoker had not seen any use in a couple of years and was DOA when we tried to turn it on.

The grill worked fine after some fine tuning. It held the temperature at just a bit above 200 degrees all night long except for one exciting spell around 1:00 am when some of the drippings caught fire and spread flames over the big pig. That called for some adjustments in the grill. The foil covering the burners was replaced with some heavier and wider pans to keep the fat out of the flames.

Nelson and I set into a schedule with him checking the temp and flamage at the bottom of the hour and me checking at the top of the hour. I kept that up until about 5:00 and the decided that the meat would be good enough or someone would let me know that the porch was afire because I was sleeping for a few hours. Nelson kept checking every hour. At 9:00 I took the smaller of the butts off the grill to rest. The bigger needed a couple more hours. Nelson slept until about 11:00 because he was done, too.

Mary and the kids went to the movies in the afternoon. It snowed. I pulled the pork, and made some cornbread. Vicki, William, and the boys came over for the second round. Everyone ate. It was good.

The consensus was that they were both pretty good. The long form was the winner in taste, but no one would turn down the short form. The short form was the big winner in the taste per effort ratio, although the long form wouldn’t be so bad if we planned it so we were not cooking overnight.

Now I have pork sandwiches for lunch for the whole week and I am not complaining one tiny bit.

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