|Gowan’s Pulled Pork||
Recipe Type: Main
Cook time: 16 hours
Total time: 16 hours
Oh what the heck, I’ll take a crack at this. Much of the flavor of good barbecue comes from time in the smoke, and frankly you’re just not going to get quality pulled pork in five hours. Here’s the basics to get you started. This guide is meant purely to give you a solid starting technique. You’ll need to gradually modify the ingredients and tweak the procedures until you achieve a method that gives you the results that most please you personally. I do several things differently than described above, depending on the quantity and purpose of the cook, be it for the family, catering, competition, etc. My goal was to give you the basic techniques common to most recipes combined with some instructions based on my experience smoking on a Grill Dome. A single cook with this basic guide should be sufficient to give you the confidence to spread out from there and try new ideas. There’s as many ways to prepare barbecue pork as there are cooks! I wrote the “Pork Butt Primer” with the novice cook in mind. I figured the new Dome owner wasn’t likely to own a fan controller, but here’s some food for thought on pre-heating for those that do: At start up, the temps inside the cooker can vary widely. The temp probe is reading an average of all the thermal factors inside the smoker – including the fan fed flames of the newly lit charcoal, the cold meat and ambient temperature ceramic shell. Because of this you have the potential for scorching due to hotspots during startup. Secondly, during startup, fuel tends to release a lot of harsh by-products of combustion including creosote that can give your bark an unpleasant flavor, not to mention any fire-starters used. I suppose if you are using a gas or electric starter and youâ€™re waiting long enough to actually achieve a bed of lit coals first, the problem of burning off the volatiles wouldn’t be much of an issue. As for flare-ups, the short time needed to load up shouldn’t be a problem, but if you find it takes you a while be sure to close the intake vent when you have the cooker open. Folks with fan controllers should always use the fan disable feature on their units when the Dome is open, because a runaway fan will get your fire out of control in just a few moments. One final concept to consider is that an advantage of pre-heating the cooker is that a Grill Dome is designed to direct heat at the meat equally from all sides. This effect helps to seal in the juices, the way roasting meat in an oven does as opposed to heating from just one side as in a frying pan. Think about what happens when you fry a burger – lots of juices bubble up to the cold top of the patty. Compare that to making a meatloaf, where the excess fat sort of oozes out equally all over, but much of the juices are retained in the meat and the whole exterior develops a nice sealing crust. To get this effect in your Dome, you need to allow the ceramics to come up to temp before adding your meat.
- 1 (7-8lb) Bone-in Butt
- 4 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 4 Tbsp Turbinado Sugar
- Find yourself a 7-8 lb butt with the bone intact. Sam’s Club is a good source. Make sure the meat is not “enhanced”, (i.e. injected with a saline solution.) Rinse it well in cold water to remove any bone saw residue and pat dry.
- Make a basic rub of 1 part kosher salt to 1 part turbinado sugar. Add spices of your choice, I suggest starting with just paprika, granulated garlic and black pepper. You’ll find lots of rub recipes in Raichlen’s book, but if you start with something simple you’ll better understand the baseline of what properly smoked seasoned pork butt tastes like and you can expand from there. Rub the butt liberally all over with your dry rub. Wrap it up (I prefer butcher paper as it doesn’t tear like foil or pull off the rub like plastic) and refrigerate overnight.
- When you are ready to cook, load your Dome to the top of the fire Box [Mod Edit]. Make sure you disperse about six fist sized chunks of flavor wood throughout the load of lump, both side to side and top to bottom. Use at least a third hickory, but you can mix in fruit woods like apple or cherry if you like. Once your fire is going, add in your heat deflector and get your temp stabilized around 225 AT THE GRILL. (Use a meat temp probe stuck through a potato so the probe tip is reading the air temp inside the grill.[Mod edit] It will usually run 20-30 degrees below the Dome thermo) Do not put your meat in until you’ve got the Dome stabilized on your target temp for 15 minutes minimum.
- Now bring your butt to the cooker straight from the fridge, still in the wrap. Unwrap it and plunk it on the grill, fat side DOWN. Stick a temp probe into center of the butt, but make sure it is not touching the bone. Try to work quickly, as the longer the lid is open, the more likely the temp will spike up on you from too much air to the fire. Close it up and watch carefully to make sure the temp returns to your set point. The addition of the cold butt will bring the temp down, but resist the temptation to make large vent changes. You want to avoid exceeding your target temp by more than 10 degrees. This is tricky but very important and you’ll get better at it with practice.
- Now for at least the next 12 hours pretend your Dome contains radioactive waste. Don’t open the lid to peek, poke, baste, stir the coals or anything else. Your Grill Dome can hold 225 with a full load of fuel for over 24 hours. All it needs from you is maybe a SMALL adjustment to the dampers every once in a while and if you stabilized your cooker well before starting the cook you shouldn’t have to make more than a eighth inch adjustment to the bottom damper.
- The meat temp will move slowly up to about 155-160 and then just stay there for hours. Don’t Panic! This is the magic time when all the energy from the fire is going into converting the tough connective tissue in the meat to gelatin. Eventually, the internal temp will break loose and start rising again. Probably somewhere around the 14 hour mark or more, the meat temp is going to hit 195. Now it’s finally time to open up and see how you’ve done, but first prepare a big sheet of doubled heavy duty foil. With gloves, big forks or whatever you’ve got to protect your hands from the hot meat, move the pork to the foil.
- Wrap the butt tightly in the foil, and then swaddle it in old towels and put it in a cooler or your warmed but turned off oven. You want to rest the pork now, not cook it. The pork is going to be driving you crazy because it smells so good, but force yourself to wait at least an hour, two is better. When you can’t stand it any longer, unwrap and pull the pork with gloved hands or too forks. Careful – it will still be plenty hot!
- Sauce however you wish, but before you do, sample the pork. Even with a simple rub, no injection, sauce etc. you should have a very tasty product, one you could eat without sauce. Get a nice chunk that has a good sized piece of the dark outer bark and pop the whole thing in your mouth. How does it taste? Think about the level of salt, sweet and spiciness. Make some notes on how you want to adjust your rub next time given these impressions. Keep in mind that the bark isn’t going to be eaten by itself, rather it will be mixed in with the less flavorful interior of the butt.
- Now go ahead and get out your sauce bottles, and watch how fast that butt goes! Over time, you’ll develop your own tweaks to the above method, but this baseline should serve you well and really help you understand how each element of smoke, time and spice affects the finished product.
- Most of all HAVE FUN!
Recipe Submitted by Gowan Fenley (Grill Dome Community)
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