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  • Gumps are coming to town

    Well, this subsection has been dead for a long time, but since Alabama is coming to town Saturday to play my beloved Miss State Booldawgs I thought I might smoke a few pork shoulders for the tailgate.

    Pork shoulders (known as "Boston Butts" by those not from around here) take a long time to cook, about 12 hours. So I'll be starting them about 6:00 Friday night for an early AM departure Saturday.

    Here's how I do it:

    Start your smoker heating up. It will take a while, so get started. I use dried pecan wood, because I have it. Hickory is good. I don't use oak because one of our group has an allergy to it. Charcoal (not that easy-light stuff, and no starter fluid) is ok if you don't have wood. You want your smoker to get up to about 225-250 degrees, and stay there - no yoyo-ing. Start it early and play around with adding fuel until you can do it without causing temp increase.

    I get my meat at Sam's. Shoulders come in packages of 2 shoulders x10-12 lbs each. I'm doing 2 packages, 4 shoulders, this time because I'm expecting a crowd - Alabama, ranked teams, SECNation, etc. Get your charcoal at Sam's while you're there. I usually buy 2 packages of 2x20 lb bags (80lbs) if I'm using charcoal. You won't use all of it, but that is how it is packaged...

    I make an injection mix like this:

    2 cups apple juice
    1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    vegetable oil
    tabasco/LA hot sauce
    salt or soy sauce

    and use it to inject the shoulders. I save some of the liquid and add

    ground black pepper
    2 cloves crushed garlic

    and use it to wet the outside of the shoulders.

    Then I make a dry rub (actually I already have it made) like this:

    ½ oz orange or lemon peel
    ½ oz white pepper
    1 cup paprika
    ½ cup lemon pepper
    ½ cup black pepper
    ½ oz red pepper
    ¼ cup garlic salt
    ¼ cup chili powder
    ½ cup brown sugar

    Some folks say you shouldn't put sugar in a rub because it will turn black on the meat. That's true, but I like that black on mine so I put the brown sugar in.

    Rub the shoulders generously with dry mix.

    When you have your fire under control put the shoulders on, as far away from the fire as you can get them. My smoker has 3 temp gauges, one in the middle/low to the surface, 1 at the top away from the fire, and 1 at the surface away from the fire. You want the low ones hanging around 225-250.

    Let them cook undisturbed until you have to replenish the fire. For my smoker that is about every 2.5-3 hrs. When I replenish the fire I MIGHT, if I feel like it, spritz the shoulder with some of the injection liquid. Just remember this, a fundamental truth of the universe: "if you're lookin' you ain't cookin'."

    I always put a temp-sensor in one of the shoulders when I put them on the smoker. In the morning, about 6-7:00am, they'll be at about 160-170 degrees internally.

    Take'em off. They will be black and look like they're burned. They're not, that is just the "bark" and the result of using brown sugar in the rub. Wrap them in aluminum foil, load them in a pre-heated cooler (take a bunch of towels, run them thru the dryer, and put them in the cooler. Repeat until cooler is hot) and head out to watch the booldawgs put an axx-whuppin' on the gumps.

    When it is time to eat, take out one of the shoulders and break it apart. Pull the meat into pieces (this is where the term "pulled pork" comes from) and put it in a big aluminum pan. I use relatively small pans, like bread loafs, so I can get people eating while pulling another pan full. Do the shoulders as the meat is consumed so it doesn't get cold. Also mix the meat up with your hands so the black "bark" gets mixed in. It is a tasty part. Some kitchen prep gloves - or really exam gloves work best - make this easier, more sanitary, and you're less apt to burn your fingers. Also, pay attention as you pull the meat. There is a small piece called "the pearl". You'll recognize it when you see it. Only a fool puts it in the pan. A smart person would eat it. If there are children hanging around I might parcel it out to them. They learn quickly...

    Also, don't dump sauce in your meat. Have the sauce available on the side for those that want it. I don't care anything about buns with my meat, but some people do, so you might have some on hand.

    Speaking of sauce, here you go:

    The sauce is a dipping sauce, not a cooking sauce, and is a work-in-progress. I fiddle the ingredients every time I make it.

    3 tbsp butter
    2 tsp onion powder
    2 - 15oz cans tomato sauce
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1 cup worcestershire sauce
    ½ cup lemon juice
    ½ tsp Tabasco
    ½ cup brown sugar
    1 tsp mustard powder
    1 tbsp black pepper
    1 tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp cayenne, or more to taste

    Mix it up and simmer for about an hour.

    This sounds like a lot of work, and it sorta is, but the result is almost always excellent. It is really hard to mess this up. There is so much fat in pork shoulder that it is almost hard to dry it out. Just watch your temps and take it off when it is done and you can bask in the glow as you are hailed as a pit-master.

    Hail State.

    Brad Ford

  • #2
    That reads so delicious Brad, I'm going to give a go next summer when the Grill comes back out into the garden and my best friend (a Master Butcher) comes to visit.
    Dankeschön cheers
    PRA & ET Inc
    Proof Readers Anonymous & Extreme Testers


    • #3
      Not exactly how I do mine but close enough to work dang well.
      You may have noticed that no two "pit-masters" do anything the same, or even the same from one time to the next.
      After 40+ years trying to learn how it's still a work in progress.


      • #4
        grunt, you're exactly right. It's been 40 years for me too, and I still can't settle on a sauce recipe. And I'll make a "field modification" to my cooker in a heartbeat, if I think it might give me just a little more control over temp. That's usually when it winds up in the scrap heap (with a bunch of others). Actually it's not a scrap heap. It's my spart-parts stock room.

        It's as addictive as dive gear (our spare bedroom is full of crates with "dive gear" that hasn't seen daylight in years)

        The problem is, I start changing things and then can't remember what I changed. Maybe beer is involved.

        Now, if you can cook a good brisket... help a brother out...
        Brad Ford


        • #5
          Hey Brad and Grunt,

          I cook a mean brisket, but it is NOT a slow-smoked version. This one is cooked in the oven for quite a few hours, and probably very different from what you two gents have been discussing. Now about that thing about constantly adjusting the recipe to improve, it has been that way for me as close to 50 years. Never quite the same. And nothing disparaging about your smoked barbecue - love that too, just responding since you asked about brisket. And BTW, with all the recent interest in slow smoked brisket, it is now very difficult for me to get a good cut of meat for my oven-brisket. Oh well, happy that others have found out about brisket.


          And Brad, it you ever want to get rid of any of that unused dive gear, KOB (Kevin O'Brien) at VIP Diving will happily accept it and give it to the Junior Rangers on Bonaire. Just bring it along on your next trip and stop by VIP.

          Safe diving and happy eating all.



          • #6
            Mark, I'd be interested in how you do brisket if you're willing to share. Mine always turns out dry, tough, or both.

            And i I will inventory my crates to see if there is anything useful in them. The reason I put "dive gear" in quotes is that a lot of it is only nominally "dive gear". You know, whistles, pockets, webbing scrap, more pockets, light bodies, various wet suit giblets, and many of the "hot new items I just had to have." There is even a box full of 1.2 volt wet nicad cells - probably a health hazard.
            Brad Ford


            • #7
              Happy to share. Here it is.

              Brisket of Beef (We prefer what is called a "first cut", but if you can't get that, then either a "flat cut" or the whole brisket. The "first cut' and "flat cuts" run about 2 - 4 pounds each; a whole brisket can run up to about 6 pounds or even more. "First cut" and "flat cut" tend to be less fatty, but with all the recent interest in slow-smoked beef brisket barbeque, these have become harder to find. Costco often has the "flat cut" and the whole brisket, but not around major holidays.) Trim as much of the fat off the bottom as you reasonably can, but leave some.

              Use one envelope of Lipton's Dry Onion Soup Mix (or equivalent) for each 2 - 3 pounds of brisket. (Because my wife is on a low-sodium diet, we opt to use Goodman's Low Sodium Dry Onion Soup, but it can be a bit flat tasting unless you are used to eating foods with little or no salt.) Rub the Onion Soup Mix onto all surfaces of the brisket and place the seasoned brisket fat-side down in a large flat baking dish at least 2 inches deep. (I use a Pyrex baking dish that is large enough to get the brisket into and still be flat.)

              Sprinkle the top with additional garlic powder (and be as generous as you want to be.) I also add quite a bit of dry minced onion on the top. And a generous amount of basil. (Since I have not used Lipton's Onion Soup in years, I am never sure if I add the extra garlic, onion and basil to make up for the lack of salt in the low-salt Goodman's Onion Soup mix.) Alternatively, you can use fresh garlic and fresh onions. (I use a large garlic bulb [many cloves] and a large onion if I do it fresh, but then we like the taste of both onion and garlic.)

              Pour a can of beer or about 12 ounces of red wine around the edges of the brisket and allow it to even rise slowly over much of the top. (This is why you need a deep baking dish. Be careful as pouring the beer or wine directly onto the meat will wash the seasoning off.) You can also add some water - my biggest mistake has been in having the liquid cook out.

              Cover the baking disk tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place the baking dish on an aluminum-foil covered cookie tray that has sides that rise about an inch. (This is to keep the liquid from spilling out or boiling over during the transfer process or during cooking. Cuts down on having to clean the refrigerator and/or oven afterwards, and I learned the hard way.)

              Let everything marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 - 12 hours, then carefully turn the brisket over in the pan and marinate for another 8 - 10 hours. It might seem that the seasonings have come off in the process but they haven't.

              Place the cookie dish with the brisket-containing baking dish straight from the refrigerator into a cold oven (I do that so I don't shatter the cold Pyrex baking dish) and cook for about 3 - 4 hours at a low temperature (about 275 F). Keep as tightly sealed as you can, and check once or twice that you have not boiled out the liquid. If it looks like it is getting low, add more water. Allow to cool awhile, then put in refrigerator overnight to get cold. Once cold, remove as much of the congealed fat from around the brisket (but leave a little - it does add flavor), remove the brisket from the pan, save the liquid and slice the brisket across the grain. Before slicing, try to trim off excess fat. I use an electric slicing machine and make the slices about 1/8" - 3/16" thick - i.e., thick enough to not fall apart but thin enough to be fork-sliceable when eating. Line the slices back up in either the original baking dish or a smaller one (the brisket will have shrunken quite a bit), but don't pack the slices very tightly. Now for two variations. If you like a thick gravy, thicken the liquid (and all the seasonings and remaining fat) using some corn starch and heating the gravy, but be careful not to make it too thick - it will thicken as it cooks more. Alternatively, leave the gravy as a soft liquid. We have enjoyed it both ways. - just whatever your personal preference. Pour the gravy/liquid over the brisket. At this point you can either freeze everything for later use (we usually do that), or refrigerate it and use it the next day. However, before use, you then need to cook it tightly at about 275 F covered with aluminum foil for another 2 hours or so after slicing and swimming in its gravy. (If you did freeze it, allow it to fully defrost in the refrigerator.) Again suggest placing the baking dish on an aluminum-foil covered cookie sheet to save making a mess in the oven. The extra cooking helps make it softer and adds the flavor throughout. Again, check periodically that the gravy has not dried out or thickened too much; add more water if needed. Longer cooking times help, as long as the mixture does not dry out.

              It also tastes great the next day as leftovers, if there is any. BTW, I figure on about 1/4 - 1/3 pound of uncooked meat per person, given that when we make this, we are having a lot of other food as well. We are also not very large eaters.

              Hope this works for you.



              • #8

                I will try your recipe out in the oven to see if I can improve my results. If all goes well and in the spirit of "pit-masters" everywhere, I'll probably try a (modified) version in the smoker so that I can continue to whine about my dry, tough brisket.

                You know - "I made mine just like yours except I used different ingredients and changed up the cooking times. I wonder why mine wasn't as good..."

                It's interesting. When I call my friends and say "yall come on over, we're having pork shoulder (or ribs, or chicken or whatever)" everybody says great, we'll be there. When I call and say we're having brisket they say "what else you having?".
                Brad Ford


                • #9
                  This web site has a wealth of info about everything BBQ plus a lot more.
                  I started using it with dial up modem and saved the info to a floppy disk.
                  Time sure flies.



                  • #10
                    Where is the damn LOVE button ??? thanks Guys or should I say CHEFS !! for all this information .. keep it coming please !!!

                    :love_heart:When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. :love_heart:


                    • #11
                      This my go to dry rub for beef and pork.
                      For poultry I add an equal amount of Tones lemon pepper (1/2 rub and 1/2 lemon pepper)
                      This makes a lot; for a smaller batch cut the recipe by 8.
                      The smoke ring link has lots of dry rubsGranddad'sGeneral-Purpose Dry Rub

                      AmountMeasureIngredient --Preparation Method
                      1 cup & 4 tablespoonsdark brownsugar
                      3 tablespoons & 1 teaspoondried sweet basil
                      1-teaspoonground cumin
                      2-tablespoonground coriander
                      2-tablespoonground savory
                      2 tablespoondried thyme
                      2-tablespoonblack pepper
                      2-tablespoonwhite pepper
                      1/3 cupdry mustard
                      1/3-cuponion powder
                      1/3-cupgarlic powder
                      ¼ cupsalt

                      Mixall ingredients thoroughly and store in a tightly sealed jar in a cool darkplace.


                      • #12
                        Here is a link to a "way back" original BBQ site.
                        It includes rubs, sauces, how to modify your off the shelf smoker to make it better, and lots more.
                        I consider it a great site for both old hands and newbies too.