Winter’s here, time for some low & slow living & eating, Griller style!
Well, where to start on an evening like this. We have just seen about 25cm of fresh snow fall in the Gatineau’s over the past few days and things are looking pretty magical indeed out there. Instead of trying to roll back the months and remember what took place in May/08 tonight, I figure I should simply talk about what’s shakin today and as I get into this world of blogging, the great people, places, foods and celebrations over the past few months and years are bound to percolate for sure. As I write this post, I have spent the last few hours prepping a 10lbs. pork shoulder for a low & slow for the next 12 hours! Yup, 12 hours my ceramic grilling friends. Some people would call this going over board but I call it passion for that search for sensational taste that we all love.
The thing I have come to love about low and slow cooking in ceramic ovens is the fact that its dead easy and while it may be freezing outside, you can be enjoying a frothy beverage inside with the family and friends who may be over. All the while your “Green Egg” is doing the work and roughing the Canadian winter at its best. Now, there are many experts in and around the world when it comes to “pulled pork” but I have to take my hat off to our neighbors to the south, specifically the Carolina’s for being passionate about their pulled pork. I have had the pleasure over the last few years to speak to some really interesting people on the subject and although there is no clear cut recipe per say, there is certainly a method and with a bit of practice and as I have learned some patience you can get pretty good at this pretty quickly.
First thing’s first. Find a good if not great butcher. For the folks in Wakefield, we are fortunate to have” The General Store” where you’ll find John or Mark who are always willing to go the extra mile for their customers. You want to ask for a pork shoulder or Boston butt as it is sometimes referred to as. 10lbs. plus is a good starting point. When you get home follow these steps to prep the pork and grill.
- unwrap & wash the meat in cold water
- place in a suitable baking pan and set aside
- in a small mix bowl combine some coarse salt, pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon
- prep 2-3 cloves of garlic and insert into slits that you can make in the top or fatty side of pork shoulder
- mix all spices together and spread with hands all over pork and rub it in well
Now, some people prefer to let it sit over night and marinade in the fridge and quite frankly, I have tried both over night and within two hours of smoking and both techniques have worked very well, totally up to you. You will also notice that I do not specify amounts of spice in my prep notes, fear not, use your food sense and be creative besides, its fun!
So, now would be a good time to talk about smoke and its overall effect on food. I have been cooking with ceramic ovens like The Green Egg for almost eight years and I have hot smoked a lot of food over the past and I even thought I knew a thing or two about smoking food until I met two great and totally passionate people from a company called “SmokinLicious”. Donna and Terry who happen to be the owners made me realize very quickly that although I knew a little bit about wood and smoke I really knew nothing at all and hence now was the time to really get educated so that my cooking/smoking endeavors from here on would be well worth the money and effort. SmokinLicious pride themselves on producing a top of the line product and I am blown away at the steps they take to ensure the customer gets the best possible product, in other words( no mass market crap). SmokinLicious Gourmet Woods are harvested from the forests of Western New York and PA. They only use the “heartwood” or core of the wood which happens to be the moistest part of the wood as well. Basically the wetter the wood the more smoke and flavor you get but that’s not all. The product is bark free, resin free, and the company is an all natural “organic” company. They also control the volume of wood per order to guarantee freshness and utilize specific packaging that allows for proper air circulation in transit. They produce many wonderful gourmet wood products ranging from chips to natural flavor enhanced dust, double filet chunks and my fav by far the “Woodscuit” flavored & barrel aged in natural spring water. To learn more check out the link on my blog and get educated on the best gourmet wood in the world available at “The Burro Borracho” in Wakefield.
As far as your wood selection goes its pretty straight forward when it comes to low and slow. Once you get a chance to see the flavor chart on their site you will understand how to pair your food with your wood for best results. Now we all know there’s a lot of wood out there but time and time again I find I love the results I get with sugar maple when cooking poultry, seafood or pork. Nice and sweet, not over stated and smooth like a pint of Guinness. So here goes!
Wood Prep ( Easy as pie)
- get 2-3 chunks of sugar maple
- in a bowl soak them for 2-3 hours in your favorite liquid, juice, beer, wine or water.
- after soaking, drain and set aside in the bowl
- set up the “egg”/ceramic oven for an indirect cook
- don’t forget the plate setter for “green egg” user’s but you put it on just before the pork goes on.
- fill up the firebox almost to the top and place starter’s accordingly
- light the fire and leave both vents open @ 25%
- give it a good 20-25 min to get rolling and don’t rush the ritual
- the idea here is to get your oven regulated at 225-250 degrees and you will
- once the oven is ticking over open the lid and place your maple chunks right in the middle of the fire
- place the plate setter legs up and place a drip pan in the middle and put your grill back on.
- now get that pork shoulder and place in the middle of the grill over the drip pan et voila!
- head inside and try and calm down because there’s no opening that lid until its almost done. It’s enough to kill you but the excitement is fun for sure.
- IMPORTANT! don’t forget to re-regulate the oven after opening and you will most likely have a tiny crack open at top and bottom once your really rolling.
Now cooking times vary but a general rule of thumb that’s worked for me is roughly a little more than an hour per pound at the above stated temp. Once you have finished the cook take that pork off the grill and wrap it in tinfoil and let sit for an additional hour. At this point the juices will render and everything will be alright. Once the hour is up unwrap and pull apart and enjoy any way you want.
My favorite pulled pork creation is called “The griller’s southern brie melt”.
Recipe as follows:
- fresh paninni or baguette
- spread Sharwood’s Mango Chutney on bread. (both sides)
- place a generous pile of pulled pork on the bread and top with 2-3 slices of brie
- warm in the oven at 250 for about 10 min and serve!
See you guys in heaven, I am making that right now and catch you soon in blog land. Last note the picture for this post was perfect and it comes to me thanks to a great client Tim Dudley.
sauce & sticky fingers,