Friday, May 11, 2012
The Pork Diaries: Pulled Pork
The blade is part of the shoulder - in hogs the size of Pork Chop and her kin, you can expect this to run about 25 to 30 pounds. And there are two of them. My approach during butchering was to use one of the shoulders for sausage meat, but to cut the other down on the band saw to four roasts. Chris and I split them, but they ran from about 3.5 pounds to five pounds each, and this blade roast was the smallest of the four.
To prepare this cut of meat, I decided that I would figure out a dry rub recipe, and then slow cook the roast using hickory smoke on the new grill. I snooped around on-line for some recipes - although as a rule, I don't follow them to the letter...I prefer to use them as general guidance. That is a risk I take, I suppose, for better or worse.
The rub I put together included the following ingredients: paprika, cumin, brown sugar, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, onion powder, and garlic powder. I used a mortar and pestle to get the chunks smoothed out, then coated the roast with the mixture twice. After letting the meat roast for about a half hour at room temperature to absorb some of the rub, the coals were finally ready and I put it on the top rack of the new grill, opposite of the coals.
In fact, I had a couple of pretty good conversations Sunday as I was cooking. Very helpful advice, in fact. Thanks faithful readers!
The dial on my grill was reading 300 degrees for most of the time the roast was on. I figured I would be working on this for about 3 hours - one of the recipes mentioned that for shoulder roasts, you need to get the meat thermometer up to 190 degrees...that's opposed to what a meat thermometer says for port, usually around 170 degrees. (My main lesson learned here was to trust the thermometer and not the recipe!)
I charged up the coals with some soaked hickory chips, so that the smoke started fairly soon after the meat started to cook. I would recharge the chips three times during the course of the afternoon. Here's another lesson learned: each time you raise the grill lid, you're adding between 15 and 30 minutes to cook time. So figure out a way to recharge the coals and smoke through the chimney if you can (I didn't want to do this because of the change of raising some ash inside the grill, and also because I was using match-light style coals this time).
In any case, I cooked the roast for about 2.5 hours, until the thermometer read 190, per the recipe I was working from memory with. Next time, I'm only going to 170 - the meat was a little dry but not intolerably so. Mary went and found a good sauce recipe, which was very similar to the one we get at Rocklands here in Alexandria, and that offset any dryness this time. We paired the pork up with some boiled taters and grilled Pak Choy, and dined al fresco on a fine Sunday evening.
I still have another of these roasts, and the ribs, yet to go. Now that I have my equipment all lined up, I'm looking forward to those!