Summer is officially here and as nature turns up the heat in many cities across the country, countless grillers are firing up their BBQs with big dreams for the coming season. In our household, steaks have often turned out more well done than well executed. However, despite these initial set-backs Dustin and I are determined to get the hang of this grilling thing in hopes that someday we can have a successfully uneventful grilling adventure.
You see, Dustin and I are enamored with the idea of throwing an epic back yard barbeque for friends and family. We have been inspired by momentous feasts prepared by friends of ours and would like to carry on the heartwarming tradition in our own home someday. These parties are the ones focused on a celebration of friends and food, where guests gather around home made punch bowls and and the air is permeated with the mouthwatering scent of a slowly smoldering roast. But to get there, we are taking baby steps.
While we were visiting Dustin’s family in Boston a few weeks ago, Dustin had some time to kill and with lots of mouths to feed we thought this was a golden opportunity to attempt a basic BBQ fiesta. Saveur Magazine had featured a recipe for a slow roasted pork shoulder and, with its relatively low cost per pound, we thought this would be a great low risk means to work our way into barbequing. The local butcher didn’t carry the bone in pork should the recipe called for but we lucked out and stumbled upon a nice cut at BJs.
At this point I think I should admit that, somewhat in the same way that my virtues in the kitchen don’t exactly lend themselves to the patient art of bread baking, I am not so well suited for the low and slow nature of barbequing. True to form, Dustin stepped in and took over the meat preparation, carefully rubbing the meat, building a grill, injecting, basting and checking temperatures. Meanwhile I spent my time running around the kitchen like a chicken with my head cut off in attempt to deliver no less than eight side dishes for our feast.
We did run into some technical issues in pursuit of BBQ perfection. We didn’t have an injector on hand, so Dustin MacGyvered up a solution with a combination meat-thermometer/turkey baster to infuse the meat with hot sauce and fruit juice. Lacking a real smoker, we tried to make due with the grill, using an aluminum pan to house the wood chips. Soon after lighting the grill the pan melted and the chips caught fire, some running around ensued and the meat was saved. Following this misadventure, three hours into roasting we ran out of propane for the gas grill we were using and Dustin had to quickly change the tank. And finally, near the four hour mark, we were descended upon by an extreme downpour which pelted the porch and grill with water. Like the energizer bunny the grill kept going and after around 6 hours of grilling the pork was ready to pull.
The shoulder in this recipe was rubbed with a lovely blend of sugars and spices which infused the roast with a subtle sweet and smoky flavor. The roast pairs well with a high-quality fruity barbeque sauce – we tried to make the one paired with the shoulder in the recipe but it was a total flop, too vinegary and of the charts on the heat scale, I managed to tone it down by adding a significant amount of peach nectar and molasses. I will work on developing my own recipe for a good peachy que-sauce but in the meantime recommend you take a look at the review Saveur ran on store bought BBQ sauces .
Rubbed and Injected Pork Shoulder (adapted from Saveur’s recipe for Brett Schreyer’s Competition Pulled Pork)
½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Smoked Paprika
2 TBSP Chili Powder
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Kosher Salt
2 TBSP Ground Black Pepper
1 TSP Cayenne
1½ Cups Apple Juice
1½ Cups Peach Nectar (we got a great bottle of peach nectar from Trader Joe’s)
1 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot
1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (ours weighed 10lbs)
Make the rub by mixing the sugar and spices together in a bowl. Add about a quarter cup of the rub to 1 cup of the apple juice, 1 cup of the peach nectar and the hot sauce and mix well. This is where the kitchen syringe comes in handy! After placing the shoulder on a baking sheet, inject the mixture into the shoulder in several places. Rub the pork with the remaining spice mixture and let sit for an hour. Keep the remaining peach and apple juice for refreshing the pork shoulder during cooking.
Heat the grill on high for at least ten minutes before putting the shoulder on, also taking some time to let the wood chips soak in water if you are going to smoke the meat. Our wood chips first caught on fire and melted the pan holding them in, but ideally you want to use apple wood chips in a pan in the center of a gas grill or over coals. Place the shoulder over the unlit part of the grill, fat side down, on a freshly oiled grill grate.
Try to keep the temperature of the grill at around 250 degrees for the next 6 to 8 hours. Beware of thunderstorms creeping in and your fuel running out! Use the reserved apple and peach juice to cool off the pork shoulder maybe once an hour.
Once the thickest part of the shoulder reaches 190 degrees, you can pull it off and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before shredding the pork and devouring! Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy your hard work!