Monday, January 17, 2011

Pulled Pork with homemade BBQ sauce and homemade Pretzel Rolls

There are few things that would get me out of bed on my day off, and barbecue is one of those things.  My alarm went off at 5am, I momentarily forgot why my alarm went off, I knew I didn't have to work, then I remembered I had 16 pounds of delicious pork shoulder to smoke! So I bundled up, as it was a balmy 10 degrees in St. Louis that morning and began to prepare the smoker.  I had already had the shoulder in a brine, from Alton Brown's recipe, for 12 hours before I put it onto the smoker.

For the brine:

  • 8 ounces of molasses
  • 12 ounces of pickling salt
  • 2 quarts of water

This recipe is for a 6-8 pound shoulder, since I have two of these, I doubled the recipe.  As for the pickling salt, Alton says it dissolves better than standard kosher salt in cold water, so I went with it.  I brined the shoulder in a cooler and left it in the fridge overnight.  The logic behind brining is to pump up the cells full of moisture and seasoning (salt/sugar).  Once the fire in smoker was started, I removed the shoulders or "Boston Butts" from their brine and patted dry with a paper towel.  They are called "butts" even though they are in the shoulder of the pig because it refers to the top half, or the "butt" of the picnic ham.  The lower part of the picnic ham is called the "shank" which is too grisly for our purposes.  I then added my standard Texas dry rub I use for brisket.

Texas Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons of Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Salt ( due to the brine, I lowered the salt to about a teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons of Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Cumin
As stated above, I lowered the standard amount of salt since there's plenty from the brine, but I did not take it out entirely, I wanted to leave some in order to draw that moisture out and create a nice crust.  This will need to be doubled or tripled for two full shoulders, it all depends on how generous you are with the rub. I, myself am very generous.

Once the smoker was up to temperature (230) I inserted the meat thermometer into the shoulder and placed them on the smoker.  For shoulder and ribs, I like to use apple wood as opposed to the oak I use for Brisket and other beef.  Now just be sure to monitor the temperature of the meat and the smoker.

Homemade BBQ Sauce--- Hogen' Sauce

Now you have a lot of time to kill, about 13 hours, so what better to do than to make your own BBQ sauce! Would you really spend all that time on a piece of meat only to put on generic bland BBQ sauce from the store? No way, so the only logical thing to do would be to make your own.  The sauce that I make for pulled pork is an apple sauce based sauce we like to call "Hogen Sauce".  I really only use this for pulled pork.  For ribs, I prefer to glaze and for brisket, I don't let a drop of sauce touch my fresh brisket, because done right it needs nothing.  The sweetness of the Hogen Sauce, however, goes great with the pulled pork, playing off of the sweetness the apple wood imparted into the meat.

Hogen Sauce:

  • 1 cup of Apple Sauce
  • 2 cups of Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon 
  • 1/2 Cup of generic BBQ sauce (I used K.C. Masterpiece)
 Put all of the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan and simmer until thoroughly dissolved.  Transfer to the container of your choice.  We just happened to buy an awesome clear squirt bottle and print out a custom label for it....

Hogen Sauce!

So even after the sauce, still got a lot of time to kill until the meat is finished.  So why not make a bun to serve the pork on? But not just any bun, how about a pretzel roll?

Pretzel Rolls

This is another Alton Brown recipe that I have been making over the years, but this is the first time I have modified it for rolls.

Pretzel Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water (about 115 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon of Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 1 package of Active Dry Yeast
  • 22 ounces of flour
  • 2 ounces of melted butter (Half a stick)

First get 1 1/2 cups of water to about 115 degrees.  This will help the yeast start to go to work.  Just be careful not to make the water too hot because at around 130 the heat can start to kill the yeast.  So put the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar, salt, and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to let the yeast start working.

In a separate bowl measure out 22 ounces of flour and add to the water and yeast.  Melt 2 ounces of butter and pour into flour/yeast.  Use a bread hook on low speed just until the dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes.

eh close enough

After 5 minutes take the dough out and spray the bowl with non-stick spray.  The dough is very sticky, and this will help to ensure that you can get the dough out once it finishes rising. Then put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel and place in a warm space for 1-2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.  I put the dough next to a fireplace, but not too close!

Don't forget to check the meat!

Ok, after the pretzel dough has about doubled in size, weigh it on a scale.  Now divide that by 8 and that's how much you should cut each ball of dough for your rolls.  Mine was around 36 ounces so I tried for 4.5 ounces per ball.  This doesn't have to be exact but try to get them close so the rolls will cook evenly.

In a large pot, add 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup of baking soda and bring to boil.  Take each ball of dough and drop in boiling water for about 30 seconds.  This will increase the PH level of the dough helping to create a better crust.  Put the dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Now take an egg wash made up of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water and brush onto the dough.

Now top with a coarse salt and bake at 375 for about 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Be sure to rotate the pan if your oven cooks unevenly.  For instance my oven cooks hotter towards the back rather than the front so I had to rotate the pan halfway through.

I would recommend cooking this just before the meat is ready, so you get fresh out of the oven rolls.

Pulled Pork

It is 13 hours into the cook and everyone's getting hungry for dinner! The meat has just reached an internal temperature of 195 and it is time to pull!  It is important to pull right away, you don't want to let the internal fat cool and solidify.  So using your handy dandy black BBQ gloves, pull away! This is the fun part, just dig in. The gloves are essential to be able to pull the meat while is is hot.  Trying this with your bare hands is a very poor idea.  Once the meat is pulled, sprinkle some leftover rub over the meat and throw on some homemade sauce. If needed, chop up some of the larger pieces.

top with brown sugar

awesome BBQ gloves

clean pulled the bone out

Serve on your homemade pretzel rolls and there you have it.  A little bit of summer in the dead of winter.

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