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Entries in Pulled Pork (11)


Teed off!

That's what we did on Saturday. As I mentioned in "Que for a Cause - Round 2", I cooked BBQ for a fundraiser this weekend. It's amazing what a group of volunteers can do when they come together for a cause.

On Saturday afternoon, ~90 golfers teed off in a scramble format. The plan was to feed them pulled pork around 5:30 or so. Little did they know that I began the process of feeding them at 2:00am. That's when the pork butts went on the smoker. They were finished and resting in the Cambros by early afternoon. I knew that I'd have the meat done well before serving time, but I also had to allow for travel time and time to pull them when I arrived.

Up until then, the plan was right on track. But when I arrived, I discovered that the golf round was running long. I mean waaaay long. We didn't begin to feed the golfers until nearly 7:00pm. Thankfully, the Cambros did their job and I had piping hot BBQ that was still too hot to handle. Disaster avoided.

Here are a few random shots of the cooking process and the event. Special thanks to my bride for assisting with serving.






A couple of months ago, we became aware of a tough situation that a friend of one our church members was going through.  My wife and I donated BBQ to a fundraising event by way of a silent auction item called "BBQ Feast for 20 People".  Apparently the item was popular and brought a sizeable donation.


This weekend, it was time to honor my end of the deal and cook for the auction winner who was hosting a party.  I had committed to ribs, pulled pork, and pit beans for the event.  So I was up early and cooking for a 6:00pm delivery time.

In the meantime, I had become aware of a couple of families who'd lost loved ones or were otherwise going through a rough patch.  So with plenty of room to spare on the cooker and blessed with the means, we set about making food one less thing for some of these folks to worry about.


I've said this before; I don't compete or cater.  But I do get some personal satisfaction from seeing others enjoy the results.  This is compounded further when I can help someone who needs a little "BBQ Pick-me-Up".

Thanks to my friends and family for the assitane this weekend.  I'm always ready to "Que-for-a-Cause".





The DIY Pork Puller

I love pulled pork, but frankly I hate the "pulling" part.  For years, I've used a couple of serving forks to pull the pork shoulder apart.  Last year, I began using Bear Claws and they work pretty well, making quicker work of it.  But when I cook for larger groups, as happens more often these days, I'd sure like a quicker way to pull the pork.  

The Original Pork Puller

I'd seen some info on the interwebs about the Pork Puller.  Seems a fellow BBQ enthusiast has come up with a solution that's pretty intriguing.  Frankly, it's a pretty simple notion.  It's a stainless steel disk with a few tines, mounted to a long shaft that you insert into your cordless drill.  I only have one issue with the invention, the cost.  At $70, it seems just a little spendy to me.

Our DIY Pork Puller

So, my good friend and fellow pitmaster stumbled on a DIY solution.  He was cleaning his gasser when he began to look closely at the rotisseire rod.  By sliding one of the "claws" to the end of the spit and inserting the other end of the shaft into his cordless drill, we have essentially the same solution. 

The setup or pulling pork butt in large quantity

Last night, we had the chance to try it out on a half dozen pork butts for a graduation party.  The results were awesome!  We pulled the blade bone and placed the butts into a food safe bucket.  We ended up with perfectly shredded pork butt with just a couple of blasts from the cordless drill with our homemade pork puller inserted. 

With Pig-a-Palooza only a few days away, you can bet we'll be putting this to good use when we pull 2 dozen butts.   



Recap: Pig-a-Palooza 2011

For the second year in a row I volunteered to smoke the pork butts & ribs for Pig-a-Palooza.  This is the big fund raiser for Jacob's Ladder, an organization that provides scholarships to school children in our area to enable them pariticpate in music & band programs.  

We planned to cook 20 pork butts and 25 sides of ribs.  Ribs we served in 4-5 bone portions and we served nice big pulled pork sandwiches.  Additionally, we had a large grill to cook hamburgers & hotdogs on.

Friday night, I headed to the park at 10:30pm.  I had the cooker lit by 11:00 and we began rubbing the pork butts shortly after midnight.  We put half of the pork butts on at 1:00am, and the other half went on at 3:00am.  I managed to rack out for a couple of hours around 4:00am, but when you're sleeping outside and it's 90 degree weather you don't sleep much.

We began pulling the membranes and trimming the baby back ribs at 9:30am.  We staggered the start times of 27 sides of ribs.  This allowed us to keep a steady stream of fresh ribs coming off the cooker throughout the afternoon.

There were lots of activities for the kids, music, and silent & oral auction items.  We had a great turnout despite a heat index of well over 100 degrees.

By the end of the day, we sold all of the BBQ that we had prepared.  I had great help from my friends and neighbors.  I can't thank them enough for volunteering to help prepare and serve the food.  As I write this, I'm still pretty tired from working more than 20 hrs straight.  But I'm sure that I'll be ready to do it again next year.

Here's a link to a few more photos from Pig-a-Palooza 2011




Review: Shorty Small's

The 4th of July weekend usually consists of me spending lots of time tending the cooker and enjoying some time out of the office.  However, this year we had a last minute change of plans and headed out of town.  So, for July 4th BBQ I found myself at a BBQ restaurant that I located based on an advertisement I saw on a billboard.  Turns out, the billboard was better than the BBQ.


I found myself in a restaurant called Shorty Smalls.  They have a handful of restaurants around Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas & Oklahoma.  I ate at one of their two locations in Branson, MO.  I can’t tell if the down home décor is typical of all their restaurants since nearly every eatery in the Branson/Ozark Mountain area employs a log cabin motif with the accompanying décor.

I was surprised to find a menu with lots more than BBQ, and I should have been suspicious when there was no BBQ sauce on the table.  It seems that these days every BBQ joint I see has an assortment of sauces on the table.  Nonetheless, I let the waiter talk me into having the ribs.  In fact, I ordered a combination plate of ribs & pulled pork with sides of slaw & baked beans.

I guess it’s a good thing I took the waiter’s advice and ordered the ribs because I couldn’t eat the pulled pork.  It might have been good, but I couldn’t tell because it was drenched in their BBQ sauce.  The ribs had no smoke, rub, or sauce flavor but they were tender.  But then again, there are lots of ways to prepare ribs that makes then tender but they don’t all make them BBQ.

Side dishes?  The beans didn’t seem to be much more than canned pork & beans and the slaw & fries were just average.  Luckily my family had a better experience, but then none of them had the BBQ.

I can’t recommend Shorty’s for BBQ, but if you’re looking for sandwiches & pasta they might be worth a shot.
Here’s how Shorty Small’s stacks up:

•    BBQ – D
•    Side Dishes – C
•    Atmosphere – C
•    Value – B
•    Overall – C-



Review: Dickey's Pit BBQ

While noodling around with Google Maps on the iPhone, I discovered that there was a BBQ joint not far from my office that I hadn’t tried yet.  So on Friday, I set out to give it a try.

DickeysBBQThe place is called Dickey’s Pit BBQ and it turns out that they are a rapidly growing chain.  I hadn’t been there before, but my previous experience in a BBQ chain wasn’t all that great.  So with a little apprehension I stepped up to the counter and ordered my lunch.

They serve the usual BBQ fare of pulled pork, brisket, sausage, chicken and ribs.  I ordered the two-meat platter of brisket & pulled pork with a  couple of sides and a glass of sweat tea.  The food came out quickly and it looked promising enough, but it didn’t much of a smoke flavor and there was little to no additional flavor in the bark.  Having said that, the meat was tender and the portions were generous. 

The side items were probably my favorite part of the meal.  The green beans with bacon and the BBQ beans were very tasty.  And, I can’t say no to a hunk of sweet cornbread.  I also enjoyed their sauce which is served warm from a steam table by the salad & drink bars. 

Overall, it’s the best chain BBQ joint I’ve eaten at and they do have a pretty large presence across the country.  So, if you run into one of their locations I wouldn’t shy away from eating there.

 Here’s my breakdown:

  • BBQ - B
  • Side Dishes - A
  • Atmosphere - A
  • Value - B
  • Overall – B+



Tip: Holding Meat Until Mealtime

If you spend any time at all reading the numerous BBQ forums on the interwebs, you'll see a question asked quite often. "The meat's done too early, how do I keep it warm until dinner?"  When cooking low 'n' slow over an extended period of time, you can run into this situation quite often. 

Photo from the Naked Whiz Photo from the Naked Whiz
Here's how to deal with it:

  • When the meat hits the desired internal temperature (you are checking internal temps and not cooking by the clock, right?), pull if off the cooker and double wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil.
  • Poke your thermometer through the foil so you can continue to monitor internal temperature of the meat.
  • Then wrap the meat in an old towel or blanket for extra insulation, leaving the thermometer or lead from your thermometer probe accessible.
  • Place the wrapped meat into a dry cooler.  Some folks like to preheat the cooler with warm water, but that's a personal preference.
  • Periodically check the meat's temperature.  As long as it stays above ~150* or so you should be okay.  Remember the danger zone for meat is between 45*-140* or so.  If the meat spends more then a couple of hours in the danger zone, be safe and don't eat it.
  • When it's time to serve, unwrap the meat and serve it as you normally would.

Using this method, I've personally been able to hold ~65lbs. of pork butt for 5+ hours.  However, if the meat drops below the saftey threshold I'd recommend you move to plan B.  Pull the pork, refrigerate, and reheat at mealtime.  I'll cover reheating another time.

Check out a much more detailed description at

I usually try to error on the side of being too early and pad my start time a little.  Given my choice of having meat done too soon or too late, I'll take too soon any time.  I'd much prefer to hold the meat than to try to hurry it up.



Doing the Triple!

Like most holiday weekends, I find myself cooking for almost the entire weekend.  But that's okay, I love doing it.  This Memorial Day weekend was no different.  And for large meals, there's nothing better than pulled pork.  It's pretty simple and goes a long way.  (Here's my method for pork butt/pulled pork on the Big Green Egg).
Hi-temp & Lo-temp cooking! Hi-temp & Lo-temp cookin
It's sort of a tradition for me to feed the guys at work on the Friday before a holiday weekend.  So, Thursday night I fired up the Big Green Egg and cooked two pork butts totaling ~13lbs.  They went on the cooker at 5:45pm on Thursday night and came off around 8:15am on Friday.  That's one all-nighter in the books.

On Friday, I offered to bring pulled pork to a family gathering on Saturday for lunch.  So once again I fired up the cooker and went with a single pork butt.  (I also fired up the Bubba Keg for some bratwurst for dinner.)  This time, a six-pounder went on the BGE at 5:30pm on Friday night and I took it off at 6:30am on Saturday.  That's two all-nighters.

My neighbor had planned a backyard party for Sunday and asked me to cook pork butt, so ~15lbs. of pork butt went on the cooker at 9:30 on Saturday night and came off at ~2:00pm on Sunday.  That's three all-nighters in a row.

Even though the BGE does a great job and doesn't require much tending, I have stayed up late and gotten up early for the past 3 nights.  I'm sure glad it's raining today, I could use a nap!



Impromptu BBQ

porkbutt-on-the-bgeI guess there's really nothing impromptu about a 14 hr cook, but on the drive home from the office last night I decided to put a couple of pork butts on the Big Green Egg and surprise my team with BBQ today for lunch. I hit the supermarket (Schnuck's had whole pork butt on sale for $.97/lb.) at 5:00pm and by 5:45pm had the egg fired up and steady at 250 degrees and the meat on.

I left for my daughter's softball game and returned home around 8:00pm to find the cooker at ~290 degrees.  I used this as an excuse to "tend the cooker" and fine tune my temps.  That means I sat by the cooker with my neighbor and enjoyed the evening until turning in around midnight.  (Don't tell my wife that tending the cooker isn't really all that necessary, shhh)

This morning at 6:00am I found the BGE chugging along peacefully at 255 degrees.  God, I love the smell of pork butt in the morning. 

By 8:30, I had the butts wrapped and resting in a cooler for the trip to the office.  I just finished pulling the pork and setting out the spread.  I rang the lunch bell (figuratively of course) and the stuff was gone in nothing flat. 

Next time, I'll feed the other half of my folks at the other campus.  I guess the day before the July 4th holiday should work for that.



Pulled Pork on the Big Green Egg

Pulled pork is one of the cornerstones of BBQ. Luckily, it's also one of the easiest things to do. There are some variations on the ingredients in pulled pork but the most important one is patience.  Remember BBQ is cooked low and slow and it's done when it's done.

Here's how I prepare pulled pork:

  • Start with a whole pork butt.  Sometimes you'll find these called Boston Butt, bone in butt, etc. and they typically run 6-8lbs.
  • Slather the entire butt with cheap yellow mustard.  Not dijon, not Grey Poupon, not spicey; just simple yellow mustard.   You won't taste this and it really just serves to bind the rub to the meat.
  • Liberally apply the rub of your choice.  There are a couple of commercially available rubs that I like.  If you don't already have a favorite, I'd recommend Dizzy Pig's Dizzy Dust or Bad Byron's Butt Rub.  Personally, I can't tell much difference in doing this much in advance of starting your pit, but I'll leave that up to you.
  • 20081216_0250_smallFire up your pit for indirect cooking with a drip pan and get your temperature settled in to about 250 degrees.  I leave the drip pan empty.  To me, it's just for catching the drippings.  Note:  if you're using a cooker with a water pan, then I'd add water to the pan.
  • Put your butt on and settle in for a long cook.  I use 1.5 hrs per lb. as an estimate for planning purposes only.  At the end of the day, every cooker is going to cook a little different and so will each piece of meat.  Remember, the meat is done when it's done.  Cook by internal temp of the meat, not the clock.
  • 20090104_0337_smallAfter 4-5 hrs, your butt should be close to 160 degrees internal temperature.  It's in this range, +/- 10 degrees that the internal temperature of the meat will plateau.  Once it plateaus, it can stay there for several more hours.  It's in this plateau that the magic is happening.  The connective tissues are breaking down and the fat is rendering from the meat.  Keep feeding the fire (if needed) and be patient.  While pork is edible at 160 degrees, it ain't done.
  • Once the meat breaks the plateau, the temperature will begin to rise again.  Once it hits 195 degrees internal temperature, it's done.  Wrap it in foil and let it rest for at least an hour.
  • When you're ready to eat (and who wouldn't be by now?), unwrap the butt and it should easily pull apart.  I like to use a couple of forks for pulling the meat apart.  I also discard the bone and any excess fat during this process.
  • Serve it up on cheap white hamburger buns and provide some BBQ sauce as a condiment.
  • Enjoy!

So get out there and get cooking, but remember patience is required to get through that plateau.  Hang in there, the results are worth it.