I AM BACK and do I have a BUNCH of things to share!!!
Our oven has been on more than off lately. I LOVE this oven. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this oven!!! Several of us were talking about the things we would grab first if our houses ever caught on fire. While everybody else was talking about grabbing photo albums and this keepsake and that, I said the first thing I’d do is figure out how to strap that oven onto my back and get out!! Of course then my hubby explained that’s what insurance is for – for replacement, then he further explained I’d have to go in the basement (shudder) to shut the gas off or else the stove might beat me out the door!! Well, ok, so then maybe the pans – hey, they’re perfectly seasoned pans now!!
Let’s see what I’ve been workin on lately.
INDOOR SMOKED PULLED PORK BBQ
If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you probably saw, back in December or January, where Tommy and I made Indoor Smoked Pulled Pork BBQ, a recipe I saw on America’s Test Kitchen. I HAD to try it!! As I posted on FB, I’m not a fan, at all, of liquid smoke but, I have to say this recipe is absolutely FABULOUS!!! Three exclamation point worthy. It is time consuming so it’s not something you want to start at 3:00 in the afternoon for dinner that night. Noooooo, no, no. You gotta start while breakfast is cooking. Well ok, maybe you can wait until after your third or forth cup of coffee but then get crackin. WAIT!! Before you decide you’re not interested in this recipe because of the time involved, its about 80% waiting; waiting while the pork is brining, waiting while it’s baking covered and waiting while it’s baking uncovered. There really isn’t that much involved as far as hands-on work BUT, the whole process is very rewarding. This recipe also has the best of both worlds as far as rubs: both a wet and a dry.
The recipe calls for pork butt roast. A pork butt is not located anywhere near the, well, let’s just say its terribly confusing (or someone was when they named this portion) because it’s the top portion of the FRONT legs. It’s also called pork shoulder which is so much more accurate and certainly less confusing!! I prefer to ask for help finding a good pork “shoulder” rather than asking for help finding a good pork . . . well hey, have a giggle. If possible, you want it boneless. If you can’t get it boneless, that’s not a problem, we’ll address that in a little bit.
Liquid Smoke. There are several brands out there. The brand ATK recommends is Wrights. You want a liquid smoke that, when you read the ingredients it says: water, natural hickory smoke concentrate, the end. Don’t buy one that has anything else in it. We found it at County Market and it was under $2!! Yay!!
I HIGHLY recommend this recipe. It’s good for summer or winter. So now, if you don’t own a smoker, you no longer have to wait for your neighbors to go on vacation to sneak over to use theirs. You can make easy and delicious smoked pulled pork BBQ, rain or shine, right in your own kitchen. Expand your culinary horizons and prove to yourself you CAN do this!!! Trust me! It really is very basic, very simple. So, with no further ado, I present the recipe and step-by-step instructions.
The list of characters:
5 pound pork shoulder/butt roast
4 quarts water, cool to tepid
1 cup table salt (not Kosher on this one folks)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (don’t worry – it’s not over the top)
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt (either regular or Kosher)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
Finishing BBQ Sauce: (NO COOKING)
1/2 cup of juices from the roasting pan
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
As I mentioned earlier, a boneless roast is preferred. However, if you’re like us, the sale was for “bone-in”.
The reason boneless is better is because the first thing you need to do is cut the roast in half width-wise.
If you have a bone-in (like below – the start of it is right below my index finger), just cut up to, and roughly around, the bone just to get the two halves to spread apart so you can see it. Using a paring knife, cut it out as best you can. If you have a boneless roast, just cut straight through as straight as possible. It doesn’t have to look purdy so don’t worry about it.
You should have 2 equal size slaps o’ pork.
There you have it. It’s not rocket science but you just need to try to cut them as close to even thicknesses as you can so they’ll cook evenly. The reason these are halved in the first place is so the liquid smoke will penetrate the meat all the way through. If we left it whole, just the outside would be smokey. When you actually smoke meat in a smoker, both the inside and out are smokey. Can I say smokey a couple more times?
The Brine: Salt, sugar and liquid smoke.
You’ll need 4 quarts of water, cool to tepid is fine, just not hot and not cold. Be careful when deciding what size container to brine the roast in because by the time you add the roast halves, it will significangtly raise the water level. Add the salt and sugar into the water and stir until dissolved. It’ll be cloudy but just make sure there’s no “puddles” of salt and sugar sitting anywhere on the bottom. I admit, I was surprised that it dissolved so easily.
Stir in the liquid smoke,
Everybody in for a long soak. They will float, however. That’s not a good thing.
Use a saucer or a plate to keep it completely immersed. Nothing too heavy; it needs to allow enough room so the brine can get in between all sides of the pork.
There you have it. It looks a little weird but you can see there’s plenty of room to move about the cabin. It’s now ready for the fridge.
Set your timer for 2 hours. That’s enough time to get into a really good book, take a nap, do a couple of loads of laundry, ya know, 2 hours worth of stuff. When your timer goes off, pull the pork from the pool and put it on a kitchen towel for a good patting to get them all dried off. Be sure to dry them well so the wet rub will stick. No need to get the hair dryer out but just do the best you can.
Begin preparing the rubs. First the wet. Add the liquid smoke to the prepared mustard,
and stir well. Set aside.
Now for the dry. Add the pepper, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika,
and mix well. Set it aside too.
Using a spatula, just for this part, scoop out only half of the wet rub on the first side of the pork.
Now for the really messy part. This should explain why I didn’t suggest a manicure during the 2 hour wait. With your hands, rub that mustard mixture all over, get it nice and schloppy, make it extra schloppy even. Make sure you get the edges too. I know it looks like I’m almost afraid to touch it in this picture but I was just getting warmed up. It’s actually fun. Call the kids in and let them try it! Oh, well I did say there wasn’t much hands-on for all the time it takes but, involving the kids, well that may take the full baking times for clean up. Yikes!! Never mind. Oh, and I’d suggest letting your phone go to voicemail.
Then, flip the halves over and repeat with the remaining wet rub. Don’t forget the edges!
Sprinkle half of the dry rub right on top of the mustard rub. Massage it in. Now THIS is messier ye! But it’s still fun. The first time I did this I wore my kitchen gloves; they’re still stained. Its a given that your nose will itch or that you’ll sneeze during this part. Just wear something with sleeves.
Flip the halves over and massage it “real good”!!! Again, don’t forget the edges. Make sure those flavors are everywhere!!
Our pork has now gone from the pool to the massage table and now is ready for the sauna!! Hey, I think I’m missing out here!!!
Move the oven racks to the middle, with plenty of clearance above. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Choose and prepare your pan. There are a couple of types of pans to use. You could use a cookie sheet with sides or a roasting pan. We’ve actually used both and the jury’s still out as far as which we liked best. Whichever you use, be sure to line the bottom with foil. You’ll need a piece of foil wide enough to cover your pan without just overlapping it (that’s a MUCH bigger clean up job). To do that, use 2 sheets of foil and lay the first sheet on the counter. Put the second, same size sheet, directly on top of the first, making sure both shinny sides are facing each other. Along one of the long edges, using both sheets as one, fold the sheets over, about 1 1/2″ to 2″ deep. Use your finger and slide it along the fold to secure it. Then fold it over itself again, same direction, same width. Run your finger along that fold as well. Gently open the sheets and VIOLA!!! You now have a very wide “single” sheet of foil. Keep in mind that lining the pan won’t keep all the juices from running onto the bottom of your pan or cookie sheet but it’ll sure make clean up a whole lot easier!
A rack is a must. Nonstick cooking spray is a must as well. Whether it’s cooling racks or a rack that came with the pan, just make sure they’re long enough to fit both halves of the roast.
Place the halves side by side. Don’t let them overlap. If they don’t want to fit, scrunch them up a bit but do all that you can not to overlap them. I know, I know, they gotta a lot a rules about baking a pork roast!
Because you want these to stay moist while baking, we’re gonna cover them TIGHTLY with foil to make the sauna effect. However, before the foil goes on, you’re gonna need a barrier between the roasts (with the acidic rub on them) and the foil – the rub will pit the foil against the roasts – not a good thing. ATK suggests using parchment paper, which we did the first time. It still pitted the foil but not the parchment paper so it was all good next to the roasts. What pitted the foil was that the acidic liquid from the roast soaked through the parchment paper and touched the foil. It didn’t affect the parchment paper, just the foil. This time however, we used a nonstick silicon liner like what you bake cookies, rolls or biscuits on. It worked great! It didn’t hurt it at all and no liquid penetrated the liner so no pitted foil! And, the liner wiped right off!! It’s not good to have anything pittin on your food! That’d just be the pits. Sorry. That was pit-iful. That’s it, I promise.
Now for the wrapping. Just as for making one big sheet for the bottom, do the same for the top sheet. Try to fold the top and bottom foil sheets together around the edges. You want the absolute best seal you can. If the top and bottom sheets won’t reach, just get the top foil sealed around the outside of the pan as tightly as possible, especially at the corners. You want to keep that sauna as air tight as possible. Now into the oven for 3 hours. Go finish that book!
At the end of the 3 hours, CAREFULLY remove the top foil from the pan. It’s gonna look kinda drab, nothing too exciting, certainly nothing like a smoked pork roast. Don’t worry, it’ll transform in this next baking time. Drain the liquid from the bottom of the pan into a bowl (or a fat separator if you have one). You wanna keep 1/2 cup for the sauce. Return the roast to the oven to bake, uncovered, for about 90 more minutes. The inside temperature of the roast should reach 200 degrees. The outside of the roast should have a “bark” on it and it should look kinda dried. IMPORTANT: (but difficult to do) Allow the roast to rest on a cutting board, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes. But, that will give us time to make the barbecue sauce.
Remove the separated grease from the drippings and measure 1/2 cup of that devine sauce. In a medium mixing bowl pour in the drippings, ketchup, molasses, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (optional) and salt and pepper. Whisk until combined and set aside. That’s it. No cooking!!!
Using 2 forks, start shredding the pork. You’re wanting kinda thin strands. Doesn’t that look FANTASTIC!!!!!! But it’s not finished yet!!! It needs to be dressed!!
Depending on how saucy you like your pulled pork, start with just a cup. Reserve the remaining to add to your sandwich, or if you’re like us, throw it all in there!!! The messier the better!!
And there you have it! It’s ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! See, that’s not much hands-on, huh?!! Ya just gotta trust me!!!! You’ll love it, you’ll invite your friends over and they’ll love it!! They’ll suggest you do it again next weekend and every weekend. Careful, they’ll probably be calling to let you know that pork shoulders are on sale!!