TIP's from T

The best BAR-B-Q comes from Your back yard.

Regardless of whether you're bar-b-qin in a brick pit or a trashcan, the idea is to manage the heat and smoke of a wood fire to create a cooking environment of 200 to 240 F.  It's really all about the fire and the convective movement of its heat and smoke in relation to the meat.  I am a firm believer in "straight" cookers, i.e the meat sits straight above the fire (often above a drip pan that forces the heat & smoke to flow in a convective manner), because the pig fat drips down onto the fire or heated drip pan below and vaporizes, thereby creating a moist and fat-vapor saturated cooking environment that yields a flavor quality of bar-b-q that can not be achieved with pits or cookers that utilize an offset fire box.  Plus, the convective air flow of a well designed straight cooker will cook the meat in 30% less time than an offset rig, which means less fat is rendered from the meat during the cooking process, which means there's more fat left in the meat, which means juicier bar-b-q 

For the home bar-b-qer, the best rig for your buck is a Brinkman or comparable brand "R2D2" (aka Cajun cooker) smoker that lets you remove the cooking chamber from the fire chamber.  They can't cook a lot, but properly used they can make incredible bar-b-q.  Does a larger version of that rig that burns split logs of oak and pecan instead of charcoal and wood chips make better bar-b-q?  Sure, but that's bar-b-qin on a bigger scale, and those rigs cost big money.  The R2D2 gets the job done, particularly for pulled pork, and you'll get 4 or five years of great bar-b-qin out of her before she rusts out and crumbles apart, then you just go get another one.   

Ironically, compared to a large bbq cooker or pit, it takes more skillful fire management while actively cooking to properly bar-b-q with an R2D2 .  With big rigs, once you get the (much larger)fire where you want it, it requires less active management than an R2D2.  This is because the smaller fire has less heat stability and the thin metal of the R2D2 rig offers very little radiative assistance in maintaining the heat in the cooking chamber.  So you'll have to work the fire a bit, but it's worth it.


Equipment: BBQ Cooker, charcoal chimney, heat resist. food handling gloves, long metal tongs, atomizing spray container, lighter, injector (optional), large pot & pan

Materials: Pork butt (bone in), hardwood charcoal brickettes, natural hardwood lump charcoal, newspaper, heavy duty aluminium foil, kosher salt, garlic (fresh cloves)  Lee & Perrins worcestershire sauce, apple juice, white vinegar, orange blossom honey, black pepper, bbq rub (optional), CHUNKY T's OLD FLA BAR-B-Q Sauce.  

Method: The night before you bar-b-q, make a brine by stirring together 2 gallons of water, 2 cups kosher salt, and 6 or 7 cloves of fresh garlic (crushed).  Then when the salt is fully dissolved after stirring for a while, stir in 1/2 cup of Lee & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.  Trim excess fat but leave at least 1/4" of fat on the top of the butt.  (Optional - inject the butt with the brine by dispensing the brine from 4 or 5 injection points as evenly as possible by steadily depressing the syringe while slowly withdrawing the needle from multiple angles at each point of injection.)  Place butt in large pot and completely submerge in brine overnight (10 to 14 hours).

Remove pork butt from brine and pat dry with paper towel.  Place fat side down and apply a light coating of kosher salt, black pepper, and bbq rub (optional).  Turn over onto dry surface and repeat.  (Note on BBQ rubs - I find many bbq rubs to be overly salty.  Because of the brining, the pork will be lightly infused with salt throughout, so if you're using a fairly salty rub, you may want to use less than you normally would.  I don't usually add rub till I'm chopping or pulling the pork)  Let sit at room temperature until cooker fire is ready.

Make a mop by stirring together 1/4 cup of orange blossom honey and 1/4 cup of white vinegar.  Stir with small whisk until honey and vinegar are fully blended together, then add 1 cup of filtered apple juice (Optional - can use fresh juiced & well filtered organic granny smiths if you want to take the mop to the next level).  Gently heat the mop to 110 - 115 F and leave warm until ready for use.  Transfer to spray bottle before use.

Soak your wood chips then prepare fire with one full chimney of lit coals (1/2 hardwood brickettes & 1/2 lump charcoal).  Pour 1 to 2 cups of apple juice in the drip pan and wait till temperature stabilizes.  Remember to check drip pan periodically to make sure there is at least a cup of liquid (Fat &/or AJ).  Conversely, if too much apple juice or water is added it can create too much water vapor - we want bar-b-q, not steamed pork.         

Establish an area large enough to let you safely bar-b-q with the R2D2 and be able to safely remove the cooking chamber and set it down while you add heated charcoal to the fire chamber.  Large concrete patio pavers are handy if you're on a wood deck or want to protect decorative tile or pavers.     

Use a full charcoal chimney to start, then a partially filled chimney as needed. Use a combination of roughly 1/2 natural lump charcoal, 1/2 hardwood brickettes (e.g. Kingsford competition or Ducane hardwood), and an occasional handful of soaked wood chips such as hickory and/or apple.  The hardwood brickettes help with heat stability but don't sacrifice wood flavor - lump charcoal is flavorful but inconsistent and tends to burn hotter and die out sooner than brickettes. 

Most of these rigs have thermometers that say "LOW - IDEAL - HIGH".  Proper bar-b-q temp is typically between the W of the "LOW" and the I of "IDEAL", but closer to the W.  If you have a Weber grill and the R2D2 fire gets way too hot, you can remove the top chamber and cover the fire with the unvented Weber top.  While maintaining a consistent cooking temperature of 200 to 240 F is what we're shooting for, better that the temperature drift too low than too high.  

A typical 7 to 8 pound butt will usually take 8 to 10 hours, depending on the average temp of the fire, ambient whether conditions, etc.  Place butt on properly heated cooker fat side up and cover.  Leave covered for at least 3 hours before applying mop.  Between hours 3 to 4, every 15 minutes apply a liberal amount of mop with the spray bottle while minimizing the time the cover is removed.  

At around hour 4 to 4 1/2, use heat resistant gloves to remove the butt from the cooker and place on large pan.  Re-cover the cooker.  Take pan to a table or counter and pull out 2 feet of 18" heavy duty aluminium foil.  Use the gloves to place the butt at the center of the foil in a vertical orientation.  Apply a final liberal coating of mop with the spray bottle, bend the sides of the foil up slightly, then pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of mop next to the butt on the foil. Here's the tricky part - carefully fold the right then left sides of foil over each other without letting the mop spill out the top or bottom sides, then carefully seal thetop and bottom by making multiple successive folds until the butt is snugly sealed.  Use gloves to carefully pick up by the folded ends and place on a clean pan.  Then put back on the cooker which is hopefully still holding a good temp.

Maintain steady temperature of @ 220F on cooker for about 3 to 4 more hours.  Test for doneness by using heat resistant gloves to lift butt by gripping the folded up ends of the foil.  The butt should feel "droopy" (not stiff) but "heavy" from all the juices still in the pork.  If not cooked enough it will feel stiff (not tender) and heavy; if left on too long it will feel droopy but "light" (not juicy).  You want to pull it off at the sweet spot where it is both very tender and very juicy, then let rest still in foil for at least 30 to 45 minutes (this can be challenging).  There's an old bar-b-q saying, "It's a long ride up, but a short ride down." 

If you're not going to eat it for a while, double wrap the butt in plastic wrap (helps to have the commercial size) and put in a clean cooler till ready.  Carefully unwrap foil, remove shoulder blade (will slide out effortlessly), and chop.  While copping add more rub, mop, and a light drizzle of CHUNKY T's OLD FLA BAR-B-Q Sauce.  Put a pile of pork on a bun and enjoy!