Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pulled Pork Barbecue

    Have you ever wondered where the Boston Butt got its name? The moniker originated around the Revolutionary time period. The Boston aspect comes from the way pork shoulder was cut in Boston, and the latter word comes from the barrel in which the pork was packed. Barrels were also known as butts. Somewhere along the way, Boston Butt stuck. Seems rather unfortunate for shoulder to get stuck with a rump label, doesn't it?

    Tangent aside, let's talk pulled pork. My dad is a barbecue master. The Cornish hen, the ribs, the steak (oh, the steak!), and the pulled pork... For the pulled pork enjoyed at many a family gathering, Dad trims the meat, uses a dry rub and injects marianade, sits it in the fridge overnight, and smokes them on a low temperature for a long time. My apologies for the scant details--I'm not much of a smoker myself. Hehe. The dry rub (Sorry Boys) has a delicious flavor, and is the creation of a friend of Dad's (he also happens to be my former dentist).  On smoking days, Dad has the whole neighborhood smelling amazing. Once they're cooked, Dad uses the butcher knife method of 'pulling', which works exactly as you're picturing. He then juices the meat up with a tasty concoction and lets it sit in the slow cooker to stay warm until the party gets started. 

    We moved to South Carolina about two years ago. South Carolina is basically the Holy Land of pulled pork barbecue. It's even broken into four regions based on flavor prevalence. 

   Vinegar and pepper is my personal favorite, likely because I only had it growing up when visiting my grandparents in South Carolina. Interestingly, this flavor was brought to South Carolina by the Scots. Mustard style, here thanks to German immigrants, seems to be the prevalent flavor in the Charleston area, and happens to be Alec's favorite. Light tomato is a mix of the vinegar and pepper and ketchup, more or less. Finally, the heavy tomato flavor is what most people in the country associate with barbecue. If you want to read about barbecue history, click here. It's an interesting read!

    Given the state we moved to, I decided I'd better become adept at making barbecue. The first method I tried consisted of throwing a boston butt in the slow cooker overnight, defatting it the next day, and shredding it in the KitchenAid. We added sauce as we ate it. The only way this method changed over the past two years was that I started adding mustard sauce while shredding it. Using the slow cooker almost guarantees the pork is going to end up tender and juicy. The one dry batch I made was due to over shredding it in huge KitchenAid. I imagine it's much harder to attain the same tenderness using a smoker, though Dad certainly comes close. 

    Recently, my cousin Rachel shared this slow cooker pulled pork recipe with me. The new flavor was wonderful; it seemed to have a Moroccan flair to it. My favorite difference was the smell while it was cooking. When a boston butt is cooking without the additions of this recipe, I spend the whole day checking for dirty diapers. The end result is always delicious, but the smell of it cooking...ick! This recipe had me dying to taste test the meat within the first two hours of cooking. After it was done, I went ahead and used the suggested shredding methods of two forks. The KitchenAid is definitely more effective, and it allows you more options in regards to how finely shredded the barbecue is. 

    As you can see, there are countless ways to prepare barbecue. The cooking process, the flavor, the pulling method...there's so much potential! 

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