Monday, June 18, 2012

BBQ MacGyver & Pulled Pork revised


It's probably something of a cliché to say that a good BBQer is part cook, part mad scientist/engineer. I'm sure you've all seen guys on TV or the Web with their home-made smoker, crazy-ass Burning Man-style flamethrower and God knows what else. And Lord knows, if I had the space and time, I'd be making my own Uber-Smoker of Doom, but unfortunately I live on a second-story downtown apartment and all I have is my simple offset smoker and my own ingenuity. So, there'll none of these in my near-future:

Baddest-ass Smoker ever!

Luckily, I usually have a fun little toy or two to help me along the way. Or I invent things that help. So, today I'm exploring couple of 'toys' that make my BBQ experience easier and might help yours!

Now, this post is inspired by a recent foray into Pulled Pork (which I've blogged about before). I will say this: the rub I used in last year's post has been updated and is very similar to the rub I used when I made Wild Boar Ribs last month, with one exception in that instead of white pepper I used mustard powder and added a tiny pinch of ground cardamom. Now, Pulled Pork is a long process, taking anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of cooking, depending on the size of your hunk of meat. As a result, it can be hard to keep the fire going at the right temperature without a little bit of help.

Here's where a simple camping accessory becomes the "low and slow" BBQers best friend.

1) Air Mattress Pump

Um, what? We inflating a bed while we wait for the pork to cook? Nope, not even close. If you're like me, you might not be Grizzly Adams and able to start a fire with a flint and tinder. For me it's pretty easy to start a nice fire using lump charcoal with my electric fire starter (as mentioned in my first post about smoking), but keeping it going after 8 hours gets tricky, especially if you've had to step out of the house for a while and the fire dies down on you.

Enter the air mattress pump. In the past I'd used a piece of boxboard to help fan flames when re-igniting a dormant fire, but I've since learned that this simple tool makes your life SO much easier!

20 bucks at any hardware store
You simply pump air with your foot on the bellows-looking part, then put the hose in as close to the fire as possible without risking melting the plastic of the nozzle.

A little air and your fire is back in action!
Now, this does kick up a lot of ash, but a little ash never killed anyone, right?

So, yeah, a little "MacGyvering" is always a sign of a good BBQer!

2) Meat Claws

Now, another pain in the (pork) butt when working with huge hunks of meat like pork shoulder is that it's really hard to move them around in the smoker when you have to rotate cuts or move them around to get less/more smoke, or when removing them from the smoker altogether once they're done. BBQ tongs aren't big or strong enough and even one's bare hands and be a little unwieldy.

Not exactly easy to manipulate! Tasty-lookin' though...

Along comes my sweetheart with Meat Claws. Meat Claws are little devices designed to help you manipulate large chunks of meat easily and shred pork or chicken once cooked.


And they make you look like Wolverine:

Hugh Jackman I'm not...

Turns out they were quite useful in the manipulating part, but when it comes to actually "pulling" the pork, your hands are always best.

And there we are, just a few more inventions to help you make your smoking/BBQ experience a little less annoying.


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