Monday, January 30, 2012

Dr Pepper Ribs and Pork Butt

Well, for my second smoking adventure, I went whole hog, as they say, and threw on six racks of baby backs from Harris Teeter at $3.77/lb, a pork shoulder from the Wal-Mart for $1.78/lb, a couple of packaged sausages and some hot dogs for the kids (I like Hebrew National, even though they're made by Con-Agra which doesn't sound particularly Hebrew to me).

I began prep on Saturday night by taking off the membrane, putting on a light coat of yellow mustard, rubbing them with Fiorella's Jack Stack Rub (not as spicy as Gates' rub) and then added about a cup of Dr Pepper to the plastic bag before putting them back in the fridge overnight. My daughter (picky eater) had read about marinating in Dr Pepper and said she'd try them if I did them that way. So what the heck.

As I was prepping the ribs, I also made a Dr Pepper bbq sauce that -- even though it didn't have much Dr Pepper flavor -- was outstanding. I combined ideas from a couple of different recipes I found online.

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce
 (by Butch)

1 cup Dr Pepper (not diet)
1 tablespoon Chili Powder
1 tablespoon Canola Oil (I used canola, would probably work with any vegetable oil)
1 and 2/3 cups Ketchup
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar (one recipe called for dark, I only had light in the pantry, dark might have more flavor)
1/2 medium onion (or maybe a little less) minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup Worchestershire
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider)

Whip it all together and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

While the ribs were on the smoker, I basted them with a sprayer filled with Dr Pepper just to add some moisture. I was afraid the sugar would char onto the ribs too early but it didn't seem to have any problems. About 45 minutes left in smoking, I coated two racks of ribs in the sauce, leaving the other four with just the dry rub, and the sauced ribs were OUTSTANDING.

This time I smoked my ribs a little differently, according to a recipe I'd read online. It called for smoking for 3 to 4 hours at around 225 (Mine got too hot -- around 300 -- at one point. I fear I overdid them a little). Then you pull them off, double-wrap in heavy foil, put them back on the grill for another 2-3 hours (it was cold yesterday, hence the longer cooking times) and then pull off the foil and back on the grill for another hour or so. I basted with apple juice and Dr Pepper from a sprayer every hour or so. I also used a new set of rib racks I picked up at Home Depot. Observation: After I removed the foil from the ribs, I placed four racks back in the rib rack and left two in their opened foil pouches. I basted those with the above sauce and they were the best -- juicy, tender. The ones I placed back in the rack seemed chewier and tougher to get off the bone. I'll have to read up on the differences in the way I did them.

Finally, I did the same foil routine on the pork shoulder/butt and it was out of this world yummy.

Throughout the entire process I used mostly lump charcoal and oak with some cherry chips (about a Solo cup-ful every hour or so). I noticed the meat had a thin smoke ring and the flavor, while nice, wasn't as smoky as I usually like.

I also noted that my meat didn't take as long to cook as I expected, despite the cold temps. I think my earlier mistake with letting the smoker get to 300 was a major downfall. Need to work on keeping that temp down. I've been using fireplace logs of oak, I think I need to cut those into half or quarter them before I use them, and use them more sparingly to control the heat better in the initial stages.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Meat Week!

I've been known to complain some about the dearth of good BBQ in the DC area. And I'll still complain a little, but things are looking up.

Enter: DC Meat Week!

Love this shirt!

And the reverse side:

It's a week-long tour of BBQ restaurants in DC -- unfortunately, most of these are deep inside the District (with a few in the inner suburbs). Any good suburban denizen in the DC area will tell you that they avoid going into town whenever possible. So I'll only get to try out one or two of the DC Meat Week participants this year. But it's nice to know there are some options.

Learn more about DC Meat Week here:

And here:
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