Tag Archives: brine

Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina BBQ Sauce

We’re stretching out the summer.  Hanging out on the back deck.  Making sure we get out and walk while the weather is good.  Getting those tomatoes from the farm stands that we waited oh so long for.   If you can handle stretching out the planning and preparation of a meal, yet don’t want to do too terribly much actual work, this is for you.

The pork for the sandwiches is brined, smoked, pulled and finally doused with a zesty vinegary sauce before being piled high on a soft bun.  We are talking some serious piggy love here!  If you haven’t brined anything before, this is a perfect time to give it a try.  Brining simply involves heating flavorful liquid, cooling the liquid, and soaking the meat in the liquid before cooking.  Yes, it stretches out the cooking process but is certainly not difficult.  If you don’t have a smoker at home, you can use a slow cooker (8 hours on low) for meat with the same texture minus some smokin’ love.   And speaking of stretching, that’s what you’ll need to do after devouring this amazing sandwich.

This sandwich was adapted from a restaurant recipe provided by The Oinkster on Food Network.

Print versions:  BBQ pulled pork sandwiches Carolina BBQ sauce

Smoked Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 6 pound pork butt
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 ½ cup salt
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ½ cup sugar

Directions:

1. Boil 1 gallon water with salt, soy sauce, honey, molasses and sugar. Add remaining 1 gallon of water. Cool.

2. Add pork, cover and set in a refrigerator 12 to 24 hours.

3. Let pork drain on cooling racks and come to room temperature. Smoke over applewood chips at 250 degrees for 5 to 8 hours until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 170 degrees.

4. Use forks to pull the pork into pieces. Douse with Carolina sauce and serve on soft buns.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBS red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 TBS dry mustard
  • 2 TBS worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBS molasses
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, simmer for 10 minutes.

Notes:

  • How good is this?  We made it twice in the same week,  first on the smoker and later in the slow cooker.  While the slow cooker didn’t have that luscious smoky flavor, the texture of the meat was still wonderful and the BBQ sauce added the needed Carolina flavor.
  • After making the sandwiches, I finally went to The Oinkster’s web site and saw the sandwich they made for Diners, Drive Ins and Drives.  Oh my!  They top the pork with slowly cooked onions and red cabbage slaw.  It is a beauty to behold.
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Brined Roasted Chicken

Way back in 1998, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a story on brining meats which I cut out and put into my recipe binder.  (Remember those?  Back in the dark days before online recipe sites and food blogs?)  I hadn’t heard of the technique before, but it sure caught my fancy, and I gave it a go, first with chicken and then with pork chops.  Each turned out better than any cooked at home ever before.  Yes, just as promised, the meat was juicy and flavorful as opposed to dry and bland.  Call me a convert.  Now, a brine is always used on these meats.

A few years back, there would be a brined and roasted chicken on our dinner table about once a month.  Easy, inexpensive, and delicious were the traits that kept that dish coming back.  What caused the habit to fade is a mystery to me.  Then, last month, I was browsing my favorite food blogs and ran across Michael Rhulman writing about how he roasts a chicken for dinner weekly and tried the brining method for a change.  Memories of lovely roasted chicken came whirling back through my mind!

If you have not yet brined a bird, now is the time.  Yes, there are extra steps, but with a little planning, they take very little time. This is the basic plan:

  • While making dinner the night before the roasted chicken dinner, make brine while making dinner.  Use the same pot that you’ll put the bird in when the brine has cooled.  The brine just involves a few ingredients that need to be brought to a boil and can be put together in under 5 minutes.  You’re at the stove anyways, just add one more pot for the brine.
  • Let the brine cool during the evening and put it in the refrigerator before going to bed.
  • In the morning, rise the chicken, remove any innards, and put it in the brine.  Leave the brined bird in the refrigerator all day.  At this point, you have completed all steps for the brining process and are ready to roast the chicken that night.

Brined Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:

1 gallon water, more if need to completely cover the chicken while in the pot

1 cup kosher salt

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife to break open

1 to 2 TBS peppercorns cracked with a mortar and pestle

2 sprigs rosemary (can also use oregano or sage)

1 chicken

Directions:

1.  Combine water, salt, garlic, peppercorns and rosemary in a large pot on the stove.  Heat to a boil and stir until salt dissolves.  Remove from heat and cool.  Place in refrigerator overnight.

2.  In the morning, remove brine and chicken from refrigerator.  Rinse chicken and remove any parts in the body cavity.  Place chicken into the pot, breast side down, cover, and return to refrigerator.

3.  When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees, remove chicken from the pot and allow to air dry while coming closer to room temperature. Place chicken, breast side up,  in roasting rack or iron skillet for cooking.

4.  Set the roasting pan or skillet in the oven.  After 15 minutes lower the heat to 350 degrees, and continue roasting for one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.

Notes:

  • The roasting method is based on Julia Child’s recommendations.  I miss Julia.
  • Because the chicken drippings will be salty, homemade gravy just doesn’t work with this method.
  • Ruhlman talks about using a cast iron skillet for his roasted birds.  I’ll give that a go next time around.
  • Once you have the basics of salt, garlic, and peppercorns down, play around with different herbs.  The possibilities are endless!
  • The Chronicle article provides great information, especially the “What the Pro’s Know” and “How Long to Brine” sections.
  • Once that chicken is in the oven, you have time to relax with a glass of wine.  Nice!