I've always liked to cook, and people seem to enjoy my food. I usually make things up off the top of my head and don't write down recipes, so this is for everyone that asks me how I make what I make. And, because I have celiac disease, everything on here is gluten free! Enjoy!
On Thursday night, I pulled the pork out of the freezer to brine and thaw it. To make the brine, I simmered all of the ingredients for about forty-five minutes and let it cool. Once cool, it went into Ziploc bags with the pork. This went in a pot, got covered, then went back in the freezer. I pulled it out first thing in the morning to start thawing. I got to Tim's place in Chapel Hill at about 5 or 6. By then, the pork was pretty well thawed and brined. I mixed all of the ingredients for the rub, removed the pork from the brine, and covered it with the rub. The rub is equal parts of each of the sugars and the salt, then the spices to taste. The rubbed pork went back in the fridge until it was go time. The mesquite wood chips went into some water to soak for a few hours.
On Friday night / Saturday morning at 2am, I fired up the grill. I put the pork in a pan on one side of the grill and some mesquite wood chips on the other. I only used the burners on the wood chip side to keep the grill between 225 and 250 (F). The soaked wood slowly smoldered to smoke the meat. This went on, being checked and basted with apple cider every hour or so for the next 10 hours. By then, the meat had reached about 170. To be cooked, pork should reach over 140, but to be pulled it helps to reach about 190. I ran out of time and had to go for 170. It worked out fine, but it could have been easier to pull.
Barbecue Sauce - Tomato based
For a tomato based sauce, I simmered tomatoes, cider, and all the spices for about 2 hours. I added this to about 3 roasted red peppers and pureed in a blender. For the final touch, a little apple cider vinegar was added.
Barbecue Sauce - Vinegar based
This type of sauce is very simple. Just combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar, add a significant amount of sugar, then add spices per your taste. This one turned out pretty spicy. The flavor will mature, mix, and become smoother if this is left in the fridge for a day or two.
Really good baked beans are very easy to make. Just start with some good canned beans, make some bacon, and add it to the beans. Use the bacon grease to caramelize some finely diced onion and celery and add that too. If you want, add some more spices based on your taste - I added some pepper and some brown sugar. Let that simmer for a while, and the beans are way better than they started.
I wanted another side, and was too lazy to make potato salad. So, I boiled some new potatoes, drained them, added butter and seasonings, and about 3 pureed roasted red peppers. This turned out to be a delicious side that went very well with the smoked flavor of the meat.
Slaw is a must for any barbecue. The key is the first step, which some people forget - salt the cabbage. Cut up the cabbage, put several tablespoons of salt on it, cover, and set it in the fridge for about 3 hours. This pulls moisture out, making sure that the cabbage won't get soggy from the liquids you're going to add. After salting, thoroughly rinse all the salt off, add the carrot, a few tablespoons each of Greek style (drained) yogurt, mayonnaise, and apple cider vinegar, and a little pepper and caraway, mix, and you're good to go. Just taste it and make sure the balance fits your palate.
I didn't realize how in need of a good North Carolina barbecue I was. This was fantastic in just about every way possible. The sides all worked very well, and everyone had a great time. That is what a barbecue is all about, and this certainly fit the bill. The only part of this that I've ever made before was the beans. The pork might have been the best meat I've ever had in my life... and that's saying something. I am now, more than ever, a huge fan of feeding animals what they naturally eat. This forest fed pork had more flavor and better texture than any barbecue I've ever had. The sauce was entirely unnecessary (but turned out really good!). If you've never had naturally fed or wild meat, go to www.eatwild.com and find a place near you to get some. I was really happy the way the brining and my rub helped the flavor of the meat, but did not overpower it. I think that's the problem with grain fed meat - it is high fat and low flavor - you can barely eat it without sauce or heavy seasoning. Just remember that with naturally fed meat, it is generally less fatty and therefore easier to mess up with fast cooking methods like grilling. With slow cooking, you pretty much can't go wrong.