We are planning a Memorial Day Party & BBQ at our house and it's gotten me excited about getting back outside. I enjoy the process and I enjoy the smiling faces of the friends and family that enjoy the finished product. For today's post I decided to share some of my thoughts, tips and tricks that I've learned over the years for making some pretty kick ass BBQ.
Injections, Rubs & Sauces
Although there are some good commercial options out there, I prefer to make my own BBQ sauces, dry rubs and injections. I prefer to have the ability to control the quality of ingredients and the ratios. For this party I will be making pulled pork and although I’m not a huge fan of injecting all meat, it does work very well adding moisture and flavor to pork butt so I will need to make all three. Typically I don’t measure my ingredients. I combine the main elements together and go from there based on taste. Ive been doing this for a long time so I am able to get consistent results with out I will share my ingredients list and a high level on the process. If you want to make your own, feel free to take any of this and customize it to your own taste.
My injection consists of apple juice, water, kosher salt, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, onions and fresh garlic. I make the injection salty, similar to a brine. For the onion and garlic I keep them in large pieces so they can easily be strained out. I put the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a light simmer. I do this to ensure that all of the dry ingredients dissolve into the liquid and the garlic and onion release as much flavor as possible. I remove it from the heat, strain out the chunks and let it cool to about room temperature. Next I pull out the syringe and prepare to inject the pork with some flavor. I inject the meat until I feel that it’s pretty close to saturated with the briny goodness.
Now it’s time for the dry rub. For my dry rub I’ll be using a mixture of dark brown sugar, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper, ancho chili powder, Spanish paprika, onion powder, cumin & cayenne pepper. With a reasonable combination of these ingredients you can’t go wrong. Taste your mixture before you apply it and adjust based on the flavors that you like. I personally like a nice sweet flavor with a bit of heat. I put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend it together to get a nice even consistency. To apply the rub, I use a parmesan cheese shaker jars that I picked up from the dollar store.
I like a cross between a Kansas City style sauce and a Memphis or St. Louis style sauce. If you’re not familiar with the differences between the types of sauce, Kansas City has a thicker tomato based sauce that is sweetened with brown sugar and/or molasses. Memphis and St. Louis styles are thinner, vinegar and tomato based sauces. They have a more tangy flavor.
For my sauce I use many of the same ingredients that you see in the injection and dry rub. It provides a nice layer of flavors that really enhances the BBQ in my opinion. For ingredients I use tomato sauce (Sometimes I use ketchup instead depending on the type of sauce that I’m trying to create), apple juice, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, molasses, onions and fresh garlic. Sometimes I will include a bourbon for flavor and habaneros for heat.
I combine the ingredients in a pot and similar to the injection I keep the onions and garlic in large pieces so I can strain them out later. I let the mixture reduce down until I get it pretty close to the consistency that I’d like. When hot the sauce will be a little thinner than when cool so I look for it to get almost to the thickness that I like before removing it from the heat.
I have a couple of smokers but my favorite (and the one I'll be using for the party) is my Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS). I bought this one for $250 at a small shop in Northern Indiana that builds all kinds of smokers and grills. I love this smoker because it has a large capacity, it’s easy to control temperature, once you get the temperature where you want it, it holds it in place VERY well and lastly, it consistently puts out a high quality product in the end.
The unit has three 22.5 inch diameter cooking racks which can handle plenty of meat for large parties or events and the charcoal basket holds approximately 15lbs of charcoal and wood. I usually can get up to 12 hours of cooking time on one load of charcoal and wood. That’s great because it limits the amount of times I need to open the smoker.