Texas-Style Pulled Pork Tacos


This is a great, carnitas-style Tex-Mex recipe for using leftover pulled pork. Braised slow and low, the meat is super-tender. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. If you still have leftovers, they freeze wonderfully… Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

5 to 8 cups pulled pork
1/2 cup Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
1 cup chicken stock
1/8 lime, squeezed
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. chimayo chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Serve With:

Tortilla shells, brushed with olive oil and toasted on the grill or on a heavy, cast-iron comal
Fresh guacamole
Thin-sliced red onion
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sliced serrano or jalapeno peppers
Cilantro leaves

 

Directions:

Place the leftover pulled pork and the ingredients indicated in a 5-quart Dutch oven heated at 250-degrees in your oven.
Mix well and heat covered for two hours. Stir once at one hour.

After the second hour, check for tenderness. Reduce heat to 170-degrees F., if needed until ready. Serve in toasted tortilla shells with your choice of fresh guacamole, red onion, cilantro, and shredded Mexican cheese.

 

Serves: 4-6

Leftover Tex-Mex BBQ Pork Tacos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Ensure that there is enough chicken stock and BBQ sauce to just cover the pork. Braise it slow and low until tender.

 

 

Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket


Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Anything declared “the official BBQ dish of Texas” has to be good. This defines authentic BBQ brisket.  And it should come as no surprise that some good things take time to prepare.  Lots of time.

Lots of time with lots of cold beer.

The key to good brisket is selecting a quality cut of meat, and then smoking it at a constant temperature, slow and low over hardwood chips for many hours.

You’ll note that many people prefer to baste the surface of the beef with a light coat of yellow mustard before adding the rub. This is called “the glue” by BBQ afficionados, and in theory, helps the dry rub ingredients bind to the meat and keep it moist while smoking. In all honesty, I’ve never noticed a difference in taste, texture or juiciness with or without it. You decide.

Selecting a Quality Cut of Meat:
The grade of beef brisket available in most supermarkets or meat shops vary in quality and are:  Select, Choice and Prime. Prime is the best you can get, and you will pay a premium for it, so be prepared to take a hit on your wallet.  If you’re looking at a reasonably-priced cut of Select brisket on sale in your local supermarket, my advice is to not waste your time. You’ll want to go with a cut that’s at least Choice grade.  Remember, Quality in = quality out… you really do get what you pay for.  Spend a bit more money for an unbelievable finished product.  Here are some tips for getting started:

 

INGREDIENT:

1 Choice or Prime-grade cut of beef brisket; flat or point (calculate total pounds needed) with a generous fat cap and good marbling
BBQ brisket rub (Click here for Jim Fanto’s secret rub recipe)
Wood chips for smoking – either Hickory or Oak, with a small amount of Mesquite
Apple juice for the drip pan

You will also need:
Empty beer cooler (the unfortunate assumption is you’ve drank all of the beer while you waited.)
Thick bath towels
Plastic wrap and heavy aluminum foil
Digital timer

 

DIRECTIONS:

The night before you plan to smoke the brisket, lay out the meat on a large cutting board and trim the fat cap down to 1/4″. Note the grain of the meat* – you’ll need to use this for determining how to cut it after it’s done smoking (More on that in a bit.)  Sprinkle generously with dry rub, ensuring all sides are coated. Pat down with your hands and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, calculate the hours needed for the smoke, including time needed for the stall, or plateau and a 45min-1 hour rest before slicing, using 1.5 hours per pound as a minimum for your guide. For example:  Shown below in the photos is a brisket flat that’s just under 3 pounds. Let’s do the math;  3 x 1.5 = 4.5 hours.  Add at least 1 hour for the stall (explainer below), and one hour for the rest before slicing. This particular cut took exactly 6.5 hours, from the time I put it in the preheated smoker, to the time I took it out of the cooler after resting. Now, with that said, you will never know exactly how long the stall is, as this time varies by the weight and structure of the meat — if it has a lot of fat and marbling, it will react differently than a more lean cut of meat. After time, you will know roughly what to expect when planning for the stall.

The Stall, or Plateau, Defined:
There is nothing more frustrating thinking you’re going to be serving your BBQ masterpiece at 6pm, only to find out it stalled for over two hours at a fixed temperature, throwing off your plans until well after 8pm. At roughly 160-degrees F., meat will hover at a constant temperature before rising again to the proper temperature needed to remove and then let rest. This is called “the stall” and it’s a phenomenon caused by the evaporation of moisture from the meat in the smoker box, effectively cooling the meat for a time, until the temperature-to-water ratio in the box corrects itself. At this point, the temperature will increase again, with the final hour or two increasing more rapidly due to the rendering process of the fat.

Remember, the brisket will be done when it’s done, and it may not be a time that you can control. You’ll need to plan ahead for this in your calculation, giving you enough time for the smoke and rest.

Next Steps:
An hour before you are ready to smoke, preheat your smoker to 225-degrees F. Ensure the ash is cleaned from the wood tray and that the wood tray is properly seated around the heating element.  Add about two cups of apple juice to the drip pan and close the smoker door. At this time, remove the brisket from the fridge. Remove the plastic wrap and allow to warm up on your counter.

Oil a grill grate with peanut oil on both sides. Place the brisket on the grate and carefully place in the smoker. Insert the digital probe into the thickest part of the meat. Close and lock the door, ensuring it’s tight. That door needs to stay closed and be treated like a Prohibition-era bank vault for the entire smoke!  No peeking!  Add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader and then start a digital timer.

After 45 minutes, reload the wood chips. Add wood again after another 45 minutes. You will not need to load more wood after 135 total minutes as the meat will not absorb more smoke. In case you’re wondering, the magic meat temperature for this cutoff is about 140-degrees F.

Your target temp for removing the meat from the smoker is 195-197-degrees F.  As discussed above, at about 160 the meat will hit the stall and hover there for at least 45 minutes to several hours. At about 170-degrees it will start climbing. Check the internal meat probe temperature often after this point as it will continue to rise more quickly.

Remove the brisket from the smoker when it hits your target internal temperature of 195-197. Working quickly, remove the probe and wrap tightly in heavy aluminum foil.
Place the meat in the bottom of an empty beer cooler. Layer towels over the top of the meat (this acts as an insulator) and seal covered for 45-minutes to 1 hour.

Remove and slice carefully, perpendicular to the grain* in 3/8″ planks. Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side, potatoes, beans, roast corn, or just about any other Southern dish you can think of. Brisket plays nice with everything. Enjoy!!

Jim Fanto's Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost RecipesSmoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Jim Fanto’s Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub


Jim Fanto's Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a recipe from Jim Fanto, by way of Masterbuilt’s Facebook Group (My Masterbuilt Electric Smoker.) Jim hails from Texas and is a retired Army Airborne Ranger. He was nice enough to share his secret BBQ brisket rub recipe with group members.  If you have a Masterbuilt smoker, join the group, try his recipe and give him a big shout-out.  And while you’re at it, join me in thanking America’s Armed Services Veterans for their bravery and dedication.

Click here for my BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.

 

Ingredients:

4 tbs. Kosher salt
4 tbs. coarse-ground black pepper
1 tbs. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder*
1 tsp. onion powder*
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne powder*

 

Directions:

Measure ingredients and add to an 8-oz. shaker jar. Mix well. Sprinkle liberally on all sides of the brisket. Pat down, wrap tightly in plastic and allow the brisket to set up overnight in your fridge before smoking.

The rub will keep for at least a year in a cool, dry storage cabinet.  *Adjust the garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne to your taste.

Makes about 5/8 cup.

Texas-Style BBQ Ham Sandwiches


Texas-Style Sliced BBQ Ham Sandwiches | Culinary Compost RecipesThis is a simple and economical way to use up leftover ham, whether it be a bone-in or boneless. Minimal fuss elevates this utilitarian sandwich into a very satisfying family favorite. For this recipe, be sure to sear the ham in a heavy pot over medium heat to bring out the flavor. Don’t worry — It will be super-moist and tender.  Serve on classic thick-cut white bread with cheese, red onion, slaw or sliced pickles.  It’s even great leftover and cold. Hot-damn, this is good eats!!

 

Ingredients:

1/4 lb. thinly-sliced leftover ham, per person
1 small white onion, sliced roughly, lengthwise
1 tbs. butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce
Thick-cut sandwich bread, buttered
Sliced white American or Colby cheese
Thinly sliced red onion
Coleslaw (optional)
sliced dill pickle chips

 

Directions:

Thinly slice the ham and set aside. Using a large, heavy cast-iron pot or chicken fryer, heat the butter over medium until melted. Working in batches if needed, add the ham and spread evenly over the bottom of the cooking surface. Increase heat slightly, and brown the ham slices on both sides until there is a nice sear. Reduce heat to low and add the sliced white onion. Stir with a wooden spatula to incorporate. Heat for five minutes, then add the BBQ sauce and mix. Cover with a heavy lid and gently heat for 15-30 minutes, stirring once.

Remove from heat and serve on buttered white bread with sliced cheese, red onion or slaw, and sliced dill pickle chips.

Texas-Style Sliced BBQ Ham Sandwiches | Culinary Compost Recipes

Jeff Phillips’ Smoked Meatloaf


Jeff Phillips' Smoked Meatloaf

The meatloaf was smoked on a silicone smoker mat purchased from QVC. It has really come in handy for a variety of recipes including fish and pork chops.

This is a recipe from smoked foodie author Jeff Phillips. Jeff really knows his way around BBQ – I followed the recipe exactly and it was an instant success.
I’ve included links for his book, as well as his rub and sauce recipes.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (80/20)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage, hot or regular
1/2 cup bell pepper (yellow, green, red mixed), diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 TBS olive oil
2 slices of loaf bread or a hamburger bun top and bottom
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe (purchase recipes here)
Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)

 

Preparation:
Step 1: Soak Bread

Take two slices of loaf bread or the top and bottom half of a bun and tear it into small pieces.
With the bread in a small bowl, pour ½ cup of buttermilk over the bread. The bread will soak up the buttermilk and this will be part of what makes the meatloaf so moist.
Once the milk is soaked in, crack a couple of large eggs onto the bread mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Set aside

Step 2: Saute Vegetables

Dice bell peppers, onion and celery so that you end up with about ½ cup of each.
If you have extra, place them in a zip top bag and place them in the freezer for later.
Put 2 TBS of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot enough, pour in the onions, peppers and celery and stir to mix with the oil.
Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly soft.
Once the veggies are finished cooking, remove them from the pan and into a plate or bowl to cool.
Add ½ cup of Jeff’s barbecue sauce and 3 TBS of Jeff’s rub to the sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Mix the Meatloaf

Place the 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground sausage into a large mixing bowl.
Add the bread, buttermilk and egg mixture to the top of the meat.
Add the vegetable, sauce and rub mixture to the top of the meat as well.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture and gently combine the ingredients together.
Do not overmix. Do just enough to combine and stop. Overworking the meatloaf mixture will make it tough.

Step 4: Form Into a Loaf

Pour or scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet, food grade butcher paper, etc. and form into a loaf with your hands.
You can also place the mixture into a loaf pan to form it and then dump it out onto the pan, rack or tray that you will use to cook it.
You will notice that this mixture may be a little wetter than what you are used to using but that’s ok. It will form and hold together just fine.
I recommend about 2 inches thick in the shape of a rectangle but you can get creative with this if you like.
If using a Bradley rack, I recommend placing a piece of wax paper under the meat so it will be easier to remove once done.

Step 5: Smoke the Meatloaf

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat with hickory smoke or whatever smoking wood you have available.
If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend that you use it.
Once your smoker is maintaining the proper temperature, the cooking can commence.
Place the meatloaf in the smoker.
Let the loaf cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches about 155°F.

Step 6: Top with Sauce

At about 155°F, brush the top and sides of the meatloaf with plenty of Jeff’s barbecue sauce. Give it about 25-30 minutes to caramelize then remove from the smoker.
Finish temperature for meatloaf is actually 160°F but knowing that it will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after being removed from the smoker, it is ok to remove it a few degrees early.

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Once the meat is brought into the house, tent some foil over the top and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period gives the juices in the meat time to redistribute throughout the meat.

 

Helpful Tips:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Smoker temperature: 240°F
Meat Finish temperature: 160°F
Recommended wood: Hickory or Apple

BBQ Pulled Pork – using an electric smoker


You’ll need a lot of patience when preparing this recipe – smoking a pork butt is an all-day event. Before I got a dedicated outdoor electric smoker, I thought my “BBQ” was fairly good, when made in the oven or slow-cooker. This takes it to an entirely new level. It’s how true BBQ should be and you’ll immediately be impressed by the difference.

I’m quite pleased with the reliability of my smoker. It’s a Masterbuilt 30″ Sportsman Elite, purchased at Cabelas. It has an electric temperature control and internal meat probe which can be measured by simply pushing a button on a control panel at the top of the unit. If purchasing an electric smoker, ensure that you cross-check both the internal temperature and the probe reading for accuracy. Use an accurate thermometer for each so you won’t have any surprises. Both the internal thermostat and probe are within one degree on my unit.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get down to preparing this amazing recipe. I’ll also provide a few valuable tips I’ve learned so you can achieve success, the very first time.


INGREDIENTS:

1 bone-in pork shoulder (butt); about 1/4 – 1/2 pound per person – with leftovers.
Your choice of BBQ rub (you can try my version by clicking here.)


PREPARATION:

Determine a target time for when you want the pork to be finished. The night before, generously apply your choice of BBQ rub over the butt, ensuring that all sides are well coated. It’s easiest to do this in a wide, shallow glass baking dish.  Some people coat the pork butt with a thin layer of plain yellow French’s mustard prior to applying the rub. The theory is that it helps the rub to adhere to the meat better. The meat I got from my butcher was plenty moist on the outside so I felt it wasn’t necessary.

Once the rub is applied, wrap the butt and the glass baking tray with plastic wrap and let chill in your fridge overnight. This step is CRITICAL as it allows the salt and some of the spice to penetrate the meat.

The next morning, depending on the size of the pork butt, set up your smoker and preheat it to 225-degrees F.  Place the drip pan on the rack without water. You can line it with foil for easy clean-up.

Pork Shoulder Cooking Time (estimated):
• 2 hours per pound @ 225-degrees F.
• 1 hour rest
• 1/2 hour, pulling and serving prep

Let’s use this demonstration as an example:
Photos shown indicate a 4.25 pound bone-in pork butt with very little fat.
Using the numbers indicated above, the smoked pork should be ready to pull out of the smoker in roughly 8 to 8.5 hours if cooked at 225-degrees F. My target time was 6pm – so I knew I had to get the pork in the smoker by 8am – allowing eight solid hours to smoke; and an hour’s rest – plus some wiggle room just to be safe.

Time by temperature, not by time. What? You say you need your meal ready by 6:30pm because you have six inlaws ready to sit down then?  Your hard-won creation may not be ready at that time.  BBQ is all about patience — and lots of cold beer as a backup to pacify hungry guests.

With the smoker preheated, and your target serving time established, pull the pork butt out of the fridge and let stand at room temperature for an hour.

Place the pork in the smoker on an oiled rack about 5 inches above the drip pan. Ensure the coal tray is empty and that the floor overflow pan is properly aligned with the spout at the back of the unit. Close the smoker door and lock it.

The Smoke:
Add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader every hour for the first 5 hours. After that, the pork will not take on any more smoke so it’s not necessary. I suggest Hickory or Apple, or a combination of the two.

Safety First:
Ensure you don’t get food poisoning by following these directions.
• Do not insert the temperature probe into raw meat until the exterior is partially cooked. Probe the meat AFTER hour 4. You risk pushing bacteria from the exterior to the inside of the meat where it will be undercooked for several hours – thereby spreading contamination.
• Remember the 40-140-degrees in 4 hours rule. Meat left to sit in the 40-140-degree F. danger zone for MORE than four hours risks bacterial poisoning.
• Wash your hands and utensils after handling raw meat.

The Probe:
After hour four, carefully insert the temperature probe into the thickest part of the meat, taking care to keep it at least 2 inches away from the blade bone. The bone generates a lot of reflective heat and will throw the probe reading off. Check the probe reading once every half-hour to ensure you’re on track.
At hour four, the probe shown in the photo below read 162-degrees F, well out of the danger zone.  Remove the meat from the smoker when the internal probe temperature reads 190-degrees F.

The Stall, or Plateau:
At around 160-170-degrees, pork, as it’s cooking, will stall in temperature. The temperature will hang in this zone for up to a few hours, depending on the size of the meat. The phenomenon is due in part to the meat breaking down as it cooks, and evaporation of moisture, creating a cooling effect in the smoker box.  This is why the time-per-pound indicated allows you some wiggle room to compensate for this lost time. In the example shown, the pork butt stalled at 164-degrees for about 50 minutes before rising again. At that point it rose one degree every ten minutes. During hour eight, the temperature increased faster as the meat cooked through.

Piggy in a Blanket:
At the last hour, watch the internal meat temperature VERY carefully as it can climb unexpectedly. As indicated, pull the meat out of the smoker when the internal temperature of the meat hits 190-degrees F. Then wrap the butt in two layers of aluminum foil and then a heavy clean towel or blanket. Place the bundle in a large empty beer cooler and let sit sealed for one hour.

Pull and Serve:
After the pork has rested one hour, remove and place in a serving pan and quickly shred with two forks – discarding the bone and fat. Keep covered and warm. You may choose to add back some of the pan juices that rendered out, but ensure the fat is skimmed off before adding it back.

Serve with buns, Mike’s Carolina Vinegar Sauce or BBQ sauce, coleslaw and thinly-sliced red onion.

Serves 6-10

 

Pork Butt with BBQ Rub

Applying the BBQ rub the night before.

The pork butt, shown in the smoker at hour 8. Look at that amazing crust, or bark!

The pork butt, shown in the smoker at hour 8. Look at that amazing crust, or bark!

Pulled BBQ Pork

Pulled pork kept warm in a cast-iron pan.

BBQ Pulled Pork served with Coleslaw and Carolina Sauce

BBQ pulled pork served with coleslaw and Carolina sauce.

Mike’s Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce


Here is my version of a tangy-zippy BBQ sauce based on recipes from North and South Carolina. It is amazing on BBQ pulled pork — a great alternative to a heavier BBQ sauce that lets the flavor of the smoked meat come through.


Ingredients:

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. ketchup
2 tbs. brown sugar, packed and leveled
1/2 tsp. red cayenne pepper flake
2 tsp. Tabasco hot sauce
1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper
1 tbs. honey

Directions:

Combine the ingredients in a non-reactive sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Simmer for three minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and when cool, store in your fridge for at least three hours, allowing the flavors to set.

Drizzle over pulled pork sandwiches.

Makes one cup. Will last for months in your fridge when sealed.