Those of you who know me, know I love to smoke large quantities of meat on my Big Green Egg whenever I can find the time. Ribs are my specialty (including my unique Chili Cheese Ribs), but I can also do a pretty mean pulled pork.
Recently an old friend asked for some advice, so I gave him a complete dump on everything I know related to pulled pork and ribs on the Egg. Here it is. Feel free to give it a try…and please tell me anything I should be doing differently or better…
First, I always make this BBQ sauce:
Makers Mark BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 4 Tbl Worcestershire
- 4 Tbl Soy Sauce
- 2 t dry mustard
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper
- 4 Tbl cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup bourbon
All in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 20-25 minutes
I also make this rub. I would double or triple the recipe as you can always save some for later days. Sometimes this gets too peppery, so add the pepper last, and add it in bits, and taste the rub as you go along. I tend to like it sweeter, so sometimes I add more brown sugar to taste at the end.
- 1/3 cup black pepper
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 Tbl sea salt
- 1 Tbl chili powder
- 1.5 t onion powder
- 1.5 t garlic powder
- 1/4 t cayenne (optional)
Cooking the meat
If possible, the night before, take your butt or shoulder and slather it with Grey Poupon. Before you do this you may want to trim excess fat rinse the meat, and dry it with paper towels. Then cover it with the rub pretty generously. Cover in a pan with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight.[For ribs, skip the mustard and just cover with the rub the morning of cooking. Try to remove the membrane from the bottom of the ribs (if the butcher has not done that) before putting the rub on.]
For a 7 pound butt, I plan to cook around 200 degrees for about 9-10 hours. You can go longer. If you do not have this much time, you can increase the heat to 250-275, but you don’t want to go higher than this for the entire time.[For ribs, I do 225-250 for about 4-5 hours.]
Preheat the Egg to 200. Sometimes you start it a little hotter and then get the vents really small to bring it down to desired temp. Be sure the Egg is about 2/3 full of natural wood charcoal. I do not use other wood chips, but clearly you can. Never use liquid charcoal starter. I always use these little cardboard fire starters. I use 2 and break them in half so I have four pieces. I light one piece at a time and then build a little pyramid of charcoal around each one. All vents should be wide open. I let this go for about 15-20 minutes. The temp of the egg will reach 400+. That is ok. Then a spread the charcoal around. This will evenly distribute the heat and bring the temp down. This is when you have to start managing the vents to get the right temp. But once you get it to where you need it, it should be pretty consistent.
I’m hoping you have a Platesetter. It is the best Egg accessory. If you do not, no worries. I went for years without one, but now I cannot imagine life without it. It just ensures indirect heat and no burning.
Get a big lasagna tin (foil). Grab a few apples and cut them sideways into 1-1.5″ think slices. Line the bottom of the tin with the apple slices. Put the butt, which you should have taken out of the fridge about 30-40 minutes prior, on the apple slices. Pour some apple cider (or apple juice) in the tin to just about cover the apples. Put it on the platesetter or the grill.[With ribs, I use a V-rack…the same I use to cook a chicken or turkey and put the ribs into each slot sideways. You do not have to do this, but it works well. Also, I cut each slab in half so they are easier to manage.]
Get a spritz bottle (usually found in the laundry section of a supermarket. Fill it half with bourbon and half with apple cider (or juice). I try to spritz the meat (butt or ribs] pretty generously every 30-45 minutes while cooking. Don’t stress about the timing of this…if you have to go do something else, and miss it for a bit, you will still be fine. But you want to keep it moist.
When the butt hits about 165 degrees in the center (hopefully you have an internal read meat thermometer…if you don’t you can pull out the one in the Egg), I like to cover the tin with foil and open the vents a bit to let the heat climb up to 300). It will be about 90-120 minutes from this point.[With ribs, it is all about the feel. If you pick the half-slab up with tongs gripping about 1/3 or 1/2 of the way across the ribs, they should sag nicely. If they are rigid, you need more time. If they fall apart, they are over-cooked. You will find with perfectly smoked ribs that they will not fall off the bone and they will be pink on the inside (not from under-cooking, but from the smoke ring that develops). If you want them to fall off the bone (which is sometimes a crowd pleaser, just overcook them…but I promise you they won’t be as good that way. As soon as they start to sag, I slather them on the Egg with the Makers Mark BBQ sauce for the last 30 minutes, turning them occasionally. Direct heat is ok here as it caramelizes the sauce a bit].
Bring the butt inside and let it sit for 30 minutes in the tin. Then put it on a cutting board. Drain the juice from the tin into a bowl and set it aside. Discard the apples. Use a fork to pull the pork. Or cut it into thick slices and use a chef’s knife to hack it into morsels. This is hard work so don’t get impatient. I then put the pulled or chopped pork back into the tin and add back some of the juice to taste. If it seems dry, you will use more juice..[Take the ribs off and slice them into individual ribs and put on a platter. There is no need to let them rest.]
Serve with the BBQ sauce and rub on the side so people can create their own taste. And serve with beer or bourbon. Get rid of anyone who asks for vodka or wine, although I could live with a great spicy red, like a Shiraz).