Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smoked Pulled Pork!

Pulled pork is a great place to start for anyone just getting introduced to smoking meats. Smoked pulled pork is usually made from the shoulder of the pork; a whole shoulder can weigh up to 25 pounds but is probably closer to about 20-22 pounds. Unless you know a butcher, you probably won’t find a whole shoulder anyway. The shoulder generally gets cut into 2 pieces most commonly known as the Boston Butt and the picnic. Both of these cuts are pretty good, and both of them have bones in them, I prefer the Boston Butt because there isn’t as much connective tissue that you need to worry about and the bone is much smaller. Something to consider though, the butt is generally smaller than the picnic so, if you are looking to feed more people, go with the picnic, it will still be a great meal.

Another little side note. Pork butt is very forgiving, that’s part of the reason it’s a great place to start your smoking career but, because it’s so forgiving, I’ve found that pork butt is great to experiment with. I’ve used a lot of different types of woods, rubs and injections I’ve also tried smoking my butt with apple juice simmering below the meat or just plain old dry smoke. All in all, the next few steps I’ll give you are MY way of making smoked pulled pork… mess around with it, find out what works for you, and let me know if you have any tips!

First step, rinse your butt (you can expect a lot of these types of jokes throughout this post so, be prepared). No one likes a dirty butt (see I told you), and it’s good to rinse off anything leftover from the butchers saw and/or bacteria on the surface. After, you rinse make sure to pat dry the butt, you can even let it air dry while you prep everything for the rub down. I also like to trim some fat off the fat cap, don’t trim all of it because it adds to the flavor and I believe as the fat renders down it keeps everything very moist.

I adapted my rub from a recipe I found on He calls it his “Memphis Meat Dust” so; I’ll call mine Jay Dust the recipe goes as follows:

Jay Dust
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika (use a good paprika, Hungarian or something like that, don’t go cheap here)
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

This recipe makes a lot of rub, I generally make it in a mason jar and it keeps for a few months that way, probably not any longer though. You can also poke holes in the top of a mason jar lid and use it as a shaker, then put another lid on it that doesn’t have holes for when you store it.

When you are ready to rub your butt J make sure to coat it in some vegetable oil first, a few tablespoons should do. A lot of people say that they will coat the butt in some mustard before the rub because it helps the rub stick, which is true. I use vegetable oil in place of mustard because it not only helps the rub stick but, it also helps the oil-soluble spices penetrate deeper into the meat making a great crust (or bark) after it’s cooked. Coat the butt with enough rub that there is no spot untouched, I usually eyeball it here, just make sure to cover everything.
After the oil and rub are applied, I usually wrap the butt in saran-wrap and let it sit in the fridge until its time to smoke. Ideally you will do this with at least 8 hours to spare; you want the spices to really stick to the meat to create a good bark. The saran-wrap also helps this process, you’ll notice after you pull the butt out of the fridge from sitting all the spices will really be stuck to the meat and moist, this is a good sign.

             Before we move on to the next step… let’s talk about different types of wood you can smoke with. There are A LOT, there’s cherry, mesquite, oak, hickory, apple, cherry, pecan to name a few. I’ve also heard of people smoking their meats with grape stems, corn cobs and some other interesting things. The key here is using a hard wood, don’t use something like pine or cedar, they don’t work. Also, different woods obviously produce different tasting smoke. A lot of people will jump right to mesquite because it seems like that is the most known flavor. I haven’t had a lot of good luck with mesquite though, it’s avery strong smoke and unless you use the perfect amount of wood, the smoke flavor starts to get a little bitter. Either way, pork is a light meat; it takes on smoke real easy so, you don’t need such a strong smoke as you would need for a brisket or something like that. I use apple wood almost exclusively with my pulled pork, it’s very flavorful, puts a great color on your meat, and most of all, I feel like it’s pretty forgiving, it’s hard to put in too much.

With that being said, it’s time to smoke your butt. Low and slow is the key here, there is a lot of meat and to be quite honest, it’s really not the best cut. There is a lot of connective tissue and fat that has to break down. The long period of time with low temperatures and that kiss of smoke will slowly break everything down and make that hunk of meat into a very tender, succulent meal you’ll never forget. I set my smoker at 225 degrees and use about 2 cups of apple chips through the first 5 or 6 hours. Sometimes I’ll put a pan of apple juice or something below, I feel like it adds a little flavor and keeps the meat moist, again, just my experience, not everyone does this.

Smoked pulled pork is not a quick meal, expect anywhere from 10 hours to 13 or 14 hours of smoke time. Make sure to have a way to take the temperature of the meat throughout the whole process. I have a smoker with a built in digital thermometer but, you can get thermometers that sit outside the smoker from amazon. Here’s the thing with pulled pork. You could technically cook this hunk of meat for 6 or 7 hours and have a perfectly safe (as far as temperature goes) piece of meat to eat. HOWEVER, this is not ideal, you are looking for a temperature of 190-200 degrees! (CDN Digital Programmable Probe Thermometer) I know, that sounds high but, trust me, you will be able to pull this pork so easily and I promise it will not be the slightest bit dry. When you are trying to get a piece of meat this big to that high of a temperature a strange phenomenon occurs at around 165-175. It’s called the “stall”. So, basically, the temperature will rise pretty consistently for the first 5 or 6 hours, then, the temperature will stall for a while. I’ve had it stall for anywhere from an hour to 3 or 4 hours. Now, it might not sound like a big deal but trust me, it’s infuriating, nerve-racking and if you can stand not to check the temperature every 5 minutes you’re a better person than me. Don’t try and raise the temperature, don’t try and adjust the thermometer DONT DO ANYTHING (trust me, I’ve tried it all). What you have to do though is just let the meat get past this stage(remember, it could take a few hours), once it does, it will start to consistently rise again to the 190’s where you want it.

When you are ready to pull out the pork from the smoker, be ready for a not so pretty looking piece of meat. It will almost look like a piece of space trash, very black, and charred, don’t worry though, it will taste amazing. The smoke turns your rub a pretty dark color so, everything is still edible. I usually let me butt sit (who doesn’t?) for about 15-20 minutes. This gives time for the meat to rest and the juices re-distribute themselves back throughout the meat. After that, it’s time to pull. If you did everything right and let you meat get to the right temperature, you should have no problems easily pulling the bone out with your hands. After that, I use my bear claws to do the shredding. The bear claws are a great tool, they make shredding the meat super quick and easy. They have a lot of cool uses so, definitely consider buying a pair. Bear Paw Meat Handler Forks

After the meat is shredded, serve away. It’s great just plain on a bun or add some good BBQ sauce if you desire. Hope you enjoy, let me know if you have any questions, comments or tips. I’ll have another post with my favorite recipe for leftover smoked pulled pork later.


All you need to know about barbecue


While I was doing some research for this blog post, my wife happened to notice that I was looking at sourdough starters. The culinary school which she attends has its own sourdough starter that they have been using and feeding for years and she said they are glad to give a small amount to students so that they can practice their bread-making skills. My dear wife was able to get her hands on this starter so I of course stole it from her and am now in possession of it.

I would like to hereby announce that over the next three weeks or so, I will be feeding my sourdough starter and will be glad to share it with anyone in the area. Please let me know by commenting below if you are interested and I will send you some in the most practical manner that I can think of. In the meantime, keep checking back for updates and start planning some recipies!

Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook
The Sourdough Cookbook

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Simple Dog Sauce

One of the best dog joints in town is called J Dawgs.  They serve the best polish hot dog you'll ever have in the state of Utah.  One thing that has made them famous is their "special sauce."  This is our rendition of the same sauce.  I have since tried to find the owner of this recipe but it seems to be common knowledge amongst Utah bloggers.  We made some of our own modifications that we think add the missing touch.  Here is what we did:
3/4 cup Ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. onion powder
We wanted a little more spice so we added some cayenne.  After some thought though you can add whatever you want.  A little smokey flavor with a touch of cumin might not be terrible with a stronger dog.  Play around with it.  This makes a great sticky base for a lot of different sauces.  Try things out, let us know what you've done to make it better!
First things first, the easiest thing about this sauce.... add everything and bring to a boil.
 Let boil for just a couple minutes.
Afterwards, let it cool and add it to your special squeeze bottle, heck... add it to a mason jar and save it for later.  Keeps for quite awhile in the fridge. (sorry the picture is blurry, i was just too excited to have at it.)
Check out our Banks' Brat post to see where we already enjoyed its goodness!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cheese and Friends

Another wonderful thing about cheese is the process can be enjoyed by all!  A quick and easy recipe shown to me by my good friend Johanna, passed down from generation to generation to generation until arriving with her.  The cheese... Queso Fresco.  A Mexican cheese meaning "fresh cheese" it is commonly eaten atop tacos, but as we like it atop crackers over sparkling conversation.  The recipe is simply this:
Cheese cloth
1 Gallon Whole milk
First steps are so easy I forgot to take a picture... sorry.
 Put 1 gallon milk into large non-reactive pot.  Put on medium-high heat.  Add rennet for the amount of the milk.  We used a ladle with a bit of milk and crushed the tablet inside, then added it to the milk. 
Temperature didn't seem to be too big a deal for this one, but after adding the rennet don't stop stirring! Stir for a little bit while the cheese warms up... you will notice little curds starting to form.  (Not like the mozzarella curd becaues we constantly stirred it.  It wont be a layer, but a ton of small curdlings)
After a couple minutes of stirring the curds, when all of them seem to have formed pour the curds out into the cheese cloth.
(see why it is good to have friends?)
Now you can all take turns squeezing out the rest of the whey!
 After you have squeezed most of the whey out, salt the curds.
The curd should be sticky enough to form into a cheese shape.
Queso Fresco!!! Crumbly enough to separate and put on your favorite Mexican dish, or firm enough to cut and eat on crackers!  Thanks for joining me in my cheese making friends!  (The book displayed to the right can be found here... Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses.  My next post will be out of this book.  I read all the reviews and it seems to be the best for the "beginning cheesemonger").
Friends and CHEESE!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Banks' Bratwurst

Bratwursts are an amazing thing.  So sweet, so flavorful and full of tradition.  These delicious things are said to date back all the way to Germany as early 1313.  We decided we would try our hand at them.  Growing up, these were always that last to be eaten.  Jay would be out on the grill making our meats.  Hot Dogs were always present but those were just to carry us over until the Italian Sausages were done.  After that came the Brats.  Our personal favorite!!
  This post will show you how to make them with the best recipe we have found.  For more specific grinding and stuffing methods please read our Italian Sausage post.  We have adapted the recipe from  The recipe is as follows:
4 pounds pork shoulder
1 pound Pork back fat
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger
We didn't have quite 4 lbs of meat.  This ended up being good because the flavors were just right (We were shy about half a pound).  Play around with the recipe... post any changes you've made or any suggestions!!
It says this on the Italian sausage post but it is worth mentioning again.  KEEP EVERYTHING COLD.
We will start with the casings.  Follow instructions on your casings for proper cleaning and re-hydration.
Then chop the meat.  If you can see we used a bone-in pork roast.  That was a little cheaper and the brats turned out great.  It just adds a little extra work trying to cut around the bone when the meat is almost frozen.  Good thing about this one too is it had enough fat on it that we did not have to buy it separate.
Add all the spices.  Once again you can leave some out for after the grinding to make it a little more rustic.  For this one we don't recommend it.  Brat in German means "finely chopped." We feel, the smoother the better!
Grind away!!!
(once again check out the Italian post on a the proper technique or our friend Hank Shaw)
It is winter so we keep everything cold outside... just make sure that the dogs are locked up! We are not the only ones that love a good Brat!!
Get the sausage stuffer ready, fill er' up and start cranking!
 No better family activity than some good ol' Brat making!

Make the ol' links (making sure to alternate directions).
We added sauerkraut and a special sauce inspired by a Dog joint in town.  See our post on it.  Sweet and Tangy!


Jay, P, Roos


All you need to know about barbecue

Monday, March 11, 2013

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

So I was talking with my sister-in-law this last week about some bread ideas and she asked me if I had ever heard of "Amish Friendship Bread." Apparently its a pretty big thing so I decided I would do a bit of research.

As you can imagine, the Amish Friendship Bread has its origins in the Pennsylvania area where a heavy Amish population resides. The bread itself is said to be similar to a sourdough starter. The main idea behind this friendship bread is that it is to be shared like a "pass-it-on" sort of email. One receives the starter, feeds it, creates enough for him or herself, then passes what is left over to friends and family for them to do the same. Its really a great idea and one that I would like to start.
After doing a bit of research I found this little gem of a website: , where you can actually buy your own Amish Bread starter. Keep in mind this is not exactly the same starter as the original Amish starter, but it is said to be very close.

(Photo from
This photo is one of the more popular recipes using the Amish Starter. Its a cinnamon apple bread that is, from what I hear, second to NONE! Below are some links to some great recipes you can purchase for VERY cheap! Go ahead and take a look at these great Amish Bread ideas.

[Solved] Amish Recipes Books: All In One Cakes, Bread, Muffin, Corn Fritter Recipes [2013 Revision]
51 Delicious Amish Recipes: 51 Tasty Amish Cooking Recipes Including The Famous Recipe For Amish Friendship Bread, Amish Starter Bread, And Many Other Delicious Homemade Recipes!
Special Bread Recipes

How to Tie a Bow Tie

Step by Step Instructions on How to Tie a Bow Tie

I figured that few enough people know how to tie a bow so I am providing a video and a nifty little graphic ( to help anyone who wants to learn. The videos that I have seen so far are really confusing and it really isn't so hard. You cant also do this with a long piece of fabric or even a long thin sock? I will post a video this afternoon of me tying one because it for sure helps to see it done.

Anyway here it is... Let me know what you think.

How to tie a bow tie
If anyone is interested in where to get these bowties... I usually just go to Amazon, Ross or Khols. They are very cheap (usually under $10 or $20) and are great for special events.

If you are interested you can find these ties online here:




Saturday, March 9, 2013

First Duck Hunt

This past winter Rooster and I ventured out in the marshes to try our hand at some duck hunting. We went to an area up Provo Canyon just west of Deer Creek Reservoir. The area isn't super popular among duck hunters because we weren't necessarily in the "marshes". We walked up the Provo River, which feeds into the reservoir, and flushed ducks up off the river. While this isn't traditional duck, it sure was a heck of a lot of fun and it definitely got me hooked on this type of hunting. Anyway, the result from our two hunts was 3 ducks and it was a rush to see those birds fall from the sky! The picture on the left were two ducks shot by one of my good friends and the picture on the right was my first duck!

When we got home from the hunt, Rooster helped me pluck the ducks. Hank Shaw, from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook, teaches how much better it is to pluck your ducks rather than "breasting out" the ducks as is so popular among a lot of duck hunters. It was somewhat intimidating to pluck a duck but, Rooster and I got to plucking using Hank Shaw's wax method... "Wet-plucking".

The first step in this method is to make sure you examine the bird to see if there are any areas that are really badly shot up. I chopped off the tips of the wings as well. Continue to "rough pluck" the bird which means taking off the tail feather, the large wing feathers and some of the bigger feathers on the body, make sure to anchor the skin while doing this, you do not want bare skin here.

After the bird is rough plucked and inspected it's time to dunk the ducks in a pot of steaming water that you've melted canning wax in (this is something you should probably prepare before because it does take a while for the wax to melt this way). This is really cool because after the wax melts it floats to the top so, when you dunk your duck in the pot, you are coating the feather with liquid wax. After you dunk the birds, move them into a bucket of ice cold water and let them sit for a bit. After the wax had cooled, it will be hard and brittle. You should be able to start breaking the wax around the neck and peeling it away. You will be amazed how easy the feather come off as you peel away the wax.

Be careful around the bullet entries, you do not want to tear the skin more. Slow and steady wins the race. When your done, you'll be amazed, your duck will look like a professionally processed bird!


We won't show you the pictures of the next steps but, basically it's time to take out all the guts. Remember that there are some things that are edible inside the bird like the heart and liver.

The finished product looked great and definitely got me interested in trying different recipes with duck, it was tasty. I followed Hank Shaw's roasted duck recipe found here and served it with some of my home made Chimi-Churri (mom's recipe that I will post later).

Thanks for reading! It was a great hunt and obviously a lot of fun after. Thanks for helping Rooster!