Twice Smoked Ham

 

Twiced smoked ham with a homemade glaze will make you a hit at parties (if you aren’t already)!

 

In this post, we are all about ham! Even though most of us serve up ham during the holidays or Easter, it’s a friggin’ shame we don’t cook ’em up more often. If you do it right and add your own personal flare to it, then you’ll want to cook these up more often!

Isn’t the ham already smoked?

Ham straight outta Compton…or the package. Whatevs.

When you buy a ham at the store, they usually come cured and smoked. If you wanted to, you could unwrap the thing and eat it as is. But you didn’t come here to do that, did you?

Why smoke it again?

Step one: getting that smoke flavor.

When you buy one of these precooked hams, they are already smoked. They usually come smoked with hickory flavor. Smoking it again allows you to add your own unique touch with such woods as apple, peach, or pecan. You may even want to smoke it with hickory wood to enhance that existing flavor. Besides, it sounds more flattering to your guests when you tell them you’re serving up “twice smoked ham”.

For starters…

Get your grill heated to 225F. As you’re waiting for it to get up to temp, take the ham out of the packaging and toss some of your favorite rub on it. You know that little glaze packet that comes in the package? Throw it out and make the one I have in this recipe! I’ll get to that later. Anyway, put the ham on the grill at 225F for two hours and then add some flavor to it!

Adding some flavor

The ingredients for that extra flavoring.

Truth is, you can smoke the ham on the grill as-is, but why not make it different than everyone else’s and add some flavor to it? After the ham has smoked for a couple of hours at 225F, put the ham in a foil pan (if you haven’t already) and then add a half cup of teriyaki sauce, a cup of orange juice, and half a can of Dr Pepper, pouring each over the ham as the liquids trickle down into a pool in the foil pan.

Adding some of that OJ flavor to cook into this ham.

Wrap foil over the ham and the pan, crank up the heat to 275F for another couple of hours or until internal meat temps reach about 140F.

After a couple of hours of smoke and pouring the liquids on, make sure to wrap in foil, turn up heat to 275F and cook longer.

Gettin’ glazed

As your twice smoked ham is approaching the 140F mark, start working on the glaze! At first, I was intimidated to make a glaze because it sounds like something creative culinary minds do. Then I decided to do that whole self-confidence thing and give it a try. I gotta admit this was fun to make! For this one, I decided to mix brown sugar, orange juice, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, chili powder, spicy brown mustard, ground cloves, and cinnamon together in a sauce pan. Apply medium heat, take off once it starts boiling, and let it sit a few minutes to thicken.

Mixing the glaze ingredients together to make…well, glaze.

If you read that whole sentence of ingredients and felt a little overwhelmed, I don’t blame you. When I see a lot of ingredients, I usually pass on the recipe and move on. A lot of this stuff you may already have in your kitchen, so you’re mostly there!

Back to the ham

Now that your glaze is ready, go back to the twice smoked ham and carefully pour the juices in the foil pan into another container for basting purposes later. Now that the ham sits all alone in the pan, make it rain glaze all over it until the sauce pan is empty. You’re gonna want that glaze to cook onto the ham, so I recommend putting it in the broiler for a few minutes to get that caramelized effect.

NOTE: if you happen to have a grill torch then you can do that instead. It’s more fun to do.

“What ham? Not the ham I just bought.”

The twice smoked ham glazed and begging to be eaten.

Let the twice smoked ham sit for a few minutes and then start slicing! Most hams are already spiral cut, but you can be a rule breaker and slice from the top-down.

NOTE: If you know this movie quote I used for the title of this section, then we can be friends.

The recipe!

Yield: 1 awesome ham

Twice Smoked Ham

Twice Smoked Ham

Take that store-bought ham and smoke it again with wood flavor of your choice! Also, make a glaze that will taste much better than that packet you got in the package.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-cooked, spiral-cooked ham (about 10 lbs)
  • 1 Cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 Cup Dr Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons rub
  • FOR GLAZE
  • 1 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup orange juice
  • 3/4 Cup honey
  • 1/4 Cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Dr Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 225F. Remove pre-cooked ham from packaging and apply rub. Put ham in foil pan and on smoker for two hours.
  2. While on the grill/smoker, pour teriyaki sauce, orange juice, and Dr Pepper on ham, allowing juices to sit in pan. Wrap ham and pan in foil, turn up heat to 275F for at least two more hours or until internal meat temp reaches 140F. Drain juices from pan into separate container for optional basting.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine ingredients for glaze and put on stove at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until boiling. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes to thicken.
  4. Pour glaze over ham, covering completely. Broil in oven for at least three minutes to caramelize glaze.
  5. Rest, slice, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

Varies

Serving Size:

1 Cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 95mg Sodium: 1400mg Carbohydrates: 1.4g

Reverse Searing 101

Reverse searing steak on a cast iron grill grate.

What is a reverse sear?

In case you need a refresher, a traditional sear is when you start out cooking food at a high heat, which usually begins around at 500F. Once the meat has been seared on both sides, then it is cooked in the oven until it reaches the desired internal temp. A reverse sear is a method of cooking meat at a low temperature first, usually by smoking or sous vide, then finishing off on a high heat surface.

Crust and juices equal a dynamite steak (or tri-tip roast in this instance).

How do you do that voodoo you do?

With smoking, I like to get my grill/smoker to 225-250F using indirect heat and leave the beef or pork chops/steaks in until it reaches an internal temp of 125F (length of time to get there depends on thickness of meat), then move to either a grill above 500F or cast iron pan on the stove (or grill) at high heat. I do about two minutes on one side and then flip the meat over for another two. Doing this creates a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat due to something called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. I like my beef medium-medium rare, so I wait to reach an internal temp of 130F (around 137F for pork) before removing.

This tomahawk ribeye got the reverse sear treatment. Crust=Flavor!

If starting your cook with the sous vide method, you’ll want to seal the meat and seasonings in an airtight bag (usually done with a vacuum seal) and then place in a warm pot of water that is around 125F. Once again, thickness of the cut of meat matters. For a rule of thumb on how much time to spend cooking it, check out this excellent post from Serious Eats.

Searing in a cast iron skillet is another way to finish off a steak.

Why should I reverse sear?

Quality. Flavor. Tender. Juiciness. Crust. Go with the reverse sear and you’ll find your steaks suddenly rival those at your favorite steakhouse. It is more cost effective than going out for steak, nor do you have to put on pants and go out in public. I’m just sayin’.

Smoked BBQ Pork Tenderloin

If you haven’t noticed from most of the recipes on my website, I like simple. That means I try to maximize flavor with the fewest ingredients possible (mostly. Every once in a while I like to expand my horizons). Lucky for you, this is another one of those recipes. Pork tenderloin may sound fancy and expensive, but its quite affordable. And this smoked BBQ pork tenderloin will provide you quite the bang for your buck!

Where does the tenderloin come from?

Graphic courtesy of smithfield.com

The pork tenderloin is a cut of meat that comes from close by the mid-to-lower spinal area of the animal. While most muscles are used for movement, the tenderloin is used for posture. The tenderloin is considered the most tender part of the pig because this muscle isn’t used as much as the others.

Tupac? No, I said “two-pack”!

When at the meat department of your local grocery store, don’t be surprised to see pork tenderloins come in a two-pack. It’s quite common. These cuts of pork typically weigh between 3/4 lb. to 1 1/2 lb. each and are relatively cheap, so they put two in the package to make it worth selling.

Removing the silver skin

When taking the tenderloins out of the package, you’ll notice a thin, shiny layer on some areas of the meat. This is what is known as silver skin, which was meant to hold the muscle together while in the pig. Since the pig doesn’t need it anymore, feel free to peel it off. You’ll want to because leaving it on can affect the bite of the tenderloin and the meat’s ability to absorb the seasoning you put on it.

Trimming off the silver skin.

To remove the silver skin, it would be best to use a boning knife. This blade has a little curve to it near the tip as it thins out, making it easier to poke just under the layer of silver skin and push through until it comes out the opposite side of the shiny, filmy stuff. Then you start pushing the sharp side of the blade forward in a gentle, back-and-forth sawing motion until the silver skin is removed. Repeat this with other sections of silver skin until removed. This should only take a few minutes.

Need a visual? Here’s a video of me trimming a pork tenderloin!

The easy part

Now that you have made it past that part, it’s all downhill from here (not the “downhill” as in, it’s gonna suck. But the “downhill” as in, it gets easier. Maybe I should’ve just said “it gets easier” instead of typing all of this in parentheses. Oh well.)!

Next step is to season the tenderloin with your favorite blend of spices. I don’t like to coat it to heavily, but put on an adequate amount until you get the flavor you want out of the seasoning/rub. That’s it for this step!

Trimmed, seasoned, and ready for the smoke!

Take the tenderloin out to your grill/smoker that you have already got up to the 240-250F temperature on indirect heat and place it on there. As far as smoking wood goes, I like apple wood for this one.

With the pork tenderloin being relatively small, it cooks pretty quick. Usually about 45 minutes is all it takes. After 30 minutes of being on the grill, lift the lid and apply some of your favorite BBQ sauce and honey on the tenderloin with a basting brush.

Brushing up these tenderloins with BBQ sauce and honey.

Close the lid and come back in about 15 minutes.

When is it done?

Using a digital meat thermometer, such as the Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks, insert the probe in the middle of the thickest portion of the tenderloin to gauge when it’s done. The reason for this is to make sure it doesn’t undercook and you don’t get yourself sick. Look for a finishing temp of 145F.

It’s done!

Why 145F? Isn’t that undercooked? Have you been taught that 165F is when pork is done? If you’re like me, then you’ve been taught this same thing for most of your life. This rings true for ground pork, but for most other cuts, such as pork steaks, chops, roasts, and even tenderloins, the USDA recommends a minimum of 145F, which is good for a medium finish. This keeps the meat juicy and from drying out at the 165F temps. Since the meat has a little carry over temp, feel free to pull off a couple of degrees lower if you wish.

Rest, slice, and serve

Now that the meat is off the grill and on a cutting board, let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing. Doing so allows it to relax and let the juices start to build inside. After this short wait, start slicing into 1/2″ to 1″ slices. You’ll notice how tender and juicy it is, as well as the sign of a nice smoke ring inside. These are signs that you have done this thing right. Sample one or two (or five) to ensure they are good enough for your family or guests before sharing with them.

The recipe!

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Leaner. Cheaper. And when cooked to the right temps, it makes for a tender, tasty meat you can feel less guilty about devouring!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp rub/seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 250F over indirect heat with apple wood
  2. Trim pork tenderloin by removing silver skin. Apply rub.
  3. Put meat on smoker and cook at 250F for 30-35 minutes. Apply honey and BBQ sauce with basting brush. Close lid and let cook another 15 minutes or until internal meat temp reaches 145F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Notes

When brushing honey and BBQ sauce on pork tenderloin, it isn't necessary to lift the meat off the grill to get the bottom.

Use a digital meat thermometer for a fast, accurate reading.

When checking temps, put probe of thermometer into the center of the thickest portion of the meat to ensure the whole thing will cook through properly.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

4 oz.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167 Total Fat: 40g Saturated Fat: 1.6g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 82.7mg Sodium: 64mg Carbohydrates: 0g Protein: 29g

Bacon-weaved Breakfast Fatty

This breakfast fatty loaded with all of the good stuff!

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? If you’re cooking up breakfast at home and want some sort of pork product to go with your pancakes and eggs, most folks make a choice between sausage or bacon. But why not both? You can have a complete breakfast all-in-one with this epic breakfast fatty! If this concept is new to you, just know I’m not the first to make these. In fact, they seem to be a common staple amongst avid barbecuers. Put a slice of this breakfast log in between a biscuit and you’ve got an even more epic breakfast!

The breakdown

The ingredients used for this breakfast fatty are as follows (in no particular order):

  • bacon
  • ground sausage (or chorizo if you want to spice it up)
  • hash browns (cooked)
  • scrambled eggs
  • chopped onion
  • diced green bell pepper
  • cheddar cheese
  • rub/seasoning
  • BBQ sauce (for the last 20 minutes of the cook)

The bacon weave

Behold, the bacon weave!

The outermost layer of the breakfast fatty is a bacon weave. It’s like a tasty safety net for the rest of the ingredients to stay in. Granted, the ground sausage should keep it all in, but is having all that bacon as part of the meat cocoon such a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Anyway, some of you may wonder how to make a bacon weave. To lay it out in a simple way, I’ll do numeric bulletpoints:

  1. Put down a strip of parchment paper or clear plastic wrap
  2. Lay five or six strips of bacon vertically, each strip close to the other
  3. Take the even numbered strips and pull back part way
  4. Lay a new strip of bacon horizontally, across the odd numbered strips of bacon (the ones that aren’t folded back)
  5. Flip the folded over strips back (look! You’ve made the beginnings of the weave!)
  6. Now take the odd numbered vertical strips and lay and pull up to fold over, up by the horizontal strip already weaved in
  7. Lay another horizontal strip down next to the other horizontal one
  8. Pull the flipped over bacon strips back down
  9. Now that you’ve come this far, just alternate between flipping over the even and odd vertical strips to lay down the horizontal ones until the weave is complete!

The next layer: ground sausage

Flatten the ground sausage on the bacon weave.

Now that you have woven a blanket o’ bacon (good job, by the way!) take a 16 oz. package of ground sausage and flatten it out in a square-like shape over the bacon weave. If it doesn’t reach the edges of your weave, it’s okay. Just make sure you have flattened it out enough to put your other ingredients in and roll it up. Speaking of…

The rest of the ingredients

Put the other ingredients (sans sauce) in like this.

For those of you keeping score at home, we have scrambled eggs, hash browns (cooked), cheddar cheese, diced onion, diced green bell pepper, and rub remaining to put in this thing. Lay out these ingredients in a straight line, layering on top of each other. When doing the cheese, you can use either shredded or long, skinny rectangular cubes. The advantage of the long cubes in the log is that the cheese is centered in one spot and has that cheesy, gooey look when it’s sliced and served. And as far as the rub is concerned, you can either apply it on the ground sausage or on the bacon part. I usually apply it on the bacon (because I forget to put it on the sausage).

Rollin’ up a fatty

Rollin’ up the breakfast fatty.

Remember how I mentioned to lay down a sheet of parchment paper or clear plastic wrap? I hope you did because rolling up this meat cocoon is a lot easier this way. As you have laid the inside ingredients on top of each other in one direction, take the parallel end and start rolling. The goal is to roll as if you want to make one end of the ground sausage touch the other end. No tight rolling, just roll to where when you eventually slice it the meat will have enclosed the inside ingredients.

Finishing up rolling the opposite side. Getting one side to kinda overlap the other.

Pull back the parchment paper or plastic wrap and put toothpicks into the loose bacon tips at the ends of the rolled up fatty to help keep its form rounded on the ends…and to keep stuff from oozing out.

 Put it on the grill

Placed on the grill with indirect heat.

When cooking this thing, I put the breakfast fatty in at 275F and leave it in for about 90 minutes. I like to use my digital thermometer to check the temps inside. When it is around 150F, I apply the BBQ sauce on the bacon. Close the lid and then remove the log when the internal temp hits 165F. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Checking temps with my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks.

The recipe!

Bacon-weaved Breakfast Fatty

Good for breakfast or tailgating, this BBQ staple is great any time of day!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Active Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10-12 strips of bacon
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 2 Tbsp rub
  • 3/4 C hash browns, cooked
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 C diced onion
  • 1/8 C diced green bell pepper
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 275F on indirect heat
  2. Lay down sheet of parchment paper and create the bacon weave.
  3. Apply ground sausage on top of bacon weave and spread into a square-like shape. Apply rub onto ground sausage.
  4. Spread cooked hash browns in a horizontal line down the center of the ground sausage. Place scrambled eggs, cheese, onion, and green bell pepper on top in similar fashion.
  5. Take one end of the parchment paper (parallel to the line of hash browns and other ingredients) and loosely roll the fatty. Remove parchment paper and secure ends with toothpicks.
  6. Place on grill (275F at indirect heat) and cook for 70 minutes.
  7. Brush BBQ sauce on the bacon, close lid and cook for another 20 minutes.
  8. Remove, rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notes

For crispier bacon, turn grill up to 325F during last 20-30 minutes.

If you want to make this spicy, substitute jalapeños for green bell peppers, pepper jack cheese for cheddar cheese, and even add some chorizo.

Cook until the ground sausage has hit a temp of 165F.

Place slice of breakfast fatty in a biscuit or English muffin to make an ultimate breakfast sandwich!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

6 oz.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325

Easy Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe is quite the crowd pleaser…and simple to make!

If you’re new to learning how to barbecue (that rhymed), I highly recommend smoking a pork shoulder. Also known as a pork butt or Boston butt, this cut of meat comes from the shoulder of the pig. Hence, I like to call it the pork shoulder. While it is a popular meat at barbecue joints, don’t be intimidated. Pork shoulder is a very forgiving meat in that you can make some mistakes and it will still turn out pretty darn good. I have a simple recipe I use often and it yields incredible results.

The ingredients

Pork shoulder, rub, and mustard. That’s it for the prep!

One aspect that makes this recipe so easy is the number of ingredients: four. All you need is a pork shoulder, spicy brown mustard (or regular mustard), your favorite bottle of rub, and a can of Dr Pepper for spritzing during the cook.

Is there trimming involved?

Start by taking your pork shoulder out of the packaging. I like to give it a gentle rinse and patting dry with a paper towel before using the other ingredients. Once that’s done, put it on your cutting board or whatever sanitary surface you plan on using. As far as trimming goes, pork shoulders usually come trimmed up pretty well out of the package with no other work to do. There may be a random flap of fat hanging off somewhere and you are free to trim that off and go on your way. Now, you’ll notice a layer of fat on the top part. Every barbecuer I know leaves it on. Some like to score the fat side with cuts about a 1/2 inch deep and do so in a crosshatch pattern (cuts about 1 inch apart) because they feel the fat (and other seasonings on top) will render into the meat better. I am going simple here and leave the fat side alone.

Applying mustard and rub

Next, get your bottle of mustard and start squirting over the meat. Make sure to smooth it over all sides of the shoulder, not just front and back. After you’ve finished rubbing that mustard on, grab your bottle of rub and start shaking, covering all sides of the pork. I like to be a little generous with the rub here as the pork can be bland without it.

The smoking process

On the grill getting that smoke sauna!

Hopefully you’ve had your smoker outside getting up to smoking temps. I like to go 275F, which is on the edge of going from smoking to baking. When smoking pork, I like to use either a fruit wood (such as apple, cherry, or peach) or go with my favorite: pecan. Once I am near temps, I put the pork shoulder on the grill and let the smoke do the rest…and the spritz. Which reminds me…

How often do I spritz?

This is a question that is bound to get a different response from pretty much every barbecuer out there. Some say spritz every hour. Others may say once every two hours. There are folks who don’t spritz at all. Not only that, but you will get feedback of blends to make for your spritzing, usually with the main ingredient of apple juice or apple cider vinegar (I’ve mixed both). Since I’m keeping it simple here, I use a can of Dr Pepper. Not only does it provide a little bit of a sweeter flavor that pork mixes well with, it also gives a richer, darker color to the outside of the meat. I like to spritz about two or three times during the smoke session. TIP: open the can of Dr Pepper a few hours beforehand and let it sit out and get flat. It will spritz better that way.

To wrap or not to wrap?

Wrap or no wrap, the end result is tasty!

Some like to wrap their meat in foil when the meat hits around 150-165F range because its usually at that spot that the meat stops progressing in temperature because it starts to sweat to cool down. This phase is commonly known as the stall or Texas crutch. Wrapping helps trap the heat to help the meat cook hotter and faster. I haven’t been wrapping during cooking lately because I am giving myself plenty of time to finish. But do what you want in this regard.

When is it done?

Why do I keep using my headlines as questions? Yep, I asked another question. *insert facepalm here* A lot of recipes give you a set number of hours to tell you the meat is officially done. I don’t buy into that. I’ve had similar sized pork shoulders cooking side by side in the same grill at the same temps and have had one finish before the other. This experience happens to me often. The reason for being is that, as BBQ pro Chad Ward told me once, “every animal has lived a different life.” Meaning that some animals have used their muscles more than others, making their meat tougher. Some may have been fed differently than others, eaten more than others, etc.

One way to tell if the pork shoulder is done is by using a digital meat thermometer, like this Thermapen Mk4 by Thermoworks, and seeing temps in the 195-205F range.

There are two ideal ways I can tell when the pork shoulder is done: by internal meat temp, which shredding temp is between 195-205F, or by using the meat thermometer to simply probe the meat. If the probe goes in and out smooth like butter, then it is done.

Rest and serve

After cooking, I like to let it sit out for 30 minutes and then wrap and rest.

When the pork shoulder is done cooking, you will want to let it rest. This helps the juices build up and the meat cool down. Let it rest at least 30 minutes before tearing into it. I like to let it rest and then wrap if I plan on serving it later. I then put it in a well-insulated cooler and remove when I’m ready to eat.

Shredding the pork only takes a matter of seconds!

Some folks like to shred the meat with some sort of bear claw-type meat shredding tools. I like to put on two layers of gloves and shred with my hands. The underlying layer is a pair of cheap worker gloves you can get at a gas station or hardware store. The outer layer is a pair of nitrile gloves (I like to use Gloveworks HD). That pair of worker gloves underneath helps acts as a bit of insulation to protect from the heat of the meat. If the meat is done at the ideal temps, then shredding only takes about 30 seconds. Shredding the pork this way is seriously one of my favorite things to do in barbecue! There’s something gratifying about making quick work of something that took hours to finish. Serving soon after shredding is prime time for texture and taste so you and your friends/family/strangers should eat up quick!

The video!

If you don’t eat it all, no worries. Another great thing about pulled pork is that it reheats very well, even after freezing. It is the only meat I freeze leftovers of and eat at a later time because it is still quite tasty.

The recipe!

Easy Pulled Pork

Easy Pulled Pork

Smoked pulled pork is a favorite in the barbecue world and is surprisingly easy to make. Using only three ingredients (four if you count the Dr Pepper for the spritz), this recipe is super easy and yields tasty results!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder (aka- Boston butt), 6-8 lbs.
  • 1/4 C spicy brown mustard
  • 4 Tbsp rub
  • OPTIONAL: Dr Pepper for spritzing

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 275F with indirect heat, using smoking wood of your choice
  2. Place pork shoulder on cutting board and apply spicy brown mustard, then the rub
  3. Move pork shoulder to grill/smoker and cook for about 10 hours, spritzing on occasion with Dr Pepper
  4. Remove when pork hits between 195-203F internal temp
  5. Rest for 20-30 minutes before shredding

Notes

  • For the spritzing, its best to open the can/bottle of Dr Pepper hours beforehand and let it get flat. The soda will spray better this way.
  • Finishing times for meat can vary. Keep track of temps throughout to make sure it finishes at the temp you want.
  • While pork is technically edible at 142F, pulled pork needs to be finished cooking around 195-203F to make it more shreddable and still juicy
  • Regarding smoking wood, I prefer to use pecan or a fruit wood such as apple, peach, or cherry. Pork does well with these flavors.


Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

6 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 496

Product Review: Joetisserie

The Joetisserie fits the Kamado Joe Classic 18” grill (and other similar sized grills) as seen here. Also seen here, meat not included.

I’ve been cooking in a ceramic grill religiously for the past 18 months, mostly going low and slow for barbecue. I’ve been using the Kamado Joe Classic, Classic II, and Joe Jr. I love how these things hold the heat for hours and hours (especially in the wintertime) and how they capture the moisture in at the same time. I’ve used the regular grill grates, cast iron grates, and the half moon griddle. While I recommend using all of these, my favorite accessory to use is the Joetisserie.

What’s in the box?

What comes in the box.

The Joetisserie works like a regular rotisserie and is fitted for the 18” Classic. The packaging includes a steel spit rod (or skewer), two adjustable forks (or claws) to keep the food firmly in place for spinning, a large, wedge-shaped ring to keep the skewer in place, and the motor for spinning the steel spit rod. The motor comes with a plug because it requires electricity, so you’ll want to make sure your grill is close to a power source. Also worth noting is that the motor is strong enough to spin up to 40 lbs. of food.

Assembly

To help attach the food to the skewer, one side has a dull point on the end to help move the food down the stick (but not too sharp as to impale…unless you are running full force with it at someone/something). Make sure to first put one claw on the skewer facing the food, then the food itself, and finally the other claw to keep things in place whilst spinning.

Here’s a video of the unboxing (a re-enactment if you will) and assembly of the Joetisserie:

Using the Joetisserie

You can cook a variety of meats, veggies, and fruits rotisserie style. Two of my personal favorites are chicken and pineapple. I’ve also attempted al pastor and have had some success with it. The advantage to cooking food this way is that as it’s internal temp starts to rise, the juices don’t usually drip off. They keep rolling around as the food spins, meaning the food is basting in its own juices. In fact, the best, most juiciest whole chickens I’ve made have been rotisserie style using my Joetisserie.

Chicken spinning on the rotisserie…or should I say, Joetisserie.

One tip I’ve learned after charring the skin on a few of my birds is when lighting the coals, try to keep your hottest ones to the outer portions as opposed to directly under the meat. That way, you can get a more even cook for both the outside and inside of your food. Another option for those with more patience is to let the coals burn past their peak and then use those cooler coals to cook with.

Some al pastor being sliced to put into tacos!

While the Joetisserie is great to use, one super minor issue of how to store it comes after you are finished using it. You could always try to put it back in the original box it came in, but the custom cut styrofoam will eventually come apart. No custom bags or storage bins are available, so you’ll either have to find the right size of box to put it in or be like me and put some parts one place and the rest on top of your fridge in the garage.

With that said, here’s my pros and cons:

Pros

* Simple to assemble
* Food becomes self-basting
* Fits most round, 18” ceramic grills (including large Big Green Egg)
* Easy to use

Cons

* Limited availability to purchase
* No storage kit available

Conclusion

I could watch the rotisserie spin around all day. It’s a bit hypnotic in a way. If you check my social media posts, you will occasionally see me sharing videos of spinning chickens and other foods. I can’t help it. I could watch those videos on repeat! Even though there are no storage bags available (at the moment), I highly recommend the Joetisserie to add yet another style of cooking to your kamado!

 

Easy St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs

    A rack o’ St. Louis style ribs.

Being a native St. Louisan, it’s a given that I love St. Louis style ribs. I like the length of the ribs and how meaty they are. I’ve made baby backs before but they just weren’t the same. There’s nothing wrong with baby backs, it’s just my biased preference to go for St. Louis style.

What’s the difference?

Baby back rib courtesy of amazingribs.com

Baby back ribs come from the part of the rib cage closest to the spine and have more curve to the bones while shorter in size (hence the “baby” in their name). The meat also tends to be leaner and a little better for you.

Layout of the St. Louis style ribs.

St. Louis style ribs are longer and go around more of the belly of the pig. The bones are longer, flatter, and have more fat and meat. They come from spareribs which have some cartilage and breast bone, but cutting that section off and squaring or, in this case, rectangularing (?), takes those portions away and makes it St. Louis style. NOTE: these ribs are also referred to as St. Louis style spareribs.

Now that I’ve dropped some knowledge on you (which some of you probably knew the difference anyway, but still) about St. Louis style ribs, there are various methods on how to cook them. I’ll just give you one simple, easy, delicious recipe and call it good. Cool? Cool.


Simple St. Louis Style Ribs

Ingredients

  • rack of St. Louis style ribs
  • 4 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 8 Tablespoons rub (your choice because they’re your taste buds)
  • a fruit wood for smoke flavor

Directions

  1. Get smoker to 250F with pecan wood (or whichever wood you choose)
  2. Rinse ribs and pat dry
  3. Flip ribs to top side down and remove membrane
  4. Apply spicy brown mustard on both sides
  5. Apply rub on both sides
  6. Place ribs in smoker for 4-5 hours (optional: wrap after three hours)
  7. If you want saucy ribs, apply sauce 45 minutes before finished
  8. Remove and let rest about 10-15 minutes before slicing

When removing ribs from the packaging, I like to rinse and pat dry with paper towels. I like to think since the meat has been suffocating in a cryovac bag for who knows how long, they could use a little breather and rinse off the juices they’ve been sitting in.

Front and back of a rack of spareribs cut St. Louis style.
The back of the ribs where you can see the shiny white membrane.

Removing the membrane

Once I’ve done that, then I remove the membrane from the back side of the ribs. The membrane is that thin, slick white film on the back of the ribs that, if left on, can make for a tough, chewy bite. I’ve actually met a couple of folks who like to leave it on, but only a couple. I like to remove the membrane by taking my digital thermometer probe (in this case, my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks) to the bone furthest to the edge and start to dig that probe under the membrane and lift up the probe at an angle to which it starts to tear across that bone. Because it is slippery and difficult to grab, I take a paper towel, get a good, wide grip on the membrane, then pull straight across. Ideally, this pulls off in one clean shot. But if you’re like me, then you’ll occasionally need to pull the remaining strips off by grabbing with that paper towel.

Now you apply the spicy brown mustard and rub. I like to apply the mustard on the back side and then the rub right after so I don’t have to flip back and forth because I’m lazy. Once that’s done, then I flip over to the top side and repeat.

Mustard applied…
…and rubbed!

Commence the smoking process

The ribs are now ready to hit the grill. Hopefully, you’ve followed instructions and did step one, which is get your smoker ready. Once you are around 250F, place the ribs in, grab a drink or two, and hang out for a few hours. Some like to spritz the ribs occasionally to keep the outside of the ribs from drying out. Sometimes I use apple juice and apple cider vinegar, other times I use Dr Pepper. Either way, spritz once an hour (if you decide to go that route).

Spritzed, but question at this point is: to sauce or not to sauce?

If you want to wrap the ribs, I suggest doing so after three hours. Wrapping is usually done to speed up the cooking process and get the meat past the “stall” (point at which the meat stays at temps around 150-165 for what can take hours). Lately I haven’t had any problems with time so I let it ride as is.

Also, if you want your ribs sauced,  then wait until the last hour of the cook to sauce them. That way the sauce cooks in just the right amount of time and does not burn on the surface of your meat. It’s all a matter of preference for folks, but to me it all depends on what I’m feeling.

I like to use my Thermoworks digital thermometer, the Thermapen Mk4, to make sure I get the right tips. My ideal finish temp is between 180 to 190°F internal. That provides a clean bite through. Other folks like fall-off-the-bone ribs and if that is your thing then you’ll want to cook to between 190 to 205°F. I know some folks like to do the “bend test” where you pick up the rack of ribs in the middle and see how they fold over when you lift them up. They say they’re done when they bend, don’t break…as in don’t start falling off the bones. But if you want fall off the bone anyway, and that’s probably what you’re looking for.

Ribs done within the temp range I like them at, using my Thermapen Mk4.

Rest and slice

Once finished and off the grill, I like to let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. I do this because as meat rests, juices start to build up inside and that provides an excellent burst of flavor when you bite into them. Let them rest, enjoy the aroma, and exercise your patience a little longer and you will be rewarded.

As far as slicing goes, I prefer to turn them face side down and and slice parallel between the bones. Turning them upside down I can see where the bones are and don’t have to worry about slicing into them.

Rested, sliced, and ready to eat!

I hope this simple, yet detailed, recipe helps you on your journey to becoming a pitmaster. Do you have any tips or tricks you like to share? Feel free to either leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram at @learningtosmoke.

Bacon Candy!

A fistful of dollars…or bacon candy. Same diff.

Did that heading capture your attention? Good. This post is about bacon candy. That’s right: bacon candy. Two words that can bring the world together. This is a recipe that is so simple, even a child can do it!

One recipe, four ingredients

All you need is four ingredients: maple syrup, brown sugar, rub, and the glue that brings the meat-loving world together: bacon.

The ingredients for bacon candy (not pictured: bacon).

 

The step-by-step

First, lay the bacon out on a sheet of parchment paper (foil will work, too). Second, drizzle maple syrup over the bacon strips. Next, shake some of your favorite pork rub on, then finally sprinkle brown sugar on top. Flip the bacon slices over and repeat on the other side.

Rub, brown sugar, and then maple syrup applied. Flip bacon over and repeat.

Now that this is done, take them out to your smoker. For easy transfer to and from grill, I recommend a Bradley rack or cooling rack. Simply put in the grill to get some pecan smoke love at 275F for 45 minutes. It should look just the right amount of crispy: a little on the ends, but still soft enough to sink your teeth into.

People have their own idea of when bacon is done, but this is how I like it.

These are super addicting and will make you a hit with your family and friends…if you don’t eat all of the bacon first.

The video!

The recipe!


Bacon Candy

INGREDIENTS

  • Eight strips thick cut bacon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons rub
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 Cup maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat smoker/grill to 275F. Use pecan wood (or whichever would you prefer)
  2. Lay out eight strips of bacon on either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Apply half of rub, brown sugar, and then maple syrup. Turn over bacon strips and repeat.
  3. Place bacon on cooling rack/Bradley rack and put in smoker for 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to best gauge when they are done to your liking.
  4. Remove from smoker, carefully pulling off the cooling rack.

Eat what you want and share the rest. If you share first, you may end up empty handed!

BBQ Maple Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Pork belly burnt ends are top notch!

Recently I was invited to a food bloggers dinner in which fancy food bloggers (and me) get together for a pot luck. I wanted to bring something unique to my craft, but also do something that I don’t usually make. I’ve done pork belly burnt ends a couple times before and figured this might be a great idea… or it could backfire with a bunch a foodies and I’d be shunned forever. No pressure.

I don’t see pork belly too often around where I live, but when I do it comes in a giant, 10 lb. slab. It looks like a pork pillow I can rest my head on! A pillow I’d love to chop up, smoke, sauce, and eat. With that said, I open the package, rinse off the pork belly, and pat dry with paper towels. NOTE: if you haven’t already, now is a good time to get your smoker going.

A big ‘ol slab of pork belly.

Next I trim off some fat from the top. Sometimes the butcher sells it with a thick amount of fat on top. Some folks, when making pork belly burnt ends, don’t trim it at all, some do because they want more of a firm bite…and less fat. I didn’t trim much fat of these, but think I will trim the fat down to 1/4 inch next time. There may be a little silver skin on the non fat side, as well as some sections of stringy fat. Feel free to trim off using your boning knife (or whichever type of knife you like to use to trim).

Once that is done, I like to get some spicy brown mustard and rub all sides and then cut the slab of pork belly into 1 1/2 inch cubes. After that, I sprinkle on my rub of choice. For these, I used Whomp! Rub by Meat Mitch. Get a little generous with the application of it. Pat rub into meat.  The smoker should be close to desired smoking temp of 225F so go put those bad boys on.

Spicy brown mustard about to be applied. Notice that I trimmed off a few pounds of this 10 lb. slab.

To make your life easier, you will want to place these pork cubes on a cooling rack for a quicker, easier transfer on and off the grill. I didn’t use one and had to keep my grill open for a while as I was placing them on there one by one. It took a while and the heat from the bottom of my Kamado Joe started to flare up because of the extra time it spent being exposed to more oxygen. I recommend the mesh grates for the cooking rack so it holds the cubes better. For my grill, I put a couple of chunks of cherry wood in, although other fruit woods like apple or peach would be good, too (or you could try pecan). Let it smoke for three hours and you should notice a nice bark developing on them.

Cubes or pork belly going through the process.

Once that is done, pull off the rack and put these cubes into an 8×8” or 9×13” pan (depending on how many you are making) and mix with a half stick of butter (4 Tablespoons), about another Tablespoon of Rub, three Tablespoons of maple syrup, and 3/4 Cup of BBQ sauce.

The ingredients I put in to sauce it up (notice I went a little overboard on the butter!)

I like to use a BBQ sauce that has some sweet and heat to it, such as Spicy Patriot Sauce from Code3Spices or Whomp! Sauce by Meat Mitch (I went with Whomp! Sauce for this particular cook). Stir it around, wrap foil on top, and put back on the grill for another 60-90 minutes (at the same 225F temp).

Extra ingredients in, stirring it up and going back on the grill.

After 60-90 minutes, take the wrapping off the top of the pan and let it cook for another 20 minutes. You do this to help the sauce stick better to the meat. Otherwise, you will be needing to dip these pork belly burnt ends (yes, they’ve now graduated from “cubes” to “pork belly burnt ends”) into the sauce. Wouldn’t you rather have them stick to the burnt ends instead?

Some like to serve these on toothpicks as to not get their hands messy. Others use forks. But if you’re like me, just dig right in with your fingers (but make sure you have some napkins by your side)!

Ready to dive in!

As for the food bloggers & influencers event, the pan quickly vanished!

I hope yours turn out great! Enjoy the journey!


PORK BELLY BURNT ENDS

INGREDIENTS

  • 5-7 lbs. pork belly
  • 1/8 Cup spicy brown mustard
  • Rub (about 5-6 Tablespoons)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 Cup BBQ sauce

GRILL

  • 225F temp
  • Fruit wood of your choice (I used cherry)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Trim fat on pork belly slab down to 1/4 inch
  2. Apply and spread spicy brown mustard over all sides
  3. Slice into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  4. Sprinkle rub and apply to all sides
  5. Place in smoker for three hours (may need 3.5 hours depending on desires bark on cubes)
  6. Remove from grill, place cubes into 8×8 or 9×13 pan (depending on amount)
  7. Cut butter into a few pieces and put in foil pan. Also pour in maple syrup, BBQ sauce, and some more rub.
  8. Wrap top of foil pan with a sheet of foil, place back on grill for 60-90 minutes (still at 225F)
  9. Unwrap, stir, and let sit in smoker for another 20 minutes.
  10. Remove, let sit for 10 minutes, then dig right in!

 

Pork Belly 1.0

Coming along...
Pork belly is the essence of life.

When I got into BBQ, I kept hearing people talk about pork belly. I had no idea what it was, but played it cool like I did. Thankfully, we can summon the powers of cyberspace to save us the embarrassment of asking others to find out for ourselves. Upon further research, I discovered pork belly is where bacon comes from! And that there’s more than one way to eat it! Before I go that far, I want to share how I prepared it. A lot of people cure it. However, I learned from the guys at amazingribs.com that you can get people sick if you don’t cure it right. At first I was afraid, I was petrified. But did you know you could smoke up some pork belly without having to cure it? It’s true, BBQ family. I found a simple recipe from the Barbecue Bible man Steve Raichlen’s website to try. It did not disappoint. Here it is (NOTE: I improvised by not using the rub recipe shown and simply replaced that with Honey Hog from Meatchurch):


 

SMOKED PORK BELLY

INGREDIENTS

  • one 3-4 lbs. slab of pork belly
  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2-3 Tablespoons rub of your choice

SMOKE

  • Temp: 225-240°F
  • Wood: apple
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Internal finish temp: 165°F

There is more than one way to do pork belly, hence the title of this post is Pork Belly 1.0.

You may need to put in a special request for pork belly from your local store’s meat department, but most butchers should have it in stock. The belly cut I receive from Costco comes in a roughly 10 lbs. package. When removing the meat from the package, it is recommended to rinse it off and pat dry with a paper towel because the meat has been trapped in an airtight plastic package and stewing on its own juices. Keep in mind it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do this. Side note, I’d recommend getting your smoker up to temps when you being this process so you’re not waiting too long to start smoking this.

Pork belly. Yep.
Pork belly. Yep.

With the pork belly released from its plastic cocoon, turn the meat fat side up and start scoring it. Scoring the fat is done by making criss cross cuts one inch apart into the fat layer, cutting about 1/4-1/2 inch deep. I like to barely cut into the meat to help the fat juices render down into it and provide it some extra flavor. I’m not sure if it makes a world of difference, but I haven’t had any issues with it.

Cutting the fat criss cross style.
Scoring the fat criss cross style.

Now that you’ve scored the fat, slice the pork belly into thirds.

Time to use your favorite rub. With pork, I like a sweeter taste, so I prefer Honey Hog from Meat Church (although I have been known to mix it up on occasion). Be generous with your application. Once this is done, let it rest a little while to let the meat sweat a bit and have the juices and rub blend together.

Pork belly smelling good.
Pork belly smelling good.

Once your smoker has hit the 225-240°F range, open her up and put ’em in. Keep them in there for 3-4 hours, checking internal meat on occasion. Using a Smoke or Chef Alarm from Thermoworks will help you keep an eye on the temps without having to lift the lid. The internal temp you are aiming for is 165°F.

That pork belly reaching the desired temp of 165°F.
The pork belly reaching the desired temp of 165°F.

Once the pork belly is taken out of the smoker, let it rest for about 20 minutes so it can build up juices. Once that is done, put it in the fridge and let it chill for a few hours. This helps make it more firm and easier to cut.

Love seeing the rendering of the fat!
Love seeing the rendering of the fat!

You can slice it like bacon (pork belly is where bacon comes from, after all) or chop it up into cubes and make pork belly burnt ends. Slices are good for sandwiches and burnt ends are just dang good. You can’t go wrong either way.

Pork belly burnt ends are phenomenal!
Pork belly burnt ends are phenomenal!

To make pork belly burnt ends, you slice up the pork belly into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes. Next, I like to sprinkle some more rub on there and then drizzle with honey. You can either put them back in the smoker for another hour or so or you can be impatient like me and  put them in the skillet on medium heat for a few minutes. I like the skillet method because it helps cook the meat to have more texture like skillet-cooked bacon.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! Feel free to share any best practices you may have in either the comments below or on my Instagram feed @learningtosmoke (link via Instagram logo at the top of my page).