Rub of the Month: Q-Nami (Lane’s BBQ)

For the month of April, the Rub of the Month is…Q-Nami (I would hope you already knew that by reading the title of this post)!

Behold...the Q-Nami!
Behold…the Q-Nami!

I’ve been excited to share this one as Rub of the Month for quite a while now. From the moment I tried this rub, my taste buds were in deep like love! Ryan Lane, owner of Lane’s BBQ, has hit a grand slam with this one. It has a flavor that stands in a class all by itself: think Asian flavors infused into a bottle of your favorite rub. As you can see in the texture, there are sesame seeds, chili pepper flakes, and ginger in his blend (I can’t tell what ginger looks like, but I can read the ingredients on the side of the bottle 👍🏼).

The texture provides some unique colors and flavors.
The texture provides some unique colors and flavors.

I love using it on seafood and poultry, but it is versatile enough for beef and pork. For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you might remember my picture of the smoked shrimp I made back in early 2017. The rub I used to help give it the texture it had was none other than Q-Nami!

And they tasted as good as they looked!
And they tasted as good as they looked!

There’s a chance Q-Nami will change your life. You can order it here and find out for yourself!

...and you can even buy a matching shirt!
…and you can even buy a matching shirt!

BBQ Leftover Ideas: Pulled Pork Mac n’ Cheese

Pulled pork mac n' cheese does not suck.
Pulled pork mac n’ cheese does not suck.

BBQ is a beautiful thing. The hours of work put in to trimming, rubbing, injecting (for some), smoking resting, and slicing (or shredding) pays off when you take that first bite…and second, and third, and so on. You want to get your fill and share your masterpiece with others. Sometimes, you have leftovers. I know this is rare for some, but it happens. The thing that sucks about it is that food doesn’t usually taste good as leftovers, at least in my opinion. However, pulled pork is one of those rare meats that reheats very well, even when frozen. The taste is practically the same as the day it was made. With all of that said, I sometimes like to get creative with leftover BBQ and one idea that I love is putting leftover pulled pork on mac n’ cheese and then drizzling BBQ sauce on top. Mac n’ cheese is a classic side dish with BBQ, so why not mix them together? The math is simple: pulled pork + mac n’ cheese + BBQ sauce = mind-blowing flavor!

MeatMitch BBQ sauce is top-notch!
MeatMitch BBQ sauce is top-notch!

Anyway, thought I’d share this idea and hope you enjoy it!

Kamado Joe

The Joe Jr. from Kamado Joe.
The Joe Jr. from Kamado Joe.

I bought a Kamado Joe (Classic Joe) earlier this month and decided to let my son do the honors of lighting it for the first time. I documented this on Instagram (@learningtosmoke) and was surprised that it received over 11,000 views! One of those viewing and commenting was Kamado Joe themselves. They were touched by the video that they offered to send my son a Kamado Joe Jr. of his very own! I kept it a secret and waited until he got home from school to surprise him with it. The video quality was poor, but the picture of his reaction was priceless.

Thank you, Kamado Joe!
Thank you, Kamado Joe!

Thank you Kamado Joe for your generous gift. You’ve made a lasting impression not only on my family, but those that follow me as well. I’m humbled by this gift and can’t thank you enough. The memories my oldest boy and I will create BBQ’ing together will be epic!

The first thing he made on his Joe Jr. was a reverse seared ribeye steak. And it was awesome.
The first thing he made on his Joe Jr. was a reverse seared ribeye steak. And it was awesome.

 

Tuesday Tip: Lighting Coals

Lighting coals (such as lump charcoal seen here) in a chimney starter is a great way to go.
Lighting coals (such as lump charcoal seen here) in a chimney starter is a great way to go.

Lighting up charcoal isn’t a hard thing to do, but there are preferred ways to do it. Here are a couple that are most ideal:

Chimney starter: putting your coals in a chimney starter is a great way to get them heated up quicker. First, take some newspaper and ball up a few pieces to put under the chimney starter. Place them under there, leaving a little tip of the paper sticking out. Next, put your coals in the starter and fill to the top. When those are done, light that tip of newspaper sticking out of the bottom and be patient. Make sure you have the coal starter in an area where air can flow through easily to help the flames get hotter quicker. Once the coals start to ash over and you don’t see smoke, then you can transfer into your smoker or grill.

Paraffin wax: if using a ceramic grill (kamado), such as a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg, you can light the coals inside the grill itself. As my son demonstrates in the picture below, you simply place your coals inside the kamado, placing the smaller coals around the bottom center. Then you take a square of paraffin wax (sold at BBQ shops and grill sections of some hardware stores), place in the middle amongst the smaller coals, and light them up.

The square of paraffin wax is the dark brown piece in the middle where the lighter is pointing toward.
The square of paraffin wax is the dark brown piece in the middle.

 

Whatever you do, DO NOT POUR LIGHTER FLUID ON YOUR CHARCOAL. This will alter the flavor of the food you are cooking and not in a good way. If you’re not careful, you could cause a fire you can’t control. Also, if using a ceramic grill, the lighter fluid can seep into the porous clay interior and ruin everything you cook in them.

If you have any other best practices for lighting your coals then feel free to share them in the comments!

Thermopop Giveaway!

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Good news! I have teamed up with the good folks at Thermoworks to do a Thermopop giveaway! Three lucky people will win a Thermopop of their very own! The promo is a quick one and comes just in time for Father’s Day. Contest starts today, Wednesday, June 9th and runs through Monday, June 13th at noon Mountain Standard Time. Winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

Participation in the contest can be done in one of three ways: 1) like the Thermopop giveaway posts on my Instagram account @learningtosmoke; 2) like the Thermopop giveaway posts on the Thermoworks Instagram account @thermoworks; or 3) leaving a comment on this post with your Instagram account name (one per post, one entry).

Good luck!

 

Pulled Pork

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One of my favorite meats to smoke is pork shoulder. I like it because it is a very forgiving meat, meaning that you can screw up (to an extent) and have it still turn out pretty good. While I’m still new to the true form of BBQ, I have smoked over a dozen pork shoulders during this short time. It is the meat I have the most experience with thus far. I have researched and experimented with different approaches to this and have come to make this one my own.

Meat: pork shoulder (aka- pork butt, Boston butt)

Ingredients: spicy brown mustard, rub(s), apple juice or apple cider vinegar

Wood: apple

Smoke: 275°F/135°C

Time: about 8 hours

Finish Temp.: between 195-205°F/90.5°-96°C

Rest: 45-60 minutes

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Once you pull the pork shoulder out of the fridge, take it out of the package and pat the meat dry from the juices in the packaging. Once that is done, I spread the spicy brown mustard all around the meat. This not only adds a little flavor, but also helps the rub stick better. I have found I like my pork with a little sweet and spice, so I go with a mix of Plowboys Yardbird Rub and Obie-Cue’s Sweet N’ Heat spicy brown sugar rub. Since I don’t like too much spicy heat, I do two parts Yardbird and one part Sweet N’ Heat. But if you dig the heat, then reverse the rub application.

Rubbed, rested, and ready.
Rubbed, rested, and ready.

Something else I’ve learned is that you’ll want to let the meat rest before putting it in the smoker. That way, the rub penetrates a little more and the meat cooks a little better at the start.

Once the smoker is up to 275°F, it is time to put the shoulders in. I keep them in the smoker for about six hours. However, I do on occasion (twice, but swiftly) lift the lid and spray apple juice or apple cider vinegar on it to help keep the meat juicy and from drying out. I also recommend putting a water pan inside the main chamber to help with that, as well. After the meat has been in the smoker for 6 hours, it can’t absorb much more smoky flavor after that point. So what I do to help accelerate the process is I pull the meat off the smoker and I double wrap it in heavy duty foil and put them back in at the same temperature for another 2 hours. I use my Thermopop digital food thermometer from Thermoworks for a quick, accurate reading to make sure it hits the zone for pulling/shredding/chopping, which is between 195°-205°F (or 95.5°-96°C for those who prefer Celcius). Note: pork is well-cooked and ready to eat when it hits an internal temp of 145°F, but if you want to reach that point in which it easily pulls/shreds/chops then it should be at the internal temps previously mentioned.

This pork shoulder is ready to be taken out and rest.
This pork shoulder is ready to be taken out and rest.

Now that it has reached the desired temperature and you’ve removed it from the smoker, it will smell and look SO delicious. You will be tempted to start pulling it apart immediately. For the sake of all that is holy in BBQ I urge you NOT to do this. The meat should sit out for at least 30 minutes before you start to pull it. That is because meat is muscle and when the meat is in the smoker, it is contracting on the inside while sweating out juices. Once the meat is done cooking, then the muscle starts to relax and let more of the juices absorb. I give it about 45 minutes of resting before I start to pull it apart.

The end result: a disappearing act come mealtime.
The end result: a disappearing act come mealtime.

Pulled pork makes a lot, so either show off to share with others or keep it for yourself and throw the leftovers in the freezer (Note: pulled pork freezes quite well, meaning it still tastes true to the original when you thaw and reheat it).

If you have any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to share in the comments.