The Americans know how to BBQ. I’ve heard it said and tasted it before, but to see it in action is a sight to behold. To use an American expression, they ‘kick our butts at grilling’. We have the wonderful (and American) Van Carney staying with us and yesterday he set to work on a masterful piece of pulled pork shoulder. Our ventless BBQ (bought for £30 the weekend we moved in and decided rashly to host a BBQ) is not quite up to standard, so rather than smoking the pork from the beginning, it was started in the oven at 3pm with the intention of being eaten at around 9.30pm – it was in there at a gloriously low temperature of 110c with a splash of cider vinegar and a little water for a mouth watering 6 hours. The only attention it was given was a little basting every so often.
While that was in doing it’s thing, the BBQ was lit to work on an accompaniment fit for a king. We’d pre-ordered Van some hickory wood chips online, which Van soaked and then threw onto some hot coals and smoked these beautiful plum tomatoes for half an hour or so, absorbing all the incredible depth of the hickory smoke.
The tomatoes were blitzed into a mixture of caramelised onions, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, chilli, paprika, tamarind paste, beer, coffee grounds and what Van described as anything deep, dark and delicious. Then placed back into the pan that had caramelised the onions and bubbled down for hours to become a gloriously thick and smokey BBQ sauce.
Next up, the bun. My turn. On Van’s advice the perfect accompaniment is a Brioche bun, I hadn’t made any of these since college so it was a slightly interesting episode. I made the crucial error of starting on a recipe without reading it through. I got halfway and then decided to see what I had to do next which involved a couple of rises and an eight hour chilling time. That wasn’t going to happen. I turned the page to find a quicker brioche recipe which certainly would have been more fitting. However, I had the startings of a dough which I had been pulling up and slapping on the kitchen surface for a good arm aching 10-15 minutes. So I decided to try and amalgamate the two. Luckily for me the melted butter and sugar that I added seemed to do the trick and they were pretty tasty little buns and looked the part too.
Once the pork had had its 6 hour slow roast it was meltingly tender so we pulled it off the bone (it was more of case of it falling off the bone) and relit the BBQ.
We placed the pork into a clean roasting pan and poured over some of the juices from the pan it had cooked in. Throwing some more soaked hickory chips onto the hot coals to get up a good smoke we put the pork onto the grill and on with the lid. It was there for about 20-30 minutes and really soaked up some amazing smokey flavour.
The last thing to top it all off was a coleslaw of red cabbage, onion, radish and gherkins – all tossed together with a little mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
This was a feast that I will certainly be trying to recreate and I urge you to order some wood chips (I can recommend Cook Equip) and have a go yourself.
I’ve only had one BBQ as good as this and that was some incredible cherry wood smoked brisket with Van and family in Virginia last year. I’m changing the way I BBQ, watch out Pitt Cue.