Birthday parties and BBQ

Last week was full of food, so much food that apparently it broke my back.  Ok, so there probably isn’t any correlation between my complete inability to move and last week’s cooking bonanza, but it feels better to have something to blame.  But I’m sure most of you don’t wish to hear about my whinging about my back, so instead I shall discuss some of the food I cooked.

I mostly cooked things I have before, spaghetti and meatballs, fajitas, delicious, delicious Grilled Thai Chicken (a recipe I will have to post later because it is fantastic), Bulgar Kofti (which was a recipe made better once I merged it with a Moroccan spiced beef patty recipe I have used in the past), and then the birthday-apalooza foods.  I’m not sure what possessed me, but for the little ones birthday party I decided to make much of the food we would have, and since it was a joint party for two of my favorite little boys, there were a lot of people to feed.

Birthday boys and girls ready to blow out their candles

I did manage to talk myself out of many of the things I was going to make (samosas, roasted red pepper spread, etc), but still ended up cooking key lime pie (x2), strawberry cake (x2), 24 yellow cake cupcakes and chocolate sour cream frosting from scratch, cheese straws, as well as homemade pulled pork.

Monsieur Frosting Face is pleased to meet you!

Most of it seemed to go over well, kids were covered in frosting, I made several people hate me for how good the strawberry cake is (it really is, and easy to make it, I told you people all about it here, go off and make it now!), but the pulled pork?  It disappeared almost immediately upon coming out.  And so it’s fantastic-ness has prompted me to share it with you all now.

This recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, my favorite source for recipes these days, the recipes range from simple to complex, and they explain all the steps they took to tweak it and change it from others so that you can learn the fundamentals behind cooking, which you can apply to things later.  There’s an online subscription, which is probably better because you can search through the archives, but I like getting my magazine in the mail, even if it’s not everything I could have, it’s fun to read and gives me good things to eat, it’s a wonderfully little collection of paper.  The pulled pork recipe comes from the Summer Grilling volume we got, it’s a South Carolina BBQ recipe, which means instead of being tomato based, it’s mustard based.  BBQ is one of those things that is so regional that it sparks great arguments.  However, I tend to find I like most kinds, though I prefer the sauce ones to those that are dry rubs only.  Anyways, this is South Carolina pulled pork, started with a smoke on the grill and finished in the oven, but actually fairly simple to make.

South Carolina Pulled Pork

Note: This recipe can be done with a charcoal or gas grill, though I have only tried it with a gas grill.  It is important to make sure you have enough gas in the grill though, we have a tendency to run out of gas in the middle of cookouts, so we now have a backup propane tanks as well.  It’s very handy.

Spice Rub and Pork

  • 3 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar (light or dark will work fine)
  • 2 tbsp table salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 lb pork shoulder roast (pork shoulder is usually labeled pork butt or Boston butt, picnic shoulder is something a bit different, more like a ham I think, boneless or not will work fine in this)
  • 4 cups of wood chips soaked for 15 min
  • Vegetable oil for grill grates

Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Note: I recommend making a double batch of the sauce, but I like my pulled pork extra saucy

  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (generic Tabasco sauce works, but if you have better, use it)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Combine dry mustard, brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl, breaking up any lumps.  Dry pork with paper towels and rub with spice mixture.  (Pork can be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 24 hours)
  2. Seal wood chips in foil packed and cut vent holes in the top.  Make sure the packet is tightly sealed or else your wood chips with go up in flames and that’s not what you are looking for here.
    1. Gas grill: Place foil packet directly on one of the burners (primary burner if you have one).  Put the grill grate back on top, turn all burners to high, and heat grill with lid closed until the wood chips begin to smoke heavily (about 15 min).  Scrape grate clean and oil grate with paper towel or rag soaked in vegetable oil.  Leave the burned under the wood chips on high and turn other burner(s) off.  Place pork on cooler side of grill and barbecue with lid down until exterior of pork has a rosy crust, about 2 hours.
    2. Charcoal grill:  Open bottom vents of grill.  Light large chimney starter filled halfway with charcoal (3 qts, about 50 briquettes) and burn until coasl are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 15-20 min.  Build modified 2-level fire by arranging coals over half of grill, leaving other half empty.  Place foil packet directly on coals.  Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, open lid vent halfway, and heat grate until hot and wood chips begin to smoke heavily (about 5 min).  Scrape grate clean with grill brush and oil with a paper towel or rag dipped in vegetable oil.  Place pork on cooler side of grill and barbecue until exterior of pork has a rosy crust, about 2 hours.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in bowl until smooth.  Transfer pork to roasting pan and brush ½ cup of sauce over meat.  Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and bake until fork inserted into pork can be removed with no resistance, about 2-3 hours.  Remove from oven and let rest in pan, still wrapped in foil, for 30 min.  Unwrap pork and, when cook enough to handle, pull meat into thin shreds, discarding fat.  Toss pork with remaining sauce.  Serve with some nice buns and maybe some bread and butter pickles if you are into that (not me, blech).
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2 responses to “Birthday parties and BBQ

  1. I’m so glad the big day went well! I can’t believe he’s 2!!!!

  2. I also can’t believe he’s two, and I’m very thankful my back died the day after the party, even if it did interfere with my strawberry plans. I did forget to note that I actually made cornbread too, because I’m crazy : )

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