Whew! That’s a mouthful! I really can’t shove any more Southern things in one recipe. Tea, Molasses, Pecan, Pork, and Peaches. Seriously….love! Love! Love! Now, some of you may think this is a big ol’ pain in the rear…brining overnight, long hours on the smoker. Well, first, it’s totally worth it. Just trust me on this one. And second, almost nothing makes me happier than tending a smoker all day (I’m so jealous of my buddy at work, Brad’s, awesome smoking ability that I have to practice, practice, practice!). It’s a great excuse to kick back, have an adult bev-er-aghe, and relax. Listen to the birds, hang out with Charlie-dog. Watch the grass grow. Whatever floats your boat. Now, some say smoking meat is an art. And I guess the fact that every BBQer has their own process and recipe for brines and rubs does make it a bit of an art. But there’s also a science to it. For this beauty, ya gotta go low and slow until the fat and connective tissue break down and move the meat from a dense, tough wad into a loose, tender delight!
Now, supplies. You need a non-reactive container large enough to hold the meat and brine. You need a smoker. Now, if you don’t have a smoker, you can still brine this beast and let it roll in a 225 degree oven. You won’t be sorry. I digress back to smokers…I use an electric one. Yes, gasp, electric. It’s what I started with when I had no experience, and frankly, I kept it out of being partly comfortable with it and partly lazy. The idea of tending coals to keep an even temperature completely ruins my put the meat on and ‘watch the grass grow’ philosophy. Last thing, you need wood chips (unless you’re doing the oven thing). I used pecan, but apple or cherry would work great too. Just no big, heavy ones like hickory or mesquite.
Now go get yourself a 5 pound pork Boston Butt and a 6-pack of Woodchuck Cider and come on back….
For Brine (heat all components together and let cool completely, or take my lazy way and mix together until dissolved):
- 2.5 quarts water
- 8 ounces molasses
- 8 ounces Kosher or Pickling Salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 TBSP black tea leaves
- 1 TBSP dry rosemary
- 1 TBSP black pepper
For Rub (process in food processor until you reach sugar-nut-spice dust):
- 1 TBSP flavor-neutral oil for coating meat first (gives rub something to stick to)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup pecans
- 1 TBSP dry rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
For Peach Salsa
- 4 peaches, slightly unripe
- 1/2 jalapeno, cored and deseeded, chopped fine
- 1 TBSP finely chopped red onion
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse your Butt (ahhhh….I couldn’t help it!). Place brine in large enough container to hold brine with meat submerged…a gallon Ziplock does the trick. Let ‘marinate’ and sit overnight, in the fridge, or at least a few hours.
Fire up your smoker according to your smoker type and wood chip preference–pecan chips were used here and 2 Woodchuck Ciders were used as the liquid to keep things from drying out.
After brining, remove pork, discard brine, and rinse well to remove some salt. Pat dry with paper towels (or kitchen towels if you want your Hubbs to give you scornful looks!).
Coat pork in oil lightly. Cover all visible porky goodness in the rub.
Place your Pork-Masterpiece-In-Progress, Lunp-O-Meat close to the braising liquid (closest rack) and close up your smoker.
Feel free to indulge in your excess Woodchuck as things are brewing. On further introspection, you may have needed a 12-pack. After 2 hours, lift the lid and quickly dampen the meat with its drippings. Get back to your Woodchuck. In another hour, repeat. Repeat again in an hour (we’re up to four hours for those who have spent too much time with chain saws or too much time ‘catfish noodling’ and are missing the appropriate number of counting appendages). Now, your pork should be sitting at about 160 degrees. It will stall there and make you depressed that you will never get to eat that porky goodness. Don’t distress. We’re gonna fix that with a ‘crutch’.
Remove the meat from your smoker and quickly wrap it in two layers of foil with a bit of liquid in the bottom. Seal super tightly. Put it back in the smoker and go, go, go until the internal temp reaches 190-200 degrees. ONLY THEN, remove your Early Christmas Present from the smoker and let it rest for about 30 minutes or so before shredding.
You can place the wrapped lump in a cooler for up to 4 hours and it will stay warm (as if you’re gonna be done before any guests arrive).
Now, for the peach salsa. Just mix up your diced peaches, onion, and jalapeno. Add your brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taaa-daa! Done!
Serve pork with salsa and creamy grits, salad, or side of choice. Certainly creamy grits are my favorite choice!
If your will is made of steel, save some pork for chile rellanos or awesome omelettes!