Easy BBQ for Summertime Fun

I just got back from the IACP Conference in Austin, Texas.  One memorable dinner, hosted by The Lisa Ekus Group, had us sitting under a huge oak tree on the grounds of the old Hotel Saint Cecilia , a secluded estate with rock star clientele. 

What did we eat at those long tables?  Barbecue, of course.  Texas-style, from the famous Lambert’s. That’s a true alfresco experience!  

Here’s a fresh bbq idea—outdoor/indoor smoke-roasted pork shoulder or butt. It’s a dish that rewards in many ways.  It’s easy on the cook, as you can do the smoke-roasting outdoors in late afternoon, then put the pork in the oven indoors to slow cook overnight. (If the weather is bad, you can do the whole thing in the oven.) The fat in the meat keeps it moist, even if you overcook it, which is difficult to do. You can slice and serve it on a platter or pull it apart to serve on sandwiches. And pork shoulder or butt is inexpensive. What more can we ask of a dish?  The Sooey Sauce is equally rewarding.  You simply thin a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce with a few ingredients and people will think you slaved all day.  You can freeze any leftovers. Serve this with your favorite slaw.

Smoke-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Sooey Sauce
(adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook)
Serves 12
Two 3-1/2 lb. boneless pork butts or shoulder
1 cup prepared mustard
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup smoked or sweet Hungarian paprika           
2 tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder    
2 tablespoons onion salt        
2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar      
1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard          
1 1/2 tablespoons celery seeds         
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder         
3 cups hardwood chips, 3 wood chunks, or 3 (3-inch diameter) sticks (mesquite, hickory, oak)

Sooey Sauce:
1 cup spicy tomato barbecue sauce, such as KC Masterpiece or Whole Foods 365
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons clover or wildflower honey

1.  Slather the pork butts with mustard. Combine the pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, onion salt, brown sugar, dry mustard, celery seeds, and chili powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle this rub all over the pork butts. Place the pork in a disposable aluminum pan. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes or until the surface of the meat is tacky to the touch.

2. Prepare an indirect fire, with a hot fire on one side and no fire on the other.

3. For a charcoal grill, scatter the wood chips/chunks/sticks on the charcoal. For a gas grill,  place wood chips in a smoker box or a foil packet poked with holes near a gas burner on a gas grill.  When you see the first wisp of smoke, place the pork on the indirect side of the grill and close the lid. Smoke-roast for 2 to 3 hours, adding more charcoal as necessary, or until it has a darkened crust or bark and a good smoky aroma.

4. Transfer the pork indoors to a 250°F oven. Loosely cover the meat with foil and roast for 8 to 12 hours or until you can insert a meat fork in the pork and easily twist it.
 Note:  In bad weather, you can still make this indoors. Just start out at 350°F oven for 2 hours, then lower to 250°F for another 8 to 12 hours or until you can do the twist test.

5. Stir the Sooey Sauce ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until just warmed through. To serve the pork, shred the meat, discarding any fat or gristle. If you like, add a little sauce to the meat. Serve the pulled pork with the remaining sauce at the table.

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