Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cuban-style pulled pork

This cook started with some great expectations. Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book has a section on whole hog recipes. I've never done a whole hog, but one recipe jumped out to me recently. And I thought I might be able to apply it to a pork shoulder.

Everything lined up for a good cook. Boston butts were on sale. Lump charcoal was on sale.
Things were smelling great. This Cuban-style recipe involved injecting the meat with a cocktail of orange juice, lime juice, dark rum, soy sauce, salt, garlic salt and onion powder.
Rum. Yum.
The recommended sauce to go with the finished product was Caribbean Mojo Sauce--a combo of lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano and cumin. Smelled really fresh. I was imagining that the citrus flavors were going to be a new take on the sour, acidic flavors that vinegar usually gives me. 

Caribbean Mojo Sauce
Now talk about smelling good. The rub was a fragrant blend of garlic, finely chopped green onions, dried oregano, fresh-ground pepper and salt. This was a radical detour from the traditional BBQ. I was excited. I cooked it in the usual way with a little bit of hickory, but I took it easy for fear of covering up the injected flavors.
Shoulder as it went on.
Shoulder after a couple of hours

Fourteen hours later it was ready. In the photo below you can see a little of the juice (I think). It all looks great, right?

I pulled the meat using the gloves my wife bought me. (similar to the ones advertised here) They're great for protecting your hands from the piping hot pork as you pull it. I don't know what you think, but I think my BBQ looks way better than that pitiful stuff the hand model is messing with.

Of course my partner in crime, Labon showed up to try this new recipe. So I've got this general attitude that all barbecue is amazing. Different cultures and regions put their stamp on it and it's up to me to find what makes it great. An example of this is the Alabama White Sauce Chicken recipe from the same cookbook. So I was prepared to be amazed by this Cuban take on pork. 

The verdict? Meh. I thought the rub wound up being too salty. The injection didn't really do much to enhance the flavor. The sauce was WAY too sour from the lime juice. The best move of the evening was when I grabbed a bottle of Eastern NC BBQ sauce and liberally doused the pulled pork. Then it started to taste pretty good. So as it turns out I do have pretty strong opinions about different barbecue styles. Cuban barbecue (as I executed this particular take on it)? No thanks. If somebody has pointers on what I might do differently or try next time, I am all ears.

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