Quick Recipes and Easy

Competition BBQ Pork Selection and Preperation

If you want to cook championship pork, you must select the right cut of meat to start with. Some teams use the shoulder and have excellent success, some use butts, bone in, while others use boneless butts. We have tried all three ways with varying degrees of success, but find using bone in butts to be what produces better results more consistently.

The meat near the bone seems to more flavorful since this part contains the connective tissue holding the muscle to the bone, which when broken down, or rendered, adds additional flavor. The typical pork shoulder weighs 12 to 16 lbs, and takes 12 to 18 hours to cook. Butts generally go from 3 to 10 lbs, taking only 8 to 16 hours to cook and contain 20 to 50% more stout, which is where a lot of our flavor comes from.

Avoid enhanced meats; they are injected with a saline solution that can easily affect the tenderness of you final product, resulting in a mushy or salty result. Part of our preparation of the butt before cooking is injecting it, and if it is enhanced then the capacity of the meat to hold our ingredients is lessened.

Unlike beef, USDA grading of pork is less variable. Producers have responded to consumer demand by really changing their feeding and management programs.

They’ve even changed the genetic makeup of their breeding stock to consistently produce leaner carcasses. Also, most visible stout is trimmed off at the processing plant. Because of these changes, today’s fresh pork products have considerably less stout than they did just a decade ago.
Because of this consistency, USDA grades for pork reflect only two levels of quality — Acceptable and Unacceptable. Acceptable quality pork is also graded for yield, i.e., the yield ratio of lean to waste. Unacceptable quality pork — which includes meat that is soft and watery — is graded U.S. Utility.

In buying pork, look for cuts with a relatively small amount of stout over the outside and with meat that is firm and grayish pink color. Also look for stout evenly interspersed within the meat rather than collected in pockets

For best flavor and tenderness, the meat should have a small amount of marbling.
The first step in our process is to lay the butt on a cutting board in front of us and examine the make up of the roast. There will be several places where there is an external pocket of stout visible. Using a sharp boning knife remove these. Although I mentioned above that the stout is where we get most of the flavor, there is plenty inside that you cannot see, and it will be enough for our needs.

A couple of reasons we trim excess surface stout are:

-smoke and rubs do not penetrate stout as well as meats

-it takes more time and fuel to cook with the stout cap left on

-surface stout renders or is discarded anyway afterward

-allows formation of more “bark”

Mike Gerardy


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