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We enjoy good barbecue. When we talk about BBQ, we are not talking about grilling. Grilling is direct heat, using the common backyard grill that is available everywhere and is incorrectly called a barecue grill. Real barbecue is done with indirect heat at low temperatures for longer times. We do enjoy grilling too, but that is so familiar and easy for most folks that we won't talk about it here.

The barbecue we currently use is the Char-Griller Smokin Pro. It works for regular grilling and barbecue, and the side mounted firebox can even be used as a mini-grill for those times when you want to cook a small meal for you and a friend. I 'm not going to tell you that the Char-Griller is the best or anything like that, but I'll tell you that it is one of the most affordable with the best features for the price. We got ours at Lowe's for about $160. Many similar grills from the leading grill manufacturers start at over $300, so I feel that this is a good deal.

Good barbecue starts with good seasonings. If you season the meat well, your guests will not have to use any type of sauce to enjoy the meat. We always have some sauces as options on the side.

We mostly cook pork, but sometimes beef. For cuts that will take a long time to cook, we sometimes brine and marinate the night before. This is true for brisket and beef cuts that can be notoriously tough. The overnight soak in brine helps the meat take in moisture for the long BBQ. For cuts high in fat such as pork shoulder, we don't need to brine overnight, but rather season thoroughly.

Here is our special rub, and it is all by eye. Someday I might measure it out, but it doesn't seem critical!:

Equal parts: Emeril's Original Essence, Ground Paprika, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, Kosher Salt (can be omitted as the Essence has a lot of salt) Dark Brown Sugar.

About 1/4 of the above amounts: Mustard Powder, Black Pepper.

Our specialty is roast/pulled pork sholder. We take the shoulder the night before and trim it up to remove loose parts, rinse it, and then season it. We place the seasoning in a bowl or pan, and place the whole shoulder in the bowl/pan and move it around to coat the entire cut of meat liberally. Remember if you are seasoning a large cut of meat you should create a good thick crust of seasonings. Much of this will fall off on the grill, or can be rubbed off before smoking if you choose.

After the seasoning has stuck well to the sides, wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before cooking to bring it up to room temp, but do not remove the plastic wrap until just before placing on the BBQ. When you remove the wrap, you can rub off any excess seasoning if you prefer. We tend to leave a lot of the seasoning intact, but you'll discover your preference on your own. I suggest folks rub off the excess, especially if you are not a fan of heavily seasoned meats, or you might have guests that like a lot of seasonings. The excess rub comes off simply by rubbing with your hands, but be aware that it will discolor your hands and make a mess, so do your removal in the sink or somewhere easily cleaned.

Make sure the BBQ is up to temp (200-225) and ready before starting the meat. Place a water pan in the smoker to help keep the meat moist, even if it is a fatty cut like pork shoulder. Use a thermometer at grill level to ensure proper cooking temps. We use a digital remote thermometer, with the probe sitting on a little piece of wood with the tip exposed to the heat, not touching the grates or meat. The remote aloows us to do other things around the house and can alert us to flare ups and temp spikes.

The fuel for the fire should never be charcoal briquets, unless they state that they are 100% natural with no chemicals, and even then I'd be sceptical. I use natural wood chunk charcoal, hickory chunks, and mesquite chunks. The chunk charcoal makes a nice bed of coals and keeps temps consistent, and the natural woods contribute smoke and flavor. Soak a good amount of wood chunks for a few hours before using for best cool-temp smoking. Dry wood will prduce less smoke and more temperature spikes. I reserve some dry wood to use at the start of the day, and when the coals burn down and I need some hot flame to get going again, but not for much else. For longer sessions, I use mainly hickory as mesquite can be a bit overpowering. Just the opposite for shorter times. Mesquite can add a lot of flavor in a short time, so that is why mesquite is nice to use as chips in any grill at any time for a bit of smoky flavor, even in those horrible gas grills that everyone seems to love.

For pork shoulder we smoke for 1.5 hours per pound, and/or until the meat reaches 195f degrees. For the last 1/3 of the time, we wrap the meat tightly in foil and let it finish. Once you wrap with foil you can move it to your oven in the house and you won't have to keep tending the fire. The maximum amount of smoke is absorbed in the first 2/3 of the time, so the last 1/3 is not critical to flavor and nobody will know you finished in the oven. For purists, you can keep tending that fire, but still wrap that meat to prevent drying. Wrapping also locks in the critical juices that the meat needs toward the end to finish tender.

When the meat reaches this last 1/3, we also place a thermometer into the meat to know when it is done. When pork shoulder reaches 190-195f, it is ready to pull. Although you might think pork is done at lower temps (~160) when cooked normally, to reach the peak tenderness, barbecued pork shoulder needs to be at least 180f, and seems to pull better at at least 190f. I like 195f from experience, and that is always a tender and juicy cut, cooked properly so that the meat just falls from the bones.

Once you pull the meat from the grill. Let it rest for a few minutes still wrapped. When you open it, be sure to use a pan to catch all the juices that will be hiding in the foil. Use a few forks to pull it apart, or a sharp knife to slice.

Lots of ways to serve it, but traditionally it is served on a bun with some coleslaw and a bit of your favorite sauce. We like it served simply on a plate with some side dishes such as collard greens and fresh corn. But that is up to you!

Email me at if you find errors, bullshit, or have questions.