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R2-B(2)Q: Holy Pork Butts, Batman

Summer is officially upon us, and if you live in the South like me, the oppressive humidity has been bearing down on you since St. Patrick’s Day. There’s really nothing like that disgusting feeling of your pants sticking to your ass to make you want to barbecue, and seeing this R2-D2 smoker reminded me of how much I love cooking food outside (campfire food notwithstanding. Camping is the devil’s invention).

Grilling is a bit of a pain in the ass — you have to light the grill and flip the meat and poke the meat, which doesn’t leave so much time to get wasted in your backyard — but smoking is a far more relaxed activity. Just soak some wood chips, light a little fire in the smoker, put the wet chips in a little pan over the fire so they smoke, stick some meat in and drink. 18 hours later, you have amazing smokey meat and a bitchin’ buzz.

In the spirit of this amazing R2-D2 smoker, here’s a quick rundown of my favorite smoking recipe, for NC-style pulled pork and yummy spicy vinegar-y BBQ sauce:

  • Get a pork butt. Don’t worry, it’s not actually butt meat. It’s the shoulder. This cut is also known as a pork shoulder (go figure), or a pork picnic.
  • Put it in a roasting/baking dish. Cover the butt all over with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Barbecue Seasoning. Srsly, the fat man don’t lie, this shit is barbecue magic.
  • At this point, you have two options: Cover meat in foil and stick in the smoker for a really really long time, until the meat pulls apart easily. This is going to take like, 8-10 hours, because smoking uses such low heat. If you need more information about smoking (as you can tell, I just kind of wing it and hope everyone doesn’t get worms), go here.
  • The other option is to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way up with beer (the cheaper and lighter, the better), cover with foil, and bake on a low oven (about 300 degrees) for about 4 hours. Baste with the beer and add more as it dries out (it will). It’ll be done when it pulls apart easily with a fork.
  • Pull that damn pork apart with a fork. It’ll be awesome. You might cry. You’ll have a huge pile of pulled pork. Chop it if you like it a little less chunky.
  • While you’re cooking the meat, make a NC-style BBQ sauce by putting about 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, about 1/2 cup of brown sugar (add more or less sugar to your taste), 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Let it simmer until it tastes amazing. Sprinkle this on the pile of pulled pork until it’s slightly moist. Put it on a dang bun. Put more sauce on if you want. Put some coleslaw on there. WHATEVER.

You’re probably all, “Holy pork butts, Rachael, I have so much pork! What the heck am I supposed to do with it now??”

Make a dang cuban sandwich! Or do it real Southern style and make some freakin’ Brunswick stew! It sounds horrific, but is terrific! Or just rub it all over your body in ecstasy. I won’t judge. Either way, get your sci-fi-themed smokers out and make some smoked meat for summer! Woo!

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  1. Catfish says:

    You might want to spread some plain mustard onto the butt before putting the rub on. It will add some decent flavor and help the rub stick. For the word chips you can use mesquite or hickory and then throw in a fruit wood such as apple of cherry. You will be amazed at how well the meat will taste.

  2. james says:

    Totally Enjoyed that – and I stopped killing animals in 2010 – so thanks!

  3. TheLoverly says:

    Pulled pork is most pullable after it hits 180-185 degrees internally, so if you have a probe thermometer it can take some of the guesswork out of “When can I take it out and stuff it in my face?” It’s safe to eat after it hits 160, but the extra temperature makes it fall apart more easily. Also, as hard as it is, you should let your pork rest for 10-15 minutes before you pull it.

    One ingredient that’s not listed above, but which I cannot recommend enough for the rub: brown sugar. I would also suggest putting a pan of beans (I like kidney beans for this) under the meat for the last hour or so of cooking and letting all the delicious juices drip into them. Some of the best beans I’ve ever had.

  4. Thank you, thank you for this must-try recipe. Two of my favorite things – NC pulled pork, and booze! It’s so hard to find a vinegar-based NC sauce out here in Oregon, and I do miss it so. Now I can make all the tasty sauce I want!