Memphis-Style Barbecued Pork Shoulder

one 4- to 5-pound pork butt or shoulder roast
The South Shall Rub Again [see below]
Memphis Mop, optional [see below]
Tennessee-Style Barbecue Sauce [see below]
8 to 10 sandwich buns, optional
Red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Texas Pete, optional

1. Sprinkle a generous layer of the rub on all surfaces of the pork roast. Using your hands (preferably gloved to prevent spices from burning your eyes or skin), rub the mixture into the meat. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

2. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and unwrap about 1 hour before placing on the grill to let it come to room temperature.

3. Soak the wood chips in water at least 1 hour before you begin grilling.

4. Prepare a fire by lighting wood or a combination of wood and charcoal in the firebox of a cooker or at the end of a barrel smoker opposite the end with the vent or chimney. Or preheat a gas smoker/grill.

5. When the fire has burned down to glowing embers or the coals are covered with gray ash, place the pork, fat side up, on the grate but not directly over the coals. Or place a full pan of water over the coals or hot lava rocks, then position the grate and add the pork.

6. Cover the cooker and smoke the pork shoulder, turning it every hour or so, until it is tender and the internal temperature reaches 195°F on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 6 hours. [Tester’s note: 195°F yields well-done meat.]

7. Tend the fire by adding wood (or wood embers from a separate fire) or coals to keep it from going out and to keep the temperature inside the cooker between 225°F and 300°F. If using a mop, brush it on when turning the pork or after tending the fire. Add soaked chips as needed to maintain the smoke flavoring.

8. Remove the pork from the cooker and allow it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for about 15 minutes. Trim off the exterior skin and fat and slice very thin.

9. For pulled pork, wearing heavy rubber gloves (if the pork is just off the cooker) or latex food-handling gloves, peel away and discard the skin layer. Then, with your fingers or two forks, pull the pork into thin pieces about 1 by 2 inches.

10. For sandwiches, pile slices or pulled pieces between buns with a generous slather of barbecue sauce and a crown of coleslaw.

11. Make sure red pepper sauce is handy for those who want to sprinkle it on their sandwiches. Serves 8 to 10.

The South Shall Rub Again

From Dotty Griffith’s Celebrating Barbecue

3 tablespoons granulated garlic
3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons ground sage
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In an airtight container with a lid, combine all the ingredients. Shake to mix well. This will keep up to a year in a cool, dark place. Makes about 2 1/2 cups. [Tester’s note: we only got 1 cup.]

Memphis Mop

From Dotty Griffith’s Celebrating Barbecue

2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup molasses, optional
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce, optional

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, margarine or butter, mustard, salt, and pepper. If desired, add the molasses and/or red pepper sauce. Bring to a boil over low heat [tester’s note: we used high heat]. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer about 10 minutes. Makes about 3 cups. [Tester’s note: we got 2 cups.]

Tennessee-Style Barbecue Sauce

From Dotty Griffith’s Celebrating Barbecue

1 cup ketchup
one 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar [tester’s note: we preferred it with 1/2 cup or less]
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper sauce or to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until the sugar melts and the ingredients are blended. Lower the heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 cups. [Tester’s note: we got 2 1/2 cups, with the reduced amount of vinegar.]

Bubba Hodges’ Egypt Brisket

From Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2002)

Packer’s cut (untrimmed) USDA Select beef brisket, 8 to 10 pounds
1 cup Tony Chachere’s Original Seasoning [available at], or the dry rub of your choice
6 cups John Northington’s Mop [see below]

Rinse the brisket and pat dry. Sprinkle it on both sides with the dry rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Set up your smoker for indirect heat with a water pan. Use wood chips, chunks, or logs, and keep up a good level of smoke. Maintain a temperature between 210°F and 250°F. Place the brisket in the smoker, as far from the heat source as possible. Mop every 30 minutes, rotating the brisket to cook it evenly, keeping the fat-side up at all times. Add charcoal and/or wood every hour or so to keep the fire burning evenly.

After 4 hours, wrap the brisket in heavy-duty aluminum foil with what’s left of the mop sauce, including the onions and lemons. Seal and continue cooking over low coals for 4 more hours. (Or put it in a roasting pan in a 250°F oven.) The meat is done when a thermometer reads 185°F at the thick end or when a probe goes through with little resistance. Serves 10 to 12.

John Northington’s Mop

From Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook

1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ranch dressing
3 small onions, sliced
one 10-ounce bottle Lone Star Beer
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 lemons, cut in half

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, squeezing the lemons as you add them. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Keep the mop sauce in a pot on top of the smoker so it stays hot. Makes about 6 cups.

Barbecue Joint Brisket Sauce

From Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook

2 cups Ancho Barbecue Sauce [see below] or the sauce of your choice
up to 1 cup meat drippings

Just before serving, heat the barbecue sauce, adding fresh meat drippings as you slice your barbecue. Do not store sauce to which meat drippings have been added. Makes about 3 cups.

Ancho Barbecue Sauce

From Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook

3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced onion
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar [tester’s note: we would double the sugar or reduce the vinegar by half, at least]
1/4 cup cider vinegar [tester’s note: this amount makes an extremely vinegary sauce]
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
[tester’s note: you will probably want to add water, as this makes a very thick sauce]

Soak the anchos in hot water for 30 minutes or until soft. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until they begin to wilt. Add the ketchup and anchos and sauté for 4 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool. Place in a blender or food processor and purée. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 3 weeks. Reheat before serving. Makes about 4 cups.