So after about a couple of years of smoking, I decided to enter into a BBQ competition. First, the rules that you know and very well understand about true BBQ competition just throw out the window right now LOL. The contest was held at a winery in Virginia and they said to everyone that joined, make whatever BBQ you want, in anyway possible, as long as it weighs more than 3 lbs.
So the contest involved a little over 40 different entries, from baby backs, to spare, to pulled pork, to "chopped" pork (not pulled then chopped, like cube chopped, never seen it before), and chicken.
I myself did pulled pork, its what I do best. So you will get the "how I prep my butt" and competition story all in one.....
After buying two butts from BJs (Boston butts, I really do notice a difference and like them better than pork shoulder), got home and started the prep. Because the competition was in the middle of the day on a Saturday, I actually took off early from work to smoke my pork (greatest excuse ever to take off early on a Friday in my opinion). Now here is where I sometimes do one thing, and sometimes do another. The fat layer, I usually leave it on and rub it down just as I would any part of the meat. I have it in my mind that you rub the pork, the fat gets a flavor that when it melts, transfers to the butt. Other times (like this one) I actually tried to trim the fat back off so the rub would hit more of the meat. Also forgot the step, I rub it down with mustard first.
Again the decision changes for me, sometimes the day before I will throw the mustard and the rub on the night before foil it and drop it in the fridge. Some people say it gives the meat more time to get the flavor of the rub. Honestly can't tell the difference. This time, I just did it same day.
I'm leaving out the rub, because that is truly unique to everyone, so no need to bring that up.
Now we get to the interesting part of the wood. I live in the Southeast, so everyone and their mother apparently wants everything sweet. I mention this because I get a lot of people using Apple wood for smoking pork. Personally, I like sticking with what I call the smokey woods, mesquite and hickory. Some people say the mesquite is overpowering (not on my pork just in general), I extremely disagree. One reason people love my pork is that its very smooth and smokey, and extremely easy to eat.
So I drop the pork in around 230 - 250 for about 10 - 12 hours. I add wood every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours, after that once an hour spray apple juice. The water pan, I drop in cheap beer and apple juice. Internal temp hits around 195 - 200, I grab the butts, wrap them in foil and towels, drop them in the cooler for an hour.
Biggest debate of all time....sauce or no sauce?
I'm very young age, and I get told I have the old school mentality because sauce is just something I never ever ever put on my pulled pork. Now I do make a sauce (cherry bourbon), that people can put on if they so like it to have a really good kick.
Competition day rolls around, I reheat the pork in a foil tray in the oven, then cover up and towel in a cooler. Hour drive to the competition. I see pulled pork literally swimming in sauce. Not even close to being a fan of that. Well after everything had been said and done, I got announced, 3rd place overall. I was happy just to be apart of the competition, but to place was just icing on the top.
I actually went around to people, to talk to them about the BBQ that they had and what they voted for and to get their feedback. Just to speak to people that aren't your friends or family, and to get a true impartial opinion about your Q is amazing to me.
I heard things about "needed more kick", "needed more sauce". I understand you can make the same Q for 5 different competitions with 5 different sets of judges, and because people are different, you can win 4 of them, and be in dead last in the 5th.
So I want to hear from everyone things that you do for your pulled pork...
Do you rub and let it sit overnight?
How have you found ways for the smoke and rub to penetrate as deep into the butt as possible?
Any other things that you think after reading this story you want to share. Thanks for reading, I know a long post, sorry!