Apple/Cherry Dry Rubbed Butt & Back-up Smoke for late dinner: Recipe & Q-view

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Aug 27, 2008
Hey Everyone!

My order for a key ingredient to another flavor sensation arrived at my door about 5:00 pm tonight, so the spice grinder was buzzing up a storm for a few minutes while I put together another recipe to share.

I originally planned on releasing this on pork loin back ribs, but this is a slight variation to what I planned on for that smoke, so I'll bring it out to you on something a bit more popular to the masses, being pulled pork. I'll kick out the rib rub when I get some to smoke...sound OK?


4 Tbls dried apple chips, broken up and ground

3 Tbls dried tart cherry, ground

1.5 Tbls garlic, ground

2 Tbls black peppercorn, ground

1 Tbls rosemary leaves, ground

1/2 Tbls oregano, ground

1 Tbls paprika

2 Tbls kosher salt, added during second grind of the fruit and spice blend to reduce caking of the blend

To find the preparation method (it may be confusing to overcome a couple hurdles with the cherries), go to the Wiki and look for Cherry Dry Rub.

So, for tonight's victim, I have:


I scored the fat cap @ 1/2" intervals to hold onto some extra dry rub which should grab hold of tons of meat juices for a nice bark. I'll also lay it fat cap up in the smoker for self basting while it goes through it's long smoky ride:


This was trimmed pretty nicely with the thickest parts of the cap being about 1/2 - 5/8"...perfect for my liking...just enough to do it's job of protecting the meat in the smoker, and then leave a cool looking bark with the crispy scored'll get a look at that in about 15 hours:


The dry rub recipe came out at about 1 and 1/8 cup after a double grind, and it took a full cup for the main rub-down. I do actually work the rub in on butts, especially the scored fat cap, where I gently work it between the cuts, careful not to tear off the scored fat. I try to be extra gentle with a scoring this close together:




I took the remaining 1/8 cup of dry rub and spread it out over the fat cap. This will give the meat juices a bit of extra rub to soak into as it should be a massive bark on top if this works like it has for me a few other times:



Into the Smoke Vault 24 gasser with a nearly full water pan, 11*F ambient temps, 225* with apple, cherry and pecan smoke woods...I got some pecan a couple weeks ago and thought this would be another good place to try it. I really like charcoal smokes, but for all-nighters, I'm opting for the gas rig for less tending so I can get some sleep after everything's running smoothly...I wait for the initial thermal absorption where the chamber temp spikes a bit (1-2 hrs), then dial it in for temp I want to ride the night, and tonight I will getting some eyelid inspections done while the pork gets happy. I'll stab a probe for I/T's first thing in the morning and see what Tuesday's pulled pork dinner is looking like:



The dry rub tastes and smells great...simple but the combination of the tart cherry with the sweeter apple comes in nicely after I took a pinch. The smoke combination sure can't hurt anything either. I though about using a bit of hickory as well for a bit more bite, but the pecan has come through nicely with the few smokes I've used it on with apple, and the cherry is one of my favorites which does quite well alone or blended, so I'm betting on a nice flavor, even with the heavier meat flavor of the pork shoulder.

So, the smoke started @ 10:00 pm MST, and dinner is planned for 6:00 pm...will I make it time? Biggest chunk of pork I ever smoked, I think, and it has alot of bone, so a long smoke is coming my way right now.

See ya in the morning, fellow smoke lovers!!!

Thanks for dropping by and checking out my new rub and another pulled pork smoke!

One more smoke check, and if all's well I think it's lights out for about 6 hours...

9 hours in and all is well. I crawled out of bed this morning at 7:00 am, grabbed the camera and headed out the door. The water pan had run dry, which I knew would happen after that long of a stretch without tending, especially with cold temps and a higher burner setting to compensate. Chamber temp was 275*, which is fine as well, being I started at 225*, this will bring the average temp up to around 235*. Also, it helped in the formation of appears to be a wicked bark.

I'm thinking of running a no-foil smoke for this. I had a no-foil pair of butts in my charcoal gourmet on my last PP smoke and that was fantastic!

I rotated the cooking grate 180* after taking the first pic, took the second, stabbed a probe and got a 161* I/T:



There's still some dry rub on top from the extra layer I piled on which hasn't been saturated with juices, so it's catching everything that comes it's way.

Not alot of bone showing just yet, so some shrinkage needs to happen before this beast is anywhere near ready to rest. I'll shoot for ~195-200*, and probe for tenderness before it comes out of the smoker.

Pics are a little fuzzy...just cleaned the lens for the finish this evening.

Another hunka pork going down in history!

That looks fantastic Eric. I have a butt in the fridge right now getting ready to rub it down & smoke it in the next couple of days. I'm also going to do a no foil on this one. I'm looking for a good amount of bark as well. Can't wait to see the finish of yours.
Thanks everyone! Looks to be a long smoke as I expected. Hit a couple plateaus, one in the lower 160's, and another in the mid 170's which is where it's at right now.

Bouncing a bit between 174-175* for the past 40 minutes so it should start cruizing towards the 180's directly. I thought just about now would be a good time to toss in a large yellow onion for garnishing sammies with. I did the onion blossom trick, slicing into eight's downward towards the root after peeling off the outermost layer:


More of the extra dry rub I layered on top has sponged-up should be completely absorbed into the bark before this beast reaches 195*. I'll poke around a bit and check for actual tenderness @ 195* I/T and go from there...sometimes ~195* will get you there, and sometimes not...depends on the personality of the particular cut you're dealing with...some get REALLY stubborn, but when a no-foil method is used instead of foiling, it can change the variables as well due to a slower rise in internal temp towards the finish. That in itself can reduce the tenderness point (temp) just a tad, I suspect. I'm diggin' the color change of the dry's transforming nicely:




Edit: forgot to mention, this was @ 14.75 hours into the smoke...
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Oh man, this no-foiled butt is kickin' my butt! 184* I/T after 19+ hours, so no pulled pork for dinner tonight...well, at least not for the main course...10:00 pm if I'm lucky. However, I have an ace up my sleave. I did a 1 hour quick down & dirty brine of 4 chicken leg quarters, seasoned them with Citrus Grill and it's in the brinkmann gourmet charcoal smoker as I type with apple/pecan and a hot stoked-up briq fire...if I can get 300-325* grate temps I might make a 45-60 minute late deadline for dinner. Well, not everyone is ready for a 6:00 pm dinner anyway, so I do have some time to work with. I could have skipped the brine, but I'm starting to get hooked on using it for chix pieces alot lately.

I knew I was in trouble at about 3:30 pm when I still  wasn't over 180*, so chix went into the brine shortly thereafter.

Just coming out to play after a refreshing bath:


Just out of brine, ready to season both sides:



Call me when you're ready to come out and be eaten...and don't dilly-dally, either!!! LOL!!!:


The oinion blossom looks cool as if I only had some pulled pork to top with this baby...:


I'll also pop a grate loaded with 1/2lb pre-made ground chuck burgers which I scrounged up from the freezer to go along with the chix quarters:


Chix is in for 45 minutes, so I'm heading back out to drop the grate loaded with burgers in...and have look at temps on that beastly pork butt.

Finish will come...jeez it's been awhile since I had a smoke get strung out like this...crazy!

Your PP is looking great...Good thing you had a plan for dinner instead of the butt!

I'll be waiting for the finished Qview it done yet? bout now?

Come one i'm friggin dying here!!!!LOL  ok i'm better now....
Man, you got me going.  When you said you were putting in the chix, I leaped to the conclusion you were going to the Weber OTG, then you said you were adding the hamburger and I'm wondering what mod you made to the OTG, then I remembered, you've got a Gourmet Smoker.  That's enough thinking for me today, time to go back to
Thanks all! 20.5 hours to milk this up to 200* I/T...what aride, but was it ever worth waiting for!!!

I had some issues again uploading pics, so I'll just try to get this out for ya...

After waiting sooooooooo long for finished temps, I simply covered this bad boy with a heavy-weight kitchen towel frsh out of the dryer from laundering, and gave it an hour to rest while we warmed our appetites up to the chix and burgers:





I didn't want to mess with trying to take temps in the chix qtrs while in the gourmet, so I pulled 'em out and brought 'em in for further inspection...the juices in the platter are from the nuke-box to bring up to finish after cutting the legs off of the, I hardly ever do that but tonight called for desperate measures...LOL!!! They were still holding onto plenty of juices, so no harm done...maybe 2-1/2 Tbls of natural juices in the plater from over 5lbs of chix meat:


I managed to find the small plate of burgers with the digicam only showing one left on the plate...hmm...that was fast!!! Oh, I failed to mention the seasoning...Webers Gourmet Burger...good stuff for when you're in a pinch on time to get things going in a hurry:

7abb4ca4_26.jpg's your warning.........

                            DROOL ALERT                                         


OK, now that you've been warned, lets get onto some pulled pork, shall we???

Was it worth the wait? You better believe it!

I have a theory about why the end product pulled without much of the nasties you typically find in the shoulder cut...the additional time involved with no foiling seems to have just melted it all away for the most part. I found a small amount of interior fat, maybe 2 Tbls, and about that same amount of the callogens in that one spot you aleays find several bigger chunks which I always separate and pitch out. Anyway, this was by far the best end product I've had for pulled pork in...well, maybe the best ever. The bone had some crusted meat holding onto the smaller end which snapped off rather easily, and the rest was clean.

I give you my unadulterated, un-foiled, hearty encrusted pulled finishing sauce, no panned drippings...just meat:






I've been famous for my massive pulled pork, beef chuck or beef brisket sandiches, weighing in at close to 5lbs (yea, forget quizno's or subway), and here is a slice of what I'm referring to...a full size loaf of crusty french bread, cut open and piled high with sliced pepperjack cheese and pulled pork. I left out the smoked onion blossom for those who wanted to add it, as some aren't good friends with onion. Another great garnish is romane lettuce hearts:



OK, I gave you all of my best visual effects in my arsenal of pics, so now, my best description of how this all came together...

The dry rub had this slightly sweet and tart, slightly fruity background, with the peppercorn and garlic being somewhat dominant while the rest of the spices just held it all together for the pork and smoke. I was pleasantly surprised how the rub flavors, being relatively mild, still had enough to carry itself with the heavier pork shoulder's natural flavors. It didn't cover any of the pork, the pork didn't overwhelm the rub, and yet it seemed so mild. The apple/cherry/pecan smoke was a really good final touch to the whole flavor profile. I couldn't really pick any of the smoke woods apart in the taste of it all, but it seemed somewhat mild, yet deep and aromatic. The smell seemed a bit stronger from the pecan than the apple or cherry.

I will say that the cherry played a major role in the overall strength or back-bone of the rub. I feel that if the cherry were omitted from this recipe, it wouldn't stand up to the pork shoulder's flavor at all. On the flip side of this, however, if used on milder pork meat such as baby backs, spares or loin backs with the apple and little or no cherry, it would be a nice addition of the sweeter apple flavor. Think of it as spraying apple juice on your ribs, without ever having to open the smoke chamber door to get what you want.

Oh, and how was the bark?  Absalutely fantastic!!! I had to work on the bark to get the chunks of meat down to a usable size because the bark had such a stranglehold on was really cool! It acted like nothing but the bark was holding it togetehr when I lifted it off the grate of the smoker, and when I layed it down on the pan, I could hear the bark crunching under the weight of that monster shoulder. I wanted a crispy bark, and man, did I ever get what I wanted!

A little indulgence, if I may:

Overall, I believe that one of my quests for the ultimate smoke has been fulfilled, right here, right now, this very moment in time. That may sound a bit deep for anyone who hasn't discovered their quest(s) just yet, or especially if you're not sure what I'm refering to. If you've tried different methods, different dry rubs, etc, and you're not quite fully and completely satisfied with the result of one of your all-time favorite things to smoke, even though it may be something really great, and there just seems to be something missing...something in the unknown...and you begin to look for that something which may help make your great smoked feast that much better...that's how it all begins, my friends.  That is where my quests have started. I've done some great pulled pork in the past couple of years, but none seem to compare very closely to this one. My last pulled pork was a no-foiled double-butt smoke in my little gourmet first no-foiled butts...lots of work tending that smoke...great pulled pork as why didn't it make the mark on my quest for the ultimate pulled pork? I can't say for sure...maybe because I didn't understand 100% what I really wanted from that smoke. Or, maybe I didn't fully understand how to get what I really wanted from that smoke. I just didn't feel it like I do now. Maybe, just maybe, this time I did understand what I really wanted and knew how to make it happen???

If you've looked at my profile, I've had that listed for quite some time, and never have I imagined reaching one of my quests for the ultimate smoke. Feels great! What's next? Time will only tell...

That was one fun ride, I must admit...long smoke, but worth every minute of it.

Hope you enjoyed looking and reading as much as I enjoyed pulling it off...and as much as we enjoyed eating it. Wish we had smoke delivery PM's, 'cause I'd gladly fill orders 'til midnight if that's what it took to get some out to all who wanted a sandwich! Well, heck, I showed you a way to make it happen, so get those shoulders rubbed-down and smokers heated up! LOL!!!

Thanks again, and great smokes to all!

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Congrats on the Shoulder. I enjoyed the ride with you.
Eric that is one great looking meal right there. That PP looks awesome. Congrats on waiting out the stalls - man those things drive me nuts sometimes
Thank you for letting us share your ride or more accurately rides of which there have been many.  While this may seem daunting to many, it really helps that you explain along the way, the whys and wherefores and more importantly, the how come's. 
Well Eric you inspired me to do a no foil butt. It's been in the smoker since 6:30 AM. I checked it around noon & put a probe in it. It's sitting at about 168 right now. The bark already looks good. Thanks for the inspiration Buddy!
Thank-you, everyone. I had about 24 hours to let this one soak in, and a couple more PP sammies for dinner tonight (the gals had a good batch of it warmed-up in a covered skillet when I got home from work). Man, that pulled pork hits your gut like a rock after the second 1/3 or 1/2 pounder goes down...good eating though.

Lastnight when I broke out the burgers and chicken, everyone ate a little of what they wanted, but were in no hurry to get filled up on the quick-smoked stuff...funny thing was, even the chix and burgers were pretty good eats...but, they waited for the pulled pork. I can't seem to get enough PP smokes in lately, so this was like an over-due ceremony for us.

Well, you know how many guys say the leftovers taste even better? This was no exception. I think all they did was toss a dash or two of water in the pan...well, maybe they didn't have to (they're all asleep now, so I can't ask 'em). Anyway, the sweetness and tartness of the apple/cherry in the rub is a bit more prominent in the flavor profile now, and all in a good way. Still a nice smoke aroma and flavor, and it's still very moist and fall apart tender pulled pork. The bark suffered some minor softening, but overall there's a good chew to it yet ....gotta love it! We're all happy with the results here...lots of smiles to go around during dinner.

All I can say to anyone who's never tried no-foiled before is to be patient, because without foiling, it can add about 20-25% (maybe more) to the overall cooking time. Getting from 180-200* I/T can seem like an least for this large fella I smoked. But it's worth the extra time to get a killer bark. If the well developed bark is something you're not sure you'd like, give it a try and see what you think...nothing like changing things up now and then, especially if you're looking for something different to try.

And, you can always ask Smokin Al how he liked his.

Been fun, as always!

Fabulous smoke Eric!!

What amazes me is just how easy it is to make outstanding Q at home.

We don't eat out at BBQ places anymore. They just don't measure up.

Thank you for all the great recipes and your efforts showing us how it's done!!

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