The other week, a friend took us out to Capital Grille for dinner. It was great! There were a few of us at the table, and my buddy introduced me as "Clumsy Ox knows three things: Unix, beer, and meat!" I was flattered!
Well, I'm no meat expert, but I've done some research, mainly because I love cooking, and I love eating (which is why I look like I do). But best of all, I like cooking on my grills. Right now I have three of them, but I'm hoping to get rid of one this week.
At any rate, my research eventually led me to the great Guru of the Grill, C. Clark "Smokey" Hale. You can read his column online, but I sincerely recommend his book. You can get it at the Barbecue Store too.
Now, one thing I've noticed consistently is, people who get into grilling like to buy books and try the recipes, but they almost always get the wrong books! Take, for example, this guy I found on a barbecue forum yesterday. This guy was talking about "North Carolina Pulled Pork", which he cooked at 325F for 4 hours!
As someone who's spent several years in North Carolina, let me assure you, pulled pig ain't cooked at 325F! You're about 100F too high there, buddyroe. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that these people think "barbecue" means pig with some abomination of catsup and brown sugar dumped on it.
If you're barbecueing, you're sitting with your grill for a minimum of 12 hours. If a pork butt takes less than 12 hours, you better check and be sure it's cooked. 325 is roasting!
Don't get me wrong, I like roasted meat. But roasted meat ain't barbecue!
Don't even get me started on people who think you can cook barbecue in a crockpot. Adding liquid smoke to your crockpot to make barbecue is like adding cheap booze to a chuck roast to make prime rib. It doesn't work that way, period.
Actually, the most important ingredient in barbecue is the temperature. It needs to be cooked between 200F and 225F. Yeah, I know how it is: the temperature spikes sometimes, and you end up at 260F or even 325F. but the point is, you get that back down as soon as you can, back to the 200F.
Sauces, rubs, interesting smoke woods: all these are secondary to the temperature. A roast left alone in the oven overnight at 200F is surprisingly close to barbecue. Closer, in fact, than one rubbed, sauced, and carefully grilled over coals at 325F for a few hours. Don't believe me? Try it out.