tales from the egg: pastrami short ribs, boston butt, lemon pepper and spicy chicken

Smoke

When you have a Big Green Egg you try to find excuses to use it. This past weekend, I started by just inviting some friends over, but then our friend Meg realized that with the return of Arrested Development, we should host a bigger shin-dig and have a full on BBQ fest. The BBQ and Bananas event was born (yes, we had frozen bananas, ice cream sandwiches, juice boxes, cornballs, the works). It was a lot of fun. (H/t Corey Bennett, Tim and Leila Regan-Porter, Melanie Bruchet (of the Cooking up Happy blog), and Lauren Morrill Ragusea (Find her in a bookstore near you!) for bringing the above themed goodies)

I want to have a special space here at the Bungalow for my many egg-ventures. I have gotten adept at basic ribs and pulled pork, but I am hoping to greatly expand by repertoire. I started this past weekend with some pastrami-brined short ribs. I got the inspiration from an Esquire article about some guys in Houston making classy bbq. I figured I could do the same.

Brining the night away…

After picking up some quality short-ribs, I set out to brine. In a large bowl I added hefty amounts of pickling spice, coriander, pepper, sea salt, paprika, and thyme. I added hot water and whisked until the dissolvable bits were dissolved and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I placed the ribs in a gallon freezer bag and poured the brine over the top. In the fridge, the ribs brined for over 16 hours.

Note the every recipe for pastrami will call for pink salt. This is designed to help in the brining by adding a distinct flavor while preserving a good color. I unfortunately could not find natural pink salt.

After the brine, as with a good many things, you have to pat these guys dry. I made a special rub of sea salt, whole peppercorns, coriander, and paprika in the food processor, milling the spices until coarsely ground. Add the rub to each rib, being sure to coat the entire top, meaty portion.

With the smoker ready to go and some smoked apple chips handy, head outside! After the chips were added, I got the egg up to 300 and smoked the ribs for about 3 hours, until they began to get a little stringy and easily pulled from the bone.

You guys...

You guys…

Now, for this iteration of the pulled pork. Instead of my usual sweet and spicy rub, I made a special herby rub this time. Salt replaced sugar as the heaviest ingredient and used its friends cumin, thyme, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flake, ground mustard and cinnamon do the work. After coating the butt in canola oil, I applied copious amounts of the rub and let it sit in the fridge for about four hours. It may of have to go on the grill at midnight and smoke for 12 1/2 hours in an applewood bath, but it was well worth it as you see.

So much flavor.

So much flavor.

I am a fan for mopping the butt a few times and flipping a couple of times in the process, just not for longer than an hour per time with the fat cap down. The whole point of slow smoking a shoulder butt is to melt the fat into the muscle and create a juicy, hand pickable meat like so…

Pulled

For a mop, this time, I used red wine, cider vinegar, water, and some of the rub. I added a little bit of rub (which I added sugar later in the process) after each mop. If you do it this way, you will not need sauce, but if you must, I’ll help you make your own sometime.

In my efforts to get a little more diverse, I invested in Myron Mixon’s new book. He has some great pointers and an excellent lemon pepper chicken recipe. In deference to him, I will not post his recipe online, but know that it uses lemon curb as a base for the marinade and includes fresh garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, and hot sauce. You add this to a whole chicken coating the bird under and over the skin. Smoking with applewood for an hour and half, and then letting it rest for 15, will render a super juicy, easy to carve into pieces, bird.

The second bird I did (same time and process and the above) with a homemade spicy marinade. I mixed turbinado sugar, kosher salt, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and red pepper flake with louisiana hot sauce and rubbed the bird down. This was a seriously spicy, full flavor bird. You can tell they wanted to be cooked.

Party Fowl

Party Fowl

All told, this was one heck of a spread. I can’t tell you any of the amounts of the above since you will come to realize this is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is to start your rubs with your featured flavor (salty or sweet) and go 4 parts of it to 1 part of your next spice. Then, for the remaining spices, only use 1/4 of the amount you used for the second ingredient. I like to layer the rubs in a bowl and use sight to gauge my taste and then mix them up before applying.

As always, be adventurous, trust your taste, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

3 comments

  1. The short ribs and chickens were amazing, but that was seriously some of the most well-prepared, flavorful butt I have ever tasted. And we all know I’ve tasted lots of butt.

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