2 posts

BBQ Pulled Pork & Ribs

As Autumn rolled in, I saw a clear day coming up on the weather forecast and decided to spend it in the garden working on my barbeque smoking skills. I wanted to run out my latest bible of meat, the Pitt Cue Co Cookbook, but I’m far from a barbeque expert, so I decided to keep it simple and try some pulled pork. The book says that a full smoker works better, so I decided to whack some ribs in too to keep it busy.

The nice thing about these two recipes is that they both use one rub and one sauce, so I didn’t have too much to do in order to throw it all together. The Pitt Cue Co House Rub was simple enough, and is absolutely gorgeous - I’ve been throwing it in everything since. The Mother Sauce, on the other hand, is, in my kitchen, pretty tough to put together, so I doctored it rather heavily. Here's my ingredients list:

Cheapskate Mother Sauce

400ml beef stock
1 shallot
10g butter
40ml Marsala
40ml Ketchup
15ml Cider Vinegar
8ml Worcestershire sauce
1/4tsp Tabasco
15g brown sugar

I have no doubt that it’s nowhere near as good, but who the hell has dry-aged beef trim and pork dripping knocking about in their kitchen?

I have a 57cm Weber Kettle. I used the minion method for my coals, piling up a load of coals on one side of the kettle and pouring lit coals on top. This works, but it’s quite hard to get the coals into a decent pile that will burn well - I’ve since learned about the snake method, which I’ll try next time. I stuck a water tray underneath the meat, and also put one above the coals as the Pitt Cue Co book suggests. Apparently a full smoker stays quite moist inside, but with less meat it’s worth adding more water to help recreate that environment. I soaked a good few handfuls of whiskey chips in a bucket and threw about half of them on top of the coals at the start, adding the rest bit by bit throughout the day. I’m not very happy with this method: I shouldn’t have opened the grill as much. In future, the snake method plus a load of wood on top of the coals should make this better.

The pork prep was pretty straight-forward - I trimmed some fat and covered it in rub as thoroughly as I could. The ribs were basically the same, but with the extra step of removing the membrane from the underside. This is a bit weird and I’d never done it before, but it turned out to be super easy. Weber has a handy guide that’s pretty easy to follow.

With that, I fired up my chimney starter, poured the lit coals in, put the meat on the grill, and left it. I’m pretty bad at this bit - I’m not used to the temperature of my grill yet so I check it a lot, and I peek at the meat too much to see how it’s cooking. Once I’ve done a few more smokes I’m sure I’ll calm down a bit!

1kg of pork took 8 hours, and probably could have coped with another. The ribs took 3 hours and 40 minutes.

The ribs got a brush with mother sauce, then went back on the grill for a bit. The pork got wrapped in foil to rest and then torn up and smothered in that lovely mother sauce. The end result was some really nice pulled pork, and the best ribs I’ve ever eaten. I’m no rib expert, mind. I’ll definitely be doing both of these recipes again: they both fit onto my BBQ nicely and they make for an incredible meal.

Some Pretty Good Food

It’s not hard to find good food in the UK. I met some tourists who were complaining that you can’t get good British cuisine anywhere, which I can appreciate - it’s often hard to find something that is truly “British” and not borrowed from another culture or country - but as long as you’re not too fussy about where the recipe comes from, good food is pretty easy to find. Don’t get me wrong, there’s terrible food out there too, but that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about good food! Be excited about good food!

I’m rather partial to burgers. I like meat, I like bread, it’s a perfect match. I really love how the burger, as a concept, is so simple, and yet there is so much scope for variation. The selection of meat, how you cook it, the kind of bun, the condiments, the toppings - oh, there’s so much that makes for a good or bad burger. So, whenever I have the opportunity to try out somewhere that considers itself a real, legit burger bar, I get excited. Last weekend we were going to Secret Cinema, which was cancelled, so we changed our plans and hit up London for some beers and burgers. There are a lot of good burgers in London, so we were spoilt for choice, but we ended up in Camden, so we ended up in Honest Burgers.

Honest Burgers is a pretty simple place with a straight up menu. It promises very little but burgers, and very little in the way of toppings. I am fine with toppings, of course: Atomic Burger is my all-time favourite burger joint just because of the wonderful things it offers in the bun, but there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics. At Honest, all of the furniture is plain food. The menu is written on the blackboard wall in chalk, and handed to you on a beaten up bit of paper. It’s a small place, consisting of maybe 5 tables and a small kitchen that probably couldn’t cook much other food if it wanted to. There’s a little bar surrounding the kitchen, which is a really nice touch: the least fancy theatre kitchen I’ve ever seen.

The menu kind of runs as a flow chart. First you pick chicken, beef, or veg, then you pick one of a couple of styles. “Cheeseburger” seemed like the right thing to do, so I went for red leicester. All burgers come with chips, which, to me, seems like a wise move - I always think it feels like a cheat when sides cost extra. I ordered some onion rings too, because I’m always in search of the perfect onion ring. Flipping the menu over I picked a beer from a list of decent craft brews - a Bethnal Pale Ale from the Redchurch brewery. The state of beer in the UK at the moment is really exciting - sure, you might pay a lot for some of it, but there are so many good beers out there to try you never have to drink the same thing twice. The fact that I can get a burger made with decent British beef and drink ale brewed down the road is truly fantastic.

The food was presented in a simple style that I just love: blue and white metal plates, no garnish, a piece of greaseproof paper under the food. Napkins came tucked between a bottle of ketchup and a bottle of mayonnaise. Honest Burgers opts for a glazed bun, not too thick, not fancy, but sturdy enough to hold together. The burger was topped with enough cheese, a little onion relish, and a simple bit of lettuce. It didn't need anything else. This is how I think burgers should be: simple and delicious, a few quality ingredients put together to make something greater than the sum of their parts. The chips were cooked to perfection, nice and crispy, and the onion rings were beautiful: cooked just right, so the onions don't disolve and maintain just the tiniest amount of crunch. The burgers were the main event, and were everything they should be: pink in the middle, cooked to perfection, firm and yet melt-in-the-mouth soft was soon as you bit into them. The meat was delicious, high quality stuff (I believe they're stocked by Ginger Pig?), with nothing added: just great beef.

So there’s my review, which reads like an advert, for Honest Burgers. It’s damn good, check it out. Try Atomic Burger, too.