Tarragon Potato Salad

On August 17, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Summer is ending and with that comes the time of year when people try to get in the last summer picnics.  We were in Northern Michigan last week attending a BBQ at my brother in-law’s place and asked to bring a dish.  It had been awhile since I’ve made a potato salad, but there was something so good sounding when thinking about a fresh made potato salad.

I found some Tarragon at the local Farmer’s Market in Northport, Michigan.  There were some fresh shallots for sale too.

One of the great things about potato salad is how easy and versatile of a dish it is.  I’m not a fan of potato salads with egg whites, but if you are you can add some chopped egg whites to this.  Also feel free to add other vegetables like celery or carrots.

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Tarragon Potato Salad
Serves 6-8

3 lbs white or red potatoes, cubed into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 large shallot, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Tarragon
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 10-12 minutes until cooked, but still firm not mushy. Drain and set aside.

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Add potatoes, mayonnaise, shallot, and Tarragon to a large bowl.  Mix and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve.

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Cherry Republic BBQ Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

On July 6, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Normally I would put a pork butt in the smoker and wait 12 hours for an amazing piece of meat.  Unfortunately, a lot was going on this Fourth of July holiday weekend and well I almost forgot to cook the pork I defrosted.  It was 11am and we were getting ready to head to the beach so I needed to do something quick. So this is a solution to quick using slow.

A slower cooker (aka Crock Pot) was my solution. It was slow enough and fast enough at the same time. On high, I could have the pork ready in 6 to 8 hours the perfect amount of time for when the family came back from the beach ready to eat dinner.

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You do lose the rich smoky flavor with a slow cooker, but this recipe depends more on the barbecue sauce.  I went with one I received as a gift from Glen Arbor, Michigan’s Cherry Republic. Their Spicy Cherry BBQ Sauce has a hint of spice that still maintains the sweet cherry flavor. For a jar barbecue sauce, it’s pretty good for a sandwich like this, but you can use whatever sauce you like.

Before arriving home, we also made a quick stop for some La Brea bread bake at home ciabatta bread. They are a great option. If you can’t find them, use a rustic roll instead of a hamburger bun. You’ll enjoy it a lot more and the bread will not get soaked in sauce.

Finally for the meat, use a sustainable ranch.  For this recipe, I bought the pork at the Studio City Farmer’s Market.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Serves 4-6

3-4 lb Pork Butt
1 sweet yellow onion, sliced in half moons
4 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup bbq sauce (optional)

Combine dark brown sugar, salt, and spices into a small bowl.  Pat down the pork butt with some paper towel to make it as dry as possible and then rub the spice mixture into the pork on all sides.  Then add the onion and garlic cloves to the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place the rubbed pork on to the onion and garlic and pour in the stock around the sides so as not to wash off the rub.

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Cook for 6-8 hours on high or 10-12 hours on slow.

Remove the pork when done and then strain the liquid left in the slow cooker, reserving the liquid and discarding any onions, garlic, and fat.  Pull the pork by removing strands of meat and placing them back into the slow cooker and then add 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid back into the pot along with the bbq sauce of your choice.  Mix it up and then let it cook on low for 20 minutes in the slow cooker.

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Serve on hard bread rolls along with sides of your choosing.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve put the smoker to some use and not because I haven’t wanted to.  Life has been busy, but I found some time during the three day Memorial Day weekend. A few weeks before I noticed on Instagram a post from the new BBQ restaurant in Studio City, Barrel & Ash, that they get some of their meats from a butcher in Santa Ana called Electric City Butcher.

I looked into Electric City Butcher’s social media profiles to learn more. They focus on responsibly raised meats. I found an article back from 2014 about the owner chef/butcher Michael Puglisi who used to work at Picnik in Pasadena before opening his own place at the 4th Street Market in Santa Ana. Puglisi’s approach to meat was what I was looking for after my former favorite butcher Lindy & Grundy closed their business last year.

Electric City Butcher is a fairly small operation inside the market. It looks to me like the beginnings of bigger things to come. The shop has a glass cooler with meats to select from everything from beef, pork, chicken, duck, sausages, and plenty more.  Michael and his team were cutting up orders and I placed my order for 4 pounds of pork shoulder and some salami in the case.

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Unfortunately, Santa Ana is some distance from where I live, but for those times that I’m in Orange County I’ll definitely make a stop at Electric City Butcher.  My hope is the shop grows and moves into a bigger place in Los Angeles.

I prepped the smoker the next day and trimmed some additional fat off the pork shoulder to maximize the smoke flavoring and rub.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
Serves 6-8

4-5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup peach nectar
1 teaspoon hot sauce, Tapatio or similar

6 burger or brioche buns
2 cups of cole slaw
your favorite bbq sauce

Trim pork shoulder to have minimal fat and do not remove bone.  Mix dry seasonings together to make rub. Remove 2 tablespoons of the rub and place in a mixing bowl and add hot sauce, 1/2 cup apple cider and 1/4 cup peach nectar whisking the rub and liquids together.

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Using the remaining dry rub, rub the pork shoulder all over to cover.  Using an injector, fill with the liquid in the mixing bowl and inject the pork shoulder with the liquid in various points in the pork.

Let the pork sit for 1 hour with rub and injections done.  Prepare your smoker.

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In a spray bottle combine a 1/2 cup of apple cider and 1/2 cup of peach nectar and place spray bottle in the fridge.

Place the pork in the smoker at 225 degrees for 10-12 hours or until it reaches 180 degrees.  Periodically, spray the pork every few hours with the fruit juice spray bottle.

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Remove the finished pork and pull the meat.  Build your sandwiches with buns and place meat and slaw in the bun adding bbq sauce.

 

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Korean BBQ Tacos using a SousVide Supreme

On May 27, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I’m a very lucky person. There are many reasons: a wonderful family, a loving wife, and once a week the Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck makes a stop right behind the building I work. An order of three short rib tacos makes any day better. It makes life better.

Now I love traditional Mexican street tacos, so much so I have written a ton of reviews on a particular kind of taco – the gas station taco. This passion has led me to appreciate what makes a great taco. The perfect taco combines the elements of a slightly oily handmade corn tortilla, perfectly cooked meat, and the right amount of spices with just enough cilantro and chopped onions to compliment, not overpower the meat, then topped with a smooth, spicy hot sauce. That’s the perfect Mexican street taco.

The Korean taco is an entirely different beast.

Fusion cooking is the mixing of various cultures and is something that can go massively wrong or massively right. The Korean BBQ Taco is fusion and Chef Roy who owns Kogi does it massively right.

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Fresh made corn tortillas

If you’re unfamiliar with the Korean BBQ taco, you’re missing out. It’s sweet, spicy and crunchy. The meat is sauced with a good wet marinade that caramelizes the meat complimented by cilantro-onion-lime relish, topped with lightly pickled cabbage and hot sauce. It’s pure fusion. Combining the elements of Korea’s most famous food this decade – Korean BBQ – with Mexico’s most famous dish – tacos.

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A stack of tortillas after they’ve being heated.

I have been meaning to attempt the Korean BBQ taco at home.  Not copying Kogi, but rather making my own version that’s inspired by the Kogi truck.

This recipe is just that. It’s my own creation of the Korean BBQ taco and to make the meat as tender and flavorful as possible I decided I’d try a new style of cooking while I’m at it. I was contacted by SousVide Supreme who wanted to see what I could do using the sous-vide method (translates to “under vacuum”.) This looked like an excellent opportunity to make a tough meat, I used flat iron steak instead of short ribs, into something tender and juicy. Plus how more fusion can you get then a Mexican taco + Korean BBQ + French cooking method.

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SousVide Supreme with vacuum pouch sealer

Sous-vide involves cooking a vacuum sealed bag of meat or vegetables submerged in water at a consistent temperature. The method produces food that is cooked on the outside and inside at the same “doneness” without overcooking, while keeping the food juicy.  The consistent temperature of the water allows you to have the food ready in a large window of time. For example, the flat iron steak I made is ready anytime between 8 to 24 hours great for a long Memorial Day weekend when our family is running around having fun not knowing exactly when we’ll be home for dinner.

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Marinated flat iron steak submerged in SousVide Supreme

We spent the afternoon at Santa Monica Beach enjoying the warm California sun and flying our kites.

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When we came home and removed the flat iron steak from the SousVide Supreme I sliced off a small piece to try it. It was perfect.  It really was juicy and full of flavor. I placed it out on the grill to give it some grill marks and crunch.

Cooked flat iron steak in Korean BBQ marinade

Cooked flat iron steak in Korean BBQ marinade

Look how nicely cooked it was after cooking in the water at 140 degrees for 9 hours.

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A perfect medium

I did make my own tortillas for this recipe, but you don’t have to go that extra step. Just be sure to find some good quality corn tortillas and revitalize them in a saute pan with a little oil.  Heat the oil on medium-high heat and place a tortilla in for 10 seconds and then flip for another 5 seconds remove and place on some paper towels, patting off the excess oil. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Later this month, I’m competing with several other BBQ bloggers at http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousvidebbq.htm. Check back after June 25 to see what recipe I decide to enter and send me a vote if you want. As a bonus, each person who casts a vote for their fan favorite will be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to www.sousvidesupreme.com.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the SousVide Supreme to try as part of a blogger outreach program from the company.  The opinions are my own.

Sous-Vide Korean BBQ Tacos

Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 8 Hours Total Time: 8 Hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. flat iron steak

Marinade

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Pickled Cabbage

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Cilantro relish

  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • juice from 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients and whisk together. Place the meat in the marinade and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, remove the flat iron steak and place into a vacuum pouch pour in about 2 tablespoons of the marinade into the vacuum pouch. Seal the steak using a vacuum food sealer.
  2. Fill up a SousVide Supreme with water and place the rack and sealed meat into the cooker. Set the heat to 140 degrees for medium doneness and let it cook for 8 hour or up to 24 hours. After 8 hours the meat is ready, the remaining time is just flex time that will keep the meat at the final cooked heat without over cooking.
  3. Meanwhile before the meat is ready to be removed from the SousVide Supreme, make the pickled cabbage and cilantro relish.
  4. For the cabbage, combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours for the flavors to combine.
  5. The cilantro relish is made by simply combining the ingredients in a bowl and setting aside. This can be made right before taking the meat out.
  6. When the meat is ready, remove from the water and cut the vacuum pouch open. Remove the flat iron steak and place on a hot grill for a few minutes to give it some char. Remove and slice into small cubes for the taco.
  7. On each tortilla, place some meat followed by the cilantro relish and then the cabbage on top. Pour on some hot sauce too if you desire and serve.
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Perfect Baby Back Ribs

On May 5, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Great ribs are simple with the right equipment. In my case, that’s putting my recent electric smoker purchase to work.  So far I’ve made brisket, pulled pork and now baby back ribs. It’s so easy it doesn’t even feel like cooking.  Though the brisket did take a lot of work, the pulled pork and ribs were pretty much put them in the smoker, forget about them and come back when they should be ready.

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The ribs only took the small effort of coating them with some BBQ rub the night before. Also, the removing of the thin membrane under the rib bones is good too so the rub coats all the meat you’ll be eating.

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The ribs I bought came from my favorite butcher in Los Angeles, Lindy & Grundy. They’re from ReRide Ranch in Lake Hughes, California. The ribs were already perfectly trimmed so I had little prep to do.

 

BBQ Rub

Prep Time: 5 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot smoke paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Put into a shaker for future BBQ needs.

Baby Back Ribs

Prep Time: 15 Mins Cooking Time: 3 Hours 30 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb baby back ribs
  • BBQ Rub
  • 2 oz. apple wood

Directions:

  1. Trim any excess fat on ribs and remove membrane layer on back of rib bones. Rub ribs the night before with a layer of BBQ rub and put in refrigerator until cooking time.
  2. Using 2 ounces of wood, a dry apple wood is best, place ribs in smoker at 225 degrees.* Leave in smoker for 3 1/2 hours.
  3. Serve.
  4. I use a CookShack electric smoker. Times may need to be adjusted for other smokers.
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Pulled Pork

On April 21, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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With a new toy in the backyard, it’s no surprise I’ve done back to back weeks of BBQ. This weekend I put the smoker to work doing some Pulled Pork.  Friday after I work I made a trip to west Los Angeles to Lindy & Grundy and picked up a beautiful 6 1/2 lb bone-in pork butt.  Here it is the day before after I applied the rub.

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We were having neighbors over so it was the first time I would have guests to try what came out of the smoker. My biggest worry was having it ready on time. Concerned I may not have enough time even though I placed the meat in the cooker at 6:30am with guests coming at 6pm, I decided to up the temperature from 225 degrees to 250 for the full cooking time.

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The pork did come out with a more darker crust than I’d expect with a slower cooking time, but it wasn’t burnt. There was a pretty good crunch and the hotter temperature proved a good solution as the internal temperature of the pork came to 195 degrees after 11 hours which gave me time to pull the pork before guests arrived. Here is how it looked falling off the bone after I pulled it out of the smoker.

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I pulled the pork and lined a pan and covered it with foil then placed it back into the smoker for when we were all ready to eat. The end product was full of smoky flavor, had some great pieces of “bark” and was fairly moist though I could’ve taken it out about a hour or half hour earlier when the internal temperature hit 190 degrees for a more moist meat.  The pulled pork was served with two homemade barbeque sauces: Mustard and Sweet sauces.

Here is the end result.

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Pulled Pork

Prep Time: 15 Mins Cooking Time: 11 Hours Total Time: 11 Hours 15 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 6 1/2 lb bone-in pork butt
  • Rub:
  • 3/4 cup Hot Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 cup Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Salt
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Onion Powder

Directions:

  1. Rub pork the night before or for 8 hours before putting in the smoker.
  2. Heat smoker to a 250 degree temperature maintaining a consistent temperature for 11-12 hours. Remove from smoker when internal temperature of meat hits 190 degrees.
  3. Remove and pull the pork. Serve with your favorite sauce or sauces.
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Smoker “Flat” Brisket

On April 14, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Since leaving Austin, Texas last month after one of the better South By Southwest years, I had a craving for BBQ – smoked BBQ to be exact. See I went on a Pilgrimage to a place that had been recommended to me for year: Franklin BBQ. For some dumb reason, I went to Austin four times in my life and it took the fourth time for me to get to Franklin.  Fortunately, I did have another trip to Texas – this time Dallas – in late March and made some time to get some brisket at Lockhart Smokehouse. So I was finding my outlets for great BBQ, but traveling to Texas every time wasn’t feasible so I began a search for a home smoker.

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Long story short.  I settled on two final choices: Big Green Egg and Cookshack. Both are high-quality home smokers.  What basically led me to the Cookshack is that I wanted something that didn’t take as much tending. You just set the temperature and go about your day.  Where lump charcoal and wood smoker/grills require a bit more babysitting something I just don’t have time for. So I gave up some flexibility and I’m sure some taste too and went with an electric Cookshack smoker.

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After my first weekend, I’m glad I went with Cookshack.  The smoker is easy to maneuver around the deck which was important as my wife was none too happy with smoke coming into the home with the first couple locations I put the smoker.  A Big Green Egg weighs over 100 pounds (I was looking at the medium size.) I also like how little wood is needed, only 2 ounces for this brisket. Nothing more.

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Which brings me to my first trial in the new smoker. I made a classic newbie error a couple weeks earlier when buying some grass-fed brisket at the local Farmers’ Market. I bought what is known as a flat; instead, of the more ideal “point” brisket. Basically, a point brisket has a flap of fat that lays on top of the meat and provides a lot more flavor and that much desired crust. Good news is a flat isn’t a bad choice either and I found a recipe online that tried to replicate that nice Texas crust.  Thanks to the Grill Grrrl blog, I found a recipe that did a great job of making a flavorful flat brisket; even though, the recipe calls for a point. Though the recipe walkthrough obviously uses a flat brisket so I figured I’d be okay with a flat and was.

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Note: For the BBQ sauce, I went with a simple recipe I found on FoodNetwork and have now added this recipe to my shortlist of great BBQ sauce. I did a couple minor modifications to it. Substituted dry mustard with 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and added 1 tablespoon of molasses. Full recipe here: Neely’s BBQ Sauce.

Smoker “Flat” Brisket

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Hours

Ingredients:

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 lb Brisket “flat”
  • 1 part hickory, 1 parts apple wood
  • Rub:
  • 2 tbsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Wrap Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp apple juice
  • Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Combine the rub ingredients and generously “rub” into the meat. Cover and refrigerate over night.
  2. Prepare the smoker to 225 degrees. I’m using a Cookshack Smokette Elite. You’ll need to adjust times for your smoker.
  3. Place the brisket on the smoker and let it smoke for 6-7 hours or until the internal temp reaches 170 degrees. Next, you are going to do the “Texas Crutch”- or wrap it in foil. Roll out a bunch of foil and double it up so that you can fold the brisket into a foil “packet.” Remove the brisket, put it on the foil and pour on the wrap liquid. Seal up the foil packet and put it back on the grill. Let the brisket steam in the packet for another 2 hours or until the internal temp is 190 degrees.
  4. Remove the foil from the brisket and glaze then place the meat back in the smoker and let it smoke for another 45 minutes to a hour to absorb the sauce and get a nice glaze.
  5. Once you pull the brisket off, “tent” it in foil for 30 minutes. Slice against the grain in 1/4” slices.
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I typically plan my week of dinners over the weekend and this last weekend was no exception. This time I grabbed a few back issues of Martha Stewart’s Food magazine focusing on the March-May 2010 issues. In there I found a pulled pork recipe and after having recently bought a beautiful local, pasture raised pork butt in McKinney, Texas I decided to give it a try.

Big Mistake.

I actually have a good pulled-pork recipe already that uses a slower cooker. I suppose I tried it because the Food magazine had a couple recipes using their pulled-pork recipe and well why not try it. Martha is fail safe, right? I’ve honestly never had a bad Martha Stewart recipe. Really.

The recipe called for doing everything in the oven. It started with 1 hour at 450 degrees with just salt, pepper and a 1/2 cup of water. Then you remove the pot and cover it with foil and reduce the heat to 350 and cook for 3-4 hours. I had a smaller piece of meet so I cooked for 3 hours longer. When it finished, I pulled it out and noticed everything was shriveled and burnt.

If I had really put some consideration into this recipe I could have guessed the result. First there is just too little liquid to make a moist, pulled piece of meat. Also, the first stage at 450 for 1 hour is too long. It really just should be a quick braising on a burner, if that was the point.

Oh well, lesson learned. Never trust someone from Westport, Connecticut to get BBQ pulled-pork right.

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