Pork practice

So I’m assisting on a team at a bbq & beer contest in August. This is super exciting, as you can imagine. In preparation for this, I get to have a lot of fun practicing and tasting beer, so it’s even better than I would have thought. Seriously, I went to the other side of Chicago on a Tuesday at noon to have beer! The biggest part of the competition is the beer and bbq pairing contest.

So after tasting some delicious beers from Open Outcry Brewing, I got inspired to try out some pork recipes. I used a bourbon aged stout to create an Al Pastor-inspired marinade and sauce. For the marinade, I blended guajillo peppers, achiote paste, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic. I marinated pork shoulder in that overnight. I had saved half of that mixture and I heated it on the stove and added brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and some tomato sauce to make a sauce that I used on the shoulder about 3/4 of the way through smoking. I also smoked a pineapple over the pork for the last 2 hours. The dish was pretty delicious. I would like to tone the heat down a bit. I only smoked it to a slicing doneness, and I think it would be better if smoked until pull-able and then served like a taco, though I’m curious how an arepas would hold up.

I also made a heated brine with water, salt, pepper, cumin, whole garlic cloves and bay leaves. After chilling it, I brined a pork shoulder in it overnight. I rubbed this one with fresh ground black pepper, cumin, garlic, salt, brown sugar and onion powder. I admittedly went to heavy on the black pepper. The pork was delicious and tender, but the outside could definitely have used a little less pepper. Again, I did this one to slice and not pull, so I would adjust that for the actual competition.

This coming weekend, I have a picnic ham thawing because I’m currently out of pork shoulder. I figure there will be some difference, but it’ll still allow me to play with flavors. And I’m gonna cook that until it just falls apart! (kidding, mostly). I still have some of the al pastor inspired sauce, so I thought I’d play with it a bit more. I’m thinking if I add orange juice to mellow it out a bit…not sure, that’ll be in a blog next week!