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Brine VS Rub

Aledo Green DreggonAledo Green Dreggon Posts: 134
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I have gotten pretty decent over time on pulled pork. I have however thought that the amount of rub I have been applying has been prohibiting smoke from penetrating the meat, and everything I have seen is the maximum amount of rub you can get to stick is the right amount(Alton Brown being my primary source for this). The result has been an overpowering bark flavor with the inside fairly bland. Once pulled and blended though it has always been a pretty good mix - at least better than I can get from the store. The batches I have liked the best have been those that I was able to get done before a dark bark formed, I tend to like the moister/softer exterior. I have even thought about no rub at all, smoke it, then add the rub during the mixing and pulling process.

I did a forum search for the exact phrase "pulled pork brine" and didn't find anything. Is there any particular reason rubbing is the standard for pulled pork instead of brining?

I started an experiment last night that is currently on the egg. I took 2 cups of my standard rub, 2 cups of apple juice, and mixed it into a brine, then added water to this to cover the butts. I immediately realized 2 cups of apple juice was negligible against the gallon plus of water and have other plans for next time(frozen concentrate). This morning I put a very light coating of rub on the top of each butt and put them on to cook.

Does anyone else brine their butt before they cook? I am curious about alternative methods even though as a whole I am pleased with my current results, just want to get even better.

As an FYI the elder ward method I learned in this forum was my primary education on pulled pork.

Comments

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    smoke doesn't actually penetrate. you only really get smoke flavor on the interior by pulling and mixing the meat.

    add as much rub as you like, and then during the cook it becomes a question of adding smoke. i smoke my butts pretty heavily for the reason you mention,. i like smoke flavor. and i find that the more i have on the butt when it is pulled, the more i'll get into the meat from pulling it and working it together.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,424
    I think you have plenty of good ideas, some of which will get the meat right where you want it.

    The seasonings from the outside don't really penetrate, no matter how heavy you apply them. That's why it's a good idea to mix some bark into the pulled meat, and also to add additional rub (and also juices from the resting foil) into the pulled meat. Something like this might be all you need.

    You can also inject a liquid into the butts. This works either before cooking, or during the cook. Some of the standard butt injections used before cooking are very intense with respects to salt and/or sugar because of the long cooking time of a butt. If you decide to shoot it later on (like within a few hours of finishing) the injection can be milder.

    Some folks want to add both smoke and seasonings, and they will pull a butt into large chunks, put them in a pan and re-season them. The pan goes back on the smoker for 20 or 30 minutes.
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,927
    i like the dry crusty chewy parts but if i didnt and wanted a moister/softer exterior i might foil when the bark looked dark enough
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,927
    thirdeye mentioned injecting, you can inject an apple juice/ vinegar solution mixed with rub late in the cook, it will take more than when te butt is cold. i inject sometimes around 180 degrees, its more common to do this with whole hogs but works fine with a butt, warm the solution a bit first, it will help the rub melt in better if you choose to add a rub, i inject elders vinegar sauce at this point
  • davehempdavehemp Posts: 109
    There are so many ways to cook pork...I have brined before, but not for awhile now. When I do brine I use salt, sugar and a little rub - the salt is the most important thing because that is the main thing the meat takes in - I don't think much of the rub spices really get into the meat. I just use water to mix the brine. Apple juice or cider vinegar I use more for a mop or spray later in the cook if I choose to mop - with the Egg I find the need to mop less so than with a standard smoker or grill. Lately I have been using Tony Cachere's Creole Butter to inject the pork before cooking instead of brining - it adds a rich, slightly spicy seasoning deep inside the meat that cooks in slowly throughout the time it spends on the Egg. When I pull the pork I usually put extra rub on the meat and mix it in as I pull, which helps further spread the flavor evenly through.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,229
    I'll re-capitulate some of the above. I've tried brining butt, and found the results to be minimal. I suspect that osmosis does not work with fat, and there is so much fat in a butt that the process doesn't go very far.

    I've tried marinating, and that seemed to have a small effect. The outer 1/2" was somewhat tastier.

    I've tried injecting various mixes. That has some effect, but most of the injection just seems to run out in a short time. I've tried fishlessman's suggestion of injecting towards the end, and that seemed to have more effect.

    I'll toss out something I came across. I believe it was at a blog called Meathenge that there was a recommendation to take "boneless country ribs," slabs of pork shoulder, and rub them all over, and compress them back into a ball, and cook that like a butt. I tried, and tho' the rub flavor was intense, the results were pretty dry. I've considered a repeat, but instead of rub, I'd marinade the pieces before re-forming the "butt." Its on my long list of to-dos.
  • jaydub58jaydub58 Posts: 1,253
    Fishlessman, could you be a bit more specific on the proportions of the apple juice, vinear, rub, and maybe the total amount you would use to inject a butt? That sounds like it would be promising.
    TIA
    :)
    John in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 15,927
    this is what i inject, if you want apple juice added sub out the white vinegar maybe or just add to it. i bring it to a simmer and let it cool back down. if i dont inject i add this sauce when pulling as well. i dont know how much goes in, i use the big cabellas injector and hit it in a few spots while it sits in the egg

    this is from elder ward

    The Traditional North Carolina Sauce (A) I grew up with.
    This would be from my mothers side of the family who are a bunch of flatlanders near the coast. We only came down out of the hills to see them just enough to keep the peace in the family and my mother from running back home for good. She hated the mountains. We all loved her folks.

    * 1 C white vinegar
    * 1 C cider vinegar
    * 1 Tbs. sugar (Hawaii style when you can)
    * 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (fresh ones split 2 of em instead soak 2 days or more is best)
    * 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
    * 1 tsp. kosher salt
    * 1 tsp. cracked black pepper

    Makes 2 Cups
  • danshotspotdanshotspot Posts: 10
    I recently brined a boneless pork loin for the first time with a recipe I have done several whole chickens and it was awesome!

    If you have the BGE cookbook it is the "Beer Brine Chicken". Multiply the ingredients accordingly to entirely cover the meat. I try to let leave in the brine for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. If you don't like beer, don't worry about it having a beer taste because it doesn't. I rub with Tony Chachere's Ceole or Chef Paul's Magic Seasoning Salt after the brine.
  • transversaltransversal Posts: 719
    I always learn something reading your posts, Wayne.....
  • ugh, my experiment was a flop. I won't be taking the time to do a brine again for a long time, and I will be slathering the rub on once again next time. I added the rub in to the mix while I was pulling. All of the components tasted raw, they didn't melt together like they do during cooking. All I ended up with was roasted pork. The bright spot was the smoke ring was pretty decent. So I guess the next time I feel creative I will try some of the injection suggestions.
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