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Long and slow is the key to good barbeque

Luke Clayton

I’m sure that most of you that have been listening to me for any length of time understand that I dearly love the entire outdoor lifestyle, everything from the actual hunting or fishing trip to transforming the fish/game meats into tasty meals.

Summer is BBQ time for most of us, but in truth, I do about as much outdoor cooking during the cold weather months as I do in the summer. Just this past week, I slow smoked a couple of 4 pound roasts from a wild hog I harvested a month or so ago.

I had assembled a group of friends for a mid summers night hog hunt with my buddy Mark Balette who owns B & C Outfitters down in Trinity County.  I knew we would be busy once we gathered at the ranch and there would be very little time for cooking.

 A couple days before the trip, I defrosted the pork roasts and made plans for pulled or chopped pork sandwiches to enjoy on our outing. I’m often asked how I get wild pork so tender and moist. The process is actually very simple and I have developed a system that is fool proof. Keep in mind that wild pork almost always has less fat than domestic pork. Thus, the cooking process must involve long, slow cooking with moisture.

I do all my meat smoking and preparing BBQ on my Smokin Tex Electric Smoker, but any wood fired smoker will also suffice as long as one has the time to keep the fire burning low, at temperatures around 200 degrees for many hours.  From past experiences, I can guarantee that can be an arduous task which might even involve loosing a bit of sleep! With my electric smoker, I simply put a little wood, four or six ounces, in the wood box, set the dial on the thermostat and let it smoke and tenderize the meat.

Some people inject marinade into thicker cuts of meat when making BBQ, but I use a different system that is much easier with a finished product of moist, very tender meat. Let me walk you through the process I used for this most recent meal of pre cooked pork sandwiches.

First, I applied a generous amount of rub all over the roasts. I use a prepared rub called Obie-Cue’s Sweet N’ Heat which is a spicy brown sugar blend. I love a bit of spice in my BBQ and before I discovered Obie-Cue’s, I would blend brown sugar, garlic, red pepper, etc. Now, I simply apply the rub right out of the bottle. When it comes to making BBQ, I’m all about quick and easy!

Once I have the meat well seasoned (and this doesn’t have to be wild pork, it works well on domestic beef or any large cut of meat), I put the meat in an uncovered aluminum pan and then into the smoker at 225 degrees, for about 2 hours of heavy smoke. I’ve used a wide variety of fruit and hardwoods through the years but it’s hard to beat dry pecan, plum, pear or hickory. It’s important to use dry, seasoned wood. Green wood will often give BBQ a bitter taste which is caused by the resin in the wood. If the meat is very dry with little fat, I give it a light coat of olive oil during this initial smoking process.  

After two hours of heavy smoke, the meat will have plenty of smoke flavor, trust me on this. If you are using an electric smoker, there is no need to add more wood. Now comes the time for the long, slow cooking process. I put a very liberal amount of my favorite BBQ sauce on the meat and pour a half inch or so of apple juice into the pan. This is plenty of moisture and will insure the meat does not dry out. I then cover the pan tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil. The thermostat is turned down to 190 to 200 degrees and the meat is allowed to slow cook all night. I try to time the cooking so that the meat is well smoked and ready to cover and slow cook around bedtime.

It matters little exactly how long the meat is left cooking at this low temperature as long as it cooks at least 12 hours. If the moisture remains in the pan, it will not burn. I let my Smokin Tex work its magic all night. After about ten hours of slow cooking, the roast of even an older buck or hog will be fork tender. I usually let the meat smoke until eight or nine the next morning, a total of 12 or 14 hours.

After the meat has spent the night in my smoker, I remove the foil and drain all the juice from the pan. With a heavy knife, I chop the meat and place it back into the pan. Now, it’s time to season the meat, keep in mind you will loose many of the seasonings when you drain the juice. Use your favorite dry seasoning. This can be anything from salt and pepper to a blend of spices. Add a generous amount of fresh BBQ sauce and mix the sauce and dry seasonings well.

That's it!  We have just created some of the tastiest BBQ imaginable!  

I toasted some hamburger buns, and made a couple dozen sandwiches for the trip.  Wrapped them individually, and put them in the cooler with some potato salad, and BBQ beans to complete the dinner.  The guys are still braggin on the wild pork BBQ!

Outdoors writer, radio host and book author Luke Clayton has been addicted to everything outdoors related since his childhood when he grew up hunting and fishing in rural northeast Texas. Luke pens a weekly newspaper column that appears in over thirty newspapers.