Saturday, July 16, 2011

Big Bob Gibson's Eight-Time World Championship Pork Shoulder, with Eastern Carolina and Memphis Barbecue Sauces (Savage Boleks' Barbecue 2011)

Seeking a change from the grind of working on the L & N Railroad, Bob Gibson first opened his barbecue joint in 1925.  He began with pork and hickory wood.  Over the years, he and generations of Gibsons who followed have built Big Bob Gibson's into something of an institution in Decatur, Alabama.  By the time I made it there, more than eighty-five years after it first opened, Big Bob Gibson's serves not only pork, but beef, and chicken as well.

I still remember the day that Clare's parents took us to Big Bob Gibson's restaurant in Decatur, Alabama.  I ordered the big platter of barbecue, sampling pulled pork, brisket and ribs, along with sides.  I wanted to taste as much of Big Bob Gibson's barbecue as I could.  While I could not finish the large plate of food that had been placed in front of me, it was probably some of the best barbecue that I have ever tasted.  (I realize I have opened myself to challenges about what is the "best" barbecue, my response to all of them is bring some of your best barbecue by and I will try it.You may win me over, but I need to taste it first!)

Recognizing how much I loved Big Bob Gibson's barbecue, Clare's parents bought me the Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, which is full of recipes for different types of barbecue, along with hints and suggestions from Big Bob Gibson's pit master, Chris Lilly.  What immediately got my attention is Big Bob Gibson's Eight Time World Championship Pork Shoulder. If I had to choose a favorite BBQ, it would be pulled pork.  I love brisket, ribs, and links, but there is something about pulled pork.  If given the choice, it is almost always the BBQ that I order.


So naturally, the type of barbecue that is most associated with the Savage Boleks' BBQ is pork shoulder.  My Angel and I have two annual Savage Boleks' BBQs and both times I did the base preparation of the pork shoulders using the hints, advice and recipes provided by Chris Lilly and Big Bob Gibson.  For the most recent BBQ, I used the Big Bob Gibson's Eight-Time World Championship Pork Shoulder recipe.  I smoked the pork shoulders using a combination of 50% hickory and 50% apple wood. I also added apple juice to the liquid bowl.  As I pulled the pork shoulder and tasted the meat for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the smoky, yet sweet flavor of the meat.  Overall, my efforts were a great success.

Source and adapted from Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, at 53-54 
Serves a lot of people

Ingredients (for the Dry Rub):
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper 

Ingredients (for the Injection):
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 

Ingredients (for the Vinegar Mop):
1 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 slices of lemons

2 pork butts, about 7 pounds each 

1.  Mix all of the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl and set aside. 

2.  In a separate bowl, combine all of the injection ingredients and blend together until the sugar dissolves.   Using a meat syringe or flavor injector, inject the meat evenly at 1-inch intervals from top to side, using the entire amount of the injection solution.  Once the solution has been injected into the meat, apply the dry rub to the meat in an even coating.  Make sure that the dry rub adheres to the meat.  Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator overnight.

3.  On the day of the smoking, mix all the ingredients for the vinegar mop in a small bowl. Set aside.

4.  Remove the pork from the fridge while you start the smoker. If using a Weber Smokey Mountain, use hardwood charcoal.  After you have gotten the charcoal lit, use a mixture of hickory and apple wood chunks.  Once the smoker reaches 225 degrees, add the pork shoulders to the smoker.  Smoke the pork shoulder at 225 degrees to 250 degrees until the meat reaches 190 degrees, after about 10 to 11 hours. In the last few hours, usually beginning with the seventh or eighth hour, begin to baste the meat with the vinegar mop.  Baste the meat every hour thereafter.

5.  Remove the pork from the smoker and let rest for 30 minutes. Pull the pork, reserving any visible fat.  I generally smoke the meat the day prior to the barbecue and, when reheating the meat before the party, I mix in some of the fat to help keep the meat moist. Sprinkle on some of the leftover vinegar mop, mixing with your hands to incorporate.


For each Savage Boleks' BBQ, I try to make different barbecue sauces to go with the pork shoulder.  For the first BBQ, I made Big Bob Gibson's own sauce, which I made from scratch using the recipe from the cookbook. Unfortunately, I did not make enough and it was gone very quickly.  For the second annual barbecue, I decided to make two sauces.  The first sauce was a vinegar-based Eastern Carolina Sauce, which was inspired by our recent vacation in the Outer Banks.  The second sauce was a tomato-based Memphis sauce.  I thought this sauce would provide our guests with two good options -- between a tart sauce and a sweet sauce.  Both sauces are from the June/July edition of Saveur Magazine.

From Saveur, No. 139 (Jun./Jul. 2011) at 112.
Makes 2 cups

1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 tbsp. hot sauce
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. paprika

1.  Combine the vinegars, sugar, chile flakes, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and paprika in a storage container.

2.  When you are going to use the sauce, heat it in a pot until it is warm.  Add the sauce to the pork by spoonfuls until you have enough to flavor the pork.

From Saveur, No. 139 (Jun./Jul. 2011) at 112.
Makes 2 cups

2 cups ketchup
⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1½ tsp. mild hot sauce
1½ tsp. onion powder
1½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dry mustard powder

1.  Bring the ketchup, vinegar, both sugars, juice, Worcestershire, pepper, hot sauce, onion and garlic powders, mustard, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. 

2.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Overall, the Second Annual Savage Boleks' BBQ was a great success.   Everyone enjoyed the pulled pork and the barbecue sauces, even combining the sauces together to create an Eastern Carolina/Memphis pulled pork sandwich.  Eventually, I will turn my attention to the Third Annual Savage Boleks' BBQ, but I have still have a year to prepare for that.  Until next time ...



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I followed this recipe to the letter using my propane smoker. The results were amazing. It took nearly twelve hours for my seven pound Boston Butt to reach a 195 degree internal temperature. I was sure the roast would be dry. To my pleasant surprise, the roast was amazingly moist and melt-in-your-mouth tender. It appears the crust on the roast seals in all the moisture. I made three different kinds of sauces, but most of my guests thought it was too good plain to chance masking it with a sauce. Thanks for posting this recipe with your comments.

Keith Bolek said...

I am happy to hear that the pork turned out amazingly moist and tender. I am also pleased to hear that your guests enjoyed it. Thank you for your kind words and for reading my blog. -- Keith

Anonymous said...

Used your method to the letter and it was AWESOME. I plan to do it again very soon. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Taste REALLY wonderfull!! I have a question though. I'm planning to cook 50 lbs of pulled pork to a huge bbq party where i'm the host, so in order to not die of stress i'm going to cook it all the day before and then put it in the fridge for 12 hours after it's been pulled. So i seek your advise oh big pulled pork god :) What is the best way to reheat it again keeping it moist and juicy? And how long does the reheat take?

Thanks in advance:)

Keith Bolek said...

I would not call myself a big pulled pork god. When I have smoked pulled pork a day in advance, I usually reheat it in the oven with some sauce to help keep it moist. I would not have the temperature any higher than what you would normally use to keep food warm in the oven, about 180 degrees. This has worked for me in the past, although I have never made as much as 50 pounds at a time. I hope it works well for you.

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