Saturday, September 22, 2012

Abruzzese Style Pork Barbecue Sandwiches

With football season now in gear, I have decided to devote one day each weekend (when I can) to barbecue.  For the first weekend, I decided to make a Texas Barbecue Brisket.  I tried to meld Central Texas and Western Texas barbecue, by using a salt/pepper rub and smoking the brisket over mesquite.  Now, I have moved onto pork shoulders.  I have previously made Big Bob Gibson's Eight Time World Championship Pork Shoulder or my own Raging Pig Pulled Pork. I decided that, for this barbecue project, I would try a spin on pork ... Abruzzese style pork barbecue sandwiches. 

This recipe draws its inspiration from the Italian roasted pork sandwiches.  As I thought of this recipe, I had thoughts of the DiNic's Roasted Pork sandwich that I had at the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My goal was not to replicate the sandwich, but to let it inspire me.  I decided that I would prepare a rub using some classic Italian herbs -- sage, rosemary and thyme -- along with garlic and onion powders.  I also decided to use a liberal amount of crushed red pepper, a favorite ingredient in the Abruzzo region of Italy, to provide a spicy kick.  After the shoulder marinated overnight, I smoked the pork shoulder using wood charcoal and apple wood.  Once the shoulder was cooked, I pulled it out of the smoker, allowed it to rest. 

I had a little difficulty with the toppings.  I wanted to keep it simple and fresh.  A slice of tomato, onion and some lettuce.  It worked out well.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves many

1 boston butt pork shoulder, around 4 to 5 pounds
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
3/4 tablespoon of dried sage
1/2 tablespoon (or to taste) of crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon of ground dried rosemary
3/4 tablespoon of ground black peppercorns
3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt
Olive oil
Toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.)
Hoagie buns

1.  Marinate the pork shoulder.  Combine the onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, parsley, dried sage, crushed red pepper, rosemary, pepper and salt.  Mix well.  Brush olive oil on every side of the pork shoulder.  Sprinkle the rub on every side of the pork shoulder and gently rub the mix into the pork.  Refrigerate the shoulder overnight.

2.  Prepare the fire.  Place a few chunks of apple wood in a bucket full of water. Start a chimney and prepare a fire in the bottom of the smoker.  Once the temperature reaches the range between 225 degrees and 250 degrees Fahrenheit, add a couple chunks of apple wood.

3.   Smoke the pork shoulder.  Add the pork shoulder, fat side up, and close the smoker.  The shoulder is going to cook for 1 1/2 hours per pound, until the shoulder reaches approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit.   I used a four and one half pound pork shoulder, so I was looking at about six hours total.  After about four hours, I basted the shoulder with just some water.

4.  Rest the shoulder.  Remove the shoulder from the smoker and wrap it in foil.  Allow the shoulder to rest for half an hour to an hour.  Pull the pork or slice it.

5.  Make the sandwiches.   Slice the hoagie bun.  Place some of the pork in the sandwich, top it with onions, lettuce and tomatoes (or any other toppings you like).


As with most barbecue recipes, beer is often the first choice for a pairing.  Any pale ale or pilsner will work with this recipe.  If you want to think about wine, a friend suggested an Italian syrah or negramaro.  In addition, a good Montepulciano d'Abruzzo could work as well.  


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