Cheater’s BBQ

Slow-cooked pork butt looking good on kitchen counter

If you’ll be spending time outside anyway, then you might as well multitask and get some BBQ going.  You can make some “cheater’s” BBQ, which means you’ll slow-cook a hunk of meat using a Weber grill for as many hours as you are able to baby-sit the process, and then finish it off in a low oven in the house.  For this you’ll need a drip pan (buy yourself a supply of medium-sized disposable catering pans — you can ask for “half-pans”), a goodly supply of charcoal, aluminum foil, a hinged grate for your Weber grill (makes the job easier, trust me) a dry rub, a about two quarts or so of hot water in a kettle and a 4 – 5 pound piece of meat, like beef brisket or pork shoulder.  Having an active garden hose handy would be a good thing, in case you have embers drift away and catch something on fire.  It happens.  You’ll also need a plain old meat thermometer and long tongs.  Massage the meat with some kind of dry rub, which need be no more than salt, pepper, paprika and a little sugar, and set aside.  On your Weber’s bottom grate, set in the drip pan,  Next to that, mound about 20 coals on a triple layer of foil and light them.  Place your top grate such that one hinged opening is over the coals and one is over the drip pan.  Make sure the bottom vents are about half open.  When your coals are ready, meaning when there no more flames and they smolder to the ashed-over point, spread them out a bit with tongs and then fill the drip pan to the half-full point with hot water.  Make sure you have about a quart of water in the kettle so you can add more to the drip pan later, if you need to.  Place the meat over the drip pan, fat side up.  Set the cover on the grill with vents over the meat so that you are pulling hot air through the cavity of the grill.  Create three long, crunched-up, 1/2-inch sausages out of sheets of foil.  You’ll use these to open and close two cover vents manually and to seat the meat thermometer in the third.  Open the vents on the cover completely.  Take two foil “plugs” and close off two of the cover vents.  Take the third and run the tip of the thermometer through its length so you create a hole.  Take this foil scrunchy and use it to plug up the third lid vent.  Slide the thermometer back in so the dial is now sticking out of the vent with the probe serving as an internal temperature gauge when the lid is closed.  Close the vents slightly to jam the foil in so it stays put.  Be sure the probe of the thermometer is not touching anything in the grill – like the meat.  Here’s the dance, for as long as you can endure it:  keep the unit at about 200 deg. F., as best you can, by opening and closing upper vents with the foil and the lower vent with the handle.  Close vents to lower heat, open them to raise it.  Your problem will most likely be keeping the heat down, but don’t worry about it too much as these cuts of meat are very forgiving.  Add a couple coals every half hour or so by placing them with tongs over active coals.  If you want a little smoke flavor, you can soak some wood chips in water an hour before you start and then add a couple to the coals every now and again, but I generally don’t do this as I’m not crazy about smoke flavor.  BBQ this way for at least three hours.  If you keep this going all day, meaning 8 hours or so, you most likely won’t need to move the meat to your inside oven.  When the internal temperature of the pork is about 200 deg. F. you are good to go in terms of meat that will pull apart.  For beef brisket this will be around 185 deg. F. — but people have fist fights about the correct temperature for slow-cooked meats.  If you complete the cooking process inside, simply pop the meat into a pan and a preheated 250 deg. F.  If you do the whole thing on the Weber, be sure to keep your eye on the drip pan, which will fill up with fat as it melts off the meat.  Be sure to keep the water level up so your operation is not a grease fire waiting to happen.  If, God forbid, you ever have to deal with a grease fire, use a Class B fire extinguisher or a large quantity of baking soda.  Never, ever use water, as water will make a grease fire spread.  If it is very small and in a frying pan, try to smother it with a lid.  When the meat is done, let it rest for a few minutes and slice or pull apart.  Serve with Louisiana hot sauce or a vinegar-based sauce instead of those scary ketchup-based sauces that hide the flavor of the meat.

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