April 11, 2012


So... today there are 3 pictures of meat on my blog. Yep, you heard me (read me?) right.

I knew I was going to have a few busy days at work this week, so I tried to plan ahead by asking the Mr. if he would write a guest post. He did such a great job the first time {when I was in Nashville}. Take note, his first post was about guitars...and his second is about food. I would venture to say those are his two favorite things {besides me, of course}. So here it is... straight from the Martin's kitchen. And I must say - it was just as yummy to eat as it sounds here.

I like to cook almost as much as I like to eat. My mom’s family is full of raw culinary talent, and I'd like to think that I’m the recipient of at least some of those cooking chops.  If not, I intend to make up for it with my passion for good eats.

I was the quintessential meat and potatoes kid.  Green things were not allowed within a 12-inch radius of my plate for the first 25 years of my life.  But my diet has evolved over time; partly out of necessity, and partly out of a steadily growing sense of adventure.  I’ve tried a lot of things in the last five or six years that would frankly shock my family.  The Mrs. likes to take credit (credit she deserves) for me eating things like onions, eggs, and broccoli. If she ever sneaks lettuce past my lips, she will truly have something to brag about.

I lived in North Carolina for a couple of years, and I quickly adopted its regional version of barbecue as my personal favorite {It's Mrs. Martin's favorite, too}.  The truth is that there really is no such thing as bad barbecue, but I can appreciate that a runny, vinegar-based sauce just doesn’t do it for everyone.  If you grew up on brown sugar or molasses or mustard, good for you. There’s enough room in this world for variety. 

So when I offered to cook our Easter feast, I knew I wanted to make some pulled pork barbecue (if you don’t already know, our families don’t adhere to any specific menu for a given holiday).  I went to Whole Foods ($20 Groupon burning a whole in my pocket) and picked up a couple of Boston butt roasts, probably about six pounds total.  I had forgotten that the Whole Foods nearby was being renovated, so the full service butcher was absent. I was lucky they had what they did. I recommend asking your butcher for a five-pound Boston butt or a five pound, bone-in shoulder roast.

My personal method consists of three steps: the dry rub, the sauce, and the roast.  You can make a really good dry rub without anything elaborate.  Mine looks like this:

3 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tbsp. ground pepper

Stir your dry rub ingredients in little bowl.  I recommend using a spoon to sprinkle your rub evenly on each side of the roast before patting it in.  It will clump up onto your fingers pretty quickly if you try to spread it around by hand.  Just sprinkle, pat, and rotate until you’ve covered all sides.  When you’re done, let it hang for 30 minutes or so.  Turn your attention to the sauce if you’re bored that easily (or if you’re just excited),  and preheat your oven to 265 degrees.

My simple version of a North Carolina sauce works like this:
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown mustard
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
hot sauce to taste

Use a wisk to mix everything together, and warm it up in the microwave in 20-second to help dissolve the brown sugar.  I had a near-empty bottle of Texas Pete (made in NC!), so once my sauce was blended, I poured it into the rinsed-out bottle.  This is great because you can easily shake up the sauce before each use, and the hot sauce cap is perfect for dispersing a runny barbecue.

Now you can place your roast in a roaster or chili pot.  Mix about a cup of cider vinegar and a cup of water and pour it in so your roast is about ankle-deep.  You can also toss some fresh garlic in there, and you might even want to implant a whole clove deep in your roast.

Since barbecue is usually smoked in a pit or smoker with real wood, and not in your silly oven, it’s fun to add a little Liquid Smoke to your water/cider bath.  If the idea of garlic and Liquid Smoke just sounds a little too overpowering for you, that’s okay. You can add flavor with that awesome sauce you just made.

If you’re making a five-pound roast, make sure you cover your pan with foil and a lid, and set your timer for about 3 hours at 265 degrees.  You can pull it out and use an internal thermometer to see how it’s doing on the inside.  The goal is to get to about 165-170 at the thickest part of the roast.  You’ll probably end up putting it back in for a total of about four hours, but it’s better to pull it early and see how it’s doing.  If you’ve done it nice and slow, it will probably be starting to fall apart on its own.  If you have two smaller roasts, they will cook faster, so set your timer accordingly to avoid overcooking.

When it’s done, let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before you take it out.  If you’ve ever had barbecue in NC, you know it’s never really piping hot.  Warm is perfect.  You can move your roast to a new pan and use a couple of forks to gently start pulling it apart. If you have the self-control to still be following my directions with a giant pile of steaming pork in front of you, than you're not my wife.

Douse in your sauce and enjoy.


  1. Mrs, your Mr is so kind to lend a helping typing hand. I appreciate the recipe for the sauce. We in our kitchen like to mix things up a bit and a good sauce can go a long way. I look forward to reading Lovely and Rust. Hope all is well!!

  2. I recommend both the pork and the sauce.... the Mr. did a great job! He definitely was the recipient of those cooking skills.