The Best Pulled Pork Sliders

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Okay, I like to cook with wood and charcoal, but I get a lot of emails asking how to modify my recipes to a gas grill (yes, I own gas grills) and even for the oven.

Some recipes just can’t be adapted, others can with decent results, and some…well, as much as this is going to tick-off the die-hards…some you can hardly tell the difference! Here’s one of my favorites.

Oh, and if you want to recreate a true “Southern pulled pork sandwich”, and really take ’em to the next level… be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of our Simple Tangy Slaw on top of the meat and sauce. Yeah, baby!

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Pulled Pork BBQ

(In the  gas grill, oven, or smoker) 1 Pork shoulder (6-8lb) Burnin’ Love Rub (see below) Basic BBQ Sauce (see below)

Rub the shoulder with spices. Set it aside for a few minutes and rub again over any wet spots. Keep doing this until there are no wet spots, the heavier the rub, the better. This makes the “bark” of the shoulder. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and fridge 12-24 hours.

Take shoulder out of fridge and let sit 60 minutes to bring the temp up.

 

For the gas grill:

You want indirect heat for cooking, you can easily do this on a conventional gas grill. Just keep the meat as far from the heat source as possible, or it will burn during the long cooking time. You want to cook this at 250 degrees Fahrenheit; you can go as high as 275, but no higher. You don’t want to go lower than 250, as you will start to dry out the meat before it is cooked.

Put the shoulder on the “cool side” of the grill, and  place a disposable pan with a couple of cups of apple juice underneath it to add moisture and catch the drippings. A spray bottle with 50/50 apple juice and cider vinegar is nice for basting, as well.

A lot of folks like to use apple chips, soaked, for smoking. You can add 1/2 cup to a disposable tin pan over the “hot” side of your gill, every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours.

Personally, I prefer to use a small, nearly indestructible smoke box, called the “A-Maze-N Smoker”. It’s a metal-mesh maze that holds your favorite flavor of smoking pellets, and burns slowly enough to allow a three-hour smoke without constantly having to lift the cover and let all of that precious heat out. It’s cheap, and I’ve used my dozens of times with no visible wear or tear.

Here’s a quick video I did on using this unit with my La Caja China, but the principle would be the same in anything from a gas grill to a Weber Kettle.

A-Maze-N Smoker Review

If you don’t trust your on-board thermometer, get a cheap instant read (or better, a digital probe) and stick the probe all the way through a halved potato. Set the potato cut-side down on the grill. This keeps your thermometer off the grates.

After three to four hours, remove the shoulder from your grill, and roast (uncovered) in a pre-heated oven at 225d for 10-12 hours. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer (you should really get one) the meat is done when it pulls apart easily with a fork.

Pork Shoulders

In The Oven

Follow the same prep directions as above. Pre-heat the oven to 225F, and roast the shoulder, fat-cap up, uncovered, for 14 hours (yes, I said fourteen. I usually roast mine overnight.)

Follow the “Finishing” steps, below.

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On the Traeger

Once the shoulder(s) are prepped, start Traeger on “Smoke” with the lid open until it’s cruisin’ (4 to 5 minutes). Set temp at 225F and preheat, lid closed, for about 15 minutes.

Place shoulders on the grill, fat-cap up, and smoke for 3 hours, spraying with a mix of apple juice and cider vinegar (50/50) every hour after the three hours.

Put shoulders in a large disposable aluminum foil pan and up the temp to 250F.

Roast shoulder for 8 more hours, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part, but not touching a bone, registers 190 degrees F.

If the skin starts to get too dark, cover it loosely with foil.

Finishing

Remove the pan from the heat, tent shoulder(s) loosely in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. Pour the juices from the bottom of the pan into a fat separator. Mix broth (fat removed) with some salt and cider vinegar, to taste, and pour back over the meat after shredding. Allow to rest an additional 10 minutes to soak up the juices.

Serve either as sliders, or with a sauce on the side (see below) and some white bread slices to use as edible napkins!

Pork shoulder in smokePulled Pork Tips:

For “oven only”…before applying the dry rub, brush the entire shoulder generously with Stubbs (brand name) Mesquite Liquid Smoke, allow the surface to dry, and repeat. The apply the dry rub (while still damp.) Note: this is the ONLY liquid smoke that I’ll allow in my kitchen. For the smoker, I like a wood chip/chunk blend of 75% oak,

 

Perk’s “Burnin’ Love” Rub

(Shh…it’s a secret!)

¼ C fine sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
4 Tbs Italian seasonings (spicy, if you can find them)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
2 Tbs hickory salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (opt)

Northern Carolina Vinegar Sauce

Personally, I think this very old, very traditional recipe is the best and only sauce for pulled pork.

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 4 tsp, fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Combine all, simmer and cool. The longer it sits, the better it is!

But if you MUST have your thick, sweet, ketchup-based sauce…here’s a great one…

Basic BBQ Sauce (my cheater version)

1 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar BBQ sauce
½ cup honey
1/2 stick sweet cream butter
Red pepper flakes to taste (opt)

Combine all, simmer and allow to cool.

NOTE: This makes a fantastic sauce for grilled chicken but replacing the honey with an equal amount of Thai sweet chili sauce!


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The Secret to Crispy Turkey Skin

Perfect Turkey Skin
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

I picked up this trick a few weeks ago from a fellow chef’s blog (I wish I could remember, but whoever you are, thank you!) and tried it for the first time with this year’s Thanksgiving turkey…it’s magic!

First of all, I ALWAYS brine my turkey, which, while making for moist, succulent meat, can cause problems with getting the skin, saturated by the brine, to crisp and brown evenly. And, let’s face it…crispy is skin is the whole reason for roasting a turkey in the first place!

Here’s the trick to perfect, crispy skin on a brined turkey…

Brine your bird for 24 hours (this is the brine I use).

Then, remove the bird from the brine, pat it dry (inside and out), and place it breast-side-up in a baking dish in the bottom of your fridge, UNCOVERED, for another 24 hours.

Remove from the fridge 2 hours before roasting, and let it rest on the counter.

Then, of course, roast it uncovered.

The skin on this turkey was amazing, by far the best results I’ve ever gotten.

If you’re a skin-junkie (that didn’t sound right…) like me, you gotta try this!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook:

“Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

Chef Perry’s Shrimp-a-Cado Salad

shrimpacado

This is my take on the famous Crab-a-Cado Salad recipe from Houlihan’s Old Place in Atlanta, Georgia (my birthplace, sorta.)

I found the original recipe in my father’s copy of A Chef’s Companion, and substituted the prawns for crab (it was cheaper, and I love prawns!) Dad used to make the original recipe when he’d ticked Mom off, and was tryin’ to make good.

So, we had it… a LOT. 😉

Chef Perry’s Shrimp-a-Cado Salad

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs ketchup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup minced celery
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, minced
  • 1 Tbs minced parsley
  • 1 head leaf lettuce (or 4 cups of salad mix)
  • 2 chilled rip avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 lb cooked prawns, peeled and de-veined
  • 16 chilled cherry tomatoes, peeled
  • 4 chilled artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 4 chilled hard-cooked eggs
  • 16 chilled, whole, pitted black olives, small

Steam shrimp until just pink, immerse in ice water to stop cooking, and cool. Drain.

Cooking perfect shrimp the easy way

In mixing bowl, blend together mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, and lemon juice. Stir in celery, minced eggs, and parsley. Chill.

Arrange leaf lettuce on four salad plates. Place one avocado half on each plate. Reserve a few prawns for garnish; divide remaining between the four avocado halves. Spoon a fourth of the dressing over each avocado. Place one piece of reserved shrimp on top. Sprinkle each salad lightly with paprika.

Place tomatoes on each end of the avocado. Cut each artichoke heart in half lengthwise, starting at the stem end, and place on each side of the filled avocado. Cut each hard-cooked egg in quarter wedges and place on each corner of the salad platter.

Place one whole black olive alongside each quarter of egg.

Serves 4


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook,

“Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

Chef Chris’ Sweet-Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash

I know that this isn’t the first time I’ve griped about this, but it’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to! 😉

One of the few downsides to being a chef and/or food blogger, is that you very seldom get invited over for a home-cooked dinner. Like…ever. Friends and family see the pretty photos and “exotic” recipes you post, and think, “Man, I can’t cook for THEM!

Which is kinda silly, as most chefs LOVE to be cooked for and our standards (or at least mine) aren’t nearly as high as people seem to think. I love Chicken McNuggets and Kraft Mac & Cheese as much as the next red-blooded American fatty!

So, to compensate for this lack of socialization, at least for our family’s sake, we tend to invite other chefs over, and they reciprocate, because every chef secretly (or not so secretly) knows that he or she is the better cook anyway, so there’s no intimidation. 😉

Last week we we’re invited over by my best friend, Chef Chris Renner and his family, for dinner and it was, of course, amazing.

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash

Chef Chris made steaks, which he cooked sous-vide for 12 hours, and then caramelized with a blow torch, and they were unbelievably good. He accompanied those with his own Sweet Potato Hash (recipe below), which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for a week. I brought a bag of salad.

There’s no money in trying to out-cook Chef Chris, believe me…I know.

Seriously, I was one of the best dinners I’ve eaten in a long time, and that hash is going to be a permanent addition to my holiday cooking menu.

Chef graciously shared the recipe with me, so I could share it with you, and I know it’s short notice, but if you can squeeze this into your Thanksgiving menu, you really, really, should! It’s certainly on mine.

IMG_4660Chef Chris’ Sweet Potato Hash

  • 4 med sweet potatoes, diced 1-inch cube
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1/2 pound of bacon lardons
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Over medium heat melt butter and oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add bacon cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add sweet potatoes and onion. Cook stirring occasionally (don’t stir too often) until potatoes are cooked. (You should get some nice caramelized bits that add a lot of flavor.)

Serves 4

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

My Best Holiday Cooking Tips in One Video

Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Here’s a quick video of my favorite holiday cooking tips, tricks, and techniques for a safe and savory holiday feast.

Including:

~How to brine your turkey
~Safe Stuffing & Dressing
~Roasting Tips
~Carving the Perfect Bird

Be sure to subscribe to my channel for more professional kitchen tips and recipes.

Happy Holidays!

~Chef Perry


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide

Holiday Cooking Home Chef GuideOkay, my friends… “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide” will launch on Monday, November 19th!

Everything from the perfect 90 minute roast turkey, to my peach-ginger smoked ham, to a very special Christmas Eve Cioppino.

Dozens of traditional and non-traditional holiday favorites, appetizers, side dishes, and delicious desserts, along with my best tips for a stress-free holiday feast!

UPDATE: Now available on Amazon!

Thanks!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

PS: He’s a peek inside at one of my favorite recipes…

Candied Bacon Brie

Candied Bacon Brie

  • 1 – 8 oz. brie round               ½ pound thin bacon, diced
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar     1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup     pinch of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large skillet, cook the diced bacon 10-15 minutes until just barely crisp.

Drain grease and add the bacon back to the skillet.

Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, maple syrup, and black pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until bubbly.

Line a baking dish with foil, then spray lightly with cooking spray.

Add the unwrapped brie to baking dish, and top with candied bacon mixture.

Bake brie for 10-15 minutes, then let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

The Best Holiday Turkey in 90 Minutes!

Fast Roast Turkey

Just in time for Thanksgiving…perfect roasted whole turkey in just 90 minutes!

Every year I cook up a bunch of turkeys (11 this year, a new record!) and take them to a local homeless shelter for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Even with some amazing volunteer’s help, that’s a lot of turkeys!

Spatchcocking* not only allows me to roast a turkey in (less than) half the time, it also results in more even roasting (ie: a juicy turkey breast), and more flavor by browning all of the skin, not just the skin on top.

Here’s a video I put together of the whole process, from roasting to slicing…

*Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone from tail to neck so that the bird can be opened out flat (also referred to as butterflying). This method results in a much shorter cooking time. It also allows for easier access to the cavity and exterior of the chicken for seasoning purposes.

This method works just as well for all types of poultry, roasting an average-sized chicken in just 30 minutes!

The Highlights

  • 12-14lb turkey, spatchcocked
  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Roast 90 minutes, rest 20 minutes

Oh, and if you really want to amp up the flavor and juiciness of your bird, brine it! You can check our our post My Best Brined Turkey Recipe, over at our youth outreach site, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Chef Perry

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; and get even more Chef’s tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!


Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

The difference between soup, stew, bisque, and chowder.

The difference between soup stew and chowder

HomeChef Kerry asks:

“What’s the difference between soup, stew, bisque, and chowder?”

Soups vs. Stews
In theory, a soup is a combination of vegetables, meat or fish cooked briefly in liquid, so the ingredients are cooked just enough to be palatable, but retain their texture.

A stew is any dish that’s prepared by stewing – meaning that the food is barely covered with liquid and simmered for a long time in a covered pot. Chili Stew is an example of a dish cooked in this manner, whose name has been shorted to just “chili” over the years.

Bisques vs. Chowders
Bisques and chowders are both thickened soups; bisque is generally smooth (pureed) while chowder is chunky, both are usually made with lots of cream and butter, and often start with a roux (see below).

Typically associated with seafood (the word “chowder” derives from the French term for the type of cauldron fishermen used to make these dishes), both words can describe non-seafood dishes as well.

Making a Basic Roux

Roux (“roo“) is a cooking mixture of flour and fat (usually butter), used as a thickener for soups and sauces, with roots dating back more than 300 years in French cuisine.

Made by combining and cooking a flour and oil paste until the raw flavor of the flour cooks out and the roux has achieved the desired color, a properly cooked roux imparts silky-smooth body and a nutty flavor while thickening soups, sauces, and gravies.

Cornstarch mixed with water (slurry), arrowroot, and other ingredients can be used in place of roux, but they don’t add any flavor to the dish, and are only used for their thickening properties.

Making gravies, sauces, and roux-based stews can be intimidating at first, but building a roux is actually a remarkably simple process that leads to many wonderful dishes, including most Cajun and Southern chowders and casseroles, often combined with a Cajun version of a mirepoix known as the “holy trinity.”

The first few steps could be used for basically any thickened sauce or gravy.

  • In a large kettle, sauté onions over medium heat, in butter until tender.
  • Add flour, salt, pepper (and any other spices); stir to make a crumbled paste. By the way, if you’re not working off a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to start with equal parts fat (butter, drippings, etc.,) to flour.
  • Cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes until roux begins to turn golden and gives off a nutty aroma (this step is KEY to cooking off the “flour-y” taste, and creating a deep, rich flavor.)
  • Gradually add water, broth, meat drippings, or milk/cream (I recommend one of the latter), starting very slowly (1/4 cup at a time) stirring constantly to keep smooth.
  • Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute.

One trick Dad taught me, while working with him at one of the restaurants, was to warm whatever liquid you’re using to just steaming. This keeps the roux from cooling (stopping the cooking process) each time you add liquid to it. Some folks disagree, but it’s never failed me.

Depending on the broth/drippings, you now have an awesome gravy. Flavor check for salt, herbs, and/or spices, and it’s ready to serve.

For stews, or chowders, this is where you’d start adding all the goodies, and more liquid (usually stock) to thin.

To watch this process, see my YouTube video, “How to make a Roux, Bechamel, & Cheese Sauce” at www.homechefvideos.com


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

 

From the Holiday Guide: Roasted Maple Bacon Carrots

Roasted Maple Bacon Carrots

Maple Bacon Roasted Carrots
Original recipe from “Bacon: A Home Chef’s Guide”

Here’s a quick and easy recipe from the upcoming, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.”

Crispy, smoky, salty bacon-wrapped roasted carrots glazed in sweet maple syrup. The perfect side dish for any holiday meal!

The Recipe

  • 2 pounds carrots, trimmed & peeled
  • 1 lb. apple-wood smoked bacon
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

Wrap the carrots in the bacon.

Arrange on a wire rack on a foil wrapped baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400F. oven.

Cook until the bacon is crispy and the carrots are tender, about 20-30 minutes, glazing with the maple syrup half way through.

Home Chef Note: If you’re feeding a crowd, you can save yourself some time and make this recipe casserole-style. Chop and fry your bacon, oil a baking dish with the bacon fat, toss bacon with peeled baby carrots and maple syrup, and add to baking dish. Roast at 350F for 20 minutes!


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

 

 

Asiago Sourdough Bread

cheese bread 1

Asiago Sourdough bread

For the Bread:

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 c sour dough starter (room temp)
  • 2 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c shredded Asiago cheese (divided for each loaf)
  • 2 Tbsp yellow corn meal

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup Asiago, shredded
  • 2 tsp. roasted garlic

Mix topping ingredients and set aside at room temp.

Combine sugar, salt, & shortening in a large mixing bowl.

Add Sour dough starter, and stir until sugar dissolves.

Gradually add flour, stirring until dough leaves sides of bowl.

Turn dough onto heavily floured surface: Knead 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place 85 degrees F. free from drafts, at least 1 hour or until doubled in size. Dough will be sticky.

Punch down dough & allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface: Divide dough in half.  Butter a loaf pan, sprinkle with corn meal. Set aside till needed.

Roll each half into a rectangle. Add the shredded cheese and roll into dough with rolling pin, or press by hand into bread dough. Roll up jelly roll fashion.

Place dough seam side down in loaf pans; turn edges under.

Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray, and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes, remove from oven and spread the tops with butter-cheese mixture. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until loaves sound hallow when tapped. If top gets too brown, tent loosely with foil.

Remove to wire rack to cool before slicing.

Yield 2 loaves.

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Enjoy!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

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