Chef Andy: The Big Rub
By Chef Andy Mueller
Owner, Galley 57
When deciding between a marinade and a rub, consider the source.
A marinade has the ability to penetrate whatever you’re marinating because of the ingredients in the liquid you are using, be it a salt infused water base, vinegar, wine, citrus etc.
A rub has very little, if any, liquid and gets applied to the outside of your product and most likely gets mixed in and enhances the flavor after cooking when the meat gets shredded and combined before service.
In this case, pulled pork, a rub is ideal as the spice blend acts as a seal to keep juices inside and a flavor enhancer once the meat is cooked and shredded when finished. Pork shoulder is the perfect cut for this recipe as it has a good amount of fat that keeps the meat juicy as it cooks low and slow in the oven or crock pot.
Also called Boston Butt, the shoulder is a tougher cut when cooked quickly, but a supremely tender cut when cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time. It’s a simple recipe, but a time commitment.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can throw this in the crock pot in the morning at the lowest setting, and 10 – 12 hours later, you have an incredible dinner and a few days of leftovers that make great sandwiches, nacho toppings or whatever your heart desires.
The rub is the key to pulled pork greatness and it’s important to use a few strong, aromatic spices that provide depth of flavor and overall culinary harmony. Another important key to success is temperature. If the heat is too high, the meat will boil and yield a tougher cut, so make sure to keep the temperature low and at no more than a gentle simmer. I like to throw my butt in the crock pot on low and give it a day at the spa while I’m at work. Let it rest a bit after cooking, but not too long as you don’t want to give anyone the cold shoulder.
For the rub, in a mixing bowl combine:
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon pepper
Mix to combine. Using a 3 – 4 pound pork shoulder (Boston Butt), apply the rub to the meat, coating the entire outside of the meat. Wrap and let rest overnight in a baking dish to catch any leaks. In the morning, turn your crockpot on low and bring to a boil in a saucepan:
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- the juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Place the pork shoulder in the crockpot, add the liquid to the crockpot, cover and cook for 10 – 12 hours or until the meat is tender and easy to pull apart. Pull the meat apart in the cooking liquid and serve on toasted buns with your favorite BBQ sauce, cole slaw and whatever sides you like. Enjoy!