"Indoor" and "barbecue" are two words one never likes to hear placed back-to-back in a sentence -- especially when preceded by the phrase "you are invited to". We all know what this means: Meats and/or poultry baked in an oven with a lot of Open Pit BBQ Sauce poured over it.
When we hear the words "liquid smoke" spoken, it also tends to signal red flags. Which is why I was so surprised to see it being recommended by Christopher Kimball on America's Test Kitchen (which I've mentioned in the past is the best show about cooking on television). Yet a "barbecue purist" from West Virginia made it clear: "Liquid smoke should not be sneezed at."
"To achieve smoky flavor without an actual barbecue pit, we turned to liquid smoke, a natural product derived from condensing the moist smoke of smoldering wood chips. We found that adding it to our brine infused it with smoky flavor without tasting unnatural."
So liquid smoke is no joke -- but it is not without its detractors. Tar and ash are condensates that are removed during the process, but the European Food Safety Authority is concerned about another smoke flavoring byproduct, Primary Product FF-B. So far, findings have shown concentrations well below acceptable limits. My conclusion? It is something to be used once in a blue moon -- like, say, when you don't want to spend hours outdoors smoking a pork butt, but you want some pulled pork that tastes as though you did.
This recipe will perform that feat. Dry and wet rubs are likewise applied for added smokiness. The meat is covered with foil for part of the cooking so it braises moistly; then the foil is removed to form an alluring crust.
Keep going for the recipe -- or else you can just watch it on video.
Indoor Pulled Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
Serves 6 to 8
For the pork:
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 boneless pork butt (about 5 pounds) cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (sweet paprika can be used as substitute)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce:
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the pork:
Dissolve 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons liquid smoke in 4 quarts of cold water in large container. Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
While pork brines, combine mustard and remaining 2 teaspoons liquid smoke in a small bowl; set aside. Combine black pepper, paprika, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and cayenne in second small bowl; set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325F.
Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub mustard mixture over entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with spice mixture. Place pork on wire rack set inside foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place piece of parchment paper over pork, then cover with sheet of aluminum foil, sealing edges to prevent moisture from escaping. Roast pork for 3 hours.
Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment. Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into fat separator and reserve for sauce. Return pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200 degrees oninstant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.
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Transfer pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
For the sauce:
While pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid from fat separator into medium bowl; whisk in sauce ingredients.
Using two forks, shred pork into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 cup sauce and season with salt and pepper, Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.