Labor Day BBQ
If there is one thing that Americans know how to do well, it is celebrate a summer holiday. Memorial Day weekend is considered by many the unofficial start of summer. Grills get moved out of storage and fired up for what will be many cooks through June, July, and August.
Likewise, Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial end of summer. Pools get closed, grills get stored away, many use this weekend as one last "hurrah" before the cold and snow Michigan winters settle in.
In Michigan, we have an added layer of complexity to our holiday weekends. It's a bit hard to see in the photo above, but if you look really closely to the center left, you will see bumper to bumper traffic. That would be a mass of people heading "north" for the holiday weekend. This photo was taken Friday around 2:15 PM on my way home from work. Trust me when I say, the traffic just gets worse the closer to 5:00 PM ("quitting time") you get.
@mrsbozz and I have always had an unspoken agreement that neither of us wants to deal with the headache of Labor Day weekend. Mostly because of the traffic, but also because it is right around the time school starts and we often just like to stay home and prepare ourselves mentally.
This weekend was no exception, but just because we didn't go away, doesn't mean we didn't find our own ways to celebrate.
For me, that meant doing some cooks on my Weber Kettle grill.
The first one was the picture you see above. Chicken and burgers. We ate the burgers that night and used the chicken in meals the rest of the weekend.
That's a jalapeno cheddar burger for me. Brussels sprouts and homemade potato salad. It was fantastic. We made the decision a while ago to stop buying buns for our burgers. While I do miss the extra carbs occasionally, I can handle skipping it most of the time for the sake of my health and my weight!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the homemade pickles on the burger as well. @mrsbozz had a chicken burger that we make ourselves. My burger was purchase from what used to be one of my favorite butchers. Unfortunately, the owners just sold the business, and I don't know if I will be visiting there anymore.
Sunday, I decided to do a cook that took just a bit longer than the chicken and burgers. That's a pork shoulder that I bought a while ago and had cut into two smaller pieces. I had vacuum sealed it at the time and was keeping it in my freezer until I had the time to babysit it on the smoker.
As you can see, there is quite a bit of marbling of fat in the meat. That is part of the reason you need to cook it low and slow, so all of that connective tissue breaks down properly.
There are about a million different brands of rubs out there, but this is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I bought it, so I am going to have to look around since I used this up.
A good slathering of mustard allows the rub to stick really nicely to the meat. Believe it or not, you don't even taste the mustard after you cook the thing all day!
I actually put the rub on the shoulder Saturday evening so it could have time to work its magic before I actually cooked the meat.
Smoking on a Weber Kettle is pretty easy. You just need to use the snake method. This basically takes advantage of a process called the minion method and just extends that over a longer period of time. I have found it works very well in helping you maintain a fairly even temperature. Something that isn't easy when you aren't using a fixed energy source like gas or pellets.
I will admit, I need to do a better job of laying out my charcoal. I was in a bit of a hurry and I had some gaps in my "snake". You might also notice I had a lot more charcoal towards the end than I did at the beginning. That came back to bite me in the form of some pretty high temps towards the end of the cook.
A water pan in the middle is a must to catch all the drippings from the meat in the early stages. I used some apple and hickory wood chunks around the edges for my smoke flavor. You might notice I only have them at the beginning. The meat only absorbs the smoke flavor in the early stages of the cook. You are wasting them if you add them later. The only reason I would add them later is if you are trying to boost your cook temp.
I started the fire and then waited a bit before I put the meat on.
Eventually, the fire got where I wanted it and I put the pork shoulder on. If you look really close you can see a blurry Jovi photo bomb in the right of this picture.
After about four hours, the temperature got up to right around 150 which is where "the stall" often happens. Between 150 and 170 is the official range. At this point, I wrapped the shoulder in foil to help it push through the stall. If you have more time, you can let it go naturally, but I think most people wrap it.
I let the shoulder go another three hours until it got to an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F. It took about seven hours total to smoke this 3 to 4 pound pork shoulder.
As you can see, it is a good thing it hit the desired temperature because I was just about out of charcoal at that point. I could have added more, but I was starting to get hungry as well!
As you can see from the photos, the meat was starting to pull away from the bone rather nicely. I let it sit and rest for about a half hour before I started "pulling" the meat.
I was really happy to see how cleanly the bone pulled out of the shoulder. That's something to be proud of for sure!
As you can see, there was a fairly nice smoke ring on the meat. That is the red bits that you can see mixed in with the rest of the meat. It was more subtle than I have had in the past, so I am wondering if I should have used more wood. It was very tasty though, and I am looking forward to buying another one to do this winter sometime.
Homemade mac and cheese and broccoli were the perfect accompaniments to my pulled pork. My wife ate a piece of the chicken that we had grilled the night before. She isn't much of a pulled pork fan. She thinks it smells good, but there is something about the texture that she just can't do. I don't mind though, more for me!
Looks yummy 🤤
love your smoking posts - makes me want to get a Weber myself.
They are really pretty great! Something universal about them that I love. There are a ton of mods for them now too. I am looking at the smoke n sear for one of my next cooks.
We have a little rectangular mobile one which I've enjoyed using for the first time this year. I was wondering if I could modify it for the snake method and use a smaller joint - is there a minimum recommended size?
I think mine is 22". It really just depends on the size of the meat you want to smoke. You could definitely try it!
That's some nice Bbq. A baked potato sure would go nice with that meal but it's just my preference.Awesome job of the roast being a simple rub. On both sides of the border we have the same Labor day holiday.
I've never really been a fan of baked potatoes. They usually end up way to dry. Either that or you have to add so much butter and sour cream they become horrible for you! :)
It's what make the potato. The sour cream, butter and bacon bits. Not really a fan of chives.
Well yeah then, if you aren't worried about keeping our trim figures, then load it up!
Grilled meat looks very delicious, the seasoning is complete. Like post. Thank you.
Yeah, it was really good. I just have a little bit left.
Holiday weekend ideal time to kick back and relax at home, roads become mayhem!
Noticed some regions had horrific storms pass through once again, trust you and yours missed these wild storms.
Meats look absolutely superb as does the mix of pasta and veg. Had to smile at the Remote Receiver not something I have ever seen used, good old hand test here 🙃
I wouldn't smoke without a remote thermometer. It lets you relax inside and still keep an eye on your "Q". I am thinking about getting one that connects to my wireless so I can track the cook on my phone.
Too many lessons to learn, enjoy sitting outdoors weather depending! Let me know when that wireless one arrives, could be interesting start the cooker before you get home !LOLZ
Whenever we go somewhere they keep asking RV there yet.
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You and @mrsbozz know how to do it big 😎 yum.
I'm with you on the Labor Day weekend traffic. For Tiffa and me, it's not worth the headache. Sticking to the home front or the surrounding areas is much less stressful.
We do a little traveling for Memorial weekend, but we usually try to stick to backroads.
Man that looks awesome!!
You seem to really know what you are doing with that grill :-)
I love grilling, but just don't have time lately.
If you are really into grilling and want a fun rabbit hole to go down, check out Amazing Ribs!
It's not just about ribs. One of the best overall grilling sites ever in my opinion ;-)
I am going to have to check it out! The Weber Kettle is just so universal. You can do pretty much anything with it. Plus getting parts is pretty easy too because it is so standardized.
Yeah. Amazing ribs has a grill rating service. As far as I can tell the Weber Kettle always gets the top rating right alongside $20K grills. Simple, but very effective :-)
Looks very delicious. My husband uses his grill all year round. No waiting around for Memorial Day! 😀
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Good Afternoon and Thank you, @youarealive! Enjoy your day.😀
Yep, that is how we are too!
Pretty nice, isn't it? Have a great Sunday! 😀
That all food and especially meat looks very delicious, we grill a lot in summer but we usually buy really marinated meat from butcher, it is just easy but I love to do a lot of different salads to them. You are lucky to have such nice weather there and still enjoy your warm days.
I have bought marinated meat in the past, but usually we just do it ourselves. It is amazing what a little oil, soy, honey and garlic can do!
You sure had some fantastic food over labor day. Did you see @generikat post about Labor Day. I have never seen anyone celebrate Labor Day with more enthusiasm.
I will have to check it out. Haven't seen it yet.
It really looks delicious, I've never made meat like this, I'll have to try it, it looks too tasty.
Good luck! It is well worth it!
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Im also not a fan of the holiday traffic and try to do everything off-peak! Weber is the most popular brand here in Germany.
It has earned its reputation for sure! I have always wanted to go to the Weber restaurant in Chicago, but never had the chance yet.
Did you try any Gas Grills?
Hold your blasphemous tongue!
hahaha Im a coal person but many are switching to gas! !LOL
Because they just got out of a prism.
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I've used gas grills in the past, but I am not a fan. I have thought about getting a small gas smoker to take camping with me, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. My dad has a Kamodo that I am sure will get handed down to me some day. I'd probably switch over to hardwood before I ever bought a gas grill.
coals are not so convenient but are better
You're KILLING me man. Just killing me. Mac-N-Cheese .. Pulled pork chunks .. Florets! It's official, I'm on my way up to see you guys. Be there soon. 😆 😁
Sounds good, I've got three half racks of baby backs in the freezer I can throw on and a ribeye if that isn't enough! I think I should have led with the photo of the pork, this post isn't getting the love I thought it would.
Not too late to change it up. But then again people don't scroll too far back do they. lol.
I'm hungry and have chicken tender leftovers for lunch. Now that I have read this these tenders aren't going to cut it. :(
No, they really don't. Depends on where the tenders are from. I've had some fantastic leftover tenders air-fried up!