In the spirit of the Super Bowl and the Carolina Panthers making it to the big game, we’re sharing some Carolina BBQ love with our fellow Delawareans. Rick Betz of Fat Rick & Son BBQ is the resident expert on barbeque and the mastermind behind this tried-and-true recipe. Try making it yourself—or head to Fat Rick’s 6th Annual Winter Rib Fest on Saturday, Jan. 30 from noon to 5 p.m. (1413 Foulk Road in Wilmington). And now, a lesson from Fat Rick himself …
This recipe has been in my family for many, many years, and it’s never been shared publicly with anyone. Being the good Delawarean that I am, I’m sharing a similar recipe. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough.
Before youget into the ingredients and process, the very first step is to purchase the freshest pork butt possible. A pork butt isn’t actually a butt at all—it’s a part of the pig’s shoulder.I recommend choosing abone-in picnic shoulder. These pieces of meataverage between 8 to10 poundseach, and come with a “fat cap,” alayer of good fat underneath a thick layer of skinthat melts when smoked, providing all that sweet anddelicious tenderness.
For the rub:
Mixspicesfor the rub together very well in a small bowl. Rinse the meat under cold running water and pat dry. Then liberally and vigorously massagethe rub (by hand)into the flesh ofthe meat. (No need to rub the skin;it’s too thick for the spices to permeate anyway.)Don’t be shy about using too much of the rub.
Next, line a roasting pan with aluminum foil (to help with cleanup;you can also use a disposable deep aluminum hotel pan).Wrap meat thoroughly with Saran Wrap and refrigerate (ideallyovernight).
If you don’t have a 1,500-poundsteel wood-fired smoker, preheatyour ovento 225 degreesFahrenheit. When the oven reaches 225 degrees, remove the Saran Wrap from themeat and place it in the oven.(Note: Some folks who aren’t fortunate enough to have a smokerresort to using liquid smoke. I don’t.No self-respecting BBQ man should ever stoop that low.)
Courtesy of Fat Rick & Son BBQ
Let the pork cooklow and slowfor about 6 to8 hours, depending on the size of your piece of meat.Have your meat thermometer handy, and check thebutt’s internal temperature regularly.Be sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, andavoidtouching the bone. Your butt is perfectly doneevery timewhen that temperature reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit, guaranteed. Remove the butt from the heat right away, and let it cool a bit so it’ll beeasier to pull. You’ll findthatthe meat will fall away from the bone very easily.
When the butt is cool enough to handle, start pulling off the thick skin—but don’t throw it away too quickly,because therearesome really good bits of meat up under there.Next, begin pullingthe other chunks of meat apart,with your hands,into long strips and chunks.Don’toverwork it, though—you want nice firm chunksforyour sandwiches.Pile the meat high on a fresh-baked burger bun. I’m old-school. (Real BBQ enthusiasts will tell you that the only reason to use bread at all is soyou have something to hold the meat.)Smother your sandwich withan authentic Eastern Carolina vinegar-based sauce. Or,if you prefer, that other stuff.