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All-weather barbecuing: A guide to getting great smokehouse flavor

It’s barbecue season, and no one’s ever going to complain about a delicious cut of meat cooked over a hot flame, no matter how you slice it. But do you want to merely satisfy your guests’ hunger, or have them talking for the rest of the season about that perfectly juicy and tender smoked pork they had at your house – and secretly wondering how to replicate it?

One of the best ways to take your barbecue to the next level is to add unforgettable smokehouse flavor. “If you don’t have a smoker, you might be reticent to try smoking your meat, but it’s entirely possible achieve great smokehouse flavor on the grill or in your oven,” says Hard Rock Cafe Executive Chef Jason Gronlund.

Gronlund’s staff recently rolled out a host new authentic smokehouse menu items including three versions of smokehouse sandwiches from Shanghai, South Carolina and Texas. He provides the following tips for creating that fall-off-the-bone smokehouse pork shoulder, whether you are cooking on the grill or in the oven.

Selecting your cut and rub

“For pulled pork, the Boston butt cut, which is actually a type of pork shoulder cut, is always a great call,” says Gronlund. No matter which way you’ll be smoking the meat, start by liberally applying a dry rub to the entire surface of your meat.

Using a gas grill

* Heat half the grill to medium – the left side works better in most grills, says Gronlund.
* Sear the outside of the pork shoulder on the hot side of the grill heating it to just above room temperature.
* Move the pork shoulder into a grill pan on the right (off) side of the grill. Add a half-inch of water to the pan.
* For a strong smoky flavor, tightly wrap wood chips of your preferred variety in a cigar-like package of tin foil, poking holes in the foil. Place the package directly on top of the hot burner so that it begins to smolder. Throughout the cooking process, check to make sure that smoke is still coming from the package, as that’s what will give the meat its smoky flavor.
* Now you wait, as the pork shoulder will take about seven hours to cook. Check every hour or so to make sure the pan has enough water; add water as needed.
* You’ll know it’s done if the meat separates easily when stuck with a grilling fork.

Using the oven

“Whether you’re drawn inside because of bad weather, or simply want a little more control over the finished product, using the oven’s also a great option for smoked pork shoulder,” says Gronlund.

* Use a braising pan and heat oil in the pan on the stove before adding the shoulder. Lightly caramelize the side of the roast and heat to just above room temperature.
* Preheat the oven to 300 F. Add a half-inch water to a braising pan with 3 teaspoons of liquid smoke. Cover pork should tightly with plastic wrap – if it’s wrapped tightly it won’t melt – and place in the pan in the oven.
* Cook for four hours in the oven until meat is easily separated with a fork. Let it sit for at least a half hour after you cook the meat, which will allow for the juices to settle and tenderize the meat.

“And of course you can’t have true barbecue without a quality barbecue sauce,” says Grondlund. “Here’s your opportunity to give it a regional flavor, as a quick recipe search will educate you on the differences in barbecue sauces by area of origin. Find a made-from-scratch recipe that suits your culinary skill level, and the sauce can be made while you cook the roast.”

To get a sense of what true smokehouse flavor should taste like, visit one of Hard Rock’s locations throughout the world to try one of their new or classic smokehouse offerings. Each restaurant is equipped with a smoker, which allows chefs to deliver authentic smokehouse flavors from throughout the world. For more information and locations, visit www.hardrock.com.

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