Category Archives: Pork

Competition Spare Ribs

I bet youre expecting to see pictures of me and my husband on a beautiful Bahamian beach, right? Well, I don’t have any, and I suck at photohop so I can’t even fake any.  In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple weeks, there was a big hurricane that struck the east coast.  Yeah….so instead of fun in the sun,  it was more like no fun and no power.  What did I do instead?  Well, I got drunk, I mean really drunk as soon as I found out it was cancelled I was drinking straight rum until I throw up kind of drunk (Sorry about that Michelle!).  We did decide to put our travel money to good use and get another Rottweiler puppy though.   Here is little Sonya, the new baby.

Our other rottie is still a puppy too, he is just over a year old and nowhere near full grown, which we have to remind people of that whenever we go out in public because he gets jealous that she gets all the attention.

If you are a single guy living in the north VA area, she is also for rent for 100$ an hour.  The first day we took her for a walk in Alexandria 14 girls came up to pet her in the first 30 minutes.   If you really want to reel the ladies in, you should memorize the phrase, “she’s a rescue.”  She isn’t, but trust me, the ladies love it!

She is fearless!

Ok, on to the meat! We smoked our best-ever spare ribs last weekend, and I have been sitting on the recipe for days.   Why, you ask? Well my hubby was still on vacation and we were spending time together, duh!   The rub for these spare ribs was :

  • ¾ cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 TB garlic powder….actually more because everyone loves garlic in BBQ
  • 2 TB course ground pepper
  • 2 TB kosher salt
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 2 TB cayenne pepper

Mr. Primal Smoke with his new electric knife

We used spare ribs for this recipe, which are much larger than baby-back, but we still used the same basic method, laying the rib rack flat on the grates of the smoker.  We also sprayed the ribs every half hour to keep them moist and flavorful.  Spritz – 1 part apple cider, 1 part cider vinegar. Spray every half hour. Don’t leave the lid open gawking your ribs, you’ll let the heat out….even if they do look delicious.

There is also a picnic shoulder on there because we love pork!

We wanted the heat between 250-275F for this recipe, but it was really cold and windy out that day, so the smoker stayed on the low end at about 250F.  Don’t forget to add plenty of apple wood to get that nice pink smoke ring!  We added ours every 30-60 minutes as needed.

Cooking Time unwrapped – approximately 3.5 hours (until ribs reach 170) Then wrap your ribs in tin-foil and add a little bit of BBQ sauce, and throw them back on the smoker.

Cooking Time after they are wrapped – approximately 2-3 hours (until ribs reach about 190 and the meat is tender). If you lift the end of the ribs and they feel like they might break apart they are done).

If you are new to Primal Smoke, be sure to check out the basics here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and some info on lighting the smoker

Lastly, had to share halloween pics. We were Honey Boo Boo and Mama June!


Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Favorites, Pork




No clever title today, no quips, no sensationalization, “bacon” is all I need to say to set this post up for success!  Now, it is really hard for most people to picture foods like bacon, beef, and butter as health food, but if  you are already a convert then I am preaching to the choir.

This past weekend was a perfect time to make a big ass slab of bacon because the chilly weather drove us indoors and left me seeking some rich, warm comfort food.  Which last night meant a delicious pork and potato soup with leeks, bacon, and carrots that did not photograph too well.

For the bacon you will need

  • A big slab of raw pork belly (ours was 2.84lbs)
  • Lots of salt
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Water
  • Disposable foil pans
  • Maple and hickory wood chips

This recipe also takes several days to brine, so it  is best to plan ahead.  First prepare your brine in a disposable foil pan, combine a 2:1 ratio of sweet to salt.  I would say for every pound to use 1/8th cup salt and  ¼ cup syrup or honey.  Vigorously mix your brine with cold water until everything looks fairly dissolved.  It doesn’t have to be perfect you are going to throw this part out anyways.  If your pork has a thick layer of skin on one side you will need to remove that now (home-made pork rinds anyone?)  Throw your pork belly into the brine and fill with more water until it covers the slab of pork completely.  I find that putting a plate on top does a pretty decent job at keeping the pork belly submerged in the brine.

Briney goodness

Here is the not so awesome part.  You have to cover that big porky slab of happiness and leave it in the fridge for 48 hours.  If you plan on smoking your bacon on a Saturday it is best to start the brining process on a Wednesday night.  This is a super easy thing to whip up while you are making dinner.  After your 48 hours is up discard the brine, pat you bacon dry, line the foil pan with some paper towels and put it back in the fridge uncovered for 12 hours to cure.  This will be on Friday night if you are using my time frame.  I know it’s the start of the weekend and you want to party, but try to remember to discard your brine some time in between tequila shots.  Saturday morning your bacon will be ready to throw on the smoker.  You want to use a really low temperature here and lots of smoke. We selected a combo of hickory and maple because while the maple compliments the maple flavor in the brine, hickory just has a more intense flavor.  Try to keep the smoker around 200F, but always keep it under 225F.

We use a grillable thermometer probe to monitor temperature.

After about 2-3 hours it is typically done, if you are monitoring the temperature, I suggest taking it off at around 150F.

The finished product

Now, with all of that said, unless you have a deli style meat slicer in your home (if you do I envy you), you will not be able to get those perfect thin slices that you get pre-packaged in your grocery store, but if you buy your bacon that way the terrorists win.  Plus, even if I had a professional meat slicer, I would probably end up missing a finger or two.  Seriously, I cut myself nearly every time I cook, my husband even keeps a tourniquet in the kitchen (mostly as a sarcastic joke though).  I should have titled this paragraph “how to make sure no one ever eats at your house.”  Thick cut bacon is best cooked on a wire rack over a cookie sheet in the oven, or chopped up and added in to recipes.  So far we have been eating it with…

Chicken-Bacon alfredo

Adapted from the genius mind behind PaleOMG

Also in a beefy breakfast scramble



Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Bacon, Favorites, Pork


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Who Loves Ya Baby Back? Basic Rib Technique and a Holiday Preview

I have been sitting on a rib recipe since Saturday, but I was a little brain-dead from too much vodka at an open-bar wedding on Sunday.   In my hung over state I also had to give the dog a bath and scrub the whole house from top to bottom because little Kirk brought millions of his friends into the house.   Flea-bath and headaches don’t mix, really not fun!  So, now that I have reluctantly de-fleaed the kids and house, it is time to give you the basic rules for ribs.

Amazing ribs are one of the BBQ holy grails.  Like brisket, something that you will not get perfect the first time around, but that’s ok, barbecue takes practice.   Rib recipes are like fingerprints, everyone has them and they are all a little different.  This is not a specific recipe, but instead they are instructions for the novice to follow.  Once you have mastered the basic rib we will get all technical with the fancy recipes!

That beautiful pink hue is the smoke ring! Something you will never get if you take shortcuts!

We started with 2 slabs of pork ribs and carefully cut off the silver skin, also called the “membrane.”  We used hickory smoke for these little piggies, but just about any wood would work here except for mesquite, because it might be too bitter and intense for this particular cut of meat.

mmm membrane

Next we added the rub, which is a bit of a misnomer, because I don’t want you to actually rub it in, so it should be called a pat.  You can use whatever rub you like, or a generous sprinkle of garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and onion powder will do as well.  Pat your rub onto both sides of the meat really well and let them come to room temp while you start up the smoker.

Ribs are often referred to in Latin as Porkus Maximus

The ideal temperature of the smoker is 225F, but anything under 250F will do.  Once you are up to temp throw your ribs on for approximately three hours, being sure to monitor carefully.  This recipe could be done on a gas grill with a smoker box, or a large charcoal grill with a dual-zone fire and a water pan on the low side.

Once your ribs reach 190F, pull them off the smoker and place each rack in a piece of tinfoil.  Drizzle with a bit(about 2TB) of your favorite BBQ sauce, or mine, and wrap them tightly before placing back on the smoker or the grill. The ribs are ready to eat at this point, but the gristle-y connective tissue hasn’t fully broken down yet, so they need a bit more time.  If you are putting them on your smoker leave them on for another 1-2 hours, or you could expedite this process and throw them on a hot grill for 10-20 minutes, if youre super-duper lazy.  The reason for this is to let the ribs finish cooking without drying out from too much smoke.  Also, it will give the sauce a chance to caramelize into the meat a bit.  This is called the Texas Crutch, but there are many other techniques to experiment with(we will explain the sear and smoke for ya soon!)

The meat should pull off the bone easily, but should NOT under any circumstances just fall right off.  In competition BBQ that is considered a huge freaking failure, because you want the meat to have some “give.” Once they are finished you wont need to add much more sauce, because unlike an indoor(meaning incorrectly) cooked rib, you are tasting the smoke instead of just tasting the sugary sauce concoction that they are smothered in. No pink smoke = no bueno.  Lastly don’t forget to let your ribs rest for about 30 minutes in their foil, as they will be too hot to eat.

We are also practicing for a big holiday coming up…Thanksgrilling.  It is Thanksgiving dinner cooked entirely on the grill! We had a little practice run at some smoked turkey legs, here is a preview

November 22nd is right around the corner!

You better get your technique right before November, because we put a down payment on a pig, and when he gets into our freezer and this website will be a pork-a-palooza!


Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Pork, Technique


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How To Build The Perfect Sauce: Carolina Mustard Gas

There are only 5 words you need to remember when trying to creat the perfect BBQ sauce

  1. sweet
  2. sour
  3. salt
  4. smoke
  5. spice

The essential elements

Your sweet can be honey, molasses, maple syrup, fruit juice, or puree.  Combine that will some sort of vinegar (cider, balsamic, red wine, ect), citrus juice, or even pickle juice for your sour.  Salt seems pretty simple but it doesn’t have to be your boring ol’ sodium chloride.  You can also use liquid amino, bone broth, fish sauce, or worchestshire…worcestershire….grr…whatever! The spice is that little kick that takes a sauce to the next level.  It does not actually have to be painfully burning heat (although that is how I like mine). You can use black, red, or cayenne pepper, horseradish, wasabi, garlic or fresh peppers and chilis.  The final addition is the smoke, it is that funk that makes a sauce really unique, but be careful here, it is pretty easy to overdo it.  We like to use ancho chilis, chipotles, liquid smoke, bourbon, or mustard.  Cooking your sauce over smoke will also infuse it with some pretty b*tchin flavor.  Your choices are really only limited to your imagination.

Liquid gold baby!

Carolina Mustard Gas takes it name from a pork BBQ staple.  Carolina barbecue pork is usually sprayed with a mixture of vinegar and red pepper, but why stop there?  Seriously…I didn’t.  I married in some German tradition, a place where pork and mustard go together like bacon and chocolate (or bacon and anything really), and made this sauce really pop.


  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (sour)
  • 2 TB honey (sweet)
  • 4 TB dijon mustard (smoke)
  • 1 t coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt

I mixed all of those ingredients in a sauce pan and gave them a little whisk-y whisk-y.  Brought them to a rolling boil and then let is simmer for 3-5 minutes.  I don’t even like mustard and I thought this stuff was pretty effing fantastic.  We were going to call it Dijon Branch in celebration of the start of football…but ya know, he got cut.

We drizzled the mustard gas all over our slow smoked pulled pork, and keeping with the German theme I added some sauerkraut and sprinkled with red pepper.

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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Barbeque, Pork, Sauces, Uncategorized


How To Get a Perfect Butt: A Really Long Guest Post

I am Derek, the other half of The Primal Smoke, but unlike my wife, I prefer more traditional BBQ.  As great as her cooking is, she is actually such a control freak in the kitchen she gave me an outline for how she wanted this written up.  If you are a beginner there is no better cut of meat to get your confidence up and impress your neighbors than Boston butt, it is very forgiving and doesn’t take a lot of skill, although I totally have skills.

That pink hue is the delicious smoke ring from the hickory

The cut of pork I used for this post was a nine and a half pound, bone-in, Boston butt. Boston butt is a cut from the pig’s shoulder and has nothing to do with the pig’s actual butt.  Pork shoulder is best cooked slow over low heat.  On average plan about an hour to an hour and a half per pound of meat at 225-250 degrees.

My wife calls him R2D2

We use a Weber 18.5” Smoky Mountain Cooker for all our long, slow cooks (ribs, pulled pork, brisket…etc.).  Weber offers a great smoker for an affordable price(I sound like a commercial, huh?).  There are tons of different quality ceramic cookers and offset smokers, but for the price and convenience of storage nothing beats the Weber.  On a side note, the 18.5” cooker is easier to keep the temperature stable than the 22.5” cooker.

Preparing the pork shoulder is easy.  One side will have a layer of fat about 1/2” to 1 ½”.   Start by trimming this fat off.  Leave a little fat on the bottom, but not much.

Post-mortem liposuction!

Next, apply your rub.  Rub your meat real good, heh.   There are some people who like to apply their rub the night before.  I don’t think this is necessary, but it won’t hurt either.  Let the cut of meat sit out for about an hour.  It should be close to room temperature when you put it on, just do it, don’t ask me why.  That is a whole other post entirely.  My rub was:

  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 TB ground ginger
  • 2 TB onion powder
  • 2TB cayenne
  • 2 TB black pepper

While you let you pork shoulder warm up, it is time to prep you smoker.  I like using hickory smoke for pulled pork.  Place a couple chunks of hickory (already soaked in water) in your cooker with some coals, light your charcoal chimney in a separate grill and dump it over top, and if you’re using a water smoker (like the Weber) fill up your water pan.  Make sure you line your water pan with aluminum foil or else you’ll have a pretty messy clean up.  Ready for a sh*t-ton of pictures?

Charcoal and wood goes in here, hot coals go over top.

This thing goes on top with some water to keep the heat low

Next comes your cooking grate and the meat

Once your cooker gets to 225 degrees put your pork shoulder on.  I highly suggest using a digital thermometer to monitor the temp of the meat.  A dual prong thermometer – measuring the smoker temp/meat temp are the best….btw don’t get a Big Green Egg thermometers, they make awesome ceramic cookers but horrible thermometers….mine lasted two uses.

R2D2 already has his own thermometer

Maintain the temp of the smoker between 225 and 250 degrees, adding a handful of hickory chunks every hour or two.  Smoking is half science, half art….bottom line you’ll be the judge of how much smoke you want.  Avoid using too much though or your meat will be bitter.

Also, get your ass up early, this could take a while

When the temp of the meat hits about 150 it will “stall” for an hour or two.  This is normal, don’t be a jackass and increase the temp or worry your thermometer is broken.  Just maintain your cookers temp and you’ll be fine.  Some folks wrap their pork shoulder in foil after it hits 170, but I don’t think this is necessary (we’ll talk foil when we cook ribs and brisket). This cut of meat has enough fat in it to keep it nice and moist.  Once your shoulder approaches 190 it is time to come off.  If it still seems tough at 190 leave it on for an extra half hour.

Also, when your meat turns black on the outside it is not burning.  This is called the “bark” and is the best d*mn part! It is a combination of caramelized meat rub and spices with the smoke.

This thing barks better than DMX

This nine and half pound Boston butt took about 11 hours, but that includes a brutal summer rain/wind storm which probably effected the cooking time. Once you remove the pork shoulder let it sit for about 45 minutes to an hour or until it cools…..or you’ll end up like me with blistered fingers. Pull the pork with forks or your hands, pour your favorite BBQ sauce over it and enjoy.

juiciest pork on the planet


Posted by on September 10, 2012 in basics, Favorites, Pork