Rusty Irons, the owner of our first holiday rental in Austin may be a petite woman, but her personality is a big as the state of Texas. Rusty is also a passionate supporter of local produce and a cook who makes a mean Texas style BBQ pork.
Rusty Irons’ Texas Style BBQ Pork Recipe
Flush with local products, from aromatic salsas to BBQ spices, the open pantry that Rusty Irons offers to her guests is enough to fill an aisle of Austin’s home-grown Whole Foods Market. Let’s just say Rusty is a woman who doesn’t do thing by halves.
Rusty cooks. And Rusty grills. And she loves pork. I love pork too. I love it cured. I love it cooked – the slower the better. As we’re in Texas, the home of American-style BBQ, I was already thinking about doing a BBQ pork recipe for my series The Dish, where I cook a quintessential dish from each place we settle into for a while.
Bobby Flay is the guy that got America out brushing off that Weber BBQ again. And Rusty has a BBQ in her yard, available to guests to use. What better excuse.
When Rusty offered to show me how she made the dry-rubbed Texas style BBQ pork that got her onto Bobby Flay’s programme, I was already salivating. And super-delighted that I didn’t have to beg her.
Unlike my favourite Chinese versions of slow cooked pork which are marinated in a ‘wet’ spice and/or sauce mix, Texans generally use a ‘dry rub’, i.e. they rub dry spices onto the skin (no liquids), and let them do their thing overnight in the fridge. Rusty demonstrated this bit in her kitchen, as we drank Texas wine and boutique beers. Not together of course.
Rusty serves the dish with her own homemade BBQ sauce, and she’ll often improvise a little, depending on what’s fresh in the markets. But I’m providing her basic recipe here.
The sauce is almost as important as the meat. Almost. I watched Rusty cook up her sauce in her kitchen too.
The BBQ? Well that was done outside of course. On the Weber. On a balmy summer’s evening.
Rusty said she is happy to make her Texas style BBQ pork to order on special request for her holiday rental guests. It shouldn’t be a special request though. It should be mandatory!
Instead of me wasting pixels, here are Rusty’s recipes in her own words:
- 1 x 7–8 lb (3.5kg) Pork ‘Butt’ (Note: it’s not a ‘butt’ at all, but the upper portion of the front shoulder), bone in
- 'The Salt Lick Bar-B-Cue’ Dry Rub Spice, Driftwood, TX 78619
- Texas Wildflower Honey (pourable) by GoodFlow Company, Austin, TX 78702
- 6 cups apple juice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2–3 oranges, quartered
- 2–3 Granny Smith apples, quartered
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- Score top layer of fat on the pork in a checkerboard design.
- Rub your favourite dry rub spice liberally all over butt. Pat the butt. Be sure to work rub into small scored spaces. Massage that butt!
- Wrap butt tightly with heavy duty aluminium foil and store in fridge overnight, if you can wait!
- Remove butt from fridge and bring up to room temperature.
- Light her up! The BBQ grill that is. I light up all 3 burners on my Weber to heat the grill to high temp.
- Meanwhile, place uncovered pork butt in thoroughly lined (aluminium foil) roasting pan, fat side up.
- Add apple juice, chicken broth and apple cider vinegar to the bottom of pan.
- Take your favourite pouring honey and slather it over the top of the butt.
- Toss in the oranges and apples and cinnamon sticks.
- Place roasting pan on top of highly heated grill and close lid. Bring grill temp back to high and then lower front and back burner to lowest level and turn middle burner OFF.
- Roast pork butt at 225˚F (110˚C) for 6–7 hours. Yes, that’s 6–7 hours y’all!
- Grill temp can creep up! Check once in awhile to maintain temp. As it cooks you may find that only the back burner needs to be on low to maintain the correct temperature.
- The liquid may evaporate over the cooking time. Add water when necessary to maintain 2 inches (5cm) of liquid in pan throughout cooking period.
- When your meat thermometer reads 175–180˚F (80˚C) or when the pork begins to pull itself apart, remove pan from grill and let pork rest, lightly covered with foil, for 30-45 minutes.
- When you can handle the heat from the meat, take off those diamond rings and get on in there with your digits, and pull baby, pull!
- Oooooooooooooooooo so good.
- A circle of olive oil in a heated skillet/sauce pan
- 4 slices salt pork
- cubed ½ white onion
- chopped 2 small shallots, thinly cubed
- 6 smashed bulbs of garlic
- 1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh ginger
- 1 chopped Ancho Chili Pepper (my favorite pepper, Poblano, dried)
- 1 bottle stale beer, opened from the last party (and another for back up to thin the sauce if necessary)
- 2 cups smokey (lends a taste of wood/briquets) store-bought barbecue sauce (fondly known as “sause” in TX)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (lends a sense of a Bloody Mary cure)
- ½ cup (Heinz) ketchup (plays as a thickener and sweetener)
- 1 tbsp of All American French’s Mustard (or any mustard that tastes good on a ball park hot dog)
- A seasonal bouquet garni of 3-4 Fresh Herbs (like cilantro, parsley, thyme)
- 2-3 cups Rusty’s chicken broth (it’s all about the broth in my kitchen)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- In a heated skillet or saucepan sprinkle a circle of olive oil.
- Add 4 slices of salt pork, cubed.
- Cook over medium heat, rendering fat until pieces are crispy. Remove crispy salt pork and place on naked plate; no paper towels please.
- Add ½ large white onion, cubed.
- Add 2 shallots, cubed, and cook both onion and shallot till translucent. A couple of minutes before both are translucent, add 6 cloves smashed garlic.
- Add 1 tbsp fresh sliced ginger.
- Add 1 Ancho Chili Pepper, chopped.
- Sautee all until the ginger, garlic and Ancho Chili smells tingle your nose.
- Add 1 stale beer and brew all flavours together rendering alcohol and concentrating flavour. This may take 5 minutes.
- Add all other ingredients, except 1 cup chicken broth, a second beer, and water.
- As the sauce cooks, use the stale beer, chicken broth and/or water to maintain the consistency of a barbecue sauce you prefer.
- Crumble crunchy salt pork pieces and stir into the barbecue sauce.