I usually go for a Boston butt when I’m looking to make BBQ but I got such a great deal on a 8 pound picnic that I couldn’t resist. In case you didn’t know, the pig’s upper front leg is divided into two parts. The butt comes from higher on the hog and is typically rectangular vs the lower portion or picnic which is shaped more like a triangle. The picnic ham has lots of connective tissue that makes it great for BBQing – you have to cook it low and slow but the end result is worth it.
I started this one by brining the shoulder, as I wanted the peach flavor to go all the way to the bone.
1 cup kosher salt
1 bottle (33.8 fl oz) peach nectar
Stir well and place the meat into the liquid. If necessary add a cup or two of water to make sure it is covered with liquid. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.
Bring meat out of brine and discard liquid. Rinse off the picnic and pat dry. Peel back the rind, you may need a knife to ease it up and back. Coat the entire piece with dry rub – I use Emeril’s Rustic Rub. Pull the rind back in place and score it about a half inch apart. Leave the meat on the counter while you prepare the grill.
I BBQ using a Weber Kettle grill. I put about 20 briquets in a half circle on one side of the grill and fill a chimney starter with charcoal. Once the briquets are white hot, I pour them over the banked coals. The bottom vent is usually opened wide and the top about half. While the grill is getting ready, I soaked a couple of hunks of hickory wood in water. They get placed on top the coals and a drip pan is put down in the empty space on the bottom grate. Put the top grate into place and you’re ready to grill.
I get the meat and put it skin side up over the drip pan. I then close the lid and walk away for an hour. After an hour, I rotate the meat, stir the coals and add about 8 briquets and walk away for another hour. I continue the process for most of the day.
For pulled pork, you want the internal temperature to be 190 to 200 degrees F. It takes about an hour a pound, sometimes an hour and half per pound. With my 9 pound picnic, that’s a minimum of nine hours. Because the Saints were playing the 49ers today, I cheated and after three hours on the grill (and after it was good and smokey), I brought it into the house and cooked it in the oven at 275 degrees for the remaining 6 hours.
After the second hour on the grill, I put on the peaches in order to make the sauce. I used a portion of the sauce to baste once the pork was in the oven. It took a little over 9 hours total cook time. Let the meat rest for about 30 minutes and then pull apart with your fingers or a couple of forks. Add some sauce and serve.
Bourbon Peach BBQ Sauce
2 large peaches (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into quarters
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup peach preserves or jam
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup bourbon
Toss peaches with the brown sugar and place into a fire safe pan. Place on the grill until the peaches are warmed through and slightly smokey. Give them a whirl in a blender to chop them roughly.
Sauté onion in about a tablespoon of hot olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat about 2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, 45 to 60 seconds or until fragrant. Add ketchup, peach preserves, and grilled peaches. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add vinegar and bourbon, being careful not to set fire to the kitchen. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Usually, I let people put their own sauce on but this sweet and tangy sauce is worth mixing up ahead of time and serving as a big bowl of wet pulled pork to your friends.