CRAVE: The right sauce, rub and heat make barbecues sing

photo by: Karen K. Will/Mother Earth News

Smoked pork is best served with Mop Sauce.

Smoked Pork

Yields 8 servings.


5- to 8-pound Boston butt or picnic roast

Memphis Rub (recipe below)

Mop Sauce (recipe follows)


1. The night before smoking, rinse the meat and pat it dry. Generously apply Memphis Rub and work it into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

2. About one hour before smoking, remove roast from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature. At the same time, get the smoker going. With a wood-fired smoker, be sure to have plenty of fruitwood or other favored fuel/smoke wood on hand to last four to eight hours, depending on the size of the roast. The same goes for charcoal-fueled smokers, but you’ll also want to have several pounds of your favorite smoking chips soaking in water – add a handful to the coals periodically, depending on how smoky you like your meat.

3. Place the roast in the smoker and adjust the air dampers and chimney opening to keep the temperature approximately 220 F.

4. Mop the meat lightly with Mop Sauce after 45 minutes of cooking, and again a few times throughout the cooking. The meat will be finished when most of the fat has melted away and the meat has separated from the bone. You can use a meat thermometer to know it’s done, but with slow, moist cooking, it will tend to become more succulent and tender long after it comes to temperature.

5. Remove meat from the smoker and let it rest for 30 minutes. Pull apart into chunks or shred for sandwiches.

NOTE: For aspiring smokers who are pressed for time, try using an Orion Cooker; it seals the meat and wood chips on the inside and is heated with charcoal arranged in a ring around the outside and in the lid, creating a moist, smoky, convection environment within the cooking chamber. We use this cooker often, and it takes about 7 minutes per pound to cook meat with that delicious slow-smoked flavor and texture.

Mop Sauce


1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground chipotle or cayenne


1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly.

Memphis Rub


1⁄4 cup sweet or smoked paprika

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1. Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Stir contents to blend, then put on the lid and shake.

2. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Ranch Beans


1 pound side pork or bacon, coarsely chopped

2 pounds pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard

11⁄2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt


1. Over a campfire, sauté the pork in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Add the soaked and rinsed beans, onion, garlic, paprika, dry mustard, brown sugar and salt to the pot. Cover with water by about 3 inches, and bring to a vigorous boil.

2. Dig a hole wider and deeper than your Dutch oven. Line the hole with stones, leaving enough room so the pot will fit, but with some room on the sides and above it.

3. Build a hot fire in the hole and keep it roaring for an hour. Rake out most of the embers.

4. Place the covered Dutch oven in the hole. Lay ashes on top of the lid, then fill the hole and top with embers. Let the beans cook for 5 to 8 hours, checking every hour or so for water level (add more water if they’re drying out) and tenderness.

5. When the beans are soft, remove the Dutch oven from the fire. Let the beans stand for 10 minutes before serving.


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