I love BBQ. Like, I love BBQ. You know how we have soulmates? I think we have soul-foods. And for me, BBQ is one of those. It's everything you want and more: sweet, tangy, savory, soft, a little crunchy, and simply heaven. But when the rain comes out and colder temperatures, we sadly have to put our smoker away for the foreseeabile future and say goodbye to BBQ.
But where there's a will, there's a way...
Who says I can't have BBQ in November? Just takes some imagination. And a trusty Dutch oven and killer spice rub.
In the oven I don't get the same smoke ring obviously because I'm not smoking the meat, but by adding a small dash of Liquid Smoke I can get the taste and the smell. And using the same rub gives the meat the same sweet and tangy flavors I so crave. By slow-cooking the meat in a tightly lidded cast iron pot or Dutch oven, you can mimick the "low and slow" process enough to get the same tenderness. In conclusion: I've come pretty damn close. Not perfect; it can never be the same as a good smoke, but pretty damn close. You can do pork shoulder, beef brisket, chuck like I did here, and even chicken this way. The key is to use a good rub and keep it "low and slow" just like we do outside with our wood chips. And leftovers make some killer toppings for pizzas, tacos, and sliders.
I bought some chuck the other day and didn't really feel like pot roast again (chuck is the preferred cut for pot roast). I felt like BBQ. So I figured it out. And the end result was awesome: the texture was much like pulled pork but with the deep flavors of beef. I loved this. And the meat was covered in the sweet and thick honey-based braising sauce. It caramelized and gave the chuck an amazing rich color and flavor. Loved.
So without further adieu, here's my adaptation to smoking in the rain using Dr. BBQ's perfect recipe for spice rub and my super quick BBQ braising sauce. You will love this. I promise you.
Oven Beef BBQ with Big Time Spice Rub and Quick BBQ Braising Sauce
1 (3.5-4 pound) round chuck, at room temperature
1/4 cup Big Time BBQ Rub (recipe follows)
2 cups apple cider or juice
1 cup honey
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground mace
freshly ground black pepper
few dashes Liquid Smoke
Special equipment: cast iron pot or Dutch oven
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rub the Big Time BBQ Rub all over the chuck, getting into the crevices as well. All over. You may need to use more if using a larger cut of meat. You want the entire meat covered in an even layer with the rub. Be generous and don't be shy about it.
Place the chuck in the Dutch oven and pour the apple juice around it (not on top). Place the lid tightly on top and place in oven (middle rack in the middle ove the oven) and cook for 3 hours. Check once every hour to make sure liquid isn't evaporating too much; if all the liquid evaporates, add more juice 1 cup at a time).
In the third hour, make your BBQ braise. Combine the honey, ketchup, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, cayenne if using, clove, mace, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together to combine. Add the Liquid Smoke if using -- a few drops or dashes is fine (about 2-3 -- it's powerful stuff!) and set aside.
Take the chuck out of the oven and remove lid. Pour the BBQ braise right over the top of the chuck. Check for tenderness as well -- the chuck should be starting to get soft but not be quite fork tender just yet. Top with the lid and return to the oven for another hour - hour and half. Check every half hour for tenderness and keep spooning the braise liquid over the meat. You'll know when it's done when the meat just falls apart when you pierce it with a fork, and the braising liquid has thickened up considerably. Break up the meat and mix it into the BBQ sauce. Serve hot.
Big Time BBQ Rub: recipe courtesy of Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup granulated brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp granulated onion
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients and store in air-tight container. Yields 1.5 cups worth of rub.
*if you can't find "granulated" (which means a courser ground), then you can use powdered onion and garlic instead.
You can do this same process with pork shoulder or beef brisket. Just adjust time in oven according to size of meat. You know it's done when the meat can be easily pierced with a fork and falls apart.
Serving suggestions: bleu cheese mashed potatoes, maccaroni and cheese, cheese and jalapeno cornbread, cole slaw, buttered corn.