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What do you served with BBQ ribs?

wozniakOne of the most frequently asked questions I get goes something like this "I got roped into serving pulled pork for 50 people at the company picnic on Sunday. I plan to cook it on Saturday at home and bring it to the park on Sunday. What's the best way to do this?

This is called serving leftovers. You should always try to serve food fresh from the cooker. Most foods are at their absolute best when fresh out of the cooker or the faux cambro. They have hot juices, the connective tissues have melted and turned to luscious gelatin, the fat has rendered and lubricates the muscle fibers, browned surfaces are crunchy, and vegetables are bright and crisp. By Sunday many of the juices have evaporated or run off, much of the tenderness is lost, the bark and other crunchy bits are soggy, and oxidation has begun to deteriorate flavor. The science advisor Dr. Greg Blonder points out that "The reason you can smell BBQ from a block away is due to volatile organic compounds, and by the next day, many of these aromatics are gone forever."

If you can't serve fresh food, you should rethink your plan. Skip the pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, and just grill up some fresh chicken, burgers, or hot dogs.

But if you have no choice, there is a way to pull this off with style.

If you have no choice

Mike Wozniak is the pitmaster of Quau, 2010 Kansas City Barbeque Society Team of the Year. He breaks the rules and still wins first place. A lot. He cooked up this trick because he enters dozens of competitions every year and he got tired, literally, of staying up all night babying his brisket and pork butt. He was kind enough to teach me his method so I could share it with you.

He cooks his brisket at about 310°F for about four hours and takes it up to about 180°F internal. He then wraps it tightly in foil, pinching off the overlaps thoroughly, and drops it into a clean watertight plastic bag. A garbage bag will do. The whole shootin' match goes in a beer cooler submerged under plenty of ice. He wants it to chill in a hurry. He warns that a fridge is not cold enough and the thermal mass of warm meat will raise the fridge temp much too high spoiling many of the other foods in there. "We try to keep water drained out of the cooler. No matter how tightly wrapped, water seems to find a way in."

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