I cooked two pork butts a while back. I pulled one and we ate it in short order. I allowed the other one to cool, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and stuck it the freezer to enjoy another day.
"Another day" came about a week ago. I moved the frozen block of cooked meat into the refrigerator and let it thaw for a couple of days, then moved it into a 300*F oven to reheat. At some point I opened the foil to check the meat temp and saw the plastic wrap...forgot that I'd done that...no big deal, it doesn't hurt anything at 300*F, I just quickly pulled off the plastic wrap, rewrapped the foil, and stuck it back into the oven until the meat hit about 140*F. Then I pulled it all.
I wanted to add a little moisture and flavor to the meat, but didn't want to overdo it. So I got out a Tablespoon and some apple juice and some barbecue sauce (I made a batch of SYD All-Purpose Easy Sauce) and weighed 1/2 pound of meat on a kitchen scale. And I started adding juice and sauce by the tablespoon to the meat, stirring, looking, tasting, to see if I had it where I wanted it.
This is not my normal routine. I usually eyeball it. I typically just use BBQ sauce, not apple juice, and sometimes I add too much. OK, I'll admit it...I almost always add too much. So this time, I thought I'd be more precise, see if I could figure out the right amount...the right ratio of pulled pork to added liquid.
This got me to thinking about the importance of ratios. You know what I mean...you make a hamburger on the grill, you place it on a bun, you load it up with condiments...and the ratios are all wrong! Sometimes it's too much bun to meat, or too many condiments to meat. Too much mustard, not enough ketchup. My wife and I go to a favorite sandwich shop where we order pastrami sandwiches. I've noticed that the deliciousness of the sandwich is directly related to the ratio of meat to bread...more meat than bread. On the few occasions when the ratio has been off (less meat), I'm disappointed.
Of course, you can go overboard in the opposite direction when it comes to a sandwich. I've had those giant $30 pastrami sandwiches you get at New York delis (though not in New York, but at Carnegie Deli in The Mirage Resort in Las Vegas...close enough) and I don't understand the ratio of meat to bread. A tower of meat on two slices of bread. I know I'm supposed to enjoy it...I try to enjoy it...but I don't, really.
Obviously, much of cooking and baking has to do with ratios. Get the ratios right and you've got a moist, delicious biscuit. Get the ratios wrong and you've got a hockey puck.
Anyway, back to my pulled pork. It turns out that 2 Tablespoons of apple juice and 2 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce stirred into 8 ounces of warm pulled pork was perfect. Just perfect. Remember that, I told myself. Of course, I didn't. I went in a few days later and screwed it up by eyeballing the juice and sauce...too watery.
Will I ever learn?
What are your thoughts about ratios when it comes to BBQ or cooking in general? Do you have a favorite food where the ratios are really important to your enjoyment of it? Do you have a horror story where you really screwed something up because you got a ratio wrong? Post a reply to let us know.