JOE meets the man crazy enough to create a delicious Bulmers BBQ marinade
What better way to prove your BBQ credentials this week than with a Bulmers-flavoured marinade to complement your drinks? JOE met the BBQ expert behind its creation.
When one thinks of typical BBQ marinades, Bulmers is not usually the first one ingredient that springs to mind but then not everyone is American barbecue chef Mike Corcoran.
Having married an Irish girl and re-located to West Cork, he now produces his own Mike's BBQ Sauce and BBQ Spice Rub throughout Cork and Dublin, in addition to his one catering and wholesale BBQ meat business.
What really caught our eye, however, is that Mike is the creator of his very own barbecue sauce (currently just for personal use at his home) using Bulmers' cider. We’ve heard of cider being perfect accompaniment to a BBQ but becoming part of the meat itself?
We had to hear more and thankfully Mike was only too happy to oblige, while also informing us where Irish people tend to go wrong when behind a grill.
JOE: Can you tell us a more about your background and how you came to be an expert on all things BBQ?
MC: Barbecue has always been a part of our family gatherings. I remember being about seven years of age when my grandfather, who was from Tennessee and himself the son of a County Cork immigrant, began to show me how to tend the 'pit.'
He had fashioned this out of an old 50-gallon oil drum and I remember him stoking the coals and explaining to me how he used hickory wood as a "seasoning" for the meats. These usually consisted of chicken, ribs; pork shoulder which he called "pulled pork".
This was because after hours of smoking in the pit, the meat was tender, it just pulled from the bone, nearly melting in your mouth. I think he liked it because he had so few teeth…
This sparked my interest and love of barbecue and I've been doing it ever since. In America, I've studied under two of the most legendary pitmasters of all time, Paul Kirk and Mike Mills.
JOE: Where do Irish people get it wrong when it comes to BBQ marinades and what would you be your top bits of advice?
MC: There are a few misconceptions I see in Ireland about marinades. The first is that it must be liquid.
In American 'low and slow' pit barbecue, the marinade is almost always a dry spice mixture, referred to as a "rub". This rub is applied liberally and allowed to penetrate the meat, often overnight. Most pitmasters have their own secret recipe, and many barbecue enthusiasts a favorite brand.
Another is in the use of liquid marinades and sauces. In many applications, their uses may be interchangeable. A sauce (barbecue, teriyaki, etc.) may often be used as a marinade, but the excess sauce should be removed after it is done marinating using a rubber spatula or plastic glove. This excess 'marinade' can then be simmered separately and used as a 'sauce.'
I frequently see people applying barbecue sauce too early in the grilling process. Barbecue sauce should only be applied the last three to five minutes of grilling to prevent the sauce from burning.
JOE: So we hear that you're especially proud of a barbeque sauce that you created using Bulmers' cider. How did you first realise that Bulmers' would work well in a marinade?
MC: My favorite barbecue is pork ribs and pork shoulder. The flavour of pork and apple work exceptionally well together, and I use applewood when I'm smoking. It was a natural progression to use Bulmers' cider in a marinade and sauce. Sometimes I even inject the meat with it.
JOE: What is your favourite marinade to use and if you had to include the Bulmers variety, where would that rank too?
MC: I can't say I have a favorite marinade, as it depends largely on what kind of meat I'm eating. A marinade I use for chicken would likely be different than what I used for beef.
It needn't be over complicated; some of the best I've tasted contain only four or five ingredients. Again, my Bulmers' marinade would likely be the go-to for pork chops, spare ribs, and a pork shoulder joint.
MC: A typical marinade contains an acidic component such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, combined with some type of oil, along with herbs and/or spices.
It not only flavors, but the acids tenderise tougher cuts of meat. The wrong marinade could make a tender cut of meat mushy.
Keep it simple… and a homemade marinade recipe will almost always be better than the sodium-laden, mass-produced jarred products you see in the supermarkets.
JOE: Finally, where can our curious readers pick up this Bulmer's barbeque sauce of yours?
MC: Mikes' BBQ Sauce is currently available in finer butchers throughout Cork and at many specialty shops throughout the rest of Ireland.