Computerized Cooking

One of my favourite hobbies is cooking and I had a sudden realization just how ‘computerized’ this hobby has become for me. I wrote a column back in 2008 about how computers were sold 30 years ago as ‘recipe organizers.’ Well, that has finally come to fruition, but, like so many other areas where computers have infiltrated, not in the way we in the industry expected. These days of course you may not own a single cookbook or recipe and have yet access to millions of recipes on the web.

I was invited to a potluck dinner with some friends recently and asked if I could do the pulled pork. The star of the show would be the baked beans, but I was still hoping to make my pulled pork stand out. Now, I’ve done pulled pork before, but I usually cheat. I do the pulled pork on the BBQ for a few hours than switch to the slow cooker with some apple juice and BBQ sauce for a few hours. This yields a great moist pulled pork, but I wanted to shoot for something more traditional this time. Absent a real smoker I would have to do it on my gas grill with a smoking box. So, onto the web I went.

The first thing to research is pulled pork. For this I did some googling with Evernote open. I’ve written before about Evernote. It’s a great application that works on the web and on my phone. I use it like a shoe box. Everything I find that I think might be useful, in this case: cooking times, pork cut options, rubs, smoking options, temperatures, which wood is best, thermometer choices, sauces, you name it; all of it gets copied into my ‘Pulled Pork’ notebook. This keeps me from having to remember where I found that page that said that hickory wood is best for pulled pork, but apple wood works too, and not to use mesquite.

Now that I have a base of data I start filtering. I cross-check what I’ve learned with some of my more trusted cooking sources. In this case I compare and and These are my go to websites for food.

Having found out that fresh pork butt is the first step I headed down to the Fernie Meat Market and Mark hooked me up. Step one accomplished.

Now, I need a dry rub. This isn’t my first BBQ so I checked my favourite recipe storage applicationPaprika, just in case I’ve already found the recipe I want and saved it. Paprika works on my phone and is easy to save recipes to, to search later, and convenient for checking for needed ingredients while I’m at the grocery store. Sure enough I did have one.

Now, I need a sauce. The sauce recipe I settled on, which is a Kansas City style tomato / vinegar based sauce, called for adding ketchup and steak sauce?! What the heck. Sorry, but instead of ketchup I used fresh tomatoes and for the steak sauce I used my recipe for Korean BBQ sauce. It’s got a bit of a kick and a meaty umami that I thought would work well. I also used my own scotch bonnet/mango hot sauce. Those are in Paprika already too.

Now I’ve got ingredients to pick up so I grab my grocery app Grocery IQ. It’s free on the app store. It’s nice as it remembers previous selections, lets me add different stores for the different types of things I may need to shop for, and it scans barcodes off products which makes it fast to add stuff I’ve just run out of.

At the BBQ now I’ve setup the burners for offset heating and set the knobs to 225F. I use a Taylor remote instant thermometer that alerts me when I’ve reached a set temperature. I’ve since ordered an iGrill from Weber. It supports two thermometers, a grill temperature and an internal meat temperature and displays both on your iPhone. If there’s a geekier way to BBQ I don’t know it yet.

Okay, butt is tied, rubbed, and cooking. I’ve got about 12 hours now to make the sauce. I usually make sauces the day before and let them sit in the fridge as I find it really lets all the flavours incorporate well, but with 12 hours to kill I’ve got time.

12 hours later I’m eating pulled pork out of Parisian buns loaded with Kansas City style sauce. Everything turned out pretty well thanks to a little assistance from the internet, cooking apps, and some technology.

Cooking Assistance:


Interested in the recipes? Check the website. Happy Computing/Cooking.

Kansas City Sauce (adapted from version)

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Korean BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon Mango Scotch Bonnet hot sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste

Cook the onions and garlic in oil until clear. Then throw them and everything else in a blender. Blend until smooth and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Mango Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce (adapted from Chili Pepper Madness)

  • 10 Scotch Bonnet peppers
  • 1 mango, peeled, seed removed
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Everything in a blender. Then simmer for 15 minutes.

Korean BBQ Sauce (adapted from Little Spice Jar)

  • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red thai pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Everything in a blender. Then simmer for 15 minutes.

Dry Rub (adapted from Amazing Ribs)

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground rosemary