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Artist’s Choice: Tim Lefebvre’s Favorite Barbecue Recipe

The bassist sings the praises of blue smoke and a holy dry rub

Tim Lefebvre
Tim Lefebvre

Bassist Tim Lefebvre makes no bones about it: For cooking, his comfort zone is outside. The kitchen belongs to his wife, singer/songwriter/keyboardist Rachel Eckroth. “She’s way better inside sauteeing and baking things for people,” he says. “I’m just a gorilla who throws meat on the grill.”

A self-taught cook who cut his teeth slinging steaks over an open flame while living in New York and Los Angeles during the ’90s and early 2000s, Lefebvre refined his passion for outdoor cooking after a relatively recent move to Arizona. Once he realized he had easy access to one of that state’s greatest natural resources—mesquite wood—his grilling chops, so to speak, reached a new level.

“We’ve got lots of mesquite trees here, so I started gathering up all the dead branches lying around, cut them up into grill-size pieces, and started cooking over it for that smokiness and intense heat,” he says. A key Christmas gift from his wife sealed the deal: a hot smoker. “Like many meat-eaters, I always thought smoke added a great taste to food, but once I started doing it myself I got into it, and it’s evolved from there. Now it’s gone beyond putting a meal on the table. After experimenting around the edges, now there’s definitely an element of self-satisfaction. I know what to do to meat, just like I know what to do on the bass—there’s a parallel there.”

Indeed, throughout his musical career, whether as part of saxophonist Donny McCaslin’s bands or in Bedrock 3 with keyboardist Uri Caine and drummer Zach Danziger back in 2001, Lefebvre has frequently pushed tasty foundational grooves into the hot smoker of his own creativity, picking up layers of additional spice from subtle octave effects and more deliberate char from ring modulator pedals like the Electro-Harmonix Frequency Analyzer. His use of ring modulation is more than just an experimental flourish; it’s actually become a writing tool. “I co-wrote ‘Fly My Spaceship Now,’ a song on Donny McCaslin’s upcoming record, using eight bars of isolated bass from a recording of a ring mod pedal demo I did. Problem is, now I have to figure out the settings I used and where I played it on the neck for when we start playing it live.”

Luckily, cooking is much more synonymous with recipes than pedal settings, and Lefebvre didn’t miss a beat when asked to offer up the recipe for one of his favorite meals to prepare. “Without a doubt, the best meal I’ve ever cooked is pulled pork,” he says. “I’ll throw a pork butt with a dry rub into the smoker for eight hours and just let it go. I’ve thought about making my own dry rubs, but after I tasted the rubs made by this place in Texas called Meat Church, there’s no reason to bother. The recipe they use with their dry rubs (see summary below) is just nuts—the best I’ve ever had, period, better than any restaurant.”

Smoker and reliable thermometer required, ring modulator optional.

Find the complete recipe here.

Pulled pork

Meat Church Pork Butt

1 bone-in pork butt (8-10 lbs.)
1 container Meat Church dry rub (The Gospel, Holy Gospel, Honey Bacon, or Deez Nuts)
1 container Meat Church Honey Hog hot rub
1 stick European or Irish unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple juice or cider vinegar
1 cup barbecue sauce
Yellow mustard
1 half steam pan & foil to cover

Prepare your smoker at a temperature of 275° Fahrenheit; medium-smoke wood such as hickory or pecan recommended. Remove all excess fat from the pork butt.

Slather the pork in yellow mustard. (This allows the seasoning to adhere more quickly and will not affect the flavor.) Season all sides of the pork liberally with dry rub; give it some time to “sweat out” so the seasoning can fully adhere.

Place the pork directly on the smoker grate, fat side down. Cooking should take approximately eight hours, depending on weight; plan on an hour per pound at most. Spritz every hour with apple juice or cider vinegar.

Once the meat turns a mahogany color with an internal temperature near 165°—around the six-hour mark, just before it begins turning very dark—remove it from the smoker and place it in a half steam pan. Apply a liberal coating of the hot rub, then top with the brown sugar and pats of butter. Cover the pan tightly with foil and return to the smoker.

Continue smoking the butt until it reaches an internal temperature of 205°. Allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes, then shred or pull the meat off the bone—continually tossing in its own juices—and serve.

Michael Gelfand

Michael Gelfand is a longtime bassist, aspiring chef, intermittent music writer, inveterate Boston Red Sox fan, and relentless gourmand from northern New Jersey who knows that blue crabs don’t get eaten properly if you’re worried about getting Old Bay on your shirt.