In my (admittedly simple) view of The World, there are basically three acceptable reasons to voluntarily drag one’s lazy, sleep-deprived assortment of organs, bones, and muscles out of a perfectly comfortable bed at Stupid O’Clock in the morning (that is, 6 AM or earlier):
- Some portion of the structure where you or one (or more) of your loved ones is currently extant in a physical state is burning, shaking, flooding, being torn up from the foundation, under attack by sentient alien blob people, or is otherwise an unfortunate participant in a world-altering disaster of some kind. In other words, the shizz is hitting the fan in a manner that will soon require the participation of an insurance company, FEMA, and/or potentially The Avengers.
- A child is due to enter the Cold, Hard World® soon, if not immediately, and the carrier of said child is indicating that labor-like symptoms are present. FYI, this is one quickest ways in known human existence to go from a state of Fully Asleep to Utterly Awake As If Electrified.
- You have predetermined that your day will be dedicated to smoking a large hunk of meat. A hunk of meat, for instance, like this pork shoulder:
Over the holiday weekend, a good friend of mine invited a number of friends to his home to enjoy an assortment of smoked meat, which he would be smoking on the premises. Unfortunately, Life, as it does, conspired to keep us from taking part in said friendly gathering. Funny thing about when you and your lovely spouse both come from big families and having a largish family, too: the Family Planner is not only typically full, but also usually as conflicted as a vegan zombie. This weekend was no different, which meant we couldn’t enjoy the lovely porcine deliciousness with our friends.
Not surprisingly, I had a tremendous sad about it. As in, teenage girl in an angsty, probably inappropriate relationship with a centuries-old glittery vampire level sadness.
It was, like, intense.
Luckily, the Puddinette and I recently replaced the postage- stamp-sized, aging deck that clung, desperately, half-slumping like a day-drinking barfly, from the back of la casa de Puddin with a brand new concrete patio large enough for both my gas grill and my forgotten-for-five-long-years charcoal kettle.
Which means I am once again capable of smoking delicious meats of my very own.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Great, he’s a beer snob and a food snob and on probably a coffee snob too. Now we’ll have to listen to him drone on and on and ON about the dull minutiae of the Cult Of Smoked Meat for weeks and weeks and weeks until winter.”
To that, I offer this robust rebuttal: Um. Well, maybe?
Which is to say, sure, I might become a BBQ purist at some point, and get all caught up in the geeky fiddling with the tiniest elements of producing pulled pork that’s so good it would turn a lacto-ovo vegetarian back to the righteous path of the carnivorous. But that day is not today.
Nope. See, while there are million and six ways smoking meat is a lot like some of the other tinkery, puristy, uppity type things I’ve gotten wrapped up with in the past (homebrewing comes to mind especially, and I could/will compare/contrast the two, but that’s a different post), I deliberately decided that this time, I was going to do what I could with what I had and not fret over the little details. Because, honestly, even though I’d love to have the time for that kind of geekery, I really just don’t. It’s the same reason I don’t make beer anymore. But at the end of the day, let’s be honest, with just a modicum of effort, how badly can you really screw up a smoked pork shoulder?
From the looks of it—well, and the taste of it—not too badly.
As I said, I did the whole thing on a simple Weber charcoal kettle grill. Kinda like this one, but not nearly as new, fancy, or shiny. Basically it’s that one that everyone gets as a wedding or housewarming gift somewhere along the way. I let my Boston butt brine overnight and then gently caressed it with love and with a dry rub that started with salt, paprika, and brown sugar, but ended up including a dash/lump/smattering of whatever powdered/ground substances I found in our spice cabinet, including but not limited to, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper, cumin, dried essence of Love Potion #9, Neverlandian Faerie Dust, instant espresso, and rainbow ice cream sprinkles.
Then, when I finished playing with my meat, I lit my new fancy lump charcoal to smoldering and dropped that coated hunk of meaty goodness on the grill grates. At which point, I went back inside to pretend I was, you know, busy.
Admittedly, my coals ran a little hot and the bark got a little blackened where I was hoping for mahogany, but even so, my Relax and Don’t Fret Pulled Pork was at least an 8 of 10 on the Scale of Epic Tastiness. Heck, after a few luscious bites, even the Puddinette couldn’t fault me for getting up at Ridiculous O’Clock to tend to a piece of meat (of all things).
Which just goes to show you, eventually, barbecue—real barbecue—can eventually make believers of us all.
No matter what time of the morning you have to start it.
PS: I made homemade strawberry ice cream with fresh berries, too. It’s okay to be a little jealous.