Friday, September 11, 2009

In Praise of the Pig

My friend from Texas, Buckykatt (not his real name), won't want to read this,
because I am going to extoll the virtues of pulled pork barbecue.

Don't get me wrong. To me, the quintessential piece of barbecue is brisket.
Beautiful, tender, smokey, cooked-all-day, melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket.

And no one can do brisket like a Texan.
I am especially fond of the brisket at T-Bone Tom's in Kemah TX, just south of Houston.
I have been there with my cousin a couple of times.
She ended up moving to another table so she wouldn't have to claim knowledge of or kinship with me.

"Excuse me, waitress? That woman over there who looks just like me is really annoying.
Could you please ask her to leave? Thank you so much."

I think I probably sounded just like Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"
You remember - the dinner scene.

But, this corner of the country is pig country, and here, we do pork barbecue.
And if you're gonna do the pig, pulled pork is the best.
Sorry Brother M, but pulled pork is far superior to chopped or minced.

A goodly portion of the family was gathering at my mother's for Labor Day eating,
and I wanted to do try pulled pork barbecue. Never made it before.
Always wanted to try, and they were game to be my guinea pigs.

I don't have a smoker, so slow smoking it all day was not an option.
And I don't know that I'd have the patience for that anyway, so I cheated.

It cooked low and slow in the oven. Here's how it played out:

Made up a dry rub & smeared it all over the nice Boston Butt roast I got at Harris Teeter on sale for half price.
Whoo-hoo! Or, as Paula Deen would say, after I applied the dry rub, I "rubbed my meat".

The dry rub consisted of brown sugar, onion powder, ground chipotle powder, garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, sweet smoked paprika, , salt, mustard powder, cumin, thyme, and cinnamon in various quantities.
This is a rub that I made up after looking at a lot of them online.

It also calls for dried cilantro, but my mother is apparently missing the gene, so I left it out.
But that begs the question - why are none of her offspring missing said gene?
So, are we really her kids? Hmmm.

Tightly wrap the pork in plastic & marinate in the fridge for about 7 hours. Here was my conundrum.
We were going to leave for my mothers at about 10 am, and I wanted the meat to cook for about 6 hours,
so, when I take off my shoes & socks to do the math, this means it needs to go in the oven at . . . . .
WHAT?! 4 am?!

Sigh, nothing is too big a sacrifice for the tummies of my fambily.
So I will lay myself on the altar of their appetites. And just to prove that I really did get up at 4 am:

When I unwrapped the pork, this is what it looked like.
I don't know what's up with that dry spot there at the lower edge.

I added some liquid - apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce & liquid smoke.
Put tin foil tightly over the top, put the lid on & put it in the oven at 300 degrees.
The alarm was set again for 6 am for the next act.

I hate waking up with the alarm.
It seems against nature to be yanked out of a delicious slumber by an evil noise from hell.
But allow myself to be yanked yet again I did to stumble to the kitchen. It's still pitch black out,
but the house is smellin' guuud.
Grab the potholders, take the big pot out of the oven, ladle the appley juices over the meat, and wrap it back in it's foil seal.

Now, this next part I blame on sleepiness.
I went to put the lid back on, and it looked so innocent sitting there in the predawn dimness of the poorly lit kitchen.
Didn't look like it was hot, ya know? And aren't reflexes a great thing?
I was able to let go pretty damn quick, but not before the seared flesh damage was done.
And you just run to the cold water faucet in the sink without really thinking about it.
Cold water feels soooo good on a burn, and your skin feels soooo on fire after you dry it off.
How was I supposed to get back to sleep with my hand on fire?

Now, I didn't go to college for nuthin'. I filled a big bowl with cold water, laid a towel on the edge,
and slept on the couch with my hand dangling in the water. You know what?
When I woke up at 8 (after not sleeping well anymore, thank you very much), my hand didn't hurt anymore.

Actually, I didn't baste it, I turned it over so the other side could soak in the juices.
Put back in the oven - WITH POTHOLDERS!

Showered, dressed, rousted BS out of bed, gathered everything & drove to my mother's beach condo for a Labor Day feast.
She made brownies & cut up some fresh fruit.
My brother, 2 nieces & nephew-in-law brought everything else.

The lid & foil came off & a couple of forks teased apart the falling-off-the-bone tender meat.

Words cannot describe.
Look at this bowl of heavenly gastronomic delight.

But my brother, bless his misguided heart, wanted to chop & mince it.
I was able to save some from the evil knife of doom, but, alas, not all the pork survived his gleeful maniacal chopping.

And, brother dearest, if you ever take that big knife to my pulled pork again and chop it into oblivion, I'll have to hurt you.

I strained the cooking juices & removed most of the fat.
Then we mixed some of it with a bit of hot sauce and stirred it back into his minced pile.

It was a feast of crackers & my mother's famous-throughout-the-whole-family cheese ball, fresh fruit, barbecue,
cole slaw, baked beans, rolls, macaroni & cheese, and brownies.
I think I would want all this stuff at my last meal. Seriously. Either this or spaghetti & cheesecake. It's a toss-up.


No words are necessary.

Lessons learned:
  • Pots that just came out of the oven are hot.
  • I WILL make this again, however, next time I want the cooking liquid to be less appley.
  • Keep the knives away from my pulled pork.
  • Don't forget the chipotle hot sauce (we had to use regular Texas Pete)

The tourist season is now officially over. I can go back to the beach!


Donna-FFW said...

Well, that sounds absolutely yummy. Yes, rub that meat my darling.

Kathy said...

Heh Donna, I knew you would like that.

Anonymous said...

Dang that sounds so good it made my stomach growl, and I have a puddle of drool on the keyboard.

Kathy said...

RAD, I assume you are referring to the feasting & not what Donna-FFW mentions above. ;-)

Hairball said...

I filled a big bowl with cold water, laid a towel on the edge, and slept on the couch with my hand dangling in the water.

I'm thinking of that old practical joke that sometimes happened at slumber parties. *grins*

Naturally, my heart will always belong to a slow smoked brisket, but that is some mighty good looking pork you got going there!!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

You're eating the rest of the pig,
but you don't want any head?

Looks delish.

Kathy said...

Hairball - that's why I chose *cold* water. Didn't make me want to pee.

Rosie - my pulled pork came only from the shoulder and contained no ears.

And regarding 'wanting head' - I can think of all kinds of off-color replies to that, 'cause I'm just that way.

Sista G said...

IT does sound yummy - now I have to try to make it, and I always wanted to try making brisket, too. I'll have to have you your big sis how to do it!!

Michael Your Brother said...

Sorry, but chopped is much better than pulled. Pulled is stringy and doesn't retain the sauce as well... and I also don't like cilantro. Love you!