July 07, 2006
I take up smoking
It's been a week or so since my family ate the pulled pork (recipe)I made last Sunday, and since no one's ill or dead, I can finally talk about how it was made without scaring anybody.
It's kind of a long post, so you'll have to bear with me.
First, let me talk about how hard it is to find a good butcher in this part of New York. I went to 6 grocery stores (Two Stop & Shop's, C-Town, Whole Foods, Costco, Stew Leonard's), and not one what knew what the heck I was asking for. Granted the term "Boston Butt" is a bit obscure, but I would think that a professional butcher would be more versed in butcher slang than a 28-year-old who just watches one show on the Food Network. I finally tracked down someone who knew their stuff at a creepy-looking but friendly meat vendor in a small warehouse district of White Plains (I say vendor instead of butcher, since this place seemed to target their sales toward other businesses).
They knew what I was talking about -- even if I didn't -- and didn't even mind when I came up two bucks short and had to pay the rest in nickels. (I still owe them 25¢)
Anyway, back to the pig. Here's what the 8 pounds of future deliciousness looked like the day before:
The next morning I was up early to start smoking.
8 pounds would take too long to cook, so I sliced off a two pound piece so they'd both cook faster. Here's what it looked like after being brined, cut, and covered in dry rub:
On to the fun part: The Smoker. Rather than pay $60 for an actual smoker, I paid $58 (plus gas and tolls looking for parts), for this:
Step one. Find a nice bit terra cotta planter ($13, Home Depot), and place it on some 2x4s (free, leftover from Cornhole).
Step two. Put an electric burner ($10, Walgreens, or $18 on Amazon) on the bottom, using the hole to run the cord through. Dial the burner to high, but don't plug it in yet.
Step three. Put a pie pan (or other heavy-duty pan) on the burner, and add some hardwood chips. Technically, they should be kind of old and dry, but I wouldn't be smoking for too long, so I just went with a piece of Maple 1x4 that I got at Home Depot ($???, Home Depot). I sliced it into 1 inch strips.
Step four. Put in a grill grate ($0, from my Weber grill, or $7 on Amazon). It lined up perfectly with the little lip on the inside of the pot. Someone at the terra-cotta factory watches Good Eats, apparently.
Step five. Top with an inverted planter, same width as the bottom one (also $13, from Home Depot). A replacement grill thermometer ($8, Home Depot, ) does double duty of filling in the hole and giving a temperature reading.
Step 6. Plug in the burner, and preheat to 220°. This took some fiddling with the burner to get it right. That's actually a big pain because you have to disassemble the whole thing to change it, so I recommend getting it right on the first try, or maybe hooking it up to a dimmer switch. Turns out for my burner I had to dial it to 11.
Once I had my smoker going, I just sat back with a book and waited, changing the chips whenever the smoke stopped (about once an hour).
I was pressed for time, so I cheated a bit and switched the meat to a 300° oven after 4 hours of smoking.
After pulling, here was the delicious result:
Sure, it took a while, but man, that was good.Posted by Kevin at July 7, 2006 08:30 AM