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).

This place has gourmet written all over it. Also, graffiti.

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.

Apparently, there's a 5:30am, too.

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).

Thawing my breakfast on my future dinner

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

It was worth every minute you spent on it! Mostly because YOU spent the minutes at 5 in the freaking morning, not me. Watch out, Brother Jimmy's: Brother Kevin is in the house! Delicious!

Posted by: Amy at July 7, 2006 01:31 PM

I especially like that you are keeping true to your obsession with "Spinal Tap" and dialing in your burner to 11.

Posted by: Bill at July 9, 2006 06:07 PM

I can't get you up at noon to meet me for lunch when I'm in the city, but you'll get up at 5am for a pig's arse? I have an arse too, you know, Kevin. And its feelings are hurt;)

Posted by: Jen at July 10, 2006 09:24 PM

Not bad Kev; I would try this on my own, but I cannot bring myself to order Boston Butt.

Posted by: Joel at July 12, 2006 11:19 PM

I am psyched for round 2.
No one does a Boston Butt like Kevin (does that sound wierd?)

Posted by: bizz at July 17, 2006 10:42 PM
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