In case you forgot or are new to this blog, let me refresh you on my Christmas present. Moxie saved up $5 bills all of last year so she could purchase this mother-of-all barbecues for me without any sign of a credit card charge anywhere. Sneaky, but it worked and I am eternally grateful that she had the foresight and financial fortitude to make it happen.
I managed to cook a Chicken on it that first night, and have since dabbled a few times until yesterday’s inaugural Pork Shoulder slow cook with heaps of billowing smoke and tons of dry rub to help flavor this creation. I started out knowing absolutely nothing of how to use this device as a smoker. I was burning far too little charcoal, adjusting vents all the wrong way and basically getting frustrated that I could not even make a Pizza on the damn thing. I took a deep breath, consulted Youtube and got busy prepping for Friday’s cook. It started the day before with a generous slathering of mustard onto the meat, which can be referred to as Boston Butt, Pork Shoulder etc. It’s an 8 pound hunk of well marbled pig with a bone in the middle of it. The bone is the key here folks as we will see later. Once covered in yellow, I liberally sprinkled it with a homemade concoction of dry herbs and spices, I cannot remember the exact ingredients or the ratios but will mention that just about anything that sounded good in my spice rack is in there. I wrapped the meat in cling film for an overnight soak and cleaned the firebox out of the grill in anticipation for the next morning.
My alarm rang at 6:20 am, the coals were started by 6:25 and the previously soaked wood chips were drained. By 6:40 I had the charcoal and chips in the firebox, a drip pan full of water installed and the lid down with the vents fully open. A few minutes later the dome was registering 300F and I was ready. The moment had come to cook the meat. I unwrapped it and placed it with the fat cap face down onto the rack, closed the dome and adjusted the vents ever so carefully, just like they said on the Youtube. Following RULE #1 of slow cooking- ‘There is no peeking’. I walked away and prayed I had got it right. Hovering over the thermometer like an expectant father I adjusted the vents 1/2 a millimeter at a time, maintaining precisely 250F for the whole morning. I left for a while to take care of business and returned several hours later to a stable cook, I was ecstatic. And then it happened. Mother nature opened up and the skies came watering down. It didn’t seem to affect the grill, but I had a sneaky suspicion something was up. It was time to remove the Butt, place it in silver foil and bathe it in a can of Cherry Coke for the final few hours. It looked magnificent as I pulled it out, a blackened crackly crust and a nice juicy texture. I double wrapped it in foil, stuck a meat thermometer in it and returned it to the dome. I then instructed my 16 year old on what to do with the vents if the temperature varied.
Sure enough, Murphy arrived. The rain was driving down so hard it cooled the grill down and we were at about 210F, I opened the vents and reminded my son to double check in a few minutes as I was driving son #3 to Piano. I called him 20 minutes later and sure enough, he had closed the vents instead of opening them to add heat. With my trusty FaceTime App running I had him show me the exact settings of the vents and we corrected the error without further ado.
I returned home and eyeballed the thermometer through the top vent, which was nearly wide open at this stage. When the meat registered 190F it was ready. I removed it and prayed it was cooked. The top tip in determining this fact is whether the bone pulls out cleanly or not. If so-Done, if not-Epic Fail. My meat was perfect, it pulled apart easily, was moist and had a delicious crust and smoky tinge. I brought forth the homemade Barbecue sauce and some freshly cut coleslaw for the feast and we all dug in. Success!
By dinner time I had already decided on, nay, opened a bottle of Los Clop Malbec. It seemed the right varietal and the right bottle to go with the smoky meat and tangy sauce. Heaven. Total cost for the Pulled Pork dinner sans vino was less than $30 including the charcoal and a month’s supply of sauce, not to mention enough food for a dozen folks. 95 points and 5 stars! Salut….