Artists work in many media. Whether it's paint or charcoal, bronze or stone, music, light, or dance, artists spend a lot of time working and re-working; practicing and revising and testing and perfecting.
[The Man I Love] is an artist of sorts. His medium happens to be meat. He has been using a charcoal-fired smoker to create the most delicious, savory, delectable smoked meats. He has had a Weber kettle-type grill for years, but this past summer, he bought himself a serious smoker. It's about four feet tall, and has two grills, so you can cook two things at a time. It looks like a black enamel R2D2, standing in our driveway.
I think this past weekend he achieved a masterpiece. Nine pounds of pork shoulder, slow-cooked over applewood smoke.
He woke up at five in the morning to put it on the fire. Our gathering was set to start at three - we planned to start serving at four. That's about ten hours of cooking time - but actually, for that size cut and at that low temperature, [The Man I Love] was worried that it wouldn't be done in time.
So, consulting the various books of barbecue lore, he chose to embrace a controversial technique called "foiling." After you've smoked the meat in dry heat, you wrap it in foil for the last few hours of cooking. This has two effects - it speeds up cooking time, and it also keeps the meat moist and juicy. That's the "pro" of foiling. The "con" is that you lose some of that delectable crust that forms on the surface by dry smoking alone.
He chose to foil it to make sure it was done in time for our guests. It was perfect and tender at four o'clock. Here's a close-up of the pink "smoke ring" that forms just under the surface of the meat when nitrogen dioxide from woodsmoke mixes with moisture in the meat, causing a chemical reaction that turns the meat pink.
[The Man I Love] and our neighbor, who shares his interest in savory-cooked pig parts, "pulled" or shredded the tender meat from the bone.
The foiling technique also resulted in a good cup or so of concentrated meat juices we saved in a jar. While the guys "pulled" the pork, they mixed tablespoons for this dark, rich juice with the meat.
We served it Carolina-style, on a bun with a vinegar sauce and a sour-spicy cole slaw. Here is is, with a good quinoa salad one of our guests contributed.
I think he's getting pretty good at this. But artists, they always have to keep practicing!
|Deep-dish peach-blackberry pie|