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Monday, May 10, 2010


The beauty of smoked food comes from cooking for a long time over low heat. Slow & Low. It’s time-consuming, as well as being a pretty elaborate process, so it doesn’t make sense to pull out my smoker, set it up, and get it lit just for one item. Microwaves are better for one item. Quick & High.

So when I decided I was in the mood for pulled pork sandwiches I didn’t just buy a pork shoulder. I also bought a nice piece of salmon for Tammy to make fish dip and a dozen jalapenos for me to make chipotle powder. Other times I may include skirt steaks or drumsticks. Or all of the above, which I call ‘throwing a zoo in the smoker’.

The pork should cook at least 5 hours and as long as 12 hours or so. There’s enough fat in the cut to keep it from drying out. The salmon and the jalapenos take considerably less time, so while the pork is slowly becoming amazing deep inside, they go on the top for easy access.

As for the jalapenos, I smoke them for about an hour before pulling them off and drying them in the oven at about 150 degrees for another 30-45 minutes.  Then I put the now smoked and dried jalapenos into my coffee grinder.  It should be noted that I have a coffee grinder, but I don't drink coffee.  Yes, I bought it just to make chipotle powder.  No scoffing if you haven't tasted the results.

When the shoulder comes out it looks amazing, but the aroma is even better. What you see here is meat which became exposed after I peeled off a strip of solid fat, and tempted though I was, I didn’t sample the pork fat. It was so perfect it should’ve been used for something, but I could hear my arteries screaming, “Discard! For the love of God, DISCARD!” My arteries used to trust me to not eat irresponsibly. Then a couple of weeks ago one of my co-workers’ poked his head in my office and said, “I’m going to KFC for a Double Down. Want one?” I thought: “Two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese, and KFC sauce between two pieces of fried chicken. Hmmm. That sounds right.” Within an hour of eating it I was so nauseous my shoulders ached. To steal a joke from John Pinette: 11 herbs and spices, and 8 of them are salt. Now my arteries are monitoring my decisions.

Then I began the process of pulling the pork. That phrase caused some of you to snicker, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Take a moment to leave the junior high school locker room and return to present time.

Now that we have that behind us, you can see the pink layer just beneath the surface of the pieces as they’re pulled apart. This is known as the smoke ring.

Once it’s thoroughly pulled apart I just added some barbecue sauce. When Tammy found out I was using a bottle of sauce from the store instead of making it from scratch I received a rather chilling stare, but I avoided being on restrictions by showing sufficient remorse and promising to never let it happen again.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion pulled pork sandwiches require coleslaw. The problem is that every coleslaw I’ve ever been served sucks. You know that little cup you get as a side at some places? It’s always terrible. There is one exception. My mom makes the best coleslaw in the history of cabbage. My coleslaw is second place, but it’s simple:

- one bag of shredded cabbage (a short cut my mom has never considered)

- several turns of the peppermill

That’s it.

How beautiful is this sandwich? My brother-in-law, the late, great Michael Barich, would say “it’s like an angel peeing on your tongue”.

But I’m sitting here now thinking about that expression of his, and it’s taken on a new meaning, because sadly, Michael is now one of those angels. Hey, Barich. Keep your pee to yourself.

Do angels read blogs?