Hello all! Yes it has been a good long time since I've written and that's because I got a full time job that takes 40 hours of my week plus my sanity. So, here I am at spring break and finally able to write again. So, here we go...
"You can just put it in the oven while you sleep and when you wake up, your BBQ pork will be done!"
These were the words of my cooking teacher at L'Academie de Cuisine when I was taking intensive recreational classes (oxymoron, yes, I know) a couple years ago. It was pork week, and the dish in question was BBQ pulled pork. The idea of the aroma of roasting meat wafting towards my bed and infiltrating my dreams was delicious, but, knowing myself, it probably wasn't the best course of action. With my luck, Evan, the cats and I could be served at a B-Dubs happy hour if I didn't monitor the oven like a Nazi.
I always complain about not having enough time for anything: doing my nails, reading classic literature, paying bills... but now that it's spring break, I decided it was the perfect time to devote eight hours of my life to nurturing a piece of a meat from coarse rawness to a refined roast. Little did I know that eight hours of roasting time was a mere fraction of the multi-day adventure on which I was about to embark.
How did the adventure begin? With step one, of course.
Step One: Find the perfect recipe.
I used to think Bobby Flay was an arrogant bastard, but he has won me over with his Throwdown show. The fact he's lost so many battles leads me to believe his balls are probably normal or smaller-than-average sized. I was ecstatic to receive the Throwdown cookbook for Christmas, but between holiday break and this current spring break, I haven't the chance to try any recipes. Now that I had a full week of vacation stretching before me, I leaped at the culinary opportunity and decided to try cooking "Wood Child's BBQ Award-Winning Smoked Pork" from the Throwdown cookbook.
The recipe called for six pounds of Boston Butt pork, and despite being in my mid- to late- twenties (I prefer mid), I still giggle at this cut of meat. What is Boston Butt
some of you might ask? Well, according to the wise folks of Wikipedia, it is " a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone." And for the history buffs out there: "In pre-Revolutionary New England and into the Revolution, some pork cuts (not highly valued) were packed into casks or barrels (also known as "butts") for storage and shipment. The way the hog shoulder was cut in the Boston area became known in other regions as 'Boston Butt.'"
I'm glad I had a full tank of gas when I left home because no Boston butt was to be found at the local Trader Joe's, none at Safeway, and zero at Balducci's. A couple hours after initial take-off, I met my beautiful butt at Giant on Duke Street. I had to pass my high school to get it, but these were the sacrifices I was willing to take. The humble hog I found was only 4.5 lbs. and the cashier quizzed me in Chinese, but I still bought the runt with my half-Asian head held high.
I realize this is a long entry, but I want you to realize the epic-ocity-ness of this porcine project.
With hog in hand, I headed home and made the rub. It had everything in it you could imagine: chili pepper, taco seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocaine...
I massaged the rub into the meat sensually (it was very personal -- don't make me elaborate) and then plunked it into the fridge to marinate overnight.
Alarm goes off and the first though that races through my mind is: How is my butt????
It was fine. However, I realized I'd woken up a little late. I had to get that baby in the oven if I wanted it to be done for dinner. So, in it went in its bath of apple juice -- I could almost hear it oinking in pleasure. It was in there for for four hours with the periodic apple-juice spray down from yours truly. After the first four hours, my little piggy pie got wrapped in foil with more apple juice and roasted for another four hours.
Fast forward -- Mr. Pig finally has an internal temperature of 190 degrees and it's time for action (and yes, it's after 8 p.m. somehow).
I unwrap the butt gently and look at it unsure how to proceed. But then I just grab a knife and hack at it, burning my fingers pulling it apart, until we were finally ready to make the elusive PULLED PORK SANDWiCH! In the many roasting hours of the pork, I'd also baked some bread an tried a home-made coleslaw recipe. These ingredients plus my sweet swine made up the sandwich along with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce on top.
You'd think that's it but now it's Friday,and there's still lots of meat to be eaten. We've had more BBQ sandwiches, pulled-pork tacos, roasted pork breakfast burritos, Cuban sandwiches...
It's the goddamn gift that keeps on giving. When it runs out, I'll feel like I've lost a little part of myself, but at least I have my own butt (probably a lot larger after this whole ordeal), and that's not going anywhere soon.