Sunday, July 31, 2011
Is there anything in this world better than pork? Bacon, ham, cracklin's, shoulders, babyback ribs, St. Louis style ribs, from the tail to the oink it's all good. It's one of the few things I don't ever get tired of seeing some pretentious chef or travel host eat on whatever show they're on. Although, I really wasn't that enraptured by watching Andrew Zimmern eat pork balls or pork bunghole. I guess that would be the exception.
It does seem at times that every Golden Corral fry cook has a show these days and I avoid most of them. Instead I tend to watch Phineas & Ferb or catch a rerun of Blazing Saddles on one of the cable networks because you know that BZ is ALWAYS showing on one of them! Of course there is always the SyFy network with some B-movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips or Randy Quaid fighting aliens or natural disasters. But since those rarely have any pork (other than the acting) I tend to just fire up the smoker and get to cooking.
I think the main issue I have with some people cooking pork is that they seem to over season it. You don't need 20 herbs and spices to make pork taste good. Most times you just need some salt and pepper and a smoker. I see pork shoulder recipes that call for ingredients such as Chinese 5 spice or red wine vinegar or olive tapenade or sazon seasoning and whatever else some chef can think of to put on it that someone hasn't done before. Just because no one ever cooked a pork shoulder with axle grease and testicle sweat doesn't mean you should just so that you can "put your own spin" on it.
Yesterday we went fishing from around 6 p.m. until darkness set in. We didn't catch any fish so my wife, daughter and I stopped at the grocery store. Here in small town west Texas we don't have "supermarkets", we have "grocery stores". Usually the strangest thing we ever see in our local grocery store is the Mormon women from that FLDS ranch when they come in to stock up on food and lawyers. Other than that everything is pretty normal. Well, west Texas "normal". So, where was I? Oh, yeah, we went fishing and then to the grocery store. We bought a small pork shoulder since we are only 3 humans and 3 dogs in our house. Our dogs think they're human but I figure any dog in this world that is loved and cared for properly most likely thinks it is human. If it doesn't then the dog's human family did something wrong. Back to the pork...
So after we got home and unloaded the fishing gear and groceries, I took a shower. No one wants a man rubbing and marinading pork with Catfish Charlie Blood Bait on his hands and clothes, especially my wife. I took out some apple juice and poured it in a glass bowl and then put the shoulder in there to marinate overnight. As I said, you don't need to add much to pork. This morning when I opened the refrigerator to check on the pork shoulder, it looked at me from it's pool of apple juice and said "I'm ready for my closeup Mr. Demille". I was stunned that the pork actually talked to me. I was more stunned that it had soaked up over half of the apple juice. Maybe I should have been more stunned that the pork talked to me but it was before my first cup of coffee so I have that reasoning to fall back on.
Well, I just so happened to have had my digital camera with me. Yep, there I was, just woke up, no coffee yet, talking pork shoulder and lo and behold, a digital camera appearing miraculously in my hand. So here is a picture of the pork in the "marinade". "Marinade" sounds so much more fancier than "apple juice".
I let the pork rest in the "marinade" for a few while I soaked some apple wood chips in water. I then went out and lit the smoker. As you probably remember me saying, we're in west Texas. We're in the smack dab middle of some sort of biblical drought. It's so bad that we don't even make drought jokes anymore. We used to make drought jokes but then God got all serious on us and now we're afraid to mention the word thinking it may cause the drought to drag on a few more years. We had a tropical storm named "Don" that hit the coast and it was so scared of the drought that it didn't even drop any rain. Just typing the word "drought" gives me the dry mouth.
Anyway, my smoker isn't afraid of the drought. Out here the drought and fire hazards have caused the city and county to ban cooking with charcoal or wood. I just so happen to have a propane smoker so I cheat a little and put a box of wet wood chips in it and let it smoke. After I got the smoker up and running, I rubbed the shoulder with a Maple rub. Not only is it good for pork but it heals sprains and strains almost as good as WD-40.
I somehow happened to have my camera with me at the smoker and got a picture of our pork shoulder doing its thing.
I'll baste with a concoction of apple juice and brown sugar. Not much brown sugar, after all, I'm cooking a pork shoulder and not a pie. The little fella will smoke most of the day at around 250 degrees. If I fall asleep in my easy chair, the temperature may rise to 280 degrees, depending on how long my nap rages out of control. Sunday naps are notorious for causing all kinds of problems from failing to clean the garage/truck/trailer/yard/bathroom to smoker temperatures getting dangerously high.
As Lone Wadi said in "The Outlaw Josey Wales", "Endeavor to persevere" and so I shall.
© 2011 Bill Hancock