Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Smoking My Own

Theodore Roosevelt once said that "the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic -- the man who actually does the work, even if rough and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done."

So after nearly a year of writing about other peoples' barbecue it was time for me to create some on my own. My wife and I are involved in a locavore dinner club. Once a month we meet up with a group of friends and enjoy a dinner made from locally-sourced ingredients. A different couple hosts the group at their home each month and prepares the entree while other members are assigned to appetizers, sides, beverages and desserts based on a rotating schedule. The hosts also pick a single specific ingredient that everyone has to incorporate into what they prepare.

The whole thing is a lot less formal and pretentious than that description probably makes it sound. It's really just an excuse to get together for good food and strong drinks. Using farmer's markets and working to incorporate the specified ingredient into whatever you prepare adds an element of challenge and creativity that keeps it from being just a routine potluck. We hosted the most recent dinner over the weekend. The ingredient was peaches, so I set about creating barbecue with a peach-based sauce.

The sauce turned out really well. I made it before I started the barbecue using a recipe I found online. It was similar to a good tomato sauce, just substituting fresh peaches from Jones Orchard in Millington for the tomatoes.

This is Newman Farm pork after 12 hours on a Brinkman smoker I picked up from Home Depot for $40. With quality meat, proper technique and attention to detail you can get great results from a cheap smoker. Before the meat went on the smoker it was rubbed down with a mix that included the dry rub I mentioned picking up last week. The rub came from my friend Travis, whom I've written about in the past. He was willing to share enough for me to cook for a small group of friends, but he was still completely mum about his secret mix of ingredients.

After a total of 18 hours of cooking time our guests were already over by the time the meat came off the smoker. It is nerve-wracking to spend that much time cooking for other people when you won't know what the results are like until you are serving them. But I'd received plenty of tips and advice from Travis and I knew that if my barbecue turned out anywhere near as good as his everyone would be happy.

It smelled delicious. The moment of truth came when two forks were all I needed to easily pull apart the tender meat.

After using nothing more than time, smoke and seasoning to create what everyone agreed was some exceptional barbecue I definitely gained a new appreciation for the meticulous process behind the time-honored craft. It also gave me a new sympathy for people living in parts of the country where anytime they want good barbecue their only option is to head outside and smoke their own. Good barbecue is so abundant here that it can be too easy to take it for granted.

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