A Smoke And A Drink

Sunday dinners are a big deal. Sunday is when my grandma used to start cooking after church (we're Catholic; we were home by noon) and one of two things would happen: eat dinner at 3 PM or wait until 7PM when the football game came on. I preferred the later time because I got to finish up a little bit of homework, talk to my friends on the phone, or go outside and play. Occasionally, I got to leave the house and take in a movie with my church friends. We called it "Youth Group" because it technically counted as CCD because we were all together, but we certainly did NOT talk about Catechism during those outings.

Today's feast is an ode to Sunday dinners (even though today is Saturday) and to the whisperings of summer.

I went to my favorite, Sur La Table, on one of my weekly outings and picked up a stovetop smoker. It was totally on sale! I have been using my cast iron dutch oven for hot smoking and it's great because it's already black; I don't have to worry about making stainless steel shine. It's only drawback is that it's heavy, hot, and not big enough.

Enter: Stovetop smoker, stage left.
It came with four different wood chips: alder, cherry, oak, and hickory. The little minuscule containers are a great starter, but if you're serious about smoking, you'll need more. Very soon.

FYI: There are 2 types of smoking. Hot and cold.

Cold smoking involves no actual cooking. Coagulation and denaturation of proteins, enzymes, and/or cellulose does not take place. This process relies on the actual smoke to cure the food instead of heat. A salt cure is the usual suspect here: salmon, cheeses, meats. The temperature range is between 80 and 100 degrees F, and the smoking time can range anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days.

In the Southern United States, barbeque (or BBQ) is a noun. Not a verb. To use a grill, invite others over, and cook food on said appliance, is called a cookout. Barbeque is pulled, chopped, or sliced pork that has been smoked and is served with a variety of sauces. There is much debate about the best style: Kansas City, Memphis, Lexington (North Carolina), Texas are the names that arise when talking about this heated subject. I personally think Lexington BBQ is the best, but Lexington is also only a 20 minute drive away...

I believe North Carolina is the barbeque capital of the world for the simple fact that hogs are the state's #1 cash crop. It's not tobacco. It's not corn, soybeans, or even cotton.

Personally, I am not a pork fan. But I love the 'cue. I love the hot, vinegar sauce of Eastern-style. I love the tomato-based dip of Lexington-style. There's slaw involved (who is Cole anyway? Yes, I know kol or col is cabbage, ie. colcannon)

OK! Now that the culinary lesson is over, it's time to get down and dirty with the 'cue!

Not only did I make a dry rub for this bad boy, I made a BBQ sauce too.
Nikki's Rub

2 Tb toasted, ground cumin
2 Tb Hungarian paprika
2 Tb garlic powder
2 Tb onion powder
2 Tb chili powder
3 Tb kosher salt
2 Tb cayenne pepper
2 Tb chipotle flakes
2 Tb fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

6 to 8 pound Fresh Boston Butt

Rubbed down, ready to rock! Well, it was already halfway done when I decided to get the camera out!

This smoker does not need to be preheated.

Using a mix of hickory and oak wood chips, make a small pile at the bottom of the pan. Place drip tray and rack in smoker. Place butt, fat cap side up on the rack. The fat cap will baste the meat, keeping it moist, provide flavor, and slide right off when you slice it. Cover with foil, making sure all seams are covered. I used Scotch tape to ensure a seamless entry into the world of smoking. Let the pork smoke for 4 to 5 hours on medium-low heat.

Once the pork is finished cooking, remove from the smoker and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, hand pull, chop, or slice the pork.

Sliced and ready to be chopped. I was tired after waiting 90 years for this to be done cooking (the #1 reason why I don't bake bread much) and didn't feel like pulling anything. Chopping with a cleaver seemed more apropos.

There will be drippings in the bottom of the drip tray. It's simply water, seasonings from the rub, smoke flavoring, and fat. Pour this into a container, refrigerate it, and then depouillage the mixture. To this combine:

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, or other acid
Scant bit of white wine (no more than 1/4 cup)

in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring the sauce frequently. If you like your sauces a little spicier, add more black pepper. After about 20 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

OH! I made homemade buns from a recipe I got from Kat at A Good Appetite. One of the best filed-away recipes I've taken from a blog.

I apologize for my picture being so crappy. The BBQ was SOOooo good, that it warranted a craptastic photo to let you know how great this stuff really was.
What about the drink, you ask?
It just sounded good in the title of the post. :)

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Leave a reply

  1. thanks for visiting my blog. i might try this bbq rub sometime soon--looks really yummy :)

  2. Chef d: Thanks for coming by mine. I hope the rub turns out as great for you as it did for me.

  3. Ok - I'm SO trying this one day :) Normally when it comes to BBQ sauce, I cheat and use the Barefoot Contessa version but heck, why not make my own, right :)

    I've been eyeing that smoker going "Should I or shouldn't I". I think its a should.

  4. Lys: Do it! Do it! And if you're still iffy, get the itty-bitty smoker. But then you might want to put more stuff in it and then be upset that it's so small. It really is fun to smoke at home. I feel all professional and smart with smoked things for people to try.

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed the buns...I make them all the time now, so much better than store bought!


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