It was such a beautiful day yesterday. I almost put aside my ambitions of smoking the pork leg and shoulder but decided that none of the nature I love is going anywhere anytime soon. I'm glad that I went shopping on Friday night and didn't waste my time yesterday. It's more peaceful shopping at night anyway. Plus, I scored two bags of rye bread for half price. It's much better than the typical Japanese white bread. With the J-bread I feel like I'm eating dough conditioners more than bread. But that makes it good for french toast.
I originally planned to do just the pork shoulder. I then decided to do both the leg and shoulder I had stuffed in my freezer a couple weeks back. More leftovers for the trouble of it all. That makes it sound like a bad thing. I assure you it's not. It's just time consuming and in the end you want something to show for it. Also I didn't eat breakfast or lunch so I was hungry. A little shoulder of meat wasn't going to tide me over.
I hit a few small problems in the course of making the dry rub and BBQ sauce. I knew I had garlic and paprika but I didn't check how much before I went shopping. When I started to make the dry rub I was heavily short of paprika and garlic. A complete and silly oversight on my part. This seems to happen quite often when I go shopping, even if I make a list. Always something I wished I had picked up. I also forgot mustard powder. For the strangest reason I believed deep inside I had some at home. This proved to be false even though it was the second time I thought the same thing. I had looked at mustard powder in the store and told myself I could find it at home. So not true. Anyway, I left out certain amounts of ingredients in both the rub and sauce. The positive to this was that both were still very good.
Previously I had setup the grill on top of some cork board to act as a table outside. This was clearly not going to work a second time as the board started to stretch and crack under the weight. I played around with some stools and tried to position them to hold the three legs of my cooker. It just wasn't any good. I then noticed a metal shelf in the kitchen that I kept my toaster oven on, below my table. It looked perfect. It was perfect.
This time I managed to control the temperature much better than last time. Last time it got way too hot and the meat didn't cook slow enough. I knew this time might be more tricky with two pieces so I tried to take it as slow as possible. I'm using wood chips so I have to add them more often to get smoke in the first 2 hours of cooking. I added these every 15 minutes. In hindsight that lead to a couple problems. In the smoking period the grill didn't retain enough heat to bring the meat far enough along. Opening the lid to add chips every 30 minutes would be better. It's hard to control the temp on the little grill I have but I make do. I smoked for about 2 hours and after that I cooked for another 3 hours perhaps. Close to 5 hours in and the meat temperature was still only like 177 degrees. According to smoking information 190 is the point where one should check to see if the meat is done. At that point the collagen and fat in the meat should be broken down which makes the pork so easy to pull apart.
I was so tired of waiting I sacrificed the meat being tougher than I would have liked to just eat. It was close to 9pm and if you remember I had been starved all day. Another potential hour of cook time wasn't going to make me happy. I knew I wouldn't regret whatever I did. I was hungry enough to eat anything. Upfront is the pork shoulder.
Here is the pork leg.
You can't really tell me that looks unappetizing! I love how that bark forms on the meat. It really needed more time but I'll do it even better next time. It was a tad tricky to actually pull the meat apart, much like I assumed. Oh well, as I was pulling the meat liberally with two forks I couldn't stop myself from eating a fair amount before I ever sat down. I made a coleslaw and french fries to go with the meat. I almost forgot about these because I was so enamored by the meat. The mustard based BBQ sauce was incredibly good. I might be a permanent convert to the mustard vinegar side. This is probably the type they serve at 17th Street.
The pork leg ended up being more dry than the pork shoulder. The smoke flavor in both was subtle and tasty. I could do more smoke next time in the 2 hour smoking period. Overall both were good in their own respects. I would like to try a pork shoulder again and get it cooked to the proper temperature for meat that just falls apart with a light touch. That is my ideal goal. I'm going to take a break from BBQ for awhile until it warms up more. I think good things will come in the future. And maybe a fat Blaine.