Yesterday I finally decided to tackle my next challenge. The almighty barbecued pork shoulder.
I'll repeat, barbecued. Not grilling. Barbecuing is an entirely different thing. The word comes from some Caribbean islanders who used it to describe their method of roasting meat. That method was indirect cooking on wooden poles. There was nothing about fire searing meat. It was the heat and smoke that did the cooking. In it's most original form, this is barbecue. Most think that barbecue means an outdoor party or simply grilling meat over open flames. So when I tell people I was barbecuing they get the wrong idea. It's necessary to disambiguate the meaning. I guess I can't blame everyone entirely as barbecuing means grilling in British English and many Americans probably think the same thing.
I never really liked when people said, "Let's have a BBQ" because the food served didn't remind of a BBQ restaurant with smokey pork and beef. I always thought it was just a cook out or grilling. I has come to mean that so I don't put up much fuss. If someone asks me I'll gladly tell them but I don't waste my breath otherwise because who really cares anyway, right? People just want to have fun and eat.
In Japan my barbecue options are rather limited. I like yakiniku just as any other bearded man but I miss the opportunities for slow cooked smokey meat. What else to do than make it myself. I started toying with barbecue back in the early fall of last year and have learned a lot. With the addition of my 40 dollar smoker and some clever adjustments I have had great success. The last tasty morsels were 5 hour cooked spare ribs I did several weeks ago. That was so good. I felt like I was back home licking the glistening globs of sauce off the bones. The only difference is that I had the Shikoku mountains outside my house. I digress. On to the pork shoulder we go!
My work area is quite the mess of random objects. You can see my smoker unit filled and ready for hot coals. The trick is to fill it up and let the fuel light slowly during the long cook time. If you want to become a more patient person you should learn how to barbecue. It will test you.
I estimated 9 to 10 hours cooking time for the 4 1/2 pound hunk of meat. I started at 9:05 and went right up to about 6:35PM. 9 1/2 hours was just about right. 10 hours would have been better perhaps. After that long and painful waiting game. You end up with something beautiful.
I didn't lift the lid once during that whole time to check the meat. So when I saw this I was so happy. "But it's burnt Blaine!" you probably thought. It's not burnt! That black coating is the wonderful caramelized rub that went on before cooking. That 'bark' as it's called in the BBQ world is delicious. There is not the slightest taste of burnt flavor anywhere on this block of pork. You grab it off the grill and whisk it for the sacred moment of pulling.
Would you look at that. That's glorious. Hog heaven you might say. The meat shreds apart into long ribbons. It's juicy and moist. The smell is intoxicating. It's almost impossible to stop from sampling the meat. Holy pig!
I made a simple cole slaw and barbecue sauce to accompany the pork debauchery. I would have loved some nice kaiser rolls or buns but I'm limited on options in the countryside. White bread was good enough. Mounding the pork on the plate with a bit of sauce was excellent anyway.
This was ace. I would like to do some full spare rib racks next. If you wish to donate slabs to my cause you can get them for 2,000 yen each. I'll be waiting.
But if you can't be pressed to do that you might just have to go on the waiting list for people who want to be my friend...