This past winter I smoked a pork shoulder for the first time. I learned some lessons, continued to work on getting better with my kettle, and decided it was time for pulled pork again.
I cut the pork shoulder into roughly equal halves. I had three things I wanted to experiment with:
- Would it cook faster?
- Would it be nice to have twice as much bark?
- I wanted to try a Mexican-ish rub on one to have pulled pork tacos.
In my opinion, for a long Weber Kettle cook you can’t beat a snake. If it’s going to go VERY long, it can be a pain as you have to move the water pan to continue the snake. But for medium-long cooks, it’s a nice, perfect way to have a consistent temperature throughout the cook.
This time around I went with Apple wood chunks to see if I could taste the difference from Hickory. Well, without them side-by-side I couldn’t really tell the difference.
Used the Weber Spirit as a safe place to light the first ten coals.
We were expecting rain, so I also setup my umbrella.
It was quite windy and I ended up keeping the lower vents mostly open for most of the smoke.
Two shoulders was just a bit too much side-by-side on the Kettle if you’re leaving enough space between them and keeping them away from getting direct heat from the snake/fuse. Here’s the graph of the smoke:
The fajita rub was off the fire first:
About an hour later, the Meathead rub shoulder was done:
First I created a pulled pork fajita:
It was quite delicious! Then it was time for a pulled pork sandwich:
I was reading through Meathead’s sauce page on AmazingRibs.com and saw that Shealy’s was the best South Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce. I ordered some from Shealy’s and …. I did not like it. It just tasted like mustard to me. However, as time passed and I tried the sauce with other pork dishes, I came to taste the subtle difference between this sauce (which is mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce) and regular yellow mustard and I like it quite a bit now.
Finally, my wife had some pulled pork nachos:
This time the bark was perfect and my wife loved it. Not sure what’s different. The main difference is that it’s spring now and not winter and Meathead does say that humidity can affect cooks. It’s also possible I overcooked it last time. I’m not 100% sure. Either way, it was a resounding success and I had fun trying all sorts of different dishes with the pulled pork. Also pretty awesome (but I didn’t get a photo) was my pulled pork breakfast burrito.
We were debating what to eat. There are a lot of dishes we like, but it’s easy to forget all of them when you’re constantly thinking of the half dozen foods your toddlers eat and the dozen or so foods your preschooler eats. Lamb was on sale at Costco, so I told the wife we should have lamb and I would cook it outside and we’d have gyros. Well, modified gyros because we used naan for the bread instead of pita. The image above is Danielle’s wet brine for the meat. Based on the size of the chunks Danielle chopped up, I decided to do a reverse sear.
In the middle of the charcoal there is a chunk of hickory. I wanted to just give the lamb a little something extra as an experiment. I didn’t try to make it 225 or 325 or anything special. I just threw a bunch a probes in the chunks and waited for it to get to about 120 F. Then I put it on direct heat until it got to about 135ish.
The wife put together a tzatziki sauce sauce and we created our delicious gyros:
My boss, who happens to be Greek (and not from generations ago) said it was among the best lamb she’d ever eaten. She loved the hickory flavor as it was different than the usual way she’d eaten it before. I shared the marinade recipe with my grill/BBQ buddy at work. He said it was great and his entire family loved it.
I’ve been perfecting my diner style hamburgers (aka quarterpounders) thanks to the tips from Amazingribs.com. But there’s a guy at work I talk to about grilling, BBQ, and smoking. He was telling me about his bacon cheeseburgers. I thought about how I tend not to like bacon cheeseburgers in restaurants. Usually either the bacon or the cheese is substandard and I end up just preferring a hamburger. But then I thought about one key thing – when I make the burgers I decide all the ingredients.
My wife likes Kraft singles for her cheese, but I prefer melting some grated cheddar cheese. If I was going to be making dinner, I didn’t want to make more work for myself or the wife by cooking the bacon indoors. So I put those on the cast iron skillet first:
I use good quality bacon and I can cook it to my desired crunchiness level. It’s bummer I can only fit 2 burger patties at a time if I’m making diner burgers.
Then toast the bread and add the condiments:
One thing Meathead suggested that has made eating hamburgers easier for me to eat is to have the condiments on bottom with the thumbs and all the rest up with your eight fingers. It makes it a lot less slippery to keep everything in. It also allows the meat juice to mix with the condiments.
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Each of the three kids is a little different, of course. Sam LOVES loud things. He loves cars and trains and planes and …. lawnmowers! When I cut the grass he follows me around. When others cut the grass he wants to follow THEM around.
Scarlett liked to imitate what the adults were doing, but she never reached the same levels of obsession with the lawnmower as Samuel has.
I was bringing some more concrete pads over to my BBQ area and Stella wanted to help.
This book started off seeming as though it would be some sort of Victorian, Steampunk Speed Racer. But that turned out to just be a red herring to introduce us to the characters and set up some of the conflicts. I also thought it would focus more strongly on the floating island, Inselmond. It seemed as though it would be one of those islands that feature in many anime and JRPGs where the rich or magical live. Nope, that served as a McGuffin of sorts – although in a lot of ways the Black Mercury of the title is practically a McGuffin, but there might be some debate about that.
In actuality, this ends up being a Victorian Steampunk thriller. Like many of the steampunk novels I’ve come across, the main theme is that of a world in which women do incredible things, but have to fight for recognition and prosperity. The world as conveyed by Ms. Charlotte English is a fascinating world full of many characters I’d love to see again. I’ve come to find out this was a Kickstarter-funded series. I hope it did well enough to convince the authors to return to their characters.
On the assumption that Ms. English is not writing under a pen name, I don’t know if it’s because she’s a woman or if it’s inherent to the steampunk genre, but it was nice to read a story that focused strongly on relationships and how people react as the relationships change. Sure, that’s story-telling 101, but it’s not always as believable as it works out in this novel.