“Pssst. Hey you.”
The voice from the shadows of the garage was shadowy and intimidating. It was a sketchy figure, in a dark bulky overcoat. I couldn’t see his face because of the shadow cast from his fedora.
“Who. Me?”, I asked, turning a finger towards my chest.
“Do you see anybody else? Com’ere”, he said, sounding a bit like someone out of an old gangster movie.
“I don’t think I…”
“Shut up and come over here,” the voice demanded. “I ain’t gonna hurt ya. In fact, I’m gonna help ya.”
“Hey listen,” I said. “I don’t have any money on me, and…”
“Shut up will ya? You’re one of doze griller guys, aint’cha?” he asked
“Griller guy?” I asked. “I don’t know what you…”
“One of doze griller guys,” he repeated. “You like to cook outside, on da grill, you know. Smoke and fire and stuff.”
“Oh, yeah, sure,” I answered, now feeling a bit more relaxed.
“Well,” he said, “Let me explain myself. My business has had an unfortunate incident involving one of our “delivery” vehicles down by da new bridge. Because of the unusual circumstances behind dis situation, we are simply not able to report dis incident to dee authorities, but dat’s good news for you, my friend, because now, I can offer you an unheard of opportunity to obtain a piece of meat for your grilling pleasure that no one else has been able to acquire.”
“Unfortunate incident?” I asked. “And just what is that supposed to mean?”
“That means it’s none of your business, Mr Nosey, and it best be forgot about. Capiche?”
The stranger then reached under his coat, and for an instant I expected the worst. He noticed the look on my face and laughed, a slow and raspy laugh, made possible only by a lifetime of smoking.
“Settle down grillerboy. If I wanted to hurt ya, it would already be done.”
He pulled out a package roughly wrapped in white butcher paper. On it was marked a simple “Sq“. He held it up and out towards me, waiting for me to accept it.
“Here ya go grillerboy. Do your thing, but don’t, and I repeat, don’t screw dis up. It is very unlikely dat you will ever get dis opportunity again.”
“But what is it,” I asked. “What does “Sq” mean.”
“C’mon,” he said. “You don’t know? Maybe you ain’t as smart as I’m thinkin’. It’s Sasquatch,” he said. “You know. Squatch. Yeti.”
“Squatch?” I asked. “No such thing.What is this really? A deer, a cow? I’m not grilling any possum.”
“I’m tellin ya. It’s Sasquatch. Bigfoot. You gotta remember Mo-Mo, right? Mo-Mo da monster? You’re from Missouri for God sakes! Heck, when Little Carmine hit it with da truck he rattled off a whole new list of names, none of which I wish to discuss right now, however.”
“So this is roadkill? You want me to grill roadkill? Sorry sir, but I’m going to respectfully…”
“Hey grillerboy! As I see it, I’m doing you a grand favor here, one dat I personally believe is such a good deal dat you should not, and simply cannot refuse.
His eyes met mine in an icy stare. One that said he wasn’t gonna take no for an answer. I accepted his gift, thinking that if I took it and left, I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing him again.
“But why me?” I asked. “And how did you know where to find me?”
“I know, and dat’s all you need ta know,” he answered. “And I will be watching, from afar, as dey say. I do expect results, if you catch my drift.”
“Well, all I can do is give it a shot,” I said. “But I don’t even know your name. What should I call you? How can I let you know how this turned out.”
“People in my “industry” call me “Da Butcher”, and as far as gettin’ in touch wit me, well, you don’t. I’m the one dat gets in touch. And I will be. Happy grilling, grillerboy.”
I took the package and went into the house, anxious to open it, but just as nervous about what I would find. What I did find was nothing too unfamiliar. A reddish meat, with a decent amount of fat marbled throughout. No weird look, no strange smell, and definitely nothing as repulsive as I had imagined.
So I set out to do what I would normally do with something like this. A quick marinade was thrown together with whatever I found in the cupboards and refrigerator. It consisted of worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, about a half bottle of our town’s finest brew, and a healthy dose of balsamic, olive oil and garlic. Because time was of the essence, the mystery meat was allowed a marinade soak of only about seventy-five minutes. The pieces were then taken out, drained a bit, and put on a plate, ready for the dry rub.
I decided to go simple on this, not really knowing what the flavor profile would be, so I used a combination of Citizen Kanes Steakhouse Rub with additional seasoned pepper and granulated garlic added in. I even threw in a bit of dried and ground hops, just for the earthiness undertone that I thought Sasquatch meat deserved. The meat was generously rubbed on all sides.
My gut feeling was to just put this meat on the smoker and let it cook, low and slow. With the hardwood lump charcoal going, the temperature at a satisfactory 220 degrees, and a couple pieces of hickory wood tossed in, I was on my way to smoking squatch. Who would’ve imagined? Certainly not me.
After a couple hours of some serious thinking and a couple of beers as well, I decided to wrap it in foil for a while, with some of the marinade that had been reserved for this, just in case. I needed to make sure this meat was tender for my new friend.
This will assure that the meat will get as tender as possible, and also soak up some more of that flavor base that I used in the beginning. After putting the squatch ribs in foil and pouring the marinade over them, I wrapped them tight, and layed them back on the smoker for another hour.
A couple more beers later, it was time for the unveiling. Unwrapping the meat led to a bit of a surprise, as the fat really melted off quite a bit, and exposed the large bones. A bit unsettling, but I’ve come too far, I thought, to quit now.
As many other grillers will attest too, that crusty part of smoked meat, or the bark, is usually the best. To get that on this meat, I left the unwrapped squatch ribs on the smoker for yet another hour, at around 200 degrees.
When the smoker lid was lifted, I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. The meat looked tender, with that awesome bark on the edges. The smell was intoxicating, mixing the hickory smoke with the dry rub and liquid marinade. The meat was plated and let to rest for a few minutes.
“Da Butcher” would be very pleased,” I said to myself, but out loud.
“If doze taste as good as dey look grillerboy, I will indeed be pleased,” he said, instantly appearing behind me.
“What the? Where did you…How did you…?”
“Like I told ya, I’m watching. From afar, of course. Now hows about a taste of our bounty, compliments of Little Carmine’s driving skills.” With that raspy laugh, “Da Butcher” reached over and took a rib section, and while staring directly in my eyes, took a healthy bite.
“Very, very acceptable, grillerboy,” he said. “You done good.”
“Thanks,” I replied. “So how can I thank you?”
“As we like to say,”Fuhgeddaboudit! Let’s just say you owe me. Capiche?”
“Anyways, I may be back in touch down da road. You never know what other opportunities may arise. Keep grillin grillerboy.”
“And I’ll see ya around.”
He then gave a big wide smile and said, “You might not always see me however.”
“Ha ha, Ok”. I said.
And in the time it took for me to turn around and set the plate down on the table, “Da Butcher” was again gone, out of sight.
Until next time, I thought. Until next time.
Life Is Better Wood Fired