It was early. I remember the eyes in the garden flickering in the low light, small varmints likely wondering what the heck I was doing out pre-dawn, during what I assume is their active hours. Our garden is small, but by the appetites that ravage our meager yield, the inhabitants, I think, are numerous. By the time the fire was started, they were nowhere to be found. Back to their hiding spaces I assume. But no bother, I wasn’t interested in them right now. I was getting an early start on getting the smoker fired up for the pork butt that was going to be moving in for the next several hours. There’s a good feeling about seeing and smelling that hardwood firing up before the sun can show itself. It’s peaceful, and the smoke seems to hang around just a bit longer, filling the surrounding air with applewood incense.
The night before, the pork was surgically injected with a mixture of apple juice, sugar, salt, and cider vinegar, an inside out brining process if you will. The outside was generously coated and massaged with a favorite rub. It was rubbed on thick and packed hard, then wrapped and put in the fridge overnight to do it’s thing.
But now, sometime before the first cock-a-doodle-doo of this day, as the sun was announcing it’s presence, that pork was sprinkled once more and gently set on a smoker rack, blessed with a generous spray of apple juice, water and cider vinegar, and left to begin it’s transformation into a crusty, barky, juicy, pulled pork marvel.
As far me, well, I did what anyone might do at this hour of the morning on a non-workday. I gathered myself, wandered back into the ol’ homestead and reacquainted myself with the cool side of the pillow for a while, at least until daybreak.
The brewing of the morning coffee produced a great, welcoming aroma that tried to intrude on the pork and applewood party already going on just outside of the window, but it just couldn’t fully compete. As those dripping juices descended on the hot coals, the hiss and sizzle told the story of what was going on in there, and it was good. A quick look to again spray the pork produced a satisfactory visual that only increased my anticipation for the outcome.
This little peek-a-boo situation repeated itself a few times into the late afternoon hours, with anticipation growing each time. The aroma filled the backyard all day long, kinda like one of those plug in air fresheners, only better, making mouths water and dog jowls drool. After a good, long smoke, unrushed and unhurried, we were rewarded with some of the most succulent pulled pork we’ve had out here in the backyard.
The crusty burnt ends were an appetizer, if not a delicacy, and a glaze brushed on over the last half hour or so provided a spicy kick that complemented the creamy slaw that made it’s way to the meat party. I was in pulled pork heaven.
All in all, a long day, a patient smoke, and pretty darn good results that later had me loosening my pants while trying to keep my eyes open.
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired