Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How NOT to Inject a Pork Butt

Not only do I tell you of my successes in my outdoor cooking, but I'll tell you about my failures as well. Failure may be a strong word in this case because the pork butt ended up very good, but the injection was surely a failure.

My buddy and I decided to "tailgate" at home before the NCSU/FSU football game last month. (Don't look now, but NCSU may get bowl eligible after a horrendous 1 and 5 start.) I had a couple pork butts in the freezer and moved them to the fridge on Wednesday night to be put on the smoker Friday night. The game was at 2:30 central time, so we want them done for lunch. If you remember from my last pork butt injection, I didn't really see a lot of difference with the injected butt. This time around I decided to use my Eastern NC vinegar sauce as a base, because I love the sauce. I strained the bits of pepper and stuff out of the sauce and mixed it 1:1 with apple juice. All is well at this point. I pull the butts out of the fridge and set one aside (uninjected, to compare). I start to inject the butt and realize to my dismay that the butt is still slightly frozen. It's not frozen hard. I can get the injection needle into it, but when I press on the syringe the liquid just runs out of the hole in the meat. I tried several different areas of the butt, but only got the injection to stay in the outer couple inches of meat. After messing with it a little while, I said "screw it" and just threw em' on the smoker. Slightly frozen meat does fine on the smoker, by the way. You'll actually get a bigger smoke ring.

So, the long and short of it is to never try to inject a semi-frozen pork butt. I should have checked it earlier in the evening. 30 minutes on the counter would have worked wonders. I was in a hurry the next day and didn't get pictures, but you can follow the links to beautiful pork butt pics.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Monthly Roundup, October, 2007

Wow. I didn't post in the entire month of October. Life got in the way and I just didn't get it done. I did manage to get one smoke session in and I'll have a couple posts up in the next few days. I neglected my RSS feeds over the month, too. I went through them the other day and had over 400 food related posts to pour over. I picked out a few gems for you to enjoy.

  • A guide to pork. The Chef from Hell tells us all about pork cuts with short explanations on how to prepare them. If you're unsure where each cut of the pig comes from, this post is for you.
  • Get Your Grill On posted a couple recipes for reusing BBQ....pulled pork noodle bowl and brisket chili. Two things to note here. If you haven't tried Rooster Sauce (formally sriracha sauce, but I think "rooster" sauce sounds better) used for the noodle bowl, go get you some. It's a fantastic chili sauce. Secondly, try to think outside the box with your BBQ leftovers. They will be good in just about anything.
  • Men in Aprons ponders what they could not live without in the kitchen...and comes up with onions. I thought about this for awhile and it's a pretty tough question. I would probably choose bacon because everything tastes better with bacon added to it.
  • Pros and Cons of Frying your Turkey, also via Men in Aprons. I'll be frying a turkey this year. It's been awhile since I've done it, but they are oh so good. I'm considering smoking one as well for leftovers. I may do a pork shoulder or something, though. Be on the lookout for post Turkey day postings. They mention the fact the frying can be dangerous as a con of frying a turkey. It can, in fact, turn dangerous in a hurry, but if you're careful and don't do anything stupid you'll be OK.
  • World's Largest Fatty via Plowboy's BBQ. I don't know if this is really the world's largest fatty, but it sure is impressive.
  • Family's Eating Together via Serious Eats. I'm a firm believer that healthy families eat their meals together. My wife and I ate our meals in front of the TV 90% of the time until our daughter was old enough to eat in the high chair with us. Now, the four (daughter #2 is about to graduate to a booster seat from the high chair) of us are at the dinner table about 6 PM every day. It's an important part of the day to spend with your family, especially your kids.
  • Also from Serious Eats, It's Hog Killing Time! Actually they call it hog "butchering" time, but growing up we called the late fall chill in the air, "Hog Killing Weather", so I went with what I'm used to. This post brought back fond memories of killing hogs, putting up hams and fatback, and making sausage as a youngster. I don't do that anymore, but I am buying a whole hog this year and having it butchered at a local slaughterhouse. Come the first of December I'll have more pork than you can shake a stick at...and I can't wait!!
  • Give the Gift of a Homemade Cookbook, via Slashfood. A couple years ago, my wife compiled all my recipes (my own and some favorites of others) into a three ring binder. She personalized it with pictures and labels and stuff. It's great to have everything in one place and is one of my favorite gifts ever from the missus. Both my wife and my mom are fantastic cooks, and they love cooking for friends and families. Last Christmas my mom made a cookbook (another 3-ring binder) of all her favorite recipes and gave it my wife and my sister. I can tell you from the look on their faces that it was far and away the best present they received last year.