Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TO BUTT OR NOT TO BUTT?

We had some company here at the Schmidt House ( yes, I know how that sounds!) this past weekend. My Mommy from Southern Illinois came down with my brother Allan's fabulous fiance, Sandy. Mom hadn't been here in a while and Sandy was kind enough to deliver her to our door. It was a great time and us gals consumed plenty of good fun and beverages for a couple of days. We all like to "nosh" so cheese balls, crackers, chips, dips and all kinds of little snackie things were plentiful and devoured. Friday night, I made my Mom some white manicotti as that's a favorite of hers that I make, and I had bought a big ole Pork Butt to do on Saturday. Of course, as we've all been led to believe you must rub or marinate that pork the night before with all the magic powders and potions you have in your cupboard and patt that baby and put it to bed till that smoker's up and going at just the right temperature for "low and slow."

Well, Friday night got later and later and the cooler got emptier and emptier and the talk got better and better and before you know it we had decided we would take a big sightseeing tour of downtown Nashville the next day. That would include our beautiful skyline, the symphony building, the Country Music Hall of Fame, etc. Not a big deal for me, cause I know my way around downtown pretty well having worked there for years. So that sounded like a great idea. It was something I hadn't even considered in our plans earlier cause Mom (Big Mom) has some walking issues and really can't do too much or ride for too long. So, I hadn't even considered it. Now we were planning a trip and I had 9 lbs of Pork in the fridge that was still in it's plastic packaging and waiting to be powdered and diapered and put to bed before its big "Debut-t" the next day. Not a problem, the pork butt could go in the freezer till Memorial Day and I had plenty of buns, the cole slaw was already made and the beans were handy, so I would just take the girls on our whirlwind sightseeing excursion and stop on the way home and buy a bulk of Ground Chuck....hamburgers on the grill would be easy and nobody really cared about the food anyway...it was the visiting that matters, afterall. Right?

Early Saturday morning, the sun was shining and it was going to be a beautiful day. We started out with coffee on the deck and a couple of hours later as we were discussing our trip to town, and like the good Southern girl I am, we had an easy southern breakfast of biscuits, (forgive me, Biscuit Gods, but they were "Grands"... thanks Pillsbury) with gravy, sausage , eggs, strawberries and tangelos. Grits were available, but everybody passed this time. Leisurely morning just visiting. I noticed no one had changed from their PJ's and began to think that these gals are really taking this vacation thing seriously....hmmm, I'd better take charge and get them loaded up for the big tour. Thirty minutes later as the last dregs from the second pot of coffee were being rinsed, it was unanimous that we'd just spend the day here at the house as the visiting was going so well, and it was apparent that no one was running out of conversation (Poor Geraldo!! He was the epitome of graciousness putting up with all that chatter along with some reruns of the same old childhood funnies. And just so you know, I have mowed the yard, front and back after this weekend to show him I appreciate him and to give him a much needed break.)
So we were staying home...now do I go to the store and get ground chuck for supper (we had to make a Coor's run, anyway) or remembering the pork butt, do I go ahead and smoke it? I had missed valuable rubbing and, marinating time the entire night before and now it was 11 a.m. and crunch time. Now I'll pick BBQued Pork over just about anything anyday, so I got it out, grabbed the sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, chili powder, some cumin and the little bit of paprika I had left. No brown sugar, not specials powders, potions or injections. Geraldo grabbed the Kingsford, got the chimney started and I grabbed the hickory chunks and put them in a sink full of water to soak while the coals got ready. About 30 minutes later we had the smoker filled with the hot coals, the apple juice in the drip pan and waited for the magic number of 22o or 'till the smoker dial, reached "Ideal." Longest story short....we were eating at 7 p.m. and it's really one of the very best pork butts I've eaten. So take that all you BBQ folks out there who have brainwashed us civilians with all that time, injecting, rubbing and marinating lore! I have my own theories about why this turned out so well, but that's a future post. I had a sandwich today with coleslaw and dill pickles on it and it was one of the best I've had here in Nashville....no kidding. I've got to give a big shout out to "Stubb's" BBQ sauce. It says it's "The Original", but there were several types on the shelf from Stubbs. I bought the one that looked more like it was a vinegar base, with flecks of black pepper visible. That's 'cause I'm not a thick, tomatoey, sweet sauce girl. Great compliment to the hickory smoke flavored pork. A little dab will do ya!
I had cooked the pork on the smoker till the internal temperature of the meat was at 160 (about 5 hours) then I took it out, wrapped it up tightly in foil and transferred it to the oven to finish cooking to 180 degrees. I prefer my pork sliced and so we had sliced BBQued Pork, cole slaw, baked beans, pickles, and potato chips. I had made a homemade chocolate cake with white cream cheese icing on Friday morning, so dessert was ready! It was a loud, chatty meal with food going every which way, and kudos to the cook (s). We met Sam's new girlfriend (Jess) and she got a real good dose of my family on a Saturday night around a table of food and Big Mom after a couple of glasses of wine. It was as great as any Holiday could be and will only be better when the whole "fam damily" is together. Next time. And I hope it's just as unprepared and that I roll with the flow as easily as I did this time. I learned a big lesson....Let the plans make themselves and just have the essentials handy...along with some red wine for Big Mom and a cooler of cold ones for the rest of us !!!
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