In Quartermaster’s Domain, the words “Pellets”, “Electric” or “Gas” are Anathema

When it comes to true, honest barbecue, the surest sign (and only advertising required) that it is the “real deal” is the smoke that announces itself. In culinary terms, the white smoke of barbecue is the “Habemus papam” of carnivores. If you stand outside “Joe Bob’s World Famous Texabamalina BBQ” and do not smell delicious vapors wafting forth somewhere overhead, you have arrived at a den of thieves and house of liars and you should quickly run, run away. 

Since such places are few and far between, and since I live in a state that produces a passable tri-tip but pork not so much, I am my own pit master. But, let’s be fair. There’s the way it has always been done (TM) and then there’s the way to cheat and pretend. 

Exhibit A:

I’ve written of this beast before. I make pizza in it. It’s a mess. I bought it for $200 five years ago and can’t find another one. When it finally falls apart I’ll search for the rough equivalent or move on to a cut open metal barrel. 

There’s two sides for cooking. Doors on the front for adding fuel. No gas, no pellets, no electricity. You start a fire on one side, you tend it, you can fit 4 shoulders on the other side, or 6 racks of ribs. 

Yesterday (Saturday) I started it around 1pm and smoked three racks of ribs for 6 hours. At 8:00pm I put on four pork shoulders, an checked the coals and wood every 90 minutes through the night (well, I check it at three-hour intervals overnight). Twenty hours later (with temps on the meat side ranging 200-225) the shoulders are done. 

Meanwhile, I feel like I’m on vacation. Shortly we’ll eat like (medieval) kings. 



New Blog Feature: Adventures in Pork

Hooray! Salumi was Slaughtered this Week!
Salumi is my pig. One of the pigs in the picture. I don’t know which. I love each of them as though they were Salumi. The picture was taken quite a while ago. Salumi is no salumetti anymore. He’s quite the coppa now, or rather, was. And, he — or she — I assume he — was slaughtered this week! Yesterday, I called the butcher with instructions and I’ll likely pick him up late next week!

My wife has a friend and colleague who has a place outside town where they raise chickens, goats, pigs and cows. We recently bought half of an unnamed cow from her that turned out to be a great value, and extremely high quality. The beef is very tender, quite lean, and has a beautiful claret color (almost like venison) that looks nothing like the bright red cuts you find at the meat case. When she asked us if we wanted to buy one of her pigs, I nearly sprouted wings and started floating toward heaven aloft the incense of hickory and fruitwood.

Pork is incredible, and I’m expecting that such a carefully raised animal like Salumi will be some fantastic eating. I’m already imaging what I’m going to do with the meat. Smoked shoulders. Guinciale. Ribs. I’m actually going to make salami!


Please stay tuned for an ongoing blog feature called “Adventures in Pork”, or perhaps something more creative, if I can think of something more creative. I’ll be detailing what becomes of Salumi. For one thing, I am NOT having the butcher smoke either of the hams. I’m going to salt-cure them myself and make two beautiful hams in the style of prosciutto or Serrano out of them. Hopefully I can have some special things ready in time for Christmas!