By Nick Kindelsperger The smoke billowed out the side of...
The smoke billowed out the side of the grill, casting a haze over the small deck of my sister's house. It smelled of sweet wood, pork fat, and vinegary sauce. I listened patiently to Hank Williams, drank cheap beer, and thought about starting my life over. Why am I wasting my life doing anything other than this? I could sit around and smoke meat for the rest of my life. Honestly, I'd never felt happiness like this before. I hinted at this with the bacon post, but there is real pleasure in smoking meat. And that pleasure is multiplied the longer the operation goes on. It only gets better.
Now this feeling of ultimate satisfaction occurred before I ever even tasted the meat. This just proves the what a crazy business barbecue actually is. I think other people have caught this bug. From the number of barbecue places popping up in the Midwest, I'd say that nearly everyone who has eaten good barbecue has dreamed about the slow life of cooking it for a living.
But cooking great barbecue is not simple and it is not easy. That's what I've learned while flipping through Mike Mill's Peace, Love, and Barbecue. I've tried a few simple recipes from the book, but without proper smoking equipment I couldn't really delve in. But with the grill already smoking with some of my American bacon, I decided to go all out and make real pulled pork.
My last attempt at making pulled pork sandwiches was high in enthusiasm but abysmally low in finesse. All I had was a little hibachi grill that I fueled with some self-starting charcoal. The charcoal would spend its fuel after about an hour, so I'd have to remove the meat, dump the used charcoal, light some more, wait 20 minutes until it had ashed over, and then set the meat back on and start again. I had no idea what the temperature was, or what the meat should look like. Despite all these inadequacies, the meat tasted real good, and was a hit for a backyard grill out.
But I didn't want something that tasted good, I wanted ethereal barbecue, the likes of which I have only tasted on very rare occasions. Instead of the North Carolina style of my last version, this is from Apple City Barbecue in Southern Illinois. It has a balanced sauce, that is slightly sweet, tangy, and loaded with...well, apple.
This version was not executed perfectly. I'm not sure that can be done on a gas grill, but it is such a vast improvement over my last attempt that I felt like documenting every second.
This recipe is obviously not quick, and it can seem overwhelming. It has 22 individual ingredients, takes two days of down time, and 5 hours of constant watching on the grill. There is a rub, a mop sauce, AND a barbecue sauce. If you're like me, you'll want cole-slaw on it, too.
But, like I've mentioned before, there isn't really anything as comforting as watching smoke pour out the side of a grill, especially when that period of time lasts over 5 hours and I have my two favorite dogs in the world to keep me company. Oh, and in the end of this process you'll have some of the greatest pulled pork sandwiches you've ever sunk your teeth into. Sound like a good day to you?