Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lina and Ookie say goodbye to pork

That’s not quite accurate, as they’re still saying hello, over and over, to pancetta and bacon and sausages braised with plums. They’ve just recently decided that considering the environmental impact of meat, they will stop eating big, giant chunks of meat. But being who they are, they are saying goodbye with a bang. They said goodbye to beef in December with 20 lbs. of spareribs. And they said goodbye to pork this weekend with an almost 9-lb piece of pork butt.

When I told Lina I was coming to visit her this weekend in Providence, she immediately responded, “What do you want to do? Do you want to smoke a pork butt?” I love Lina. I told her I wanted to leave around 3 pm on Sunday and she said, “No problem, we’ll just get a small, 6-lb. butt and smoke it starting Sunday morning, have a late lunch, and put you on the bus.” But then we got to the store, and Ookie couldn’t resist buying a 8.75-lb. pork butt: “It’s on sale!” He brushed the logistical problems off, saying, “We’ll just smoke it overnight!”

He seemed so excited, I didn’t make my usual protestations as a houseguest who doesn’t want to make too much trouble. This is a guy who lives in a house with no walls, as they’re still renovating it, but owns a 100-lb. gorgeous smoker/grill. Lina and I went off to Boston Saturday night to see our friend Leslie, and as I hesitated over my second drink, wondering if I would be sober enough to rub the butt when we got home, Lina assured me, “You’re worried about the pork? The butt is rubbed!” And true enough, when we got home, the butt was thoroughly rubbed with paprika, cayenne, cumin, and garlic powder; there was a sauce pan of homemade barbecue sauce on the stove; and a bowl of vinegar-based “North Carolina”-style sauce for basting on the counter. I hope one day, like Lina, to marry a man I can trust to rub the butt while I’m out having drinks with my girlfriends.

The next morning, Lina told me that Ookie had gotten up at 5 a.m. to add more coal to the grill. I was so moved. By the time we woke up around 10:30, the fire had gone out, but we just reheated the pork while we roasted some brussel sprouts, made corn muffins (to make it seem more like breakfast), and tossed a green salad.

The pork butt was beautiful. It had a serious crust, excitingly spicy, with tender, fatty pink meat inside. I don’t think I’ve ever had a butt quite like that, not from Daisy Mae’s, not in Nashville. It was the most beautiful butt I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe how well-behaved their dog was, just lying there next to the table. If I were a dog, smelling those smells, I would have been going crazy.

The brussel sprouts were creamy and warm on the inside, the salad was simple and sharp, the corn muffins a little too sweet, but fun to eat. I felt so proud to call Lina and Ookie my friends, and thankful I was not saying goodbye to pork.

P.S. This is Ookie's account of what went into the rub and the barbecue sauce:

"i didn't exactly follow a recipe.

the rub was roughly 1-2 tablespoons each of

cayenne pepper
onion powder
black pepper

and 1-2 teaspoons each of

ground fennel seed
mustard powder (we didn't have any this time)
garlic powder

the barbecue sauce was

2 cups of ketchup
1/2 cup of molasses
1/4 cup of mustard

3 tablespoons of worcester sauce
1-2 tablespoons of onion powder (or a diced onion)

the rest was some combination of the spices used in the rub. previously, we traded some cayenne pepper for a couple tablespoons of tabasco."

Whatever you're doing, it works!


Leslie said...

i'm glad i was there for the farewell to beef (aka "short ribs, two ways") but pork is my weakness! will there be no more smoking of pork butts?

AppleSister said...

Lina, I think Leslie is trying to tell you something.

Lina said...

oh leslie - how could i deny you that? we'll arrange for an exception for you ... and michael. ;)