Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Missing Church and Barbequing!

It was a beautiful morning and the aroma coming from my smoker was almost heavenly. Most Sundays at this time I would be in church, but I was home tending to the barbeque I had started cooking the previous evening. This was mother's day and we were having the kids over for lunch. I was about to remove the pork shoulder when I heard footsteps on the walk way leading to my back yard deck.

"We just followed the smoke," one of the two men said as I noticed pamphlets in their hands. "It smells wonderful!"

They were men from the church just up the street, who were canvassing the neighborhood and handing out flyers, no doubt looking for sinners that weren't in church on Sunday. I opened the lid of the smoker grill so my visitors could marvel at the pork shoulder that was almost ready to take off the grill. They were properly impressed.

For a few minutes they forgot the nature of their mission, as they asked me questions about how I cooked the roast. It isn't difficult to convince someone that you're an authority on barbeque, when the aroma coming from your grill is so appetizing that it makes your knees weak and your mouth water.

I told them the pork shoulder had been cooking for about 13 hours and that I added new charcoal every 2 hours or so, keeping the temperature as constant as I could so the meat would cook slowly and evenly. About 3 hours before I take the meat off, I liberally baste it in a vinegar based marinade; not very hot because there are those whose stomachs are touchy about spicy foods.

They wanted know about the wood chunks they saw in a bucket on the deck. "After I get the charcoal burning and beginning to turn gray, I throw in a couple of hickory chunks mixed with a little oak wood so the hickory won't over power the taste of the meat," I explained as I quickly closed the lid of the smoker. I didn't want to lose any of the heat.

I gave them a short lesson on different woods that can be used for smoking. I use hickory a lot because it's plentiful in my area and I don't have to buy it. Ever once in a while a limb will blow off a hickory tree near me or neighbors will be thinning the trees on their property and I'll cut the wood up into chunks. I let the wood dry before I use it because green wood tends to make the meat slightly bitter.

I also use pecan wood because it's another hard wood that makes the barbeque taste great as long as you don't use too much. If you do, your meat will taste like the ashes of an old campfire after a rain. In this case, a little is a lot!

Fruit woods such as cherry and Apple are good, but I rarely use them because I like the taste of hickory smoked meat. Besides, I don't like to spend money when I can get all the wood I want free. If you want to sample some of these exotic scents, just use search the internet and you'll find more types of wood for smoking than you could ever use.

We talked a little longer about various kinds of grills, from barbeque smokers to stainless steel propane gas monster grills. We all agreed though, that the only way to make great barbeque is with a charcoal grill and chunks of hickory and oak.

It wouldn't have been neighbor-like not to offer them a piece of barbeque before they left for greener pastures. With barbeque sauce dripping from their chins, they left to continue their work at the next house down the street.

Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:

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