Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hog in the Bog Part 3

So the rain stopped, and finally got the motivation to go slop around in the mud at midnight or so.

We un-iced "Babe"...that's what Wayne named it and since he was the guest of honor at the party, it was his to name. We jabbed creole butter into as many nooks and crannies as we could. Then the I pulled back as much of the ham and shoulder skin as I felt comfortable doing and we liberally applied salt, pepper and rub all over Babe. Whole process really didn't take all that long

By the time all was said and done, it was a little after i 1am, and Babe made the leap of faith into the Kingfisher "Pigger" to undergo a transformation. Tossed on a couple pork butts as well, and in the morning, a couple turkey breasts went on too. For about the next 1.5 hours, we watched the cooker try to stabilize temperatures...but after some minimal fiddling w/ vents and burners we got an even 275° across the cooking surface.

Went to bed too late, thought I'd drink more adult beverage than I really did. The maiden voyage with a new cooker is always fun. The unknowns are fun to adapt to, surprises keep it fresh.

Woke up at 6am...not enough sleep. Boy is awake, and the dog is begging to get up. Try fighting it, no use. Tylenol, coffee, and pop-tarts stir Joey and Wayne back into action.

Finally peeked at Babe, and was a different pig. Must have been a little steamed because Babe had smoke billowing from its ears and through its nostrils. Bet I took 25 pictures trying to capture that that...nope, sorry about that.

Weather had changed, was sunny, very cool, and gale force winds. Didn't really put it together until we tried putting up the 20x20 canopy...HA! We improvised and moved to a different spot where it was sheltered from the wind a little. All the while, Babe was just laying around and smoking.

At about noon, Babe was just being kept warm...and by 3:30p, the guests were ready for the pig so my brother in law and I hauled him out and on to the table he went. The crowd gathered and interest level hit its peak. I was fascinated by the reaction of people. Some gawk, some cast knowing smiles...glimpses into their memory of the last pig roast, all mouths were open, either from hunger or from being appalled that they were actually going to eat an animal!!!

Having only done one other pig in my life, at this point I wasn't sure what would happen. I just acted like I knew what I was doing. Lifted the face up and the skin just pulled off in one big piece leaving behind some of the tenderest, nicest looking hunks of pork shoulder I've seen in a long time. At this point in time, folks just filed in, everyone looking for a hunk of meat. Was fine with us. Spent the next hour or so picking all these morsel off the pig, saving those special tid-bits for the cook and his assistant.

I've said many time that biggest allure of BBQ is its inherent ability to capture the essence of communal sharing, sharing of food, drink, good time, great memories, reminiscing with old friends, making new ones...putting some happiness in our bellies. The food is an important piece of this great time puzzle, but without the other pieces, its just another meal. And BBQ is never "just another meal". Least it shouldn't be!

My team partner had a great day on Saturday. My Father-in-Law had a great day on Saturday. But so did a lot of other folks including me. And you know its a good pig roast when the pig finds its way onto someone's head.

I used to wonder, why bother with the whole pig thing when pork shoulders and loins are so easy to cook and are so darn tasty. But the difference is the reaction of the people. Staring a carcass in the eye, knowing your about to devour elicits very interesting responses from people. From "Gimmie some piggy" to "I just have to turn and look the other way...don't want to think about it", those responses brought people closer for that afternoon. Great event.

The next day we had left over hog, only about 1.5 half pans though. Some of the family was stopping by the house for breakfast. What to make...hog hash of course, with scrambled eggs and beans. We were able to extend this precious family time a little longer.

Looking back, everything was a lot of work but the memories forged on May 16th, 2009 are there to stay. For me it was looking at my son's face when he first saw that pig's tongue. His squeamish delight at that sight was precious.

Plans are underway for the 1st anniversary of Wayne's retirement!

Joey Mac

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hog in the Bog part 2

We're here. Got to grandma's and grandpas and asked the kids "who wanted to see the pig". The boy, Cole jumped at the chance, the middle daughter said sure, the 13 YO, said no way.

Cole belly laughed at the pig...he was sticking his tongue out. Maura wasn't so sure, she became our photographer.

So we're off on this adventure...just drizzling right now, ground is, well a bog. Time to get to work. MOre later.

There's a Hog in the Bog

Alright...I'm sitting in my garage, watching the rain come down in buckets, trying to have a garage sale to rid our lives of old toys we don't use anymore. Morning was OK, but things are really slowing down. I guess it has something to do with people really don't like walking through rain storms.

Thought for a moment that the best thing to do was to crack open a beer and just chill for awhile...then I remember, we're driving to Peoria today. Why...christen our new hog roaster.

My competition partner retired back in February. We decided it was best to wait until the spring to have his retirement gathering. Also knew by then we'd have our hog cooker. Well one thing leads to another and now we're staring down the barrel of about a 120 - 140 person party tomorrow afternoon. What's for dinner...hog of course!!!

Here's the problem(s)

1) I've cooked one hog in my life. Turned out fine, but ended up having to quarter that swine and foil cause the cooker I was using was terrible. The meat got rave reviews that day, but I knew I could do better.

2) I'm going to use a cooker I've never used, matter of fact, the cooker has only been seasoned and cooked one pork loin. That's it.

3) Its been raining for what seems like 40 days. The yard is a bog. It'll be nice tomorrow, but all the work that needs to happen tonight is going to be very interesting. Its going to be messy.

And here's the kicker...I'm looking forward to this. It should be a blast. Sure might get a little sloppy (that's muddy not drunk) tonight, and storms are supposed to finally blow through about 2am or so. I've got to put food on the table at 3:00pm tomorrow. Expectations are high, margin for error is narrow. Sort of like a competition.

Will update over the next couple hours to catalogue this event.