7.6.10 Up in Smoke
Low and slow, that's how we cook it. Our two 12-pound Boston butts from Dickson's, rubbed with a heady mix of chile powder, cumin, brown sugar, salt and cayenne, were on the smoker by 10am the morning of the 4th. G actually prefers smoking on the Weber, because it retains the heat much better, but ours is just not big enough to accommodate all that pig. Several hours of smoking over hickory and apple wood, a couple in the oven, an hour to rest and then G and Philip were up to their elbows chopping barbecue. I almost fell flat on my face in the kitchen, the floor was so slippery. After they pulled and chopped the smoky, fatty pork, I doused it with an Eastern North Carolina hot sauce made from vinegar, Tabasco and red pepper flakes. It's an irresistible combination: salty, tangy, spicy, smoky richness. Then this gets piled on a cheap, soft potato roll, smothered in pickles (dill or bread-&-butter, your choice), with perhaps an extra dash of hot sauce, and you've got some authentic barbecue. A high-falutin' roll is not welcome; you need something that breaks down easily and sops up all that juice. And though we don't do white flour in our house, this is a worthy exception.
As for sides, we had a classic, finely chopped green cole slaw with mayonnaise; a purple slaw with japaleños and cumin-lime dressing; fresh peas with radishes, preserved lemon and mint tossed with buttermilk; kale chips; and jícama with chile and lime. A little while later, we passed out ice cream sandwiches—triple chocolate cookies with homemade raspberry or mint ice creams. Sadly, my popsicles (coconut-lime or rhubarb-orange) had softened irretrievably due to some strange freezer anomaly. Drinks? you ask. Check in tomorrow, and I'll fill you in on how you can get three bottles of Hendrick's gin to disappear in no time flat.SPICY CHILI RUBfor one 8-pound pork buttSpicy Chili Rub1 tablespoon ground black pepper1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper2 tablespoons chili powder2 tablespoons ground cumin2 tablespoons dark brown sugar1 tablespoon dried oregano4 tablespoons paprika2 tablespoons kosher salt1 tablespoon granulated sugar1 tablespoon ground white pepperMix all ingredients in a bowl then massage well into meat. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. For strong flavor, the butt can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.SPICY LIME SLAWserves 10-12This slaw is great with barbecue but it also goes well with roasted goat or fish tacos.1 large, firm head of organic purple cabbage4 jalapeños1 cup cilantro leaves1/2 cup fresh lime juice1 tablespoon ground cumin (freshly ground is ideal)2-4 tablespoons olive oilsea saltHalve and core the cabbage, then slice as thinly as possible. Pile into a colander set over a bowl or in the sink, and toss with 3 teaspoons of salt. Let this wilt and drain for at least an hour and up to 3 hours.Meanwhile, stem, seed and mince the jalapeños. Chop the cilantro. Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and toss well with the other ingredients. (I use my hands.) Taste for seasoning, and add salt or more lime juice as needed. You can chill this, or serve it at room temperature. If you are making it hours in advance, I recommend tossing with the dressing not more than an hour before serving.