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Part I - The Fire
This part seems simple but it is the key to successful long term cooking. Like tying on a fish hook, the details really do matter. Clean out your egg. Dismantle it and vacuum or sweep it clean. Reassemble fire box and fire ring make sure the hole in the fire box is squared with the bottom vent. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use anything but lump charcoal. NO fast start and NO briquettes.
Now you're going to think I lost it here, but open your bag of LUMP and separate the coals into three (3) piles. 1) large pieces 2) medium pieces 3) shake & dust. This last is usually left in the bottom of the bag of even the best lump.
In your sparkling clean fire box arrange the largest chunk dead center. This will be the last piece to burn up and, since it can't clog the bottom holes, it will allow the air circulation to remain at a relatively even rate during the entire cooking time. Place remaining large pieces like a jigsaw puzzle until it appears as even as you can make it with the large pieces. Next, fill in as many holes and cracks with medium pieces until it looks as even as you can make it. Then, using the smallest pieces, fill in more of the area. Last, take all that dust, for lack of a better term, and level out your bed of coals. (do not make a mound, just like I said LEVEL). Fill to the top of the fire box, but not above.
DO NOT LIGHT YOUR FIRE NOW. That will be the last thing we do prior to cooking and I will address that in great detail later.
We feel this method will start easily and burn at a controlled rate, and as the finer stuff on top turns to ash, most will remain where it was placed. It will be hard, if not impossible, to clog your air holes until the last of your fuel is gone. This gives us maximum cooking time and the hottest fire early when we need the unit to reach temperature soonest.
O.K. gang that is all for now stay tuned,
Part II - Rubs and Sauces
Here is where we will fight the civil war of flavors till the dawn of eternity and never agree on the out come. So here is my take on the real mystery of the smoke. My uncle was a restaurant owner and never added his sauce till just before you ate the pig. His was damned good pull if I do say so myself but he never thought enough of me to share his secrets. He did mop the main guest while cooking him to keep him moist. Since we do not have that problem with our tools I have varied my personal method two ways. This might seem like a lot of trouble but, if you have never tried it please make both finishing sauces the first time and eat a little of both. You may be like me and love them equally, like children, one better some days, the other another day, but you still love 'em.
You don't see mustard used in North Carolina like you do in South Carolina and, as that is JJ's and Mrs. Appledog's bailiwick, I defer that honor to them. (never used the mustard trick till I came here but that is another method, not mine.)
· 2 Tbs. kosher salt (NEVER use iodized salt, it ruins stuff)
· 2 Tbs. sugar (I prefer Hawaii raw when I can get it.)
· 2 Tbs. brown sugar
· 2 Tbs. ground cumin seed
· 2 Tbs. chili powder (pure not with garlic etc. added)
· 2 Tbs. cracked black pepper
· 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (there is no substitute)
· 4 Tbs. Hungarian paprika
· 2 Tbs. ground sage (my secret ingredient)
Makes 1 cup
Blend all. This you will use to cover the raw pork (we started out cooking the red coats in this country a couple of three hundred years ago and we still carry on the tradition today). Some say to leave it on and wrap it up for hours and/or days in fridge. Personally I have tried that but can not tell the difference when it has been on only 1 hour. So hay, if you're into waiting, God bless you.
(A)The Traditional North Carolina Sauce I grew up with.
This would be from my mothers side of the family who are a bunch of flatlanders near the coast. We only came down out of the hills to see them just enough to keep the peace in the family and my mother from running back home for good. She hated the mountains. We all loved her folks.
· 1 C white vinegar
· 1 C cider vinegar
· 1 Tbs. sugar (Hawaii style when you can)
· 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper (fresh ones split 2 of em instead soak 2 days or more is best)
· 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
· 1 tsp. kosher salt
· 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
Makes 2 Cups
Place in a bottle with small neck that will allow you to shake it out a little at a time.
(B)Western North Carolina (Piedmont) style sauce
· 1 C ketchup (Hot type)
· 1 C water (bottled plain if you have fluorinated/treated) yuck:~(
· ¼ C apple cider vinegar
· 1 onion chopped fine
· 3 cloves crushed garlic or 1 clove elephant garlic from Gilroy, CA
· 2 Tbs. brown sugar
· 2 Tbs. molasses (How can y'all have Mo lasses if you ain't had lasses da furst time?)
· 2 Tbs. dry mustard (Coleman's English double fine is good)
· 1 tsp.. cayenne or one fresh cut into ringlets seeds and all.
Simmer for twenty minutes over low heat.
OK. With (A) you can do two things. If you are going to use a rack and drip pan directly under pork place 1 cup of sauce in the drip pan. Not my favorite method, but hay, it has applications and you will not have to lift the lid to mop. Use the balance to eat just before serving.
(B) Also has two uses. The last 10 minutes of cooking time you can use it as a glaze. Again not my favorite but it looks good and taste good, I like to put it still steaming in the middle of the table and dip my piece of pork into it — kind of fondue style.
More about this later. Next time I'll be talking about the actual cooking of the pork in as much detail as I can stand. Well good night for now,
Number of Servings:
Time to Prepare: