at $3 a pound, you can't go wrong with pork. Summer means barbeque. To some people, barbeque includes anything cooked on a grill. To me, barbeque means pulled pork. Blame it on my Southern upbringing. I was raised in a state with more pigs than people. My first job was in a barbeque restaurant that smoked pork shoulders by the dozen. A pig-pickin' was an acceptable meal at a high-end wedding.
My preference is for Lexington-style barbeque, which is slathered in a vinegar-based "dip" and piled high on a Wonder-style bun, or in a tray, with a roughly equal amount of cole slaw, and some hush puppies on the side. If authentic, it will be washed down with a tall glass of sweet iced tea.
Procuring my particular brand of barbeque has proven challenging in Bend (no offense to Baldy's, whose food I love). So my husband bought a smoker a few years ago, and we started making our own.
The sun came out briefly a few weeks ago, so we decided to host the season's first bbq. When I asked the butcher at Newport Market for ten pounds of pork shoulder, his eyes lit up. I thought he would jump for joy. He sent me shopping for a few minutes, and when I returned, he had hog-tied and packaged two beautiful, pink pig butts.
At home, I brined them in a mixture of salt, sugar and water for several hours before placing them in the smoker over alder wood chips and basting them every hour or two. At bedtime, we set the alarm and got up in the middle of the night to tend the meat and smoker. By the next afternoon, when we took the shoulders off the heat, they were falling-apart tender. Using the back side of the cleaver, we "chopped" the barbeque and served it on buns, with cole slaw, to a dozen guests. When I went to put away the leftovers, there weren't any.
Smoking your own pulled pork is time-consuming, but relatively simple. If you don't already own a smoker, it's easy to build your own with two large clay pots. Put the charcoal and wood chips in one, and place a grill grate over the top. Turn the other pot upside down, and place it over the meat. Baste every hour or two, and add charcoal and dampened wood chips as needed.
For authentic Lexington-style bbq, baste the pork butt with this dip recipe, and serve with this tomato-based cole slaw. The barbeque and slaw should be eaten together, as in both in each bite. Add extra dip to the meat if you like; your bun should be just short of soggy.
Fair warning: pulled pork barbeque is highly addictive. Once your friends try it, they'll never miss a barbeque at your house again. No matter how many pounds of pork you smoke, they'll eat it all. Fortunately, at $3.00 a pound, you can afford to feed the masses, even when they pig out.