Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Things People Do

Several things happened since the last post here, most importantly me becoming a father.  On June 24 I witnessed the birth of my first child, a healthy girl weighing in just over 8 pounds.  She arrived about 10 days early so my family leave started a little ahead of schedule, meaning I'm off through the middle of July. Now I know how teachers feel.

Anyway, one of my coworkers for the past year, a Baby DA who filled a grant position in my office, is leaving this week after the funding expires.  According to long-standing office tradition, anytime there is anything significant in someone's life, we have either treats (trial win, work-related anniversary, etc.) or a "pig out" (leaving the office, birthday, etc.).  Tomorrow is the pig out for my coworker, a proud Southerner from Knoxville, Tennessee.  Given the circumstances under which he leaves, he requested "comfort food" as a theme.

There are two coincidental events justifying me bringing something: Birth of child and 10-year anniversary of working for the State of Wisconsin.  So, in order to meet the theme and celebrate my personal milestones, I agreed to cook a pork butt. 

I prayed for good weather, and realized while at the hospital last weekend that early leave was perfect for an overnight smoke session, resulting in pulled pork for the office lunch.  I did some research, and decided to use my smoker to cook two Boston Butts totaling about 15 pounds.  Sam's Club provided the bone-in butts, and internet forum searches led to a recipe for rub, mop, and treatment.

Yesterday I made the rub, which is a nice combination of sweet and heat, and applied it to both butts this morning.  Here's the "before" picture of my rubbed pork -- that's a 9x13 baking pan for reference:

With the pork prepared, I had to set up the cooking equipment.  I used a Brinkman "Smoke 'n Grill" I bought at a garage sale about 6 years ago:

Following advice from an internet forum, I layered charcoal briquets and chunks of oak and hickory in the fuel pan of the smoker:

Placing the pan in the bottom of the smoker, I lit the starter coals in my chimney:

Assembling the charcoal, grates, and water pan, the smoking began promptly at 5pm:

A friend of mine arrived after about an hour, so I lifted the lid to show him the setup:

The cooking continued past nightfall, and eventually I was alone on the patio.

After 6 hours, the time came to rotate, switch, and flip the pork.  This is just before swapping the lower and upper pieces:

As I write this, it is 3:11 a.m., and other than ensuring the charcoal doesn't burn out, the hard work is done.  I'll tend to the smoker until the meat reaches 190 degrees, which should be around 9 a.m.  We'll hold the meat in a cooler until I can get it to work and pull it apart for what ought to be a delicious and special lunch.

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