Monday, September 27, 2010

Holy Smoke!

This weekend I was asked by Lakeshore Christian Fellowship to smoke 280 lbs of pork for a youth fund raiser. I personally don't own a smoker big enough to handle that amount of meat (32 butts) so I contacted my friend who owns the Catchafire for Q BBQ team and borrowed his Lang smoker.

I enlisted the help of my wife and daughters. We went over to the church Saturday night and rubbed all 32 butts and took them out to the cooker. I got the fire going and by 10 had the pork on the cooker. They needed to be ready by 9:30 am to go to another campus and be ready for when first service was finished at 10:15 Sunday morning.

Before my wife left for the evening she asked me twice if I had enough wood for the cook. Of course I did.

The plan was to add wood every hour to keep the temperature between 225-250 degrees and spray the meat with a mop sauce (1 cup Apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup worcestershire sauce, Soy sauce, water and olive oil). Oh yes, and to stay awake all night.

With that amount of meat on the cooker, it was full and difficult to keep the temperature where it should be. I started to use more wood than anticipated. About 1:00 am I realized that I would run out of wood before the cook was done. Around 3:00 am my spray bottle broke so I could no longer mop the meat. Looking at the meat at 3 I wasn't pleased with it's progress. It should have been farther along so the only solution was to cook hotter which required more wood.

To stay awake I had my laptop with me and watched a few movies and also set the alarm on my ipod for each hour. I dozed here and there but never really fell fast asleep, so that was good.

At 5:45 I called my wife. "sorry I woke you but I need to get more wood." No "I told you so" or anything from her but a quick "we'll be there in a few." She is awesome!

By 6 I was worried the meat wouldn't be done on time. And had three sticks of wood left. My wife showed up a little after that and I put the remaining wood on the fire to stoke it up and we went to the store room and got some more wood.

With more wood and the cooker hotter the meat started to look like I thought it should. By 8:30 I was able to pull off eight butts that were closest to the fire and move the rest forward to get more heat.

After that everything went well. The church youth, my wife, and I worked to pull the pork and run the trays to the servers. The kids who helped were great and did a great job. Each of them was interested in learning a bit more about BBQ and the terminology used when talking about it.

Many of the people that ate thanked me and complemented me on the pork they ate. A few asked if I had a restaurant (I don't) and a couple wanted to buy full butts to take home. Thankfully there was enough that they were able to.

From a cookers perspective the event was a success even with the hic-ups we had.

So what did I learn from this?
  • Always listen to your wife
  • Take more wood than you think you'll need
  • Take a back-up mop bottle
  • More wood
  • Don't forget the charcoal to start the fire
  • Wood
  • Take more sauce than you think you need
  • Did I mention wood?
  • Have fun