As I mentioned earlier, my grandson, Austin, told me he wanted to cook the Thanksgiving turkey on a smoker that he constructed. This past weekend he brought the oil drum cooker to the farm for a practice run on three different meats: a pork roast, a chicken, and some ribs.
To show I was into the spirit of the venture, I bought him a cookbook, Smoking Meat by Jeff Phillips. But we both agreed that the best advice came from several readers of this blog: “slow and low,” they said. That’s the secret. Long hours at a low temperature.
Austin began by applying a rub that he had concocted and by 8 a.m. on Saturday he had the pork in the smoker.
The smoker reminded me that my mother–and every housewife of the 1940s–had a Westinghouse Roaster oven. It was a sturdy, white enamel cooker with an aluminum, dome-top lid that was equivalent in price to buying a television set today. Ours sat on a metal cabinet base. I don’t recall her using it for anything but the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys. By the 70s it was a relic abandoned to the attic; today it’s a collectors item. But I digress. I promise a post on this another day.
Austin planned for the meat to hit its recommended temperature by dinner time, about ten hours later. Sure enough, it was ready! Not that there weren’t a few suspense-filled moments. When the contraption wouldn’t maintain its heat in the windy driveway, it had to be moved to the leeward side of the garage.
When the roast was brought into the kitchen, we all hovered around, inhaling the smoky, porcine flavor as we watched him gently pull the juicy meat apart with a fork.
When it came time to apply the sauce, he pulled out a bottle of Lillie’s Q Carolina Barbecue Sauce—a tomato and vinegar mixture with apple and lime juices. Lillie’s Q has two award winning restaurants in Chicago and others in Destin, Florida, and Brea, California. If you like a vinegar-based sauce–and I do–it’s a lip-smackin’ complement to a well-smoked roast.
By the time we got to the final offering, the chicken, we felt like tasters on BBQ Pitmasters. Obviously, Austin had been meticulous in his approach to the weekend cook off and done far more research than he revealed. His only concern was that the chicken might be a bit dry. I licked my fingers and shook my head. No one agreed with him on that.