Smokin in Texas

My husband has the smoker bug. For most Texans, BBQ is an obsession that borders right up to the scary side of hobbyland. Up till now we have “grilled” the occasional burger and hot dog feast, had a few flings with ribs and roasts, but nothing serious. But as I am now out of school for the summer and with the stated purpose of doing several days cooking on one day, we have fledged out of the casual smoking nest today by cooking both a six pound chicken and at least ten pounds of pork butt at the same time. I feel a need to emit some sort of Tim Allen grunting noise.

Now for my super meticulous guy, a man who gives mere meticulous a bad name, smoking can be a stressful experience. Our first smoking forays were all-day affairs filled with nervous glances at temperature gauges and refueling briquettes or soaked wood chips.

Today he (we) have developed a more “darn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead” approach and have arisen at 6:30 a.m. (did I mention I’m on vacation?) to fire up the giant smoky beast. After my husband’s secret-rub-mix tango, the meats are stashed in the hellish maw of the smoker and the lid gets CLOSED. Period. No peeking for at least a couple of hours. Right now the neighbors are getting the benefit of what I call “the drift”. The drift is that siren-call aroma you get when a neighbor is smoking or grilling something wonderful. The best part of our more laid back process now is that after getting the prerequisite smoke ring and texture change (about half a day’s maintenance), we happily stash all hunks of meat in foil covered pans into the oven to baste for several more hours in a much less temperamental oven. Hey, those hours of watching Bobby Flay have paid off. This is supposed to be fun, right?

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My part in this extravaganza is to make the sides, which for now include a giant casserole of “steamed veggies”, my mother’s recipe, which is basically sliced potatoes, onions and zucchini tossed with butter and salt and pepper and steamed in a foil pan in the oven. I also branched out to make an Alabama white sauce to go with the chicken. This is a vinegary, mayonnaise based sauce. We’ll see how that ends up. Southern Living says it’s great for chicken and who am I to argue with Southern Living? What does Southern Living say about food comas? We’ll soon find out.

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