Monday, April 26, 2010

On the Hazards of Multi-Tasking

So Friday night I head out for a work function related to Charlotte Food and Wine Week (tough gig).  I figure having done pork shoulder like 5 or 6 times now makes me an expert.  So I'm heading out the door and the dome temp is just a little cooler than I want it to be.  I give the bottom vent a little nudge to open it up--and just another nudge for good measure.

A testament to the loving forgiveness of the Boston butt is the fact that I came home around midnight--8 hours in to what I was expecting to be an 18 hour cook-- to find the dome temp at a fierce 400f and the meat is at (gasp!) 205f.

What to do?!

This post is about ways to totally screw up a cook and still serve it to a bunch of people without getting them ill.

So at around midnight I wrapped the butts up tight in some heavy duty foil--twice.  I wrapped them again in blankets and stuck them in an Igloo cooler.  All night I dreamed about ways I could have avoided such disaster.

The next morning--about six hours later--I stuck my hand in the cooler and inside the blankets to find the butts still hot to the touch.  This seemed like it had to be a good sign.  I wasn't sure what to do next with the pork, so I made slaw.  I have GOT to get a food processor.  Hand cutting all the cabbage, celery, onions, carrots and green pepper took for daggum ever.

So it's 9 a.m. and I still don't know what to do with the pork.  Is it still safe to eat after being wrapped up like this for 9 hours?!  I have no idea.  I stick my trusty Thermapen into each butt.  They're both reading 135f.  So what does that mean?  Dunno.  So I pull both butts.  Being the nice guy that I am, I try to eat a whole lot of pulled pork at 9 a.m. thinking that if it's gone bad, I'll get good and sick before dinner when everyone comes over for Greer's birthday and can advise them to eat the chicken instead.  So it all goes into a storage bag in the fridge.

Aside from tired and worried, I feel fine all day and decide that the pork must be ok.  Really the only thing is that it seems a little chewy.  It's really not bad, but just sort of chewy.

Are you the type of person who likes the idea of Two Buck Chuck (Trader Joe's famously cheap wine by Charles Shaw), but would rather drink beer?  

Behold: Red Oval Classic Lager!  

Available at Trader Joe's for $2.99 per six-pack this beer fits into any griller's budget.  And best of all, it's not terrible.  After our first sips Labon and I agreed, "It has some flavor."

Not only did Greer's birthday feature pulled pork and Red Oval Classic Lager, we feasted on deep fried chicken wings, chicken thighs and some salad (not pictured).

Because of all the other work (and worry) that had gone into the rest of our feast, the wings featured 3 different sauces from Buffalo Wild Wings.  We had the Honey BBQ, Mango Habenero and Caribbean Jerk.  All were very tasty, but I preferred the jerk sauce.

In fact, I used some jerk sauce on the chicken thighs which I rubbed with Papa's House Rub and cooked up using Papa's now-famous recipe.

The pulled pork actually got rave reviews.  If anyone got sick they didn't tell me about it.  The wings were a great treat while we waited for the thighs.  The thighs themselves were really very tasty too.
I'm sorry that some of my recent posts all look to be centered around pulled pork and chicken thighs (butts and thighs, huh?), but Greer specifically requested them for his birthday.  Besides this seemed like a great excuse to post about a major goof with the pork butts and see if anyone had thoughts or input about food safety when it comes to keeping something wrapped in foil for long periods.  Is 9 hours a record?
While I don't want to do that again, the pork is totally edible--enjoyable even.  Maybe I use a little extra sauce, but it made for good leftovers for dinner tonight.


  1. A great save... foiling is an amazing cure all

  2. I call that "nudge" of the bottom vent "the bump of death" because it seems to go from 250f to 450f when you aren't looking, lol. Of course if you were standing there and wanting the temp to rise, the same nudge would have no effect!

  3. Mmmm do I love some CHAR!!!

    Great to meet you tonight Gray!

  4. Dave, the foil saved the day no doubt.

    Chris, "Bump of Death" is now in my lexicon. I love it--and believe it. Nothing would have happened with me sitting there watching.

    Kath, Great to meet you too! Thanks for the pointers!

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