Would it be sacrilegious to talk about making baked goods on the Altar of Meat? Asking for a friend.
All kidding aside, it was a successful cooking weekend at AoMHQ. Started by making pizza, topped with pepperoni, green pepper, and mozzarella. That served as supper on Friday. I’m amazed at how easy it is, especially when you’re using a pizza stone. Ours is one that my wife picked up at a Pampered Chef party years ago and has languished in the closet since. It’s nice in that it has a metal rack that it rests on and also acts as a handle when you need to remove the stone.
Saturday was the day of the pork.
I have a checkered history with pork shoulder. Basically, it either was too dry or too moist, too spicy, too bland, and the last effort, while having great bark and smoke ring, was torpedoed by inferior meat. As in there was so much gristle that it wasn’t worth trying to pick edible stuff.
I love LOVE Costco meats. Most times, the prices are great, as is the quality. When I did brisket, they were selling USDA Prime for $3.99 a pound. The USDA Choice was $6.99. I’m taking advantage of that, no question. This time, I picked up a boneless pork shoulder (herein referred to as Porkzilla). I normally buy a bone-in shoulder, but figured why not? I rubbed Porkzilla down with Traeger’s Pork & Poultry rub, let it set up in the refrigerator for about 90 minutes, then off to the grill. I don’t like my grill to get too jacked up, so I threw Porkzilla in a hotel pan and this way it didn’t fill up the grease trap.
One of the things that the Trager Shop Class taught me was that it is better to go straight from the refrigerator to the grill… that way the meat gets more smoke. I loaded the hopper with hickory pellets, set the Timberline to 225, pressed the Super Smoke button, and settled in. I was heading out every 45 minutes to spritz with some apple juice, watching as the internal temp climbed toward the magic 165. I should add that one of the bad things I was reading in Timberline reviews was that the temperature probe was not accurate. I checked the probe temp with my other thermometer and found that the difference was 1 degree. I can work with that.
Once the internal temp hit 165, I added a cup of apple juice to the pan and tightly wrapped the tray in foil. From that point, it was just a waiting game.
Temperature did not plateau, just gained steadily until I got the alert that the temperature had reached its goal of 204. The temperature was there, but was the quality?
I took the pan inside, donned my low-budget gloves, and went to work.
It was yummy.
The meat came off the fat cap easily, was tender and juicy, and had flavor. There was even a smoke ring. Good bark, great color… it was everything I had dreamed about.
Covered up the meat and threw it in a cooler to rest.
Pro tip… if you don’t have some crazy expensive temperature holding cabinet, take a cooler and fill the excess space with towels, blankets, whatever. Just don’t be concerned if said towels continue to smell like meat.
From application of the rub to putting the finished product in the fridge was around 15 hours. Yes, it’s slow, but you really can’t beat the taste of slow-smoked meat over wood. We had some of the pork for lunch yesterday and it even reheated well.
The aforementioned baked good was buttermilk cornbread, which I did in a Lodge cast iron cornbread pan. This is the size of a standard skillet, but subdivided into wedges. Heat the Traeger to 400, preheat the skillet for 10-15 minutes, pour your batter into the preheated skillet, and let it bake for around 20-25 minutes. The beauty of the cast iron is how easily it releases. You just need to remember that you don’t want to run it through the dishwasher. Gentle soap and water, rinse, and dry immediately.
The cornbread came out with a lovely golden yellow color, with great mouth feel. It was dense without being heavy with a touch of sweetness. For the next time, I’m thinking of a honey cinnamon butter to really knock it out of the park.
Grilling efforts continue tonight with wild Alaskan sockeye and some ginormous seas scallops. Haven’t decided how to make them yet, but I’ll be sure to write about it.