Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

Guest Blogger – Curtis on The Meat Chronicles

Written by Patti on June 21st, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

I hope your weekend was sublime.  Mine certainly was – I spent the weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds Plantation researching a story for the debut issue of Design Is, for which I will be writing a monthly column called Living The Ritz Life. It’s a tough job, but someone must be in charge of reviewing the posh resorts and spa treatments. Of course I will keep you informed as we inch closer to the magazine’s launch in September.  Today I will be writing furiously so I can convey every detail of my visit to you. It is with extreme pleasure I reintroduce you to my friend, Curtis, the bon vivant of Adair Park, who will give you a no-fail recipe for pork. Curtis writes the often hilarious blog, Complete Waste of Time, wherein he regales us with tales from Atlanta. But today, it’s all about the pork. Take it away Curtis!

Meat Chronicles One

I am a man of many loves. If I were to rank them, barbecued meat would easily be in the top ten. There’s something primal and fantastic about slow cooked meat. This whole episode began a few weeks back when my friend Jay asked if I would help prepare some meat for his then girlfriend and now fiance’s graduation party. I being the meat lover that I am jumped at the chance. So much so that two weeks later I had my own smoker.  I took it for an inaugural run during Memorial Day weekend.  But that was only chicken.  However I have some swanky friends who are going to South Africa. Always one to attempt culinary shenanigans I decided to smoke some pork.  What follows is what I did to make tasty, tasty pork. If you are a vegan or vegetarian feel free to look away now, but I encourage you to stay if you won’t eat meat at least you can look at pretty pictures of meat. First thing I should tell you is that I’m a staunch follower of Alton Brown. I believe in following a certain process with large cuts of meat. The first step I always follow is brining the meat.  To make a long story short, brining means submerging meat in a saline solution. The salt in the water moves into the meat and replaces the water in the meat itself. I take advantage of this process by adding herbs and aromatics to get their flavor into the meat. So what goes into my brine? Glad you asked!

From l-r; sugar, beer, water, parsley, pepper flakes, whole pepper corns, pickling spices, mustard seeds, bay leaf, salt, lemon, garlic, and calabrese peppers

I bring the water to a boil and add the salt and sugar. The rest of the ingredients are added to the container that will hold the brine.  Brine can not be used hot, it must be used cold so I let it come to room temperature on its own or add ice to it to bring it down to the right temperature. I use a large cooler to do this.

Brine can’t be used hot, so I use ice to dilute the brine to proper strength and temperature. Also to save time and clean up I make the brine in a cooler the day before I need it. That way I can just add the meat to it and it doesn’t take up half my refrigerator.

I know you’ve been wanting to see this so here it is. The meat. Say hello.

Here we have two fantastic Boston Butts. Boston Butt is actually the front shoulder of the pig. The actual butt we call a ham. I don’t know the reason for this. But it’s great for smoking because it has lots of fat that breaks down during the smoking process making sweet, tender juicy meat. These two lovely pieces of meat made their way into my brining cooler.

While the meat is brining I took care of a couple of other steps. The first and most important was my dry rub. Here’s a look at the ingredients.

L-R; orange peel, garlic powder, cayanne pepper, paprika, lemon granules, oregano, chili powder, my own pepper mix, mustard, cumin, hot pepper flakes, garlic powder

Not pictured in this photo is salt. Because I didn’t leave space. I mix these in the proper proportions to get this!

Some of you might be asking; “Curtis! What about some amounts here?!?!” No chance I’m giving you that. One I don’t measure anything. I know what flavor I’m looking for and how to get it.  Two, even if I did know I wouldn’t tell you. I must have some secrets.

After the meat has spent eight hours in brine I take it out, rinse it off, and pat it dry. Once its dry I rub it down in the rub. I use lots of the rub. No nook or cranny goes unrubbed. Then I let it sit more. Approximately 24 hours more.

While that’s hanging out in the refrigerator I decided to make a sauce. I refuse to buy barbecue sauce. I make it myself. Its my thing. I don’t know why. This time I decided to up the ante by making a peach based sauce. There is no rhyme or reason than the degree of difficulty. Here are the ingredients I used.

This should be pretty explanatory, but the stuff in the spoon is paprika. Not pictured is the pepper mix from the dry rub. Everything gets added to the pot like so.

And lastly it gets blended together.

The fun part about this is playing with the proportions of sweet, spicy and tangyness. I like a little of all three so I had to constantly adjust it to get it properly “balanced”.  Still it wasn’t quite right. So I used another pan and toasted more of my three pepper mix and added that. I finally had the taste I wanted but the sauce lacked “body”. I can’t explain what that means, but you know it when you taste it. I fixed that by adding a little ketchup, I think about 1/4 cup.

Now with that done it was time to smoke the meat. It went on the smoker for 15 hours. 15 long hours with me getting up every 2 hours to check on it. Through a small design flaw and my own culinary arrogance I extended the cooking time longer than it should have been.  Another thing they don’t tell you about smoking meats at home, sleep deprivation. But rather than take you through all of that, how about some pictures of the finished product?

And finally, tasty pulled pork!

Thanks, Curtis!! That looks awesome!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to Will Smith – Summertime


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Pedro says:

    I agree. Amounts are overrated.

  2. Christy says:

    I love it – Living the Ritz life. If you ever have to call in sick, I will be more than happy to fill in for you 🙂

    Curtis takes amazing photos! Especially love the bobbing lemons and the spices – they look like dabs of paint.

  3. Chioke says:

    Wow, Curtis. You have really taken your love of meat to another level- you’re a professional now! The pictures look great, I bet the pork taste even better! Question: After you make the pork, would you recommend putting barbeque sauce on it and putting it in between bread (i.e. a sandwhich) or leave the bbq sauce off?

  4. Patti says:

    Just my opinion, but you almost can never have enough sauce, Chioke! ooxxo, P