Here are some things I want to remember about what I did this time for the next time:
- Marinate overnight: apple juice, a little brown sugar, cumin, onion powder, salt, Goya adobo.
- Start out with hot charcoal fire in the firebox, let it burn down till the briquettes are mostly coals, then add soaked hickory chips.
- Do not trim off any of the fat. Put shoulder fat side down on the grate to start, then flip it after a couple hours.
- Keep the temperature at 200 to 225 degrees: When the coals are white all over, add a few more fresh coals and a handful of soaked wood chips. If it's cold outside, be sure to do this before the smoker temperature drops at all, and before the old coals are totally white; otherwise it'll be hard to maintain the heat evenly and the new coals won't light very easily and things will suck for a while.
- When the meat registers 170 degrees, keep going for another 1 or 2 hours. Those last 10 degrees, as Mr. Chalmers warned me, are the toughest, but they're worth it.
- Boil a few cups of the marinade for 10 or 15 minutes with some chile flakes, then strain. Add about three times as much cider vinegar, and some more chile flakes. This should be about right and all the sauce you'll need.
The coleslaw was good too, though I'm no connoisseur of the stuff. It was just green cabbage (no carrot or other useless crap) with a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, salt, and a little sugar. I like it with tons of cracked black pepper, so I put some in my own servings. Also made some cornbread muffins.
Our friend Regan came out to watch the Florida-Georgia game and hang out and drink beer and Argentinian wine and throw the football around out in the yard. Along with the wine, she brought pretty little turnips from Athens Locally Grown, for which she volunteers each Thursday, and made a delicious turnip salad: blanched cubed turnips tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cumin, paprika, and parsley. It was amazing, and went so well with everything else you'd've thought we'd called each other beforehand.
Dessert was creamy cold jasmine rice pudding with caramelized bananas, a Martha Stewart recipe that I would say is too fussy except that the results are always so worth the trouble that I can never bring myself to skip any of the steps. It's here, and you should try it sometime. The bananas take on this strange texture, and somehow taste alcoholic, as if they really do have rum in them. Weirdly addictive.
It was a happy, fun day, and I'm glad it lasted as long as it did.