Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I'm thinking about now that if my Texan friends knew what I was up to today they would be over this evening for some true barbeque. Smoked, for a looooonnng time, with the fire indirectly heating the meat (we're talkin' below 250 degrees,) and most likely involving mesquite, or a nice fruiting hardwood like oak.



Slow cooked, smoked meat......whenever I hear this, I don't really care what type of meat it is, I have faith it will be way tasty.

A number of years ago, a big-hearted Texan friend gave me some smoked pork, from her dad back home. Check this out D, she said. I gladly accepted a slice of something loin or chop like. I took a bite. I remember thinking "now how did he do that!" It was the softest, most tender piece of pork. Ever. I thought, self, you must figure out a way to procure a smoker. You must learn the ways of the great Texan masters. And thus the seed was planted for a future gastronomic experiment of mine, should I ever find myself the owner of a smoker.

Find I did.

Somewhere around six years later, St Patty's day of this year actually, I found myself chatting with a friend who said "hey, I tell you about my new baby?" (Our friend E, his wife, was very pregnant at the time, enjoying one of their last nights out, before the birth of their second child, so it seemed a funny question) No, I said. "I just went and styled myself with one of those ceramic smokers. I've had my eye on this one for a number of years actually, but it cost a few bucks....... so I finally got one." "Cool," I said, trying to imagine what a ceramic one would look like, since I had only been exposed to the drum/barrel type.....in fact, one at his house, in the backyard. "Hey, wait, don't you already have a smoker?" I found myself saying, not really thinking about a response. "Yeah, you want it?"

I thought, is it true, did he just say, do you WANT it? "Ehhhh, well, sure.....yeah......are you serious?" "Come and get it, and its yours. In fact, if you want it, could you come and get it this weekend?" "Sweet I'll put it in the back of my wagon." "No way it won't fit dude. It's about 5 feet long, with 3 foot legs, probably won't come apart ,and must weigh over 150 pounds. You're gonna need a truck." Truck? I thought. Tito! "Yeah, let me ring my brother in law and see if I can borrow his truck," I said. "You might want to borrow him too, if you can, for getting it off the truck at your house." I thought, what am I getting myself into here ? We picked it up the next day. Only then did I realize the scope of this thing. Sweet, my seed from long ago, has grown well and even fruited, and now I am coming home with the beginning of a new chapter in my culinary adventures.

So a few months later, this is what the thoroughly scrubbed and partially repainted smoker looks like while I'm starting it up, and getting ready to play around with some meat.

Todays course? Ahi, Ono, and I'm sorry if it offends some folks out there, but I like it, Tofu. The fish was brined the night before, with some measuring help from the monkey.

I just love this photo. Monkeys in the kitchen are a good thing, they remind us how everyday items can have new and exciting uses. This photo was from a while back but it illustrates nicely how measuring cups can be used for eye protection. As was demonstrated on this occasion.

The food was smoked with some almond wood. Reedley almond wood (I'll check with the source, but there is a chance it could be from a Texan variety of almond) The fish took a little over 3 hours, the tofu around 2. It was nice and brown, very smokey, and quite tasty. It looked something like this:

I promise to pay homage to my friend's father, and in the near future (okay, maybe a month or two) I'll share with you one of my ideas for getting pork to be, well, really tender, like, was that raw or something?, I didn't think you could get pork to be that soft.

Hatexacal=Hawaiian fish, Texan methods, performed by a Californian

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