Pork on the left, chicken on the right…

by zydecopaws on July 6, 2009

The 4th of July was more craziness with friends and family.  A lot of fun was had by all, no one was seriously injured (always a good thing), and we even got to hear about 50 people crammed into a kitchen chanting “pork on the left, chicken on the right”.  That isn’t something you get to experience every day…

Cooking again began in the wee hours of the morning; 4 pork butts were prepped and tossed on the big WSM around 00:30.  Smoke wood for this batch was a combination of apple and mesquite lump, and accompanied by some blue bag Kingsford charcoal.  By 01:30 I was satisfied that the temps was holding steady at 210ºF and went to bed.  Here’s a before picture:

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I think I am in love with my WSMs (my wife already knows this and keeps a close eye on me when they are around).  I went out to check the butts at around 08:00 and the lid temp was holding steady at 205ºF.  The butts were up in the 140-145ºF range and ready for mopping.  At this point I discovered that we were seriously short of apple cider vinegar, and although we had plenty of distilled vinegar on hand there was no apple juice in sight to make up the difference.  This is how new recipes are created.  Digging through the pantry produced a bottle of Sparkling Apple Cider, which was then pressed into service for the mop.  Talk about an upscale mop…

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The butts were done about 11:00, got pulled from the grill, wrapped in foil, and put in a cooler to rest.  How come the meat gets to rest and the cook doesn’t?  Here’s a close-up of the butts waiting for foil:

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Now it was time to focus on the rest of the food.  Since pulled chicken can be cooked on either a smoker or indirectly on a grill, I decided to put the Mothership into action since I was going to be cooking around 15 pounds of trashbag potatoes and needed a lot of grill space anyway.  I fired two chimneys of charcoal and added several sticks of apple for flavor, but left the mesquite off as I wanted to insure a different flavor from the pork.  Again, I deviated from my normal recipe (that happens a lot) and started pulling spice bottles out of the cupboard.  I laid the boneless skinless thighs out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled both sides heavily with a mix of finely ground sage, rosemary, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, granulated garlic, and a lemon-red chili powder.  16 pounds of boneless thighs went on the Mothership about 13:00; here’s a picture of what that looks like:

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Now it was back to the kitchen to make up 15 pounds of trashbag potatoes.  Since there were requests for original recipe, not only did I actually stick to it but an actual trashbag was put into service.  As you can see from the picture, 15 pounds of slice potatoes would never fit into a single vegetable bag…

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From previous experience, I knew it would take about 90 minutes to 2 hours for this many potatoes to fully cook, especially in baskets.  However, experience has taught me that the extra time it takes in the baskets more than makes up for the effort of turning all those slices a few at a time and sacrificing several to the BBQ gods that live in the coals.  I did have some room on the grill for one of the baskets, so I put them on right away.  Those of you that have been here before have seen this basket taking up about 1/2 the space on the Performer; this picture will give you an idea of the size of the Ranch Kettle and the sheer amount of food it can handle at one time.

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The chicken came of shortly after that picture was taken, somewhere around 14:45, and on went the rest of the taters.  It felt like I was using every grill basket I had to pull this off…

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I still had heat coming out of the WSM from the pork butts, so I added some more mesquite chunks and decided to cook the hot dogs on it rather than fully load the Mothership.  This turned out to be a great decision, as the hot dogs got rave reviews later for having such a great smoke flavor (not to mention nice grill marks).

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While the dogs and taters were cooking it was time to pull the pork and chicken.  Somehow I managed to get a picture of the pork and missed the chicken, so you might as well see the one I did get.

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Then it was back out to the grill to move the taters over the coals so that those who like them blackened wouldn’t complain.

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Now it was time to pack everything up and head over to Pigdog’s brother’s house.  Food was laid out on the counter, people were called in to eat, and Pigdog got up in front and made his now famous announcement at the top of his lungs, “OK, everyone, I’m only going to say this once so listen up. Pork is on the left, and chicken is on the right.”  At this point the crowd took their cue and began to chant “Pork is on the left, and chicken is on the right!”.  This went on for a few refrains, an impromptu chicken dance broke out, several people started oinking and clucking, and decorum went right out the window.  Good thing grace was said before the announcement…

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In case anyone is having trouble with the picture above, repeat after me: pork is on the left, chicken is on the right.  Repeat this while looking at the picture.  We assume most of you recognize the difference between hot dogs and pulled meat products; besides, they were all-beef hot dogs and shouldn’t create too much confusion.

After dinner we had plans as well.  When I say we celebrate the 4th of July, I’m not kidding…

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