The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for June 2010

The Mini-Butt

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This was supposed to be a triumphant post about how I so perfected my boston butt technique that I had to cook one two Sundays in a row. Instead, this has become more of a cautionary tale about my propane supply. Basically, my grill ran out of fuel sometime during the cooking process yesterday. I replaced the tank with a new one as soon as I noticed but I have no idea how long it went without heat. As a result, at 9:45 pm last night after almost eleven hours on the grill, the thing was only 180 degrees, 20 degrees cooler than ideal. We ate the thing and it wasn’t terrible but it clearly wasn’t all it could have been. So you won’t be seeing any pictures of yesterday’s effort but you will be seeing last week’s perfection.

It all started because my wife and I were on vacation all last week (more on that later). To kick off our glorious week away from the office, I made a 2.5 pound boston butt. It was by far, one of the best things I have ever cooked. I’ve cooked a few butts in my day but usually they’re 4 pounds or bigger. I think the smaller size may make for a tastier end product but that theory has yet to be successfully tested.

It all begins with a dry rub. I don’t measure anything and just eyeball it. Basically it’s a combination of chili powder, garlic powder, fresh ground pepper, seasoned salt, paprika and brown sugar, with most of the emphasis on the chili and garlic powders. Mix all that so it combines and rub it into and onto your boston butt. I also have a spray bottle filled with half cider vinegar and half apple juice that I use to spray down the butt every couple of hours. That helps the ‘bark’ get a bit crispier.

I preheated my grill using only my rear burner and kept the temperature between 225 and 250 degrees. Then you just leave the butt alone with the lid closed for several hours, in this case about eight, checking on it and spraying it down every couple of hours.

The beginning - 10am.

12 pm.

2 pm.

6 pm.

It starts being good eatin’ when the internal temperature of the meat hits around 195 degrees, but I definitely think it’s better around 205 or maybe even a touch longer. There’s a weirdly shaped bone in a lot of boston butts and that should come out very easily. One thing to note is that the meat will increase in heat very steadily but then will hold somewhere around 165 to 175 for a strangely long time. This is normal and after a while you’ll see the heat increase at a similar rate as before. This one got to a good 210 degrees.

At this point I always remove the meat from the heat and let it rest for ten minutes or so. Now if it’s done right, you’ll be able to easily separate each ‘section’ of meat while removing any remaining fat or gristle that are in between.

I prefer shredding or pulling the pork by hand. It’s just easier and gives the meat a different feel than if it’s cubed by a knife.

Now I put everything into a big bowl…

…and add some sauce. Some folks I know don’t like to add sauce until later but if you add it when it’s still hot and has been freshly ‘pulled’ then it sucks the sauce right in after you mix it.

I also tried something else for the first time. We had a good bit leftover so I threw it in a container and then into the freezer. After thawing, it tasted just as good as it did right off the grill. This was a total score. Let’s see what happens the next time I try it. Hopefully I won’t screw it up like I did yesterday.

Written by the bee dub

June 28, 2010 at 5:18 pm

The iPhone 4: Pre-order Denied!

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I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing my iPhone 3G and went online yesterday to try and preorder a new iPhone 4. Tried on both Apple’s site as well as AT&T’s.

The result? Negative.

Both sites gave me a message saying they’ve temporarily suspended online preorders. This continued throughout the day and even at 3 am, a mere six or so hours ago. My guess is they’re flooded with orders and requests. Hmmm, I wonder if I’ll get cold feet and just try to wait out the hype.

Written by the bee dub

June 16, 2010 at 9:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Teriyaki BBQ Chicken

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A while back, my friend Wired Tight mentioned that he used my Teriyaki Wing recipe for some regular chicken drumsticks. It was an inspired moment of genius. I had never considered using that marinade for regular, non-teeny pieces of chicken. So Wired Tight, this sip of beer is for you….Ah, that’s better.

This is another easy recipe that just takes some time. You need a good chunk of time to marinate the meat and another to slow grill it. It’s best to marinate the chicken overnight. I only had a few hours so it was good but not soaked with flavor the way I wanted. Part of the problem is that you need about three hours to slow grill it and that took time away from marinating. But that’s what happens when you don’t get your act together early enough in the day.

It all starts with the love juice that is teriyaki marinade. It starts with 3 sliced scallions, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of corn starch, a generous helping of hot sauce and a good amount of ground pepper. Combine that in a bowl.

Add a 16 oz bottle of teriyaki sauce and a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Mix well, making sure that all the brown sugar has dissolved completely.

For the chicken, I used 1 whole cut-up chicken and an extra package of 6 drumsticks. Ideally, I’d let this marinate overnight. This time around I only got to marinate the chicken for about four hours before I had to get it onto the grill.

Now I applied the tried and true slow grill method. Using only one (rear) burner of my grill, I get the temperature to about 225 to 250 (with the lid closed). I then place my chicken away from the heat. I put my breasts on first, by themselves because those need the most cook time. It goes on skin side up and then you never even touch it, not for hours.

Half an hour later I put the rest of the chicken on.

Give the chicken another two hours and twenty minutes on the grill. Then crank up the burners and flip the chicken over so it is skin side down for a minute or two. Then do the same for the other side. This will crisp up the chicken nicely.

When it’s done, the chicken is perfectly cooked; fat rendered out while tender and still juicy. You can cut down on some cooking time to make it juicier. The breasts have a tendency to become dry the easiest, by far. The sugar in the marinade can burn a bit too so be careful with that.

I think you can see here how easily some of the skin can overcrisp. Nevertheless, with a nice, cold beer, a piece of this chicken tastes like summer. Next time I’m definitely going to let this marinate a lot longer, not that I’m complaining. Grilled, marinated chicken is never bad, it’s really a simple question of how good it can really be.

Written by the bee dub

June 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Hermit Cinema: Spartan

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Val Kilmer has always been something of an enigma to me. Obviously talented, he’s an actor rumored to have driven some of his directors insane. David Mamet has also been something of a riddle in my mind. Again, obviously intelligent and talented – the author of the line, “Coffee is for closers,” perhaps one of the greatest single lines ever – Mamet sometimes come across as angry and bitter as that famed dialogue from Glengarry Glen Ross. So here in this one DVD, I scored a personal bonanza of Hermit movie mystique.

Score is a good way to put it. This movie was a great surprise. Taut. Suspenseful. Unpredictable.

The movie’s title comes from ancient times, when Spartan king Leonidas (this movie was made well before 300 made Spartan warrior culture fashionable) would answer a neighboring state’s request for military assistance by sending a single Spartan soldier.

The movie opens during a selection exercise for the Army’s elite Delta Force. Bobby Scott (Val Kilmer), or rather the man who uses the name Bobby Scott in the world of covert ops, is an operative and training cadre member who commands a lot of respect. Two soldiers who prove themselves capable during the exercise, Sgt. Jacqueline Black (Tia Texada) and Curtis (Derek Luke), make sure Scott understands that they’d love nothing more than to work with him on future operations.

On his way out of the training compound, Scott is summoned for a mission. The President’s daughter (Kristen Bell) has gone missing. There’s a chance she’s been shipped off into the human trafficking pipeline. (This movie came out well before Taken which has a similar premise.) The investigation is overseen by Burch (Ed O’Neill) and his 2nd in command Stoddard (William H. Macy).

Bobby Scott is the kind of super-capable covert agent authorized and willing to kill, maim and torture in order to accomplish his objective. He’s a shooter, not a planner, and he appreciates the clarity that comes with the role. Burch and Stoddard appreciate having a man like Scott on their team. Assisted by new Unit member Curtis, Scott tracks the girl’s movements and closes in on her location.

Not to give away anything that could spoil future enjoyment of this movie for others, I will say that from here everything gets turned upside down. It was a great ride and I sure enjoyed it. There are plot twists, cover ups and betrayals. The dialogue is sharp and gritty, just like you’d expect from Mamet. The melancholy musical score seems a perfect accompaniment to the unfolding action.

What really stuck out to me about this movie was how well controlled everything felt. Mamet shows a master’s hand controlling the actors and the tempo of the story. This is one of those rare movies that felt to be a perfect length. There was no fat anywhere and this movie clocks in at a healthy chunk beyond ninety minutes.

I can’t wait to watch this movie again. I give this movie an A-minus.

Written by the bee dub

June 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Carnitas Follow Up

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There was definitely way too much salt in that recipe.

We ate leftovers last night and they were good but definitely suffered from an overabundance of salt. Next time, I’m cutting way, way back. There’s no way it needs nearly that much in there.

Live and learn.

Written by the bee dub

June 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

OlĂ© Bitches…Carnitas!

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First, to begin with I have a rant. Memorial Day weekend at the supermarket is the amateur hour of grocery shopping. Like how posers who aren’t fun and never party go out full force on New Year’s Eve, the market is full of first-time grillers clogging the aisles as they wander and search for capers for the first time in their lives. Gee, that’s just going to make your tilapia just perfect right before it falls apart and disappears between the grates of your grill because you have no idea what you’re doing. Do ya pal?

(Alright, now I feel better having gotten that off my chest.)

Today, like ill-intentioned, pimple-faced teens heading to Tijuana, we take a quick trip south of the border…

Most times I’m at a good Mexican joint, I really like their carnitas. I knew it was a magically roasted pork of some kind and never looked into it beyond my taste buds. Recently for some reason I got the idea in my head that I should try it. It doesn’t look hard, at least not when you check out the finished product. Turns out authentic carnitas is pork roasted in lard. I wasn’t going to mess with that but found a recipe that gave me a good starting point.

It all started with a four-pound boston butt. Cubed that into two-inch hunks, trimming fat away as I went. I cut a LOT of fat away but made sure there was a good amount left. Then I seasoned all that with four tablespoons of seasoned salt.

In my dutch oven, which is my all-time Lou Gehrig fucking workhorse of all pots and pans, I seared the meat on all sides in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat.

This took a while. There’s a serious amount of meat, much like the pork stew I’ve made before. With all the meat set aside after searing, I poured in 3/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of orange juice and was able to stir up all the brown, blow-your-mind deliciousness stuck to the bottom.

Then I dumped in a handful of cilantro, six garlic cloves, a quartered onion, a sliced jalapeno and a teaspoon of liquid smoke.

Dumped in my pork and gave it all a good stir.

Covered my dutch oven and then took it outside to my grill. I had just the front burner on and put the pork on the other side. Covered the grill and kept the temperature at around 300 degrees.

Three hours later…we had ourselves a carnitas hoe down.

It was awesome. Fork tender. Well seasoned. Ready for a hot tortilla, a few slices of avocado and some hot sauce (extra on my wife’s).

Next time I do this I’m definitely going to do some things different. For one, there’s no way I need four tablespoons of seasoned salt for the meat. Next time I’m going to use half that, maybe even less. The other thing is the liquid that was still in the pot. Judging from all the recipes I saw, this dish is perfectly cooked when there’s no liquid left. That means either longer cooking time or hotter temperature.

A few beers and another serving of pork will help settle that debate.

Written by the bee dub

June 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Hermit Grub

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