Tue Jul 26, 2011
I look forward to nothing more in the summer than Carne-val, the celebration of all that is meat. I use this annual Meatwave as excuse to go all out, making meat in as large quantities as possible and then forcing the unhealthy challenge to try to finish it all. It's not coincidence that this year's menu was almost an exact replica of last year's, as I also like to make Meatwaver favorites like pulled pork and ribs. Loaded with over 25 lbs of meat, I set off to create another Carne-val to remember.
If there's anything I'm most proud of my ability to cook, it's pulled pork. That's why it was front and center for Carne-val, with two pork butts done up Big Bob Gibson style—that's injected, then covered with a sweet rub, and a basted with a spicy vinegar mop during a 16 hour slow cook. As banging as it always is, the only problem was for the first time, there wasn't enough left over for me to freeze and eat through the winter. Looks like another pork shoulder cook is in my future.
Next up were three racks of ribs, cut down to a St. Louis-style. I'm working on a recipe for these that I'm thinking will be my entry point into competition barbecue. As part of bringing that barbecue allure to my own work, I'm going to closely guard the recipe as a "secret," but I can tell you they're done with an ancho based rub, smoked over a mix of apple and hickory, then finished with a cherry barbecue sauce. There's still a little tweaking to be done, but I'm loving how they're progressing so far.
I'm so lucky to hit the nail on the head with my hush puppy recipe the first time I made them. I had dinner last night at a new barbecue joint in NYC that will remain nameless, and their hush puppies were gummy, soggy, and lacking flavor. In contrast, my hush puppies were light and airy, with a crisp crust and soft innards that had a pleasing sweet corn flavor. After this first batch, I mixed some chopped jalapenos into the batter, which resulted in an excellent variation.
I'm a big fan of vinegar slaws, but I felt like changing things up here and did a mustard-based dressing instead. I found it a much better topper for pulled pork than mustard sauce—it added a nice crunch with a mustard flavor that didn't take away from the porky goodness. This is going to be a recipe in progress, as I think if I were to dial back the mustard and amp up the vinegar, I'll have a real winner on my hands.
Mr. Blair brought a great compliment to the entire day, a cool potato salad. Dropping the mayo for a whole grain mustard made me like this right off the bat, but the real key was it was cold—something cooling against all the hot food on a 90 degree day was very welcomed.
Suzun also had the right idea for the temperature with a refreshing watermelon and haloumi salad. I picked at watermelon throughout the day, but I won't lie, once everyone left, I sat and foraged for all remaining pieces of that salty, squeaky cheese, making sure none went to waste.
Let's not forget the meatwads! A favorite from last year, they were destined to become a Carne-val regular. For the uniformed, a meatwad is a little smokies and cheese curd wrapped in a Pillsbury Crescent Roll and then roasted on a skewer over an open flame. Deceptively simple, they can be notoriously difficult to perfect. I myself lost 2 meatwads before getting one that was properly cooked, but the pain of loss was well rewarded in the end.
I've been thinking of ways to take meatwads into fantastic new directions—a meatball meatwad is a consideration for the next Meatwave. What you're looking at here is a meatwad with the addition of pulled pork, an idea successfully executed by Chris.
We had a special guest this weekend with Clair, mother of Meatwaver extraordinaire Lindsay. Longtime fan, first time attendee, you may remember her as the generous giver of DennyMike's Mesquit-O Madness Sauce. We were so glad she was able to make it before Lindsay departs to start her own Meatwave chapter in Chicago at the end of this summer.
It was a baby jamboree this weekend, with 2-year old Maximo, an unborn (but now born) Milo, and 1-year old Mia. Mia is seen here giving her new chompers a go at it with a rib, which got her smile of approval.
Also first timers, we got to add Adam and Claire into our Meatwaver family this weekend. You may know Adam from his work at seminal food blogs Slice and A Hamburger Today. He also gets an extra thanks for hooking me up with Serious Eats, where my work as a contributor for three years now has been the fuel to keep the Meatwave afloat in more ways than one. As you can see, he quickly became a master of the meatwad.
Here's Suzun, showing her own meatwad mastery.
Joe ditched the meatwad and did double dogs instead.
Carne-val started with the first early arrival ever (I think) and went into the night. It was that type of Meatwave that just kept going and kept giving one meat after another until no one could take it anymore. It's sad to think the highlight of my summer has now passed, but I'm left with nothing but fond memories and a grateful stomach. Plus there's still 5 more Meatwaves to look forward to!