I never dreamed of being the pork cook, but I am always up for a new challenge. So it seemed like the perfect time to take on another meat in our quest for BBQ glory. I’ve been our chicken cook since last July so adding pork gives me control of half our cook, which makes sense, as Mr. Freak and I have always been equal partners.
But this is pork. I’ll admit that meat feels a little daunting since it’s such a different cook. With chicken, each thigh is an individual piece that may or may not go into the turn-in box. We cook plenty of extras, so if I screw up a thigh or two or four, I’ve still got plenty to consider for boxing. Pork is different. It’s a big meat, so it takes longer to cook, meaning there’s more effort to make sure everything runs smoothly.
And that big hunk of meat consists of a bunch of different muscles, which all cook differently. Timing is everything in the tenderness game. And for me, boxing pork is intrinsically more difficult, because you may have one type of pork meat to box with, or two, or three if you’re lucky. And it changes from cook to cook.
Fortunately, I don’t need to learn a new pit. We’re already using Clownfish, our newest Hunsaker Smokers cooking machine for chicken, so I’ve got that down. Our plan is to continue to use Clownfish for pork in the early morning and then for chicken when pork comes off. That leaves Redrum and Pam for the rib and brisket cooks, respectively. It’s a massive advantage to be able to have three different pits running at three different temperatures as needed.
To prepare for this weekend’s doubleheader competition, we did a two-variate A/B test, consisting of 4 separate butt sections. We sampled a lot of pork that day, focusing primarily on taste. I won’t give away all the juicy details, but will say that we’re feeling good about the flavor profile we landed on. We hope the judges agree as they Taste the Freakage.
And as stubborn as I am to do the cook independently, I can’t deny the comfort that comes from having Mr. Freak as my pork mentor. We got this!
We’ll be putting Operation Pork to the test this weekend in Westmont, IL at the “Red, White & BBQ” competition in Ty Warner Park. Freak ON!
Smoke Freaks had a wild ride at our first appearance at the Masters in May doubleheader last weekend. We ended up 45th out of 56 teams on Day 1 -- aka totally smoked. We were disappointed, upset, distressed and pretty shaken up.
But somehow, we had to shake it off to have any chance of a good cook on Day 2. It took a lot of serious focus but we managed to pull it off. We danced and howled our way to the Reserve Grand Championship on Day 2 and our very first 1st place award (Ribs)!!
Here's what I learned from that experience:
10. Lock in 4WD before you drag an 8,000 pound trailer into the mud
9. The BBQ family takes care of each other
8. Get to "Walking Biscuits & Gravy" early
7. Mary makes the best Bloody Marys
6. Don't be downwind when Mr. Freak applies the Freakage Rub
5. Darren is the nicest guy in BBQ
4. The Matrix of Freakage works
3. Ask for advice and you'll probably get it
2. Be resilient no matter how badly you get smoked
1. Never give up on the box
We'll be back on the BBQ trail Memorial Day weekend at the "Red, White & BBQ" Competition in Westmont, IL. Until then, Freak ON!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Chicken cook and has fallen head over heels in love with P❤rk.