Cows, Pigs, and Dogs...Oh, My!

Throughout this blog, you, my BBQ Brethren have been able to read about my progress in BBQ. One consistent side of this has been around family parties. Actually, this all started with a Christmas Ham. While I have cooked for every party since then, I have also upped my game considerably for each. So when it was time to plan the Middle School graduation party for my son, you could expect I would be cooking!

There are two things that made this party different from the others. One, there were more people. Two, this was not family alone, but friends too which spanned every age group. From little kids, to teens, to the old grandparents. Since this would be a horrible experience to have food not turn out, I needed to cook something I was comfortable with. While it would have been exciting to experiment, I opted for the safe route.

I decided that if I cook some pork shoulder, the adults would be happy. However, I couldn't exactly see a bunch of soon-to-be high-schoolers running around with a plate of pulled pork. So in addition, dogs and burgers were added to the menu. Now if you remember back to my pork shoulder experience, I cooked a half shoulder and it took a lot of time. Here, I needed considerably more meat than that. At the same time, I really could not envision getting up at 4 in the morning to start a cook. So I decided to cook two half shoulders. In the end, it would be a little less meat than a full shoulder, but much easier to schedule and survive the party.

For the burgers, I figured I needed just about as many as I did for the last party. The homemade method Mikey shared with me turned out great so I wasn't about to mess with the method. While I was planning, I decided it was time to just bite the bullet and order my own meat grinder too. That's right, 6 months ago I was floored at the idea that Mickey had one and here I was ordering one for myself.

This left the dogs. Now, this part of the cook is almost a filler. Something for the kids who don't care and don't want a burger. At the same time, this was my BBQ event, so I needed to up my game there. For this, I picked up a SlotDog. 

In the week before the party, I started buying up the meat. I got two 5 pound shoulders, 6 pounds of chuck roast, a pound of bacon, and a bunch or hot dogs. Outside of that, the typical crazy party cleaning commenced. Soon we were on the eve of the party. the house was ready and it was time for me to begin the food. 

I set up my new meat grinder attachment on my trusty Kitchenaid mixer and got ready to begin. I cut the chuck roast and bacon into small chunks and laid them out. From there, I simply began to grind them. I made an effort to mix in the bacon periodically throughout so that the grind at least started somewhat mixed. After the first grind was complete, I mixed it by hand and threw it in the freezer to give my mixer a break. After it cooled down I began the second grind. I would have thought the fact that I was grinding meat in my own kitchen was odd, yet it felt completely natural. With the 2nd grind finished I began making the patties.

There I was. Everything was as prepped as it could be. There was nothing left to do, but try to get some sleep before my BBQ SuperBowl began. I drifted off with dreams of fire, smoke, and meat. Beautiful meats being cooked to perfection by legends like Mixon. No, wait. I love BBQ but it is not what I dream about...yet.

The next day arrived and it is a whirlwind of activity. In an effort to avoid delayed food due to stalling, I took careful planning in when I would start the cook. I started in the morning with giving the shoulders a generous rub with Meat Church's Gospel. Once that was complete, I set them in the freezer and set up the cooker. For this, I was doing the same thing I did with one shoulder, only now for two. I got the kettle up to 250 with clean white smoke from the apple wood and got the shoulders on the grill.

With nothing to do outside of waiting and monitoring temp, I began working on the rest of the meal. I cut up some cole slaw and started rubbing the burgers with Southern Links BBQ Burger & Sausage Seasoning. I added some charcoal to the fire and waited some more. As time drew on I continued prep. I added Historic BBQ dressing to the slaw and began to use the SlotDog on all the hot dogs. 

At this point, I fired up the PK as well. The goal was to have the pork finished cooking and resting by the time the dogs and burgers made it to the grill, but to be safe I figured I need a second cooker at the ready. No sooner than I got the PK to temp, guests started to arrive. Now it was go time. One of the shoulders was finished so I let it rest in the cooler while the second one caught up. 

I started to sear the first round of burgers on the PK while also laying out the dogs on the indirect side. Just after searing the first set the other shoulder was complete. So now I let everything on the indirect side of the PK continue to cook while I finished searing and cooking the burgers on the kettle.

With everything else cooking I started pulling the first shoulder. About 3/4 of the way through I had to pull burgers and dogs. So I quickly pulled them and put them in the cooler. I finished pulling both shoulders and finally set out everything else. I took a moment to breathe and smile at the feast of meat I had completed. 

The food was amazing! I could have cooked the dogs a bit more but it didn't matter. They were great, everything was great. Looking back, this idea of I should have everything ready at the same time was a bit flawed. It created a stressful finish with a lot of running around. In the future, I would probably want to pull the pork and have it ready in the cooler while I finished the burgers. But at the end of it, I pulled it off. Afterward, the pork was gone. Actually, only about 4 burgers and a couple dogs remained. Not only did I feed an army of people but I gave them more than food. I gave them something they will get at no other party. That, is pretty damn satisfying. 

The only issue I have now is continuing to out do myself. The bar is set pretty high so for this next round, I will have to come up with something great!

Until next post, remember kids.....CHUNKS not chips!