Family dinner's not the same around here while the bigger kids are camp. It's just the three of us--mom, dad, and 4yr old (that's 4 and three-quarters, she would add) and it's hard to get all worked up over the meals, especially in this heat. Still, it's a worn-in routine to eat dinner together. During this past, sultry hot week, we've been cobbling together simple meals of salads or picnic foods like pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes, which are prefect now. "Like candy," said a friend of mine. I think we did "real cooking" once with a flash, pan-fried trout fillet and stir-fried spinach. Stove was on for maybe 5 minutes.
But this Saturday, in an effort to boost the small number at the table for a festive weekend meal, we invited neighbors over for dinner and my DH continued on his quest for perfect BBQ. He takes his BBQ seriously. He has a Big Green Egg, he makes his own rubs, he is particular about the wood charcoal. I think the resulting BBQ meat is always delicious and amazing, but he often seems unsatisfied. Even though he might have been cooking a chunk of beef or pork for maybe 5 or 6 hours, he says, wistfully, "It's just not long enough." But he dutifully and reluctantly takes it off the fire so that the rest of the meal can be commence before 9pm at night.
On this Saturday, he was determined to truly do a slow and lo BBQ and cook it for as long as it needed. He started the fire at 6am, hoping that today 12 hours of low cooking on the Big Green Egg would enough. It was. The most beautiful and buttery pork BBQ he has ever made.
Though not the centerpiece, my quick and easy sides were also appreciated. This pasta salad has lots of fresh vegetables and crunch, which feel desperately needed to counterbalance a heap of BBQ. Add a big green salad and fresh bread to round the meal. We had peach cobbler for dessert, cooked on the grill for a truly summertime finish.
How to Make BBQ Brisket that Doesn't Suck on Serious Eats, James Boo. 07.21.10
Ahh... Summer Food, vintage eatdinner.org, 06.08
Recipes: Both recipes are adapted from the Peace, Love and Barbecue cookbook by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe
Lazy Slow and Lo BBQ (hardly a recipe)
Pork Shoulder, with Bone and skin (7-8 lbs)
Rub (buy or make)
Grill and enough wood charcoal
Though it cooked 12 hours, he only had to check it a few times to add more charcoal and test the temperature.
Pasta Salad Primavera
(vegetables and amounts can vary based on availability and preference, but try to add a lot of veggies!)
1 lb pkg of dried pasta, tri-color if you prefer
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
1/4 cup of chopped scallion or sweet white onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup of chopped carrots
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of fresh black olives (optional)
1/4 cup prepared Italian dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of milk
Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain. Mix in a large bowl with the vegetables. (If using frozen vegetables, do not cook, but run under cold water to thaw. If using canned olives, run under cold water to remove metallic taste.)
In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients and toss with pasta and vegetables. Add more or less dressing to your taste. Chill for at least one hour or overnight if time permits. Add salt and pepper if desired.