A few weeks back, my friend, Nettie, informed me that she would be in town and wondered if she could “trouble me for some pork.” My wife and I have known Nettie since our time in graduate school here at U of M in the mid 90s. Based on our previous conversations, I knew Nettie meant that she would like some BBQ. As anyone who knows me understands, I am always interested in an opportunity to make some BBQ.
After figuring out when Nettie was going to be in town, I put out a call to the regular Porktacular crowd, since almost all of them have known one another (and Nettie) since graduate school. I knew that Nettie had not seen any us of on a regular basis and she has never met any of our kids, so this seemed to be the perfect group to bring together for a little celebration of BBQ. Then it was just a matter of figuring out a menu…
My specialty in BBQ is pulled pork, so I knew that would feature prominently. I had made a large batch of kielbasa just a week ago, so I thawed out two rings of this garlicky sausage that could be a nice appetizer (I smoked one ring and roasted the other in oven so people would have a choice). Knowing that there would be some in attendance who do not like pork (hard to believe, I know), I decided to brine and smoke pieces of chicken. An additional variety of meat that I knew would make a good appetizer was some of my home-cured guanciale. For side dishes, I made cole slaw and other members of the group brought a wild mushroom casserole, a cold, creamy zucchini salad and ham & cream cheese pinwheels. For dessert, we had my wife’s amazing chocolate chip cookies and this fabulous almond-flavored layer cake with the most buttery icing I have ever tasted.
Although there was a snafu in the timing of getting the smoked meats to the table, everyone seemed to get plenty to eat and enjoy what they got. Ultimately, it was a great evening of good food and good conversation.