An Archeological Dig Through the Freezer and a Foil Boat Life Raft

There’s something comforting to me about a full refrigerator, a full bar and a full downstairs freezer. There are probably a lot of people like me in this way.

Stuff gets lost, though, and every so often it’s worth using what’s oldest to play down the inventory until I have only the meat supply of a small grocery store.

That’s how I happened upon a brisket point from 2019, now nearly old enough for Kindergarten. I took one look at it and realized why I’d never used it — it was probably the fattiest piece of meat I’ve ever owned. I’d wrapped it in plastic wrap, then into a freezer bag, so I didn’t think I’d ruined it.

It looked slightly the worse for its cryogenic vacation, but I was in the mood for brisket so I defrosted it over three days and put it on the Big Green Egg. I trimmed a lot, and it went on at about seven pounds, rubbed with kosher salt, coarse black pepper and garlic powder.

I had been wanting to try the foil boat method of finishing a brisket, championed by Bradley Robinson, whose YouTube videos are fun and instructive (to me, anyway). You can see his whole explanation and a demonstration here:

I just did the point this time, but I thought it would be a good test of the method. The method turned out pretty great, even if the beef itself was well past its, well, prime.

I smoked it at 275F for about 4 1/2 hours until it hit 165 degrees, then I put it in its boat. Three hours later it was at 203 and I pulled it, let it cool down to about 150 and then put it in the toaster oven at 150 for another 90 minutes until we were ready for dinner.

The bark was great, as you’d expect because it had been uncovered, it was nicely moist and the fat rendered very well. But I have to say it didn’t taste like much except for the smoke and rub.

It’s going to get cubed and turned into burnt ends tonight, which I think will improve it.

So if the purpose of a science experiment is to gain understanding, I would say that for me, foil boat seems to be a good way to deal with brisket, and I might try it on pulled pork butt, too.

But there is a right way to age beef, and it’s not four years in the freezer.

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A bite of the past, in present tense

Monday, Aug. 14, 2023

When I was a kid in New York about 60 years ago my grandmother in the Bronx bought crescent-shaped cookies that were gently crisp and had a licorice-y taste. They were Stella D’oro anisette toasts, made in the Bronx then, probably not far from where my grandparents lived. They were heavily advertised on the radio.

I didn’t know from cantucci, which is what Italians call the crescent, twice-baked cookie we call biscotti; I just liked them. My grandparents had them with coffee, I with milk and even though they weren’t particularly exotic or expensive, I only had them in the mornings at my grandparents’ apartment, usually while my grandmother listened to “Rambling with Gambling” on WOR.

Stella D’oro anisette toasts are still made, although no longer in New York and three owners later. A couple of years ago I thought about them again when my wife, Janet, was served an anisette cantucci with her coffee at a restaurant in Cape May, N.J.

“I can make that,” I said when she declared how much she liked it. Here’s a link to my favorite recipe, from Sally’s Baking Addiction, probably my favorite resource for sweet things:

It’s a vcry easy recipe and has the additional advantage of being quite low-fat for a cookie, using only a half-stick of butter and a tablespoon of oil for 18 cookies. Sally doesn’t like anise, but I do, so I find that adding a tablespoon of anise extract or a couple of tablespoons of Sambucca will give the licorice-y flavor I like.

When made correctly they’re very crisp — hard, even, asking to be dunked in coffee — and not overly sweet. Follow the recipe and you’ll do fine. Two instructions I sometimes ignore, and am always sorry when I do:

  • Wait 10 minutes after the first bake before slicing the logs into the cookies before the second bake. If you don’t wait long enough the cut sides will crumble under your knife.
  • Don’t slice the cookies more than one inch thick. If you do, the sides of the cookies will be brown before the insides are completely cooked and they won’t be crisp.

The website recipe calls for a chocolate dipping with additional finely chopped almonds. Chocolate doesn’t do much for me and I’d rather avoid the extra 50 calories, so I usually skip that.

We freeze them, taking them out for company or liberating one when the spirit moves. They take well to experimentation — some folks like to put raisins, dried cherries or chocolate chips in them and I’m sure there are recipes for chocolate biscotti, which I’ve seen in bakeries.

I’ll take mine this way, or plain vanilla, even omitting the almonds if I feel too lazy to toast and chop them. Either way it’s a great cookie, easily made and even though it’s only reminiscent of the Stella D’Oro Anisette Toast I loved then, it’s still a sure-fire way for me to get back to my grandmother’s table where I sat so many years ago.

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Nuts to You (in the Best Possible Way)

The more I think about the dishes I like to cook, the more I realize that I most enjoy the low-effort, big-return recipes that make a party a little more special.

This spiced nuts recipe comes from my brother, Ed, who used to make this in commercial quantities for a small supermarket in Washington State. It uses three pounds of nuts, but can easily be scaled down, and the nuts will keep for weeks in a tightly sealed container or in the freezer for several months. And the spice and sweetness levels can be adjusted to your taste, too, of course, but we think this is a reliable starting point.

The recipe calls for walnuts, but I’ve also made it with pecans. Peanuts (skinless only) would probably work, although I haven’t tried them. Next time I make this, I’ll probably try a mix of nuts.

I’ve made this recipe several times, every time a hit. The key is to keep the heat low, stir every 10 or 15 minutes, and give the nuts the time they need to dry out before taking them out of the oven. Do that, and you can create an easy, signature snack for your parties.

Ed’s Spiced Nuts


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 egg whites from large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 pounds walnut halves or other nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare two half-sheet pans with parchment, which will make cleanup much easier.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and water until frothy.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, smoked paprika and ground cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps.
  4. Add nuts to the egg white mixture and stir until coated well and evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the nuts with the sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly.
  6. Bake at 300F in a single layer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are dry. Give yourself some time, as it could take longer.
  7. Remove from oven and separate nuts as they cool.
  8. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl or container(s) for storing or freezing, breaking up any that are stuck together.

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In Which Our Novice Baker Finally Achieves The Bagel Of His Dreams

For the last three months or so I’ve been trying to make bagels that taste good, replicate the texture and chew of those of my long-lost youth, and look pretty much like a bagel should. Go back a few posts and you’ll see one that looks like it came from the croissant factory. Not good.

But now, I think I’ve got it:

Today’s batch, onion on top, plain on the bottom. I’m happy with them, and I’ll be very satisfied if I can do as well from now on.

These are sourdough bagels, no yeast at all. They have just a little bit of tang that balances the malt in the recipe, and best of all, they are as chewy as the bagels I teethed on as an infant during the first Eisenhower administration. Really chewy.

In fact, it’s said that when teething I gnawed on a single bagel for a month, which would say as much about parenting in the ’50s as it does about the bagels, but my family is known to exaggerate.

These bagels came not from the excellent yeast recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction I used earlier, but from, and you can find it here: If you’re not a sourdough person by all means use Sally’s recipe.

Because I can’t stand not tinkering with stuff, I do have a couple of tweaks to the baked-theblog recipe:

  • The only tricky part with your sourdough starter is making sure it’s quite active when you’re ready to use it. For me, that would be four to six hours after feeding it. But it can work well if you feed it the day before, let it sit out until it perks up, then refrigerate it until the next day. At worst, you’ll have to let the shaped bagels proof for a longer time, up to four hours after shaping them.
  • The recipe also calls for all-purpose flour. I think the bagels are better with bread flour, which is higher in protein but these days may not be so easy to come by. I used Heckers all-purpose flour, which is 11.5 percent protein, and replaced 40 grams of flour with 40 grams of vital wheat gluten, which is available online and in some groceries. This brought the protein content up to nearly 15 percent, and made the bagels teething-worthy.
  • Finally, the recipe equates 750 grams of flour to five cups. A cup of flour weighs 120-125 grams, so if you use cup measure instead of weight, by the spoon-and-sweep method you’ll probably get closer to six cups before you hit 750 grams. I say that when it comes to flour, it’s best to have a kitchen scale and measure by weight.

Still, I think that even if you use the recipe exactly as written you’ll come out with very satisfying bagels. Do remember that it’s a two-day process but I found that it works on whatever schedule I have.

This recipe makes the heaviest, stiffest dough I’ve ever seen. Your stand mixer will struggle, and might give up entirely. Kneading by hand will make today’s trip to the gym unnecessary.

In the end, there are a few steps but not all that much effort. And even though one can buy a pretty good bagel where we live, I can now say that mine taste better and look just about as good.

They are, at last, the bagels of my dreams.

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I Don’t Care If My Flour Tortillas Look Like Amoebas. I Am Never Buying Them At The Store Again.

I like flour tortillas. I’ve been eating them all my life. I’d buy them at the grocery and use them for Latin dishes, rolled sandwiches, whatever.

We’ve even used them cut with cookie cutters as a base for hors d’oeuvres. They can be a little expensive, maybe 30 or 40 cents apiece, but I never considered an alternative.

If I wanted a tortilla, I bought tortillas.

Not anymore, not after last night. Last night I made my own tortillas. The difference astounded me, and they were so easy that I wondered why I’d never made them before.

Last night’s batch, my first, were oblong and misshapen. And they did not fall flat on the pan when I cooked them, so they were wrinkled and lumpy in spots. On the plate they looked like a Mexican grandmother’s nightmare.

But they were so delicious that I didn’t care. They were nicely chewy, soft even after they cooled, and they held together well under last night’s fajitas.

I’m going to keep working at them and I know eventually they’ll look better, but I don’t know how I could ever make them taste better. They taste fantastic, in a completely different world than store-bought.

The recipe is here: and there’s even a video to go with it. In that video you will see Mely Martinez’s expert hands turn out nearly perfect circles of dough that puff up, blowfish-like, when they hit the hot pan.

Mine did that, too, but they looked more like amoebas with intestinal problems than blowfish. In any event, I’ll bet they tasted just as good as hers, and so there’s no reason for you not to make them.

Her ingredients are flour, shortening, baking powder, water and salt, and she says not to worry if you don’t have the baking powder. You do want to take seriously her admonition to go easy on the hot water. I used about seven-eighths of a cup and I should have used a little less. The extra made the tortillas a bit harder to roll, but didn’t bother me otherwise.

I looked around and found several recipes that used less shortening — one used only an eighth of a cup rather than the one-third in Martinez’s recipe — but I’m going to stick with the larger amount.

And I’m going to stick with homemade flour tortillas. They don’t take long to make and I discovered last night that they are worth every minute, no matter what they look like.

Posted in Baking | Tagged | 4 Comments

Let The Bagel Be Unbroken

Like everyone else I know I’m sitting at home, except for masked-and-gloved expeditions to the supermarket every couple of weeks. From the looks of things, everyone in the world has decided to take up baking when they are not washing their hands or going to the bathroom. Our markets have vast empty spaces where flour, paper towels and toilet paper used to sit.

I’ve been thinking if a guy wants to see immediate and sincere gratitude, the hot birthday present this spring could be a jumbo pack of toilet paper. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’m a meat guy and baking, like vegetables, has been off my beat. But we wanted bagels a couple of weeks ago, to replicate the deli experience we can’t have right now. I had some flour and yeast so I gave it a try. The bagels were OK, but far from ideal.

I wanted ideal.

My first attempt. Using the finger-poke method to shape them, the tops turned out OK but the bottoms were wrinkled as a Shar-Pei’s face, and a lot less cute.

On my third effort I hit on a really good recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction, here: I used her instruction for overnight proofing in the refrigerator, and they were delicious.

This is a great recipe and easy. I boiled the bagels for 90 seconds on each side, gave them their egg-white wash before baking and they came out perfectly chewy, with a slightly crisp crust. They taste just a little sweet like a perfect plain bagel should, and I think they taste better than any I can buy.

Shaping them, however, is killing me.

Bagel shapers seem be either pokers or snakers. Pokers make a ball out of each piece of dough then send a floured index finger through the middle and wiggle it until they have what they want. Snakers make a 10-inch-long rope of the dough, then fold it around their open hand and roll to seal.

My tops look fine when I poke the hole, but as I cannot get a perfectly shaped ball in the first place the bottom bakes up looking like a construction zone.

Snaking gives me good-looking circles before I boil them but once in the water they decide to turn into bagel croissants.

A croissant bagel is not what I'm after.

This is not what I want.

On this specimen from a couple of weeks ago, the ends came apart when I boiled it, and once the bagel is in the water there’s no going back. It tasted good, but I needed to do better.

Today I tried the method you can see here:

The technique in this video has you tie a little knot at the end of your rope, then press to roll everything together. I can see that I didn’t go quite far enough with my knot, and maybe not vigorous enough with my roll to seal, so I had a little unwinding in the water.

Bagel snakes. Looks like the two in the back are attacking each other. Gotta tighten my knot.

Still, I am encouraged and having fun. The bagels taste great and I think I’m closing in on the shaping. I think I’ll have it right next time.

As it is, I’ve learned something fun, useful and delicious.

And that absolute perfection might be overrated.

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In Praise of the Martini and its Essential Ingredient

Beefeater Gin, Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth, Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, three crisp queen olives, icy cold: My ideal Martini.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A man goes into a bar, orders a Beefeater martini up, with olives. The bartender puts a little skewer holding three olives into a cocktail glass, loads the shaker with ice and grabs the gin. He pours the gin into the shaker, stirs it and strains it into the glass. Then he dumps the shaker and presents the drink to the customer.

The customer says, “I didn’t see you put in the vermouth.”

Bartender replies, “Oh, we don’t use vermouth. No one likes it.”

Some bars don’t even keep vermouth anymore, and yet when you order a martini the bartender will serve you a glass of cold, diluted gin and charge you $12 just the same.

I say this is not a martini and this is not right.

The first time this happened I looked around the bar and into the adjoining restaurant. There were a lot of youngish people happily drinking drinks for youngish people, a lot of which had “-tini” at the end of their names. You know them: appletini, chocolatetini, flirtini, peartini, lycheetini. They seem to be named after the glass, which is elegant.

“A martini has vermouth in it,” I said.

“Not here,” the bartender replied.

This was an important moment for me, because I think it was the first time I ever felt like an old coot, one of those guys who will let the train of progress run over him before he will give up his grip on the glorious past.

I don’t care, and I don’t go to that bar anymore.

I think a martini has to have some vermouth in it, and I don’t care if you drink it with gin or its abominable vodka variant. A real martini has vermouth, and orange bitters, because a cocktail has to have three ingredients or else it isn’t a cocktail. It’s just a drink. You’ll hardly ever find a bar that will use the bitters, which add a slight but welcome citrusy sensation.

So, my favorite Martini is about five parts Beefeater Gin, one part Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth and a dash of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, stirred in a shaker and strained into a frozen cocktail glass.I find that four ounces, after ice dilution of about 20 percent, is a good amount because I’m likely to finish it while it’s still pretty cold. 

Better to have a second cold one than drink it warm, or drink a big one too fast. Even a short one has the alcohol of about three beers, so it’s well to be careful. If you know you’re going to have a second, dump the other half into a short glass and put it in the freezer until you’re ready.

And speaking of cold, try to keep your vermouth in the refrigerator. It’s wine, and it’ll oxidize if you leave it on the shelf. But it’ll be good to go for a month or two if you keep it cold.

Half an ounce of vermouth to 2 1/2 ounces of gin is a little too much for you? Start with a quarter-ounce; it’ll be extra-extra-dry, but still a martini and you’ll still get a little of the essential taste that made the cocktail the classic it is. You can work your way up, if you like.

Of course, life’s too short to allow someone you don’t know to tell you what or how to drink, so Rule 1 is to do what makes you happy. Not everyone’s standard needs to be the same.

But this is mine, and I’m sticking with it.

Do you like yours with a different gin or vermouth? Let me know in the comments!

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The Final Salute, with a reminder from The Department of It’s Always Something

Every so often — and not that often, actually — hard work, the generous and unstinting help of one’s friends and plain dumb luck give a guy as close to a perfect day as one can get. That’s what we got yesterday at the 10th and last Salute to Meat.

We had perfect weather for just about 100 people, and when Janet asked some them at the end which of the 10 courses contained their best bite, each course was well represented. This is what you want.

The situation didn’t look so sunny on Thursday night and Friday: Janet had come home from our vacation with a stomach issue that turned out to be diverticulitis. She was admitted to the hospital Thursday after developing a bad reaction to the antibiotic she was prescribed and didn’t get released until late Friday night, just 18 hours before the party.

In the meantime, our friends started calling with offers of help. Phoenix, who drove Janet to the hospital and stayed with her for hours on Thursday, returned Friday to punch out 3-inch rounds from soft tortillas for the pork belly course, and caramelized 10 pounds of onions for the steak.

Other friends Becky and Dan and Madonna and Steve called often to check in and offer help, came to bring coolers and other things you’d only need for the crowd we had expected. Janet’s son, Zach, who is the menschiest guy I know, and his girlfriend, Hannah, came early to help and led all the outdoor setup. And our friend Kathy came early and helped in the kitchen all day and evening.

These are the friends one wants to have, wonderful people pulling us to the finish line.

There were other, less dire challenges. The brisket was done six hours early, actually overdone when I woke up to check it at 3 a.m. Saturday. I foiled it, put it in a cooler wrapped in foil and towels, and put it on warming trays in the afternoon when its temperature started to drop too low. It turned out a little drier than I would have liked, but people came back for seconds!

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Brisket ready to be cut. That’s Janet in the black, with her back to the camera.

I also tried to grill too many 2 1/2-pound steaks at once, going for a reverse sear on two rack levels, and lost one steak in a flareup. There was still plenty that was perfect.

And I thought a few of the ribs were overdone — I like pull-off-the-bone texture — but they went fast and people asked for more.

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12 racks of St. Louis-style ribs, membranes removed, ready for rubbing

Aside from the ribs, the big hits seemed to be the pastrami Reubens and pork belly with gochujang sauce.

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Prepping the pork belly course

2019-06-08 18.57.00

Pastrami Reubens ready to go out. Someone said she didn’t like sauerkraut. We accommodate all tastes!

2019-06-08 16.23.44

Kielbasa picked and ready to go out, lamb just off the grill and ready to cut. The greenery is the mis en place for the deconstructed BLTs, ready for the piece of thick, home-cured and smoked bacon at the end of the toothpick.

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The two picnic shoulders, ready to pull.

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The pulled picnics, ready for sauce.

All in all, we were very pleased with the food, although Janet couldn’t eat a bite — she’s on a bland diet for a while.

But I’ll tell you what: I worked on the food for the best part of a week, thought about this party for the best part of a year. And here’s the image I want to remember:

2019-06-08 16.51.51

A beautiful day in my back yard, our friends having a good time. This is about half the crowd; there is another tent to the left.

Today my almost-67-year-old legs are sore. There is a little cleanup left to do, not much.

So, it was a wonderful time, a fantastic 10 years of feeding our friends, learning how to smoke, cure and cook my favorite meats. From time to time I would sing a song or two with the trio of our friends who’d play guitar and violin to entertain; I’d never done that before and I’m not likely to again.

I’ll remember the night in 2014 when the police came because we had been noisy outside after midnight. And the monsoon in 2015 when I pulled steaks off the Egg while wearing a slicker with someone holding an umbrella over me so the meat wouldn’t get wet.

There was last year, when the freezer died a month before the party and we didn’t know about it until 10 days later because we had been on vacation. Then lightning struck a tree on our front lawn the night before the party. It was great, anyway.

We thought last year’s drama had been had been pretty much the limit, until yesterday.

The thing is, there is no limit to what can happen, but neither is there a limit to what you can do if you have friends to help you.

On the day after a party like this it’s easy to wax nostalgic and imagine just one more party, one more perfect day watching Janet create a miracle in the kitchen — 10 courses in three hours — and seeing all our friends in our back yard in the sun, eating and enjoying themselves.

I might imagine it, but I’m never doing this again. Maybe we’ll find something else, a different menu, fewer people, a more relaxed day for us. It may be a different kind of perfect, but perfect nonetheless.

And for all I’ve learned about food and cooking in these 10 years, I’ve learned that the perfect party isn’t entirely about the menu. The food may have created the occasion, but our friends’ gift of their days with us has given us a collage of memories that will warm us forever.

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So Far, A Salute to Pork

2019-06-07 09.50.59

The two picnic shoulders after 17 1/2 hours on the smoker. They’ll rest for a while before I pull and sauce them.

The last two pork shoulders — these guys are picnics — just came off the Big Green Egg. They’re about 9 pounds each, with the bone, and I put them on at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. They went about 17 1/2 hours later with the pit temp raised to 250 after being at 225 until 5 a.m. I took them off when one was 195 and the other 198 internal.

I’ve also put away the last five pounds of pork belly, which I roasted this morning in the oven. I did 10 pounds last night. This morning’s will joined last night’s in foil with some of the liquid from the bottom of the pan, and will be heated and crisped tomorrow afternoon.

This roasted pork belly recipe is so good that the first time I made it for Janet she took one bite and then looked at me kind of angry, as if to say, “How do I know you for 13 years and this is the first time you’ve made this?”

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Last night’s roasted pork belly. It started out as 10 pounds, roasted another five this morning, just to be sure. Each of these pieces should make about 20 servings in little tortillas with gochujang sauce.

It’s really good and as easy as it gets and the recipe is entertaining, if pretty foul-mouthed, so be warned. It’s here:

The briskets will go on next, and I’m worried about them, as I always do, because somehow I always find a way not to play it safe. A few years ago I tried to cook two behemoths without trimming especially well and I got about 30 pounds of burnt offerings when the drippings caught fire. I’m more careful about trimming now, even liberating that pocket of fat between the flat and the point, but I’m worried that the two chests, which weigh 40 pounds between them untrimmed, will be too big for the two racks on the Egg.

The worst case will be that I take the points off and trim up the ends to fit, because it would be better to have not quite enough than to serve bad brisket. I could also smoke it on the Pit Barrel Cooker — I’ve seen videos that show a 16-pounder being done in six hours, but I have to say that the finished product didn’t look that good to me.

Anyway, enough of the Hamlet moment. I’m going to trim my briskets and see what I’m getting myself into.

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Cooking for 104

2019-06-06 06.30.53

There are 104 people who say they are coming to my house Saturday for the 10th and final Salute To Meat, and these two pork butts will not satisfy them.

They are only the start of the last push. Two more will go on when they come off late Thursday morning, because my Large Big Green Egg will not accommodate all of the 35 pounds of pork shoulder that I will pull and my wife, Janet, will serve on King’s Hawaiian Rolls with a little coleslaw. Those rolls are smaller than slider-sized, perfect for two bites.

I’m saucing the pulled pork with a traditional North Carolina vinegar sauce, for which the very easy recipe is here: If you follow the link you’ll also be treated to an exhaustive and very entertaining treatise on the smoking of the divine butt.

Anyway, the next two shoulders will come off Friday morning and then the two Prime briskets, which will weigh in at about 35 pounds after trimming, have to go on the Egg, and I hope they will be done by 7 or 8 a.m. on Saturday. If they are not, I have a couple of Plan Bs.

Also on the menu:

  • 12 racks of St. Louis style ribs, a little over 35 pounds;
  • 10 pounds of home-cured bacon, to be served as deconstructed BLTs;
  • 15 pounds of pork belly to be cooked in the oven then cut bite-sized and put in little tortillas with gochujang sauce;
  • 15 pounds of beef rib-eye and dry-aged sirloin strip, which Janet will serve with caramelized onions and blue cheese, on crostini;
  • 10 pounds of lamb leg, which I’ll grill Saturday after marinating in lemon, olive oil and rosemary. Janet makes a great spicy mango sauce for it;
  • Open-faced Reuben sandwiches with the 20 pounds of pastrami that I cured and smoked;
  • And my friend, Mike Schroeder, is bringing kielbasa from Bristol, Conn., which I have to dole out after grilling it at the beginning of the party, because it is so good that people will eat so much of it that they’ll ruin their appetite for the rest. I always swear that I will not give them more than 5 pounds of it;

So with the pork butt and brisket, call it 180 pounds of meat, give or take. Of course, there is a lot of bone in the ribs, but I think we’ll have enough.

I have a Pit Barrel Cooker, and plan to smoke eight racks of ribs on it Saturday, the other four on the Egg if the briskets are done early enough to give me a six-hour window before the lamb and steaks have to go on. If they aren’t, I’ll go two rounds on the PBC, pulling the first set off a little early to hold, then finishing them on the grill when I’m ready to serve.

Today I’m making the gochujang sauce for the pork belly, which I’ll cook tomorrow and Janet will crisp and serve on little tortillas cut from Mission Soft Flour Tortillas. The sauce recipe, which was intended for Korean fried chicken but is fabulous with pork, is here:

I’m also picking up the beer, wine and soda and the perishables for the sides. There will inevitably be some stuff I forget, and that I’ll grab Saturday morning when I pick up the baguettes for the crostini and the ice for the coolers.

So far we seem to have avoided last year’s excitement, when our freezer failed while we were on vacation and all the meat for the party rotted inside it, and a tree on our front lawn got hit by lightning the night before the event and nearly took out my car parked on the street.

But it’s a good reminder that anything can happen, especially when you’re smoking brisket and cooking for more people than attended your wedding, and so it is well to keep one’s knees loose.


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