Friday, September 14, 2012

Manly Man Pig Roast

We decided in honor of the start of football season to have a pig roast.  It was the most American thing we could do.  Pig roasts aren't nearly as common as they were when I was growing up.  Our neighbors had a pig roast every summer, pig roast for weddings and reunions, and about any occasion.  But it seems the tradition has fallen off in recent years.  So we hosted the first annual Porkapalooza

There are several methods to roast a pig, none of which are easy.  We followed a recipe and methodology we found online.  Three Cuban Guys that have been on the Food Network several times roasting pigs among other Cuban dishes.  I figured if they were good enough to roast a pig for the Food Network then it would be a good enough system for us to use.

 The instructions said to build a pit or a fire box out of dry-stacked cinder blocks.  We didn't want 50 cinder blocks hanging out in the yard till next year so we decided the easier route would be to dig a pit.
 The pit is roughly 5ft by 3ft and about 30 inches deep.  We made the rack out of 1/2 inch rebar that you can find at any local lumber store or concrete supply store.  But most Lowe's and Home Depot's don't carry the 10 ft long pieces.  We held the pieces together with annealed wire that is normally used to hold rebar together in construction and should be easy to find when you pick up the rebar.
 To make a better cooking surface and to keep the rack out of the dirt we lined the edge of the pit with concrete pavers.  Then got the fire going, we started with a 20lb bag of charcoal. I recommend going to GFS and getting their charcoal as the briquettes are much larger.  I believe Wal-mart also sells some of the larger sized charcoal.  We bought 100 pounds, but only used 60.
 We bought a pig from a local farmer and it was considerably larger than what we thought it would be, pigs are deceptively dense.  We decided to only roast half of it based on the number of people we had showing up.  We had the space and the means to butcher our own pig, though I would not reccomend it as there is a steep learning curve to learning butchering.  Most butcher shops should be able to get you a whole pig of what ever size you need.
 We wired the pig into the rack, this is the reason I liked this style the most is the pig is sandwiched between two racks.  So to turn the pig you flip the whole rack over and it keeps the pig from falling apart trying to move it.
 Once the coals burned down we used a rake to pull them back to the ends, you don't want any of the coals directly under the pig.  It essentially makes for indirect cooking which is much better for low and slow methods like this one.
 We put seasoning salt on the meat side and put it on the grill.  We started it skin side down so the skin would hold the juices in better.
 We covered the rack, pig and pit with two pieces of roofing tin to help hold the heat in.
Half way through we flipped the pig to let the other side cook, The smell alone will let all your neighbors know what is going on.  The skin crisps up and essentially becomes cracklins and if you like pork rinds you'll love the skin.  We served the pig on the ract on top of some saw horses and let everybody dig in.  About 35 people showed up, and The first annual Porkapalooza was a success.  Hopefully we can keep doing this every year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Manly Man Trip To Minnesota

Now if that title isn't alliteration I don't know what is.  Recently myself and 3 of my buddies went on a expedition to Minnesota, the land of manly men.  We were set to do a 6 day canoe trip through Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  What started as an 18 hour marathon of driving to get to our outpost town to the outfitters ended up being an amazing journey.  We arrived in Ely, Minnesota around 6:30 am Central time just as the outfitters were opening up shop.  We rented canoes from Wilderness Outfitters and we were all set.

We put in at Entry Point 30 on Lake One, this makes it easy for navigation as we traveled into Lake Two, then Lake Three and making camp on the eastern end of Lake Four.  

The weather did not look good on Lake 4, a good storm blew through just before dark and rained all night, luckily we were so tired from the drive we hardly noticed.
 Chad, setting up tents and generally being chad.

 Dinner the first night was a bit extravagant, we had frozen steaks and brought potatoes to bake in the camp fire.  Nate is holding the tongs I made from splitting a stick.
 Monday morning the bad weather gave way to beautiful skies and some scattered clouds for our paddling to Lake Insula making camp on a large Island on the north shore of the lake.
 Last September a forest fire (caused by lightning) had burned most everything along our path.
 The fire had burnt south leaving the north side of Insula untouched, it is amazing the power of nature.

At our camp we found a strange rock structure built in the water in front of camp, I assume it was built for a fish corral, but Chad decided it was built for use as a hot tub.  
 Tuesday morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise drying the dew off of our canoes.
 In true manly man fashion, we heated up rocks on the campfire and placed them inside the "hot tub", it didn't really make the water hot but with the view and a cold beer it didn't really matter.

On Wednesday we decided to paddle up the Kawishiwi River to Alice Lake.  Paddling the quiet waters of the river made it seem like we were voyageurs paddling in an ancient foreign land.  
 The best part of the day was catching the biggest bass of the trip, a 20" smallmouth.

We paddled back towards civilization and spent our last two nights on Lake Two, in the evening the wind laid down and the water turned to glass.  It gave a reflection so clear you couldn't tell where the earth stopped and the heavens began.

This is a truly wonderful place, kept pristine and wild so that you can get a true sense of nature and of a time long gone.  I have been here many times but each time is a little different, and each time a little sweeter.  Making you appreciate what precious few years we get to spend on this earth.

Stay tuned for the next trip to the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Blog

This is the start of something bigger, a self realization, a journey to becoming a more manly man.