“Are you still living by Martha’s dictates?”
I’ve been asked this question in every interview and at every event since The Tao of Martha’s release.
I’m pleased to say that I am, although I’ve been remiss in documenting my continued progress. I guess I figure that once the book is written, my obligation to record events ends. Yet I find readers are still interested, so I’ve been rethinking that strategy.
Therefore, I’m delighted to bring you a new feature – Martha Monday! Every Monday I’ll post about some project/meal/various and sundry domestic accomplishment from my previous week. [JEN'S 2015 NOTE - YEAH, NEVER REALLY GOT AROUND TO DOING THAT.] Not only will this get me back in the habit of writing after a glorious summer off, but I'll be even more likely to stick with good habits developed during the Tao.
Or, things will go horribly awry and you can laugh at me.
Either way, it's win-win, yes?
Here we go...
My awesome friend Lisa bought a place in Connecticut a couple of years ago and since then, she’s hosted an annual weekend that’s come to be known as Bitches at the Beach. It’s nothing but girls and gays and board games... and me lecturing everyone how the Long Island Sound is actually an estuary, because I pretty much didn’t know this word until I booked my first trip and I’ve since appointed myself the foremost expert in all things estuary-related.
It’s a fun word to say, right?
Anyway, one of the friends who shares this weekend with us is a lovely man named Taylor. (Or at least he’s lovely until we break out the Smart Ass game and then he is evil incarnate. Truly. I have the pictures to prove it.)
The first time we hung out, my friend Stacey and I learned that he’s not much of a cook, but he’s trying. We both gave him advice and were delighted when he tweeted us a shot of a pasta dinner he’d made after our trip.
This year at the beach, we were discussing slow cookers and how this appliance could be the answer to all his dinner needs. (Do we know how to party or what?) Stacey shared her favorite tricks, of which there are many; she even has a cookbook coming out next year! I talked about my stupid-simple, three-ingredient pork barbecue, as I clearly do not have a cookbook coming out next year.
I promised Taylor I’d write down the steps and send them to him, but I’m the kind of asshole who immediately forgets each and every promise that even remotely smacks of effort.
This last Saturday I decided to make my super-simple barbecue as sustenance for our Breaking Bad marathon. (Still not finished watching, so I’m avoiding all contact with everyone who could possibly spoil it for us until we reach the finale.)
I figured I’d finally write down all the steps for him because it really, really is worth trying at home. To be fair, this recipe is everywhere on the internet and it’s certainly nothing I created. I could have just sent him a link, but because he’s a tentative cook, I wanted to make sure I documented every single important bit or cause for question.
So, here’s what I sent him:
JEN’S BREAKING BAD BARBECUE BINGE (with apologies to both Pioneer Woman and Thug Kitchen)
4 – 5 pounds of pork shoulder/Boston butt *
*Stacey could likely tell you the difference between the two cuts, but for my purposes, they are interchangeable
12 oz. (ish) bottle of root beer*
*good bottled root beer, like the fancy craft-brewed stuff, and not bullshit mass-produced root beer, because it makes a difference
1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce*
*I like the hickory flavored, mass-produced Sweet Baby Ray’s, which neatly makes up for my craft-root-beer-snobbery
Cut your butt (heh) into four equal portions and place them in a cold slow cooker. Dump root beer over them. Cover and turn on high. Walk away for six hours whilst the magic happens. Maybe you could see a movie or something. If you want, you can flip the pieces at the three hour mark, but if you have better things to do, that’s okay, too.
After six hours, your house will smell freaking amazing, yet your pot will be full of gelatinous lumps of grayish brown meat bobbing merrily along in horrible mystery liquid. Don’t run out of the room to order a pizza - I assure you that this is okay.
With a slotted spoon, fish out the dubious hunks of flaccid pork and set aside. Dump the terrible liquid down the sink ASAFP, ignoring your three dogs’ imploring gazes. They do not need to taste the fatty root beer juice, no matter how hard they beg.
Put the drained meat back into the slow cooker and using two forks, shred the pork. If your pork doesn’t essentially fall apart the second you touch it, then it didn’t cook long enough and you already tossed the liquid, so I’m sorry, but you’re probably going to want to order that pizza now. Perhaps I should have said something sooner.
As you shred the pork, you will think, “Huh. Those gelatinous gray hunks appear no more appetizing in shredded form. Also, this smells a bit like wet dog.” Again, fear not, dear Taylor – this is all part of the process. This is when you squeeze in your entire bottle of delicious sauce and you perpetrate your second miracle of the day.
At this point, you can set your slow cooker to simmer and enjoy your barbecue whenever you’re ready to serve it, or you can stand over it with both of your dirty forks and shovel it directly into your mouth.
Really, either option works.
If you’re feeling fancy, I’d suggest serving the pork on a pretzel roll, topped with red cabbage slaw, but again, the double fork method works equally well. This barbecue will go all Jesus-with-the-fishes-and-loaves on you and no matter how much you eat, you’ll have more leftover because five pounds of pork really is a lot of meat.
Enjoy, and see you next summer!