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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Neverending Pork Story

This is a blog about trips to Las Vegas. But everyone knows that to get to the degenerate, you have to get through every day life. And that includes panicking over pulled pork.

I checked on the two babies and by about two-o'clock, the temps were only up to 145 degrees.

They'd been in since 7:00am - a full 7 hours of slow roasting. Some recipes said an hour per pound and I had two 4 pound pork shoulders.

I bumped the heat up a bit and checked them an hour later - they were at 144 degrees. This was a forkful of flying what the fuck!

I was in the dreaded pork stall. I did some reading on The Internets and figured out that I'd better use something called the Texas Crutch.

I’d actually draped some foil loosely around the porks, but after reading up on it I found out that was pretty much useless. I had to wrap them tightly and seal them in.

So I got busy. I quickly removed all the liquid from the pans, and wrapped the pork babies up in their aluminum papooses, snuggled tight, and back into the oven they went. 

I added another 25 degrees and checked the time. We had to leave for Divana’s building in about an hour and I had about 3 hours until the party started. Man I was sweating it about the pork not being done in time.

Meanwhile it was time to skewer the chicken. The night before, I made a sort of Satay marinade with coconut milk, red curry paste, a bit of brown sugar, 11 different herbs and spices, and, one last thing. Fish sauce. Fish sauce gives it the Stank.

You have to have some Stank some foods, and fish sauce stank is like no other. It’s got that funky slightly questionable but down and dirty olfactory naughtiness. So I brought the Stank.

I sliced the chicken breasts into what were supposedly half inch wide strips. Ideally these strips would all be uniform and beautiful. Every skewer would look the same and every skewer would be done at the same moment. I did my best, going for Dr. Flushiepants, Chicken Surgeon MD. Looking at the misshapen mess in the bowl, it ended up more like Blind Dog Flusher and his Delta Blues Roadkill Chicken’ Picken’ Bread Knife Band had been playing a completely random culinary set on the cutting board.

Whatever. The chicken went in last night and did its Super-Marination thing overnight. Thunderchickens are go!

Working with this misshapen hacked up pieces of bird in their gooey sloppy mess was a treat, let me tell you. In a fit of brilliance, I’d remembered in the morning to soak the skewers to prevent the chicken from sticking when they were cooked. That was one of the savvier moves of the day. Threading these hunks for raw, ice cold bird onto the skewers was like trying to pile marbles.

Somehow I got that done and stored the skewers for transport. I’d cook them right before the party, thus leaving myself no safety net whatsoever.

The Quad Paw Queen arrived home from dropping Chippy off at the Left-B-Hind. Chippy loves it there and couldn’t wait to get out of the car, she said.

Time to check the porks. Or not. We had to pack up all the remaining food elements like the cheeses and crackerses, the skewers, various pans and potions, and so on. I decided that since we had to leave, I would just wrap the pork up tight in towels and put them in a cooler. There was no sense in opening the foil papooses and letting heat out because I couldn’t do anything further until we were at the party room at Divana’s place.

We hauled ass to Flusherton, and got set up in the party room around 5:15. Divana buzzed  us in and met us in the kitchen. We walked in and there she was, standing next to the stove, hands placed as though she were demonstrating its features for a game show audience.

She wore a scoop-neck feathery top with bare midriff, a feather boa miniskirt that seemed to float weightlessly on her hips, and gogo boots with rhinestones sparkling through fields of down. She’d topped her ensemble with a simple feather and faux gemstone tiara.

“Royal. You’ll make sure the pulled pork is perfect, won’t you.”

“Hi Divana,” I said. “I’ll do my best.”

“QQ. You’re here.”

“Hello Divana,” said Mrs. Flusher.

I unloaded the two hot footballs and carefully unwrapped one of them. Took its temperature. 155 degrees. We both took a good look and talked it over quickly. We had to get up to 203. It was time to go for broke.

“Divana, is there any…” I turned and saw nothing but a solitary downy feather zig-zagging its way gently to the floor.

“She’s gone,” said the Quad Queen. “I didn’t hear any footsteps. How does she DO that???”

“Well,”, I said, “she is… it’s…. Well, she…. Umm. Well, she has a doctorate, you know.”

We set the oven for 325 and put in the piggies. It was less than 2 hours to go.

I checked the time every, oh, minute and a half until an hour had passed. We also set up the plates and crap, did the cheese tray and got the chicken skewers ready to go.

“Shit! I forgot satay sauce, that peanuty concoction that blesses the chicken skewers on their way to tastebud heaven in your mouth.”


I turned and found that Divana was standing right over my shoulder holding a small pot, lid on.

She handed the pot to me. I put it on the stovetop and lifted the lid - perfect, perfect satay dipping sauce.

“Divana! You… you… DID something!!!”

She smiled and said, “Royal. Check the pork.”

It was really getting to be do or die. I pulled one and tested and my oh my we were at 191 degrees. Finally, something was happening! I hoped we wouldn’t dry them out too much with the high temps but there was no choice. I had to not only go for broke, bot go for broke superbroke broke. The pork needed time to rest, and I had about 90 minutes before we’s serve.

I cranked the heat up to 350, and said my most fitting porcine prayers.

“Royal,” said Divana from the couch at the far end of the party room, “you’ll pour me a Cote du Rhones, won’t you.”

I could and I did. Before long, guests arrived. We put the cheese tray out, and drinks started drinking, and crackers cracking, and the cocktail talk got louder and happier.

I needed the oven to do the satay chicken skewers, so we gave the pork that one more hour, until about 7:30. And then it was do or fucking die.201, 202… poke elsewhere 205. We were there!!!!! And it was TENDER! I pulled off a hunk and my buddy Steve and I tested it. YUM!!!! OK, shit just got porky real! We wrapped the babies up again in foil and towels to let ‘em rest. Oven to 400, and the skewers went in. Now it was a matter of just putting the sauces out, and not killing anyone with underdone Butcher Flushie chicken skewers that looked like they’d fallen off the back of a speeding Harley. Without leathers. 

I allowed myself my first glass of wine. It was looking like we were in the pulled pork and chicken red zone and about to score. After 10 minutes we turned the skewers and gave ‘em about 15 more. Almost there but not quite. Another 5 minutes. Very close and looking a little dull. No problem, I popped the broiler on, gave ‘em a few minutes under there for some browning, and then tested one. It was perfect. And the flavor along with Divana’s sauce was absolutely delicious. Almost as good as Country Throw-up Gravy. I pulled the pork with a couple of forks and it shredded up beautifully. It was very tender. Touchdown with the pigskin! Somewhere in there I’d slice a couple of dozen buns and Steve put those out, along with the sauces. And all of a sudden, dinner buffet was served.

Nothing left on the plate - that's a goooood sign!

I’m happy to report that the party was a huge success. Divana was noticably touched. Everyone enjoyed the food, and lots of people brought wine and salad and fruit and such to round things out. I tossed the salad and kept the wine.

Ok, ok, and served the salad.

We’d gotten special cupcakes in per Divana’s orders and had presents and all of that. Divana got a fitbit, which is going to be interesting, considering nobody ever sees her walk anywhere at any time.

But near the party’s end, as Quad Queen and I were cleaning up in the kitchen, I heard someone call my name.


I looked up and saw Divana standing at the door.

“Royal. I don’t know how… how to thank you. This is just - just wonderful.” A tear glistened in one corner of her eye like a diamond.

And she walked all the way across the kitchen and gave me the biggest, feathery hug you have ever seen.

“Just say - thank you.”

And she did.

“Royal,” she said.

“Yes, Divana?”

“You’ll take the pork leftovers home, won’t you.”

“Sure, Divana. Sure.”

“Royal. It was a little dry.”

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