We were all here for Thanksgiving: Crouton & Ditalini, our son Baguette, daughter-in-law Truffle, and grandson Pesce, along with our daughter Escargot and her boyfriend. Underfoot, of course, were Mortadella & Ubriaco, along with Baguette’s dog. Our poor old cat spent the day hiding in a closet.
What a great feast we had! Relishes, turkey with stuffing, home-made cranberry dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans with those crunchy French onions on top, and sliced smoked pork shoulder. For desert our dear friends at Costco baked us a pumpkin pie, but Ditalini felt challenged and matched it with a home-made cherry pie of her own.
I put the pork shoulder on the smoker at 7:30 AM; it reached 170°F at 2:30 PM, 7 hours total. Most pork shoulder smoker recipes call for an internal temperature of 190°F, but that’s only if you want to pull the pork: it’s well cooked at 170°F, and I had planned to serve it sliced anyway. Other than waiting for it to reach 190°F, which would have taken another couple of hours on the smoker, I used this recipe from a Weber Smoker site. If you use a Weber Bullet smoker, try this charcoal/wood technique: it’s what I used yesterday and it worked perfectly. By perfectly, I mean that I didn’t have to add charcoal once; every three hours I’d open the door and put in two or three fresh chunks of mesquite. Super easy. The lightly smoked pork, by the way, was an excellent accompaniment to the turkey.
Oh, before I forget, I did modify the mop I used while smoking the pork shoulder. The recipe I linked to above calls for equal measures of apple juice, vinegar, and vegetable oil; I used half and half cranberry juice and vinegar, leaving out the oil altogether. Pork shoulder is fat enough as it is! I was very happy with the result, too.
I can’t say much about Ditalini’s turkey, other than that she brined it this year, something we haven’t done before. She used a brining kit she bought at the same supermarket where she found the turkey. Very nice flavor, and the meat was moist.
There has to be one kitchen disaster in order for it to count as a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. Fortunately our disaster was minor. As Ditalini and Truffle were putting everything on the serving table, Escargot discovered the stuffing sitting on the kitchen counter — prepared but somehow forgotten and thus uncooked. Everything went back in the lower oven to stay warm while Ditalini fired up the convection oven on top. The stuffing was done in 30 minutes and we were able to sit down and eat.
Here are a few food photos to make your mouth water. Click on the thumbnails to see ’em bigger on Flickr.