A few weeks ago I was standing next to my cousin Larry, admiring the Texas twilight as it settled onto the hill country in its varied lavender hues, with the lingering aromas still wafting up from the wood-fired pit-box where he had supremely roasted an array of meats for a remarkable group of relatives and friends. Larry solemnly stoked a thick Cuban cigar, and occasionally I’d tweak his happy body and demand a smoky exhalation directed in my direction.
Those four days in Texas only whetted my appetite for its cuisine and the second thing I did upon returning home was to haul out the smoker, the little grill, the bean pot and the tortilla press. I had one thing in mind – a perfect pork taco — and if that meant 12 hours of smoking, grilling, griddling and simmering, so be it. As the rosy-green twilight brightened in the Northeast Boondocks sky, I demolished that single taco in four rapid bites.
The next morning I was looking down the gun barrel at eight pounds of smoked and pulled pork shoulder, a half-gallon of Frijoles Charros, a pint of Fire-roasted Salsa and an absurdly large stack of freshly-pressed corn tortillas. What’s a girl to do? Process, pack, stow and invent. Hence came new renditions of Cuban Sandwiches, Migas Sabrosas, and Chili Rellenos, utilizing that unctuous pork, savory pintos and divine salsa.
It’s been two weeks now and it’s still not possible to run out of ideas, so for dinner tonight we happily munched down on Fresh Corn and Scallion Pancakes topped with the endless Smoked Pork Shoulder, some baby potatoes parboiled and seared in butter for a crispy crust, along with a throw of straight-from-the-garden green beans, flash steamed with spring water and sea salt.
That event in Texas was a tribute to my mother’s younger brother Chas, generously hosted by his children and their families. I insist still that roving satellites recorded an unusual golden glow over the backyard of that house in the hill country that night and it would be the love and the joy and, never forget, the food, that made that glow we lucky attendees shall remain warm in for a good while to come.