We dodged a severe thunderstorm just by a few miles...had a warning, and radar indicted golf-ball sized hail and up to 50 MPH winds heading our way, but it veered off to the north. There was another storm to the south as well...both moving due east...but almost on top of us. I had my smoker empty and shut-down when I called wifey to let her know I was just waiting on the rice to finish...I was so busy I didn't even see the storms in the area when she told me we were under a warning, and my weather alert radio is in the bedroom where I can't hear/see it...been there since last fall...lesson learned. Radio is out here in the main room of the house now.
THE FINISH, AT LAST...
OK, taters came out of the Vault just after the Picnic. I grabbed a tong and gave the bone a tug...could see and feel a section of the roast moving like it was trying to tear away from the bark and cut loose...that's tender enough for me. Taters had the skin separating from the meat, so yanked 'em out @ 3.25hrs with average chamber temps of 260* or bit over.
The rice was a snap...I soaked the rice in water just long enough to float the chaff and sift through it to find any unwanted kernels, etc and remove them manually...then just poured the water off to rid the floaters, drained for a minute and tossed in a hot skillet to evaporate the remaining water so it would heat up and toast it lightly while I turned it with a wooden spatula...took about 10 minutes and the rice was almost 2" deep in the skillet. Then, I tossed it into seasoned boiling water, stirring for the first couple minutes reduced heat to a slow simmer after the boil resumed, added the canned tomatoes and covered for 20 minutes, stirred again 2 more times, and killed the heat when the rice absorbed the bulk of the water...about 35 minutes, give or take. This is a bit different than I usually do for rice...bring to boil, cover and kill the heat, s long as it's a larger batch of a few quarts or more. This tasted a bit light on seasoning, but I didn't want to get carried away for when adding it to the smoked cabbage, and maybe smoked onions...they'll add a lot to this dish. Oh, and I decided to add a couple pinches of salt when I threw the rice into the water, just in case what I used for seasoning was slightly bland. Last time I did something similar to this, I laid a bed of smoked coarse chopped cabbage to place the rice over...great side dish.
Brown rice has a chewier texture than long-grain white rice, and I wanted that for today's meal. Brown rice also has more oils than white, as it is the whole grain, and toasting brings out more of the flavors from the oils...the high heat to get a slight browning possibly alters those flavors slightly, but brings it more up front and out in the open...it will have a subtle addition of flavor when something like tomatoes is added to the mix, but it finishes nicely. I did notice that the rice absorbed some water during the initial process of toasting, as it bulked-up slightly after it heated through in the pan...so it steamed slightly with residual water from the rinse...kind of neat to see. Anyway, I cooked it slightly over-done, so the kernels were just beginning to split open, kind of like what you would see in a beef & barley soup (love that stuff, btw).
BTW, I didn't even measure the rice or water...2lb bag of brown rice, poured an eyeball amount of water in a pot...figured start with a bit less than I thought it would take...began the boil, added rice, added a bit more water to cover the rice completely with about 1/2" extra. The canned tomatoes added more water, of course. Came out nearly perfect for the amount of cooking I wanted and having a slightly moist rice when it was finished, with the kernels just beginning to split...with the texture slightly chewy, but more tender than for a normally cooked brown rice. Couldn't have done it better if I did measure everything...but then I've never had issues with rice, either...my wife and daughters still don't like cooking rice because they either get it finished with a tough chew or a sticky, mushy texture...I'm the rice cook of the house, so it's a treat when I make it. It's all about the rice/water ratio, and heat over time...bearing in mind what texture you want. Minute Rice is their friend, but it has it's drawbacks...I don't like cooking it myself due to it being too easy and having little options for texture. Besides, I like to experiment and I like to challenge myself to do things a little differently when the opportunity presents itself. Ah, enough about rice...and I'll skip the pulling...we've all seen a pan of pulled pork, right?
How about a plate with some pulled pork on an onion roll, a buttered split tater, and rice over cabbage topped with onion? No sauce needed for this PP, as the tart cherry in the rub adds a slight tang...mouth-watering is an understatement...and the retained moisture is as good as I've ever had.
Dark, heavy bark...not scorched, just a long smoke:
Cabbage, rice & onion combo...smokey deliciousness from the veggies:
Skin on the taters was pulling away nicely from the flesh...you could cut a chunk out with a fork and leave nothing behind...love 'em that way:
This was a huge hit here...a bit of everything for whatever you wanted to drop on the plate, and all but the rice had a nice amount of smoke. BTW, the pecan for the taters and veggies was a really good match...not to heavy or too light, nice aroma and smooth flavor. The picnic, getting hit with four smoke woods was interesting trying to dissect each of the smoke woods from the bites having bark in them...confusing at times, but not in bad way...the pecan might have been what pushed it towards that state for me, because hickory, apple and cherry are a great combo match, IMHO, for pork in general.
Being this PP is from a picnic, the flavors are deeper and the moisture is even better than with a Boston butt. I don't plan on smoking butts anymore...the picnic is where it's at for me. BTW, if you're wondering what temp my picnic came out at? Can't tell you...I'd have to kill you...LOL!!! Just kidding...I have no idea, 'cuz I didn't stick it with a probe...at all...for the entire smoke. Shrinkage and little tug of the bone told me what I wanted to know. I kinda like smoking this way lately...laid-back and no real pressure or worries...I guess you get that way when you smoke enough meats for enough time to just get comfy and let it roll.
Overall, this was a very, very easy meal...sure, rice may not be everyone's strong suit, but you won't gain the cooking and eating experience if you don't try (white rice may be to your liking over brown...maybe you like Basmati white or brown rice...my choice today was plain ol' brown). Be aware, some varieties of Basmati are GMO, if that matters to you. The eats from my 20-something hours of cooking (I did sleep through the smoke last night for my full 6hr rest) were every bit as good as my expectations...maybe even better. I know my pulled pork inside and out, and I know what the wet-to-dry method can do for it...so, I knew that end was a no-fail. I haven't figured out yet exactly what it would take to cook rice in the smoker...actually never really thought about it until now. I'll let everyone know if I try that. That would be nice for a one cooker meal, but getting a boil going...that's tough with low & slow smoke chamber temps, so a very long, slow cook of the rice would be the only possibility, I guess. Smoked and cooked rice...hmm, I've done smoked dry, soaked beans, then added to smoked chicken meat, smoked new mexico chillies, smoked garlic, smoked onion and I don't even remember what else other than a broth, and returned to the smoker to finish it all up...yeah, a lot of smoke time over two days for one dish (everything got smoked ahead of combining for the final cooking), but it made for a very delicious and unique smoked green chili. That said, I now find myself thinking...what could go wrong with smoked rice? Not a helluva lot...water, heat and a lot of time...just gotta find out how much of each, right? Some day (soon, I hope) I'll just have to get after it and make it happen.
Oh, just in case you're curious about the smoked green chili...WOW, I just looked at the start date for that thread...that was a long time ago, but I can almost taste it right now:
You can stick a fork in me now...I'm done...LOL!!!
Great smokes to all and to all a good night!!!