This latest adventure in live fire cooking came about rather innocently. I needed a way to get a bigger fire out of this (double-sided) fireplace.
The grate was too low to keep larger stacks of logs from rolling out so I set upon building a cage to hold the logs in (see above). It’s made from steel and bolts I picked up at a local hardware store and measures 36″ wide x 18″ deep x 18″ tall.
For a couple of weeks, Most glorious spousal unit and I enjoyed some nice big blazes and as I spaced out watching said fires, I kept getting the feeling that I needed more out of it.
And so, thus began the development of my Fireplace Cooking System (FCS™). Everything is a system these days.
As an experiment, I set upon smoking a skin-on bone-in pork shoulder. But I needed something to set it upon. Hmmm.
Since I’ve replaced all the cheezy grates that come with Weber™ and BGE™ grills with some real steel, I have a few unused grates laying around. Sadly, they were too small to sit atop the cage in a stable manner.
Looking around at my spare parts bin, I noticed some leftover 4″x4″ small livestock containment fencing (welded steel) that I had picked up and made into a wine rack. Grabbing the bolt cutters, I quickly snipped out a 20″ x 32″ grid to set on the cage.
Yay! It worked like a charm and I commenced to cooking. Here’s a close up of that hunk of beast you might have noticed in the picture above.
This is the left front shoulder of some poor beasty that gave his life for this experiment. I give thanks.
That shoulder was placed in a salt brine (skin side up) over a week ago. Just salt and water. I was going for a smoked ham-like thing.
I applied a mixture of equal parts granulated garlic, granulated onion, and fresh ground black pepper to the meat. No reason to be shy with the seasonings.
I put that bugger skin-side down on the grate and commenced to waiting.
Whilst waiting, I checked temps in and around the meat. With a low of 165°F and a high of around 225°F, temps were right where I wanted them.
About eight hours later, with an internal temp of 155°F, I pulled it.
Topside, we looked like this:
Skin side, we looked like this:
That missing skin is where I picked at it and ate it.
Looks pretty hammy to me. Mission Accomplished!
Please keep in mind that this is a cooked ham, not to be confused with a fully-cured raw ham. It takes months of effort for the latter and I just don’t have that kind of patience.
From roast to plate, along with some sous vide potatoes (185°F for 1.5 hours) that I cubed and fried in duck fat, it made a wonderfully simple New Year’s Eve dinner.
Clearly, while this experiment was a success, more work is coming on the FCS. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.