Did you know that Father's Day has only been around for 102 years? The first public celebration on the third Sunday in June took place in Spokane, Wash., in 1910. Though its observance gradually spread, the day didn't receive presidential recognition until Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966 -- and it only became an official national holiday in 1972, when Nixon put his pen to the law. Which means that this coming Father's Day is only its 40th official anniversary.
Even with all that history cleared up, one question still lingers: Why the third Sunday in June?
There's just something about standing and tending food as it sizzles and smokes over an outdoor fire that appeals to the primal masculine soul. That may be why so many men also enjoy slow-cooked, smoked recipes that fall into the category of true "barbecuing" (as opposed to quicker "grilling"): The open-air, contemplative pleasure continues for hours rather than minutes.
So I'm happy to share one of my favorite recipes for barbecued pork, which will provide a good three hours of happy outdoor cooking. No matter your experience level, you should find it fairly easy to achieve great results.
The first key is to prepare the fire correctly. Slow outdoor cooking requires a hot fire in one half of the grill bed and a cooler area in the other; you sear the meat directly over the hot fire, then move it to the cooler area and cover the grill so it cooks through slowly. Many gas grills make this easy by featuring dual controls for different parts of the fire bed. With charcoal grills, start the fire in your usual way, and then use a long poker to rearrange the hot coals.
The smoke here comes from apple wood chips, sold in grill shops, hardware stores, and gourmet cookware shops. Or try other fragrant woods like hickory, pecan, or cherry. Soak them in water before use, so they'll smolder rather than burn up quickly.
As for the seasonings, I start with a dry rub, a mixture that flavors the meat and gives it a delicious crust. No need to add the barbecue sauce until after cooking has ended, thus preventing its sugars from burning in the grill's intense heat.
The only remaining ingredient, not listed in the recipe, is ice-cold beer. Have enough on hand to enjoy one while you cook, and more with the food. Cheers, Dads!
APPLE-SMOKED BARBECUED PORK SANDWICHES
Serves 8 to 10
1 bone-in pork butt roast, 5 to 6 pounds total weight
1/2 cup Barbecued Pork Rub (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful apple wood chips
Spicy Southern-Style Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
8 large sandwich rolls or buns
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
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