The lesson: how to prepare and smoke a pork butt (shoulder) and magically turn it into a succulent heap of pulled pork. In this case, two pork butts had been injected with marinade, rubbed with spices and smoked over lump charcoal and hardwood for 18 hours before class started (pictured).
BBQ Pro co-owners and veteran pitmasters David and Jennifer Hill guided our class of eight through the steps, using a raw pork butt as the model. The Hills host monthly 'cue classes ($50) at their store, 10140 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 595-7444. Check the website www.bbqproonline.com for upcoming lessons.
BBQ Pro stocks "everything for the pitmaster," and is a dealership for the Big Green Egg, a high-fiber ceramic grill with many add-on accessories. Its design has roots in the "mushikamado" cooker, used for centuries in Japan.
David Hill made it clear: You don't have to cook on an Egg to learn new 'cue techniques in the class. True. My dinner pal and I took away a long list of tips and techniques; he cooks on a gas-fueled grill, I have a Weber charcoal grill.
We felt like we'd received an education. Here's a tip: After rubbing the roast with a spice blend, rub it again with turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw). The sugar will caramelize, adding color and flavor to the "bark" (the crust on the meat).
Before the butts were shredded and dinner began, the Hills demonstrated how to roast Anaheim and jalepeno peppers over open coals so that they blister and the skin peels off. The peppers were then dipped in garlic butter. Yow!
Jennifer Hill then showed the class how to assemble and grill mac 'n' cheese and peach-and-blackberry tart, and then whipped up a bowl of coleslaw.
Soon, the pork was shredded and dinner was served. All the students got good grades.