I often start off my barbecue classes with a tongue-in-cheek statement that my students can cook a zebra in a hole in the ground without any fancy BBQ tools or equipment after they take my class. I say that because I don’t use any tools like a thermometer and fancy pits. The three most important things my students need to have is their eyes, hands, and knowledge about barbecue. So, if a TV producer were to whisk my students off to a deserted island and ask them to cook a zebra, they can confidently say “no problem!”
So far, I’ve not had any student cook a zebra yet but recently, a student of mine came close. Here is Angelo’s true wild boar story . . .
My name is Angelo DiMarco from Big D’s BBQ, out of Prunedale, California. I’m a proud graduate of Harry Soo’s Cooking School and a member of the Harry Soo “Slap Yo Daddy” Alumni. I’ve enjoyed learning so much from his class that I’ve taken it twice. One statement Harry made that stuck in my mind was, “Class, after completing this course, you will be able to cook a zebra on a deserted island with little to no tools.” Now we get to the interesting part of my story:
At the end of Harry’s class, he informed us that we would be approached by many people to BBQ for them, and to go forth and spread BBQ love. This prediction proved to be true. My boss, who is an avid hunter, approached me and asked for help. He told me he had just killed a large boar in Southern Monterey County in California. He explained to me that this wild boar weighed over 275 pounds and he and his friends have been hunting this very one for many years. Apparently, this boar was so well known in this area, that it was named “The Backhoe” by the local hunters.
My boss explained that the older the boar and larger it is, the tougher the meat is to cook and has a strong game flavor. He also stated that it is common that a kill this large is usually ground up 50/50 with domestic pig into sausages. So the question came, would I be able to BBQ this boar and make it taste good. I immediately remembered Harry’s statement in class, so I answered confidently, “Hey boss, I can cook a zebra on a deserted tropical island with nothing!”
Now that I’ve committed myself to something I’ve never done, I ran to my computer to take up Harry on his promise of free technical support after taking his class. I wrote my email informing him how I stuck my foot in my mouth and feared his reply would be similar to Darth Vader saying, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Well, Harry responded and reassured me that as long as I apply the knowledge that I’ve learned in his class, I would be alright.
So when I received the whole right boar shoulder and right belly, I went to work. I did all the trimming as taught in class, and injected the boar shoulder with Harry’s pork injection as much as it could hold. I separated the ribs from the belly and prepared them like we did in class. I used “Slap Yo Daddy” rub for all of this boar meat. I placed the boar shoulder in my smoker & cooked it 10 plus hours. I used the probe method to determine when the shoulder was cooked completely. When it was done, I was amazed to see the pull back on the bones and how the scapula just fell off. I used my Bear Paws Meat shredders and was able to easily pull the pork shoulder apart.
I served the ribs the same style as I learned in Harry’s class and was pleased with the results. Now, the part that surprised me the most was the boar belly. The “Slap Yo Daddy” rub married well with the flavors of the belly and the best way I can describe it is to use my fiancé’s description, “Tastes like bacon steak!” After feasting on this meal with a great glass of wine, my boss told me that in his 25+ years of hunting, this was the best wild boar he has ever eaten.
I was very happy to have cooked wild game with the tools taught in class. Now that I have a wild boar under my belt, I’m off to find that Zebra to cook next!