Several weeks ago I pulled into the garage one evening in my usual fashion after a day of work, met by several of my biggest little fans. They provided a valet service that would make anyone feel like royalty, opening my car door and leading me through the kitchen door. As the roar of the adoring crowd subsided, my nose caught the savory smells of something wonderful cooking in the kitchen. After her faithful subjects went on their way, I was welcomed by the queen bee and her delightful pot of beef stew that she had been slaving away over for the better part of the day. It would not be long now until dinner around the table would be served, one of the high points in our day.
Soon the oven had completed its task of changing a batter of corn mush into a steaming hot pan of cornbread that would melt in your mouth. As the action moved from the kitchen to the dining room, bowls were distributed around the table as Mommy sang the announcement of “Ready!” through the house. Feet scampered down the stairs carrying little hungry people, and as they made their way toward the table, they were herded into the bathroom for the removal of dirt and germs from their hands.
As Mommy completed the table with drinks and silverware, we all gathered together for our little feast. When everyone was in their place, we all joined hands and I selected one of the children to say the blessing over our meal. Just as we opened our eyes and raised our heads, ready to dig in, we heard a familiar rumbling coming up the driveway. Could that be who we thought it was?
From my chair I could see down the hill, and sure enough, there came our oldest son Andrew up the driveway. We were surprised at his unexpected arrival, since he doesn’t get by our house much since moving out over a year ago, but what a pleasant surprise it was. In a moment he came through the door, and we all welcomed him in. Katrina asked him if he had eaten, and as she cleared him a place at the end of the table, he wasn’t even given a chance to say no before she had him sitting there with a bowl of soup and glass of tea.
As we all ate, enjoying the meal and the arrival of our special guest, Andrew finally revealed the purpose of his visit. Andrew asked, “Do y’all need any hog meat? I have a friend at work that killed a wild hog, and he didn’t want the meat, so he gave it to me.”
The immediate reaction of Katrina and I must have surely been apparent. I think that we were both having the same flashbacks to the days when Andrew had cleaned fish, squirrels, and large hunks of deer carcass in this very kitchen. We were not enthused to say the least. I can remember a few years back when he had stored a large chunk of deer meat in a trash bag in the freezer, so the possibility of Andrew bringing some form of swine parts here was somewhat revolting.
I suppose he could sense our immediate reservation to the hog report, but he assured us that the meat had been taken to a meat processor. After dinner, Andrew led us outside to his truck, and sure as the world, inside the cab of his truck were five of the biggest hunks of meat I had ever laid eyes on, in actual butcher paper. Although there could have been a hog’s head in one of those bundles, a sense of relief settled over me when I saw the lettering from an actual butcher shop on the outside of them.
Looking over the collection of very frozen hog parts, two were identified as pork shoulder, two labeled pork chops, and one was a giant ham. The ham must have been twice the size of any ham that I had ever seen, probably weighing in at 25 or 30 pounds. It was a monster. Andrew was at our mercy, or at least the mercy of how much space we had in our freezer. We managed to fit the ham and the two large bundles of pork chops in the deep freeze, and we even got the lid shut without any hooves hanging out!
Now that our freezer was full to capacity, Andrew was on his way with his two remaining pieces of meat, ready to get home and stuff them in his own freezer. We were blessed with three humongous pieces of hog that we had no idea what to do with, but we would figure out something I suppose.
A couple of weeks later, as I was talking to my friend Don at church, I mentioned our hog dilemma to him, knowing what an avid outdoorsman and hunter he is. Naturally, Don knew just what to do since he had killed and cooked all manner of wild game before. He said that I needed to just bring it over to his place and that we could smoke all three of the oversized pieces of hog flesh all at once in his large smoker. Well, that sounded just dandy to me, so about a week later I took Don up on his offer.
After thawing out the meat for a couple of days, Katrina was quite relieved, as was I, that Mr. Hog was moving elsewhere, at least for the evening. I headed out to Don’s house with the meat and he and I got it rubbed down with seasonings and had it surrounded in smoke in no time flat. Now that this part of the chore was done, I came back in a few hours, and Don and I removed the pig parts from his smoker. With the three slabs of hog meat in the trunk of my car, I headed home for round two—an all-night pig roast in the oven.
After I arrived at home, I carefully removed the meat from the trunk and began the process of wrapping it up neatly in foil and getting it oven-ready. I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into, but I persisted to prepare the meat for its all night roasting in the oven. I soon had it ready, put it in the oven, and headed for bed. I was beat, and I knew that I was going to have to get up pretty early to remove the finished product from its overnight sauna.
I got up at three in the morning to rescue the two smaller pieces from the heat, and then went back to bed until five. I then got up, made coffee, and began the slow process of pulling pork. What a chore! I cut and pulled, cut and pulled, and cut and pulled for over two hours. As the house was filled with the aroma of smoked meat, I knew that my time was up for the morning shift—I had to quit and get ready for work.
I went to work all day, and as the day rolled on, I was anxious to get home to sample our delicacy that I had worked so hard on. Katrina had called Andrew over for the evening to enjoy the meat, and when I got home, I began the process again of pulling pork. Not long into that Andrew arrived, so we sat down to a nice spread of baked beans, barbecued pork, and macaroni and cheese.
With just the right amount of barbecue sauce our hog had turned out quite nicely. Andrew, me, and all the kids enjoyed the meat that had arrived from nowhere a few weeks earlier. Even Katrina, not being a fan of wild game, was quite pleased with our creation.
The blessing of this whole hog event was that we got to enjoy a couple of wonderful evenings with our son Andrew, I got to spend some time with my good friend Don, and that God can certainly put meat on our table in some of the most unexpected ways.
Written by David Steen, with God Smiling, October 18, 2010.