Few things are more dangerous than people with too much time on their hands.
That’s why prisons are so dangerous. It’s not the people. It’s the spare time. Give even a law-abiding dude a piece of pipe, a paper clip, and two days with nothing to do, and he’ll build you a shoulder-fired, antitank gun.
Besides building lethal weapons, guys with too much time on their hands also like to cook. Which brings us, as elegantly as possible, to the subject of smoked butt.
That’s right, smoked butt.
It’s one of those disgusting pork-related foods that macho guys like to eat when they’re off hunting or ice fishing. I believe the resulting gas helps keep them warm.
My Grandpa Iver and his buddies, retired boilermakers and railroad men who smelled of gun oil and cigars, would rise early, and put on a big pot of the stuff during March smelt season.
“Butt’s better when it simmers awhile,” my Grandpa would explain.
It smelled awful, this butt, especially to an 8-year-old. And the aroma could really travel. If it got up into the jet stream—as it often did—the aroma would disrupt the nation’s weather patterns for decades.
But the old guys, with their taste buds deadened by too much whiskey, loved the stuff. They would throw me dirty looks, as I stared at my plate, and tried to keep from gagging.
“Eat your butt,” they’d growl. “It’s good for you.”
Back then, when gruff old coots told you what to do, you just did it.
So, I ate my butt.
“Hey, this butt’s not bad,” I’d say, obviously surprised.
This would cause all the old guys to laugh till they coughed, which even today is the official old-guy laugh.
Fifty years later, with suddenly too much time on my hands, I decided to re-create this wonderful dish.
It turns out to be quite easy, if you happen to have a nice butt and plenty of time. In fact, it is so easy that it leaves a lot of time for other activities. Here, complete with my usual cooking detours and distractions, is what I recommend:
Recipe for Old Smoked Butt
Step 1: Purchase onions, cabbage, garlic, beer, and, of course, the butt. “Got a big butt?” you ask the butcher. “Ham?” he says. Not knowing for sure, you just nod.
Step 2: Bring your butt home, and put it away in your refrigerator.
Step 3: Get your butt out of the refrigerator. A refrigerator is no place for a butt.
Step 4: Place butt in big soup pot. Add water. Not too much, not too little. Bring your butt to a boil.
Step 5: Crank up the old stereo.
Step 6: Stir your butt.
Step 7: Smoke a cigar (or something).
Step 8: Skim the grease from the pot. Set aside to lubricate your neighbor’s garage door springs later.
Step 9: Add onions, cabbage, garlic, salt, and pepper to the butt. Not too much, not too little.
Step 10: Call up an old buddy, and tell him you’re cooking butt. Reminisce about old lovers and beer bongs.
Step 11: Stir your butt.
Step 12: Install Pegboard along the kitchen counter on which to hang cooking utensils for easy access, much like Grandpa’s workbench. Be sure to paint outlines of the utensils so you know what goes where.
Step 13: Drink some beer. Not too much, not too little.
Step 14: Using grease you set aside earlier, lubricate your neighbor’s annoying garage door springs.
Step 15: Put The Monkees Greatest Hits on the stereo. Crank it up.
Step 16: Call up an old boyfriend. Leave the following message on his voicemail: “This is the FBI. We understand you once committed a lewd act on government property, namely the Loring Park Bridge. Please turn yourself in to the nearest Post Office immediately.”
Step 17: Stir your butt. Reduce to a simmer.
As you can see, this meal is easier than it sounds.
By the time you’re done, your dinner guests will arrive. They will walk in the door, and immediately notice the fine aroma.
“Eeooo, smells like ass,” your best friend will say, as he sits down at the table. “What is it?”
Go ahead and roll your eyes, and just consider the source.
But do yourself a favor: Tell him it’s ham.
Bye for now.