'The Best 4th of July Barbecue Ever' by Chef Kyleigh Beach
Last weekend my husband and I went up to Three Lakes, Wisconsin to visit our friends Brad and Kayla. It was wonderfully relaxing to escape from the city for a weekend and unwind in the peace and beauty of northern Wisconsin. Our weekend was full of sun, fishing, boating, and drinking our fill of New Glarus beer which is sadly unavailable for sale in Illinois. One of the highlights of the trip was a Saturday night barbecue at Kayla’s parents’ house.
The Wilkowskis live on a picturesque farm where they raise pigs, chickens, and cows and keep plow horses. They also have a perfectly manicured vegetable garden where they grow (among other things) beets, peas, beans, and lettuce. For the party, Mr. Wilkowski had been smoking a fresh ham from one of his pigs since six o’clock that morning. I could smell it as soon as we got out of the car and my mouth instantly started watering. Then I caught a glimpse of that glorious piece of meat when he opened the smoker to baste it and really started to get excited. The meat rested for probably 30 minutes before it was sliced, but it seemed like hours to the 25 or so hungry people who had smelled the smoking meat all afternoon.
Finally the meat was sliced and placed out on the buffet with a delicious assortment of American classics – potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, and creamy cucumber salad. Also on the table were four barbecue sauces from a local barbecue joint and as good as they were, this pork didn’t need any sauce at all. It was perfectly moist and juicy, basically melting in your mouth. The meat was nicely seasoned and the smoke flavor permeated all the way through without being overwhelming. I can safely say it’s the best ham I have ever eaten and enjoying it outside on a warm summer evening near the barn where the pig was raised really put the experience over the top.