On September 6, Father Chris Pollard, aka the Holy Smoker, visited NOVA’s Culinary Program at the Annandale Campus to enlighten students about smoking meats. At the request of Chef Mike Herbert, he presented to both the afternoon and evening classes. Pollard began smoking meats over eight years ago and has mastered the art of infusing this delectable flavor into a variety of foods. He often smokes meats for events of up to 2,000 people at his parish, St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia.
For his presentation, each class had two briskets, both prepared with an identical rub. Pollard prepared his spice rub of equal parts paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, salt and half-part dry mustard. After he applied his rub to the brisket, he sprayed each one with Worcestershire sauce. One brisket per class was overnight roasted and smoked in the Combi Oven in the kitchen, the other outdoors in a Big Green Egg smoker. Besides the brisket, student volunteers prepared french fries, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and iced tea.
Pollard spoke first to the classes about his experience as a smoker and how he became involved. He then spoke about the various aspects of smoking: how to choose the correct size and type of wood for each product; what types of meat to use; the cooking and internal temperatures; the different rubs and their applications, marinades and injections; how to handle the meat prior to cooking and once it is done; and what makes a quality product. The students asked numerous questions, as many of them have embarked on their path to smoking their own meats.
He then brought them outside as everyone braved the rain to see his large smoking rig. He tows this rig on the back of his pickup truck. It has three rather large compartments, including the fire box and warming oven, the smoking chamber, and a separate box for grilling and roasting chickens.
Back in the kitchen, Pollard showed the students how to make the rub, how to apply the rub and how to prepare the briskets for smoking. Afterward everyone ate lunch/dinner, cleaned up and thanked “Holy Smoker” for sharing his knowledge and expertise.
NOVA’s Culinary Program also recorded the presentation, and it is available online.