New Year’s Resolutions for Die-Hard Grill Fanatics
Mid-December already? In addition to holiday madness, that means one thing: a new batch of New Year’s resolutions. Everyone makes them. Everyone breaks them. Well, here at Barbecue Bible, we want to help you up your grill skills in 2014. So here are five resolutions I can almost guarantee you’ll keep in 2014, plus 2 of the personal barbecue resolutions I plan to make for the coming year.
- Resolve, finances permitting, to become a two-grill (or smoker) family. This one’s for all you gas grillers out there, for gas grilling offers the convenience of push button ignition and turn-of-a-knob heat control, it works notoriously poorly for smoking. So make me a promise—even if you worship your gas grill, consider investing in an inexpensive charcoal grill or smoker for smoking. You won’t regret it.
- Resolve to slow things down. Have you mastered the art of true grilling (that is cooking hot and fast directly over the fire)? How about lowering the temperature and prolonging the cooking time the next time you cook a large hunk of meat, like brisket or pork shoulder? In short, make 2014 the year of cooking low and slow.
- Resolve to speed things up. Maybe you come from Texas or the Deep South and you already smoke whole animals over a low fire for cooking times measured in half days. In the coming year, trying speeding things up—that is searing steaks, chops, etc. over a screaming hot fire. Maximum flavor resides on the razor’s edge between cooked and burnt. Dare to dance on the flames.
- Resolve not to run out of fuel this year. We’ve all done it—yeah, even me. Run out of propane while gas grilling or out of charcoal during a prolonged smoke session. For the New Year, resolve to invest in an extra full propane cylinder on hand at all times or a new trashcan where you can store a couple unopened bags of charcoal.
- Resolve to cook the entire meal on the grill—from appetizers and salads to dessert. This is a lot easier than it seems, even if you own only one grill. Here’s your basic strategy. That morning or even the day before, grill a platter of vegetables. Grilling brings out a vegetables’ sweetness and grilled vegetables taste great served at room temperature. For your main course, smoke a large hunk of animal protein: a brisket or shoulder clod, for example, or turkey, prime rib, or pork shoulder. You can cook it during the day and let it rest for an hour or so, while you do your final preparations for the party. When guests arrive, serve grilled garlic bread or bruschetta, or a sate sampler hot off the grill. Come dessert, restoke the fire and let everyone roast his or her own marshmallows for Uptown S’mores. (What makes them uptown? Substitute homemade chocolate chip cookies or shortbread for the graham crackers.)
And now for the two personal resolutions I plan to make for 2014:
I resolve to master cold smoking. I’ve done a lot of hot smoking over the years, from brisket to trout to whole hog. This year, I plan to delve into cold smoking (think salmon and jerky) where the temperature never rises above 125 degrees.
I resolve to finish my next book, Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys (Workman Publishing). I’ve been working on it for three years and there have been moments when I thought I would never put it to bed. I’m reviewing galleys now, and I promise to have that book in stores by May 6.
Do you have any grilling resolutions that you plan to keep? Share them on our Barbecue Board.