Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

Grilling Techniques

Barbecue University™

A Crash Course on Charcoal: Types of Charcoal for Grilling

A Crash Course on Charcoal: Types of Charcoal for Grilling

Charcoal represents one of man’s very first technological achievements; it was in use as early as 200,000 B.C. When wood is burned slowly without oxygen it produces charcoal. The charring removes the water and most of the flavor-producing chemical compounds of the wood, leaving a carbon-rich fuel that burns hot, cleanly, and efficiently. Charcoal also produces a more concentrated fire. No wonder the vast majority of the world’s grill masters burn charcoal. But not all charcoals are the same. Here’s a scorecard to help you identify the players....

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Black Magic: Cast Iron and Live Fire, Part 1

Black Magic: Cast Iron and Live Fire, Part 1

When it comes to cookware for your smoker or grill, cast iron rocks. From its tough black look to its wrist-bending heft. There’s its primal connection to past generations of live-fire hearth masters. And last but not least, its versatility. With a well-seasoned piece of cast iron, you can sear, braise, bake, fry, stew, pan-roast, and even smoke. Cast iron’s bona fides (and strong connections to food) were established more than 2,500 years ago—the Chinese may have been the first to pour...

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Game On! Your Guide to Grilling Game Meats

Game On! Your Guide to Grilling Game Meats

’Tis the season. I speak not of Christmas, but to a topic of burning interest to many members of this barbecue community: game meats. Because hunting season has commenced in many states for certain species of wild game (check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources for specifics), we thought this would be a great time to address the many grilling, smoking, and barbecue questions we receive from people who appreciate game. To get the low-down on special techniques for cooking game, which has considerably less fat than...

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12 Dos and Don’ts to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

12 Dos and Don’ts to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Is it just me, or does America seem even more Thanksgiving-obsessed than ever? Practice turkeys. Turchettas. Turduckens. Brining kits. We just can’t seem to wait for this festival (make that orgy) of food, football, and family (not necessarily in that order). T-day may be the country’s favorite secular holiday, but it’s a bad time for Meleagris gallopavo. According to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving. That statistic is even more remarkable when you factor in our foreign-born population and vegetarians....

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How to Make a Schwenker (German Swinging Grill)

How to Make a Schwenker (German Swinging Grill)

What’s the world’s best grill? In the U.S. the debate usually circles around charcoal versus gas. But as you travel around Planet Barbecue, you find a stunning array of wood burning grills. This week’s blog post—written by Paula Marcoux—focuses on a grill that enjoys cult status in Germany, but is virtually unknown elsewhere: a unique hanging grill called the schwenker. As for Paula, the culinary historian and former Colonial food ways manager at...

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How to Cook with Wood

How to Cook with Wood

The wood burning oven at Hartwood. Photo by Gentl & Hyers. For years I’ve heard reports of a remarkable restaurant in Tulum, Mexico—run by American expats—where all the cooking is done over wood fires, and the flavors explode in your mouth like fireworks in a 4th of July sky. Well, now you can experience the restaurant Hartwood and the timeless wisdom of wood fire cooking from founder-chef Eric Werner in a stunning new book called Hartwood, published by our sister publisher Artisan....

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Beef Brisket Made Easy

Beef Brisket Made Easy

Photo by Richard Dallett. Brisket. Few words have such power to make mouths water and stomachs roar with hunger. Brisket is the summum of Texas barbecue and its popularity extends far beyond the Lone Star State. Food writers and pit masters like to mystify the process, making smoking a brisket sound as difficult as quantum physics. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Brisket is easy, requiring maybe 30 minutes of actual work from start to finish. True, that start to finish can stretch as long as 16 hours. But armed with the right tools (a sharp knife, a remote digital thermometer, and unlined butcher...

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10 Barbecue Hacks: Simple Tricks to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level

10 Barbecue Hacks: Simple Tricks to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level

Last week, two new groups of graduates left Barbecue University with diplomas in hand. I’m proud to have helped them ascend the ladder of barbecue enlightenment. Here are some of the “secret” techniques from the school to help you up your game at the grill. Keep it hot: Of course you light your charcoal in a chimney starter. When you pour out the coals, leave one or two burning embers in the starter, then add a fresh batch of charcoal. The embers will light the coals—no newspaper or fire...

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Reverse Searing: Godsend or Gimmick?

Reverse Searing: Godsend or Gimmick?

When I started smoking meat 25 years ago, no one knew of reverse searing. Today, you can hardly browse barbecue websites without being urged to try it. The process turns the traditional method of cooking a steak or roast—hot sear followed by slow roast—on its head. You start by smoking the meat low and slow to an internal temperature of about 100 degrees, then you char it over a hot fire to raise it to the desired temperature, applying the crisp smoky crust at the...

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Extreme Grilling: Steak Six Ways

Extreme Grilling: Steak Six Ways

Photo by Forres Meadows. You’re a confident griller of steaks. You’ve mastered New York strips, you can handle flank steak, and on several occasions, have produced magazine centerfold-worthy porterhouses. Now it’s time to tackle extreme steak grilling: That means on a shovel, grilled over spruce branches, wrapped in hay, in a salt and cloth crust, on a pitchfork, and my favorite—grilled directly on the embers. For obvious reasons, we’re going to have to leave out steaks grilled over a trough of molten...

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