Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

Grilling Techniques

Barbecue University™

Crash Course: 4 Ways to Control the Heat on a Charcoal Grill

Crash Course: 4 Ways to Control the Heat on a Charcoal Grill

How do you control the heat on a charcoal grill? Despite the volatile nature of a charcoal (or wood) fire, there are four effective ways to control the heat. Adjust the airflow: Most charcoal grills have vents on the bottom. Open the vents wide and you get more air and thus a hotter fire. Partially close the vents and you get less air and a cooler fire. Make sure the vents are open when you light your charcoal and set up the grill. If you have trouble starting a charcoal...

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Barbecue University™

Crash Course: How to Light a Charcoal or Wood Grill

Crash Course: How to Light a Charcoal or Wood Grill

Photo by Rob Baas. 3 Ways to Light a Charcoal Grill In the United States, you often hear the complaint that a charcoal grill takes too long to light. The truth is that if you have the right tools, charcoal is quick and easy to light, requiring little—if any—more time than it takes to preheat a gas grill. Here are three tried-and-true methods. A chimney starter: A chimney starter looks like a large coffee can or an upright metal box with a perforated partition inside. The charcoal goes in top; a crumpled...

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How to Buy and Cook a Dry-Aged Steak

How to Buy and Cook a Dry-Aged Steak

What to Look for When Buying Dry-Aged Steaks Because dry-aged beef demands time, expertise, and specialized equipment, it can be tough to find. Few supermarkets carry dry-aged steaks or USDA Prime beef, making it near impossible for some Americans to get their hands on dry-aged beef from local retailers. Given the high costs associated with dry-aged beef, most consumers want to be sure that they’re getting the best. At Chicago Steak Company (which...

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Barbecue University™

A Crash Course on Gas Grills

A Crash Course on Gas Grills

In North America, gas is king. Developed by utility companies, gas grills hit the barbecue scene in the 1950s. Today, almost 70 percent of American families use gas grills. There are two types of gas grill: those that burn natural gas, a fossil fuel based primarily on methane, and those that burn propane, a refined petroleum product comprised of hydrogen and carbon. So why grill with gas? In a word—convenience. The convenience of push-button ignition. The convenience of turn-of-a-dial...

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Barbecue University™

Crash Course on Grilling and Smoking with Wood

Crash Course on Grilling and Smoking with Wood

Here’s the third “class” in our ongoing Barbecue University™ blog series—a crash course on wood. Wood is the original and, to my mind, still the best fuel for grilling, and grill masters from Montevideo to Munich back me up on this. Charcoal and propane or natural gas produce heat, but only wood gives you both heat and flavor. That flavor is, of course, smoke—made up of carbon compounds like guaiacol, also found in roasted coffee, and syringol, the active...

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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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