Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

Pork

In Praise of Pork Shoulder, Part 1: How to Buy It

In Praise of Pork Shoulder, Part 1: How to Buy It

The pork shoulder has everything a grill or smoke master could wish for. Heft. Flavor. Affordability. And remarkable ease of preparation. Although a whole pork shoulder tips the scale at 14 to 18 pounds and a Boston butt (the top half of the shoulder—the cut most commonly sold at the supermarket) at 5 to 7 pounds, this large hunk ’o meat always comes out tender. And that’s true whether you smoke, indirect grill, or spit-roast it—methods commonly used by hog-o-holics around Planet Barbecue. But not all pork shoulders are equal, and to get the biggest bang for the buck, you need to know about anatomy, animal husbandry, seasoning and grilling techniques and gear. We’ll cover all those topics in this three-part...

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“Secreto”: The Best Kept Secret in Barbecue

“Secreto”: The Best Kept Secret in Barbecue

There’s an old saying: “Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while.” It came to mind when I chanced upon something unexpected while searching for duck at my local supermarket recently. It was an appropriate metaphor given that my find was a package of pork labeled “Secreto Ibérico de Bellota”—the “secret” cut from one of Spain’s acorn-fattened pigs. (Bellota means acorn in Spanish.) I first heard about secreto when Steven blogged about eating (make that devouring) it at the Imperial restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Chef-owner Vitaly...

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Behold the Bacon Weave

Behold the Bacon Weave

If I did my job well during Bacon Month (August), you’ve been motivated to make your own home-cured and smoked bacon from scratch (see my easy-to-follow directions here). You’re up to speed on how to grill bacon-wrapped foods, from onion rings to chicken drumsticks. Now—just in time for National Pork Month—it’s time to tackle the bacon weave, that magnificent mat of pork meat and fat that’s taken the blogosphere—and our barbecue community—by...

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In Praise of Pork Chops, Part 2

In Praise of Pork Chops, Part 2

First the good news. In the last 30 years, pork has gotten a lot leaner. This means that from a fat and cholesterol point of view, today’s pork is a lot healthier. Remember the “other white meat” campaign, comparing lean loin cuts of pork to white meat chicken? Now the bad news. In the last 30 years, pork has gotten a lot leaner. That means less marbling and less fat, and an increased tendency for those same lean cuts to dry out on the grill. Well, here at BarbecueBible.com, we try to be...

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Bacon-Wrapped Onion Rings

Bacon-Wrapped Onion Rings

This blog post is brought to you with support from our sponsor. First came bacon-wrapped prunes. Then jalapeño poppers, then bacon-wrapped chicken wings. The latest manifestation of America’s bacon mania is onions—thick rings of Vidalias or other sweet onions dipped in hot sauce, swaddled in hickory-smoked bacon strips, and indirect grilled until the bacon is as crisp as the onion is meltingly tender. Is your mouth watering yet? It will...

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Wrap Session: 8 Foods to Grill Wrapped in Bacon

Wrap Session: 8 Foods to Grill Wrapped in Bacon

A few weeks ago, a photo of onion rings wrapped and grilled in strips of bacon went viral. A gentle reminder that just about everything tastes better with bacon—a philosophy espoused by most of the members of this barbecue community. Especially when you use a home-cured, hardwood-smoked bacon, which I taught you how to make in a blog post earlier this month. The onion rings set me thinking about other foods that taste seriously awesome grilled wrapped in bacon. The usual suspects, like shrimp, scallops,...

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How to Make Bacon from Scratch

How to Make Bacon from Scratch

If you live in Miami’s Little Havana, you may remember a day last summer when you awoke to an aroma decidedly different than the cumin, garlic, and sour orange scents that normally emanate from the lechón asado (roast pork) parlors in this Cuban neighborhood. It was a pork smell, alright, but mingled with the smoke of slow smoldering hickory and apple wood. It was a smell you’d associate with a smokehouse in backwoods Tennessee. Which was no accident, because when James...

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How to Talk to Your Butcher

How to Talk to Your Butcher

Anyone who is serious about BBQ also needs to be serious about meat. That means skipping the mega-mart and heading to a good old-fashioned butcher shop to find the highest quality meats and the best cuts for your recipes. Need a special cut? Have a weird request? Want a suggestion of what to buy and how to cook it? Your butcher is, quite literally, there to help you. Tom Mylan, co-owner of The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, New York, and author of The Meat Hook Meat Book (Artisan, 2014), offers some expert know-how on...

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Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ham

Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ham

“If you have a ham in the house, you can face any situation.” So observed Edna Lewis, grand dame of Southern cooking (and spiritual founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance). She wasn’t talking about precious worldly cured hams like Italian prosciutto, Spanish jamón iberíco, or French jambon de Bayonne. No, Ms. Lewis was referring to good old American ham—pink, salty, meaty, moist, and above all, smoky. The kind of ham you’d be proud to put on your table. In America, the cured ham family tree splits...

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Barbecue University

Boston Butt Basics, Part 2

Boston Butt Basics, Part 2

In the last blog, Boston Butt Basics, Part 1, we discussed the anatomy of pork shoulder. So now you know the difference between a Boston butt and a picnic. You know what to look for when buying pork shoulder and you read how to season it with a mustard rub, smoke it, and serve it, South Carolina-style with Mustard Sauce. So it’s time to, er, bone up on pork shoulder grilling and smoking techniques and some basic prep before you fire up the grill. Prepping a pork shoulder: Keep...

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