Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

Barbecue University™

Barbecue University™

My Favorite Rib Recipe, Plus 8 Tips for Righteous Ribs

My Favorite Rib Recipe, Plus 8 Tips for Righteous Ribs

Twelve years ago this month, I began working for Steven Raichlen, the world’s foremost authority on international grilling and barbecue. My first major project was testing recipes for Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs (now titled Best Ribs Ever). My brand-new Weber Performer—I didn’t own a smoker in those days—and I turned out slab after slab of ribs during the spring of 2005, which I would vacuum seal and pack with frozen gel packs...

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Barbecue University™

What Is Brine? and How to Make It

What Is Brine? and How to Make It

When it comes to keeping foods moist on a smoker or grill, few techniques rival brining. A soak in a saline solution (which is what brine is) makes turkeys tender and succulent and pork chops plump and moist. Add a curing salt (like sodium nitrite) and brine gives pastrami its pinkish color and poultry or ham its umami richness. So, how does brining work? Muscles consist of long, bundled fibers. Moisture loss is inevitable when you hot-smoke or grill meat....

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Barbecue University™

Grilling in the Embers

Grilling in the Embers

This form of grilling is as old as humankind itself. Back before man invented grill grates or gridirons or even sharpened sticks for making shish kebabs, people cooked foods in the fire. Literally in the fire. Precisely, right in the coals. They laid root vegetables or meat directly on the embers and let the radiant heat of the coals do the cooking. When the food was ready, the ashes were brushed off. Barbecue was born. I like to call this primitive kind of grilling...

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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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Barbecue University™

Crash Course: The 6 Major Types of Grills

Crash Course: The 6 Major Types of Grills

There are many ways you could categorize the world’s dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different grills. You could group them by fuel, for example: charcoal grills, wood-burning grills, gas grills. You could organize them by region of origin—the grills of South America, for example, or Southeast Asia. But the most useful way, from a griller’s point of view, is by the configuration of the fire and where to place the food for cooking. This is what determines at what temperature and how quickly the food will grill. Understanding and controlling these variables goes a long way toward determining your success as a grill master. Open Grill The simplest of all grills: a metal or stone box with the burning charcoal, wood,...

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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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Barbecue University™

Crash Course on Grilling: The Anatomy of a Grill

Crash Course on Grilling: The Anatomy of a Grill

We’re pleased to introduce a new blog series on BarbecueBible.com: Barbecue University™. Every few weeks we’ll give you a crash course on a particular aspect of grilling, from essential gear and fuels to the indispensable techniques. Up this week: The Anatomy of a Grill. Master it and you’ll make more informed decisions when buying and using your grill. Travel Planet Barbecue with me and you’ll find grills of every size, shape, and design. Despite this incredible diversity, all grills share similar...

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