UP IN SMOKE
A BARBECUER’S GIFT GUIDE
Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,
In early black and white movies, a common technique for illustrating the passage of time was to film calendar pages flipping from January through December, whipped by an unseen wind. Folks, that’s how fast this year has gone for us. There was a huge push the first quarter to finish writing my next book, Planet Barbecue, followed by weeks of recipe testing. (The book will be released in May.)
There was the stretch after Memorial Day when I mostly lived out of my suitcase, traveling on a 20-city book tour. In June, I taped the second season of my French TV show, Le Maitre du Grill, and spent a terrific few days in Colorado, first at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs teaching two back-to-back sessions of Barbecue University®, then at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival. Happily, July was all about family.
Come fall, I repacked my bags and headed to southern Arizona to film Season 3 of Primal Grill — the show launches on PBS in May. If you’d like a Primal Grill fix before the grilling season starts in earnest next spring, add Volumes 1 and newly-released Volume 2 of the DVD to your culinary library.
It’s time once again to compile Up in Smoke’s annual Barbecuer’s Gift Guide! Whew.
I’ve invited Nancy Loseke, assistant extraordinaire and Features Editor of Up in Smoke, to help me in this endeavor. Ladies first.
Nancy: I’m going to start at the top. In my estimation, one of the most cherished gifts you can give or receive is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: Barbecue University® is that, and more. It’s simply the ultimate gift for devotees of live-fire cooking. The mountain-side setting is stunning, and the hospitality at the Broadmoor resort is world-class, and the accommodations are as well. Be sure to inquire about the availability of “The Cottages” if you make plans to attend Barbecue University®.
The excitement is palpable at the evening welcome buffet…and wait until you get your first look at the collection of smokers and grills. Husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, buddies and BFFs—they’ve all come for three days of smoke, fire, and camaraderie. Well… that and the food! Students learn to prepare at least eight recipes in each class — the icons, like brisket and ribs and the cutting-edge dishes like grilled pizza and Catalan cream — to be sampled at a belt-busting lunch. Afternoons and evenings are free for golf, hiking, spa treatments, and enjoying all that the Broadmoor and Colorado Springs have to offer. For gift certificates or more information, call the Broadmoor at 1-800-634-7711 and ask for Melanie Shanks, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven: Grilling and roasting with wood has become a new passion for me. So imagine my pleasure when I got to “test drive” several new wood-burning grills and ovens last month while shooting Primal Grill.
Consider the Aztec Home Grill. Clad in stainless steel and built like an Iowa-Class battleship, this front-loading grill features heavy-duty cast iron grates and a full 3 inches of firebrick. Options—and I always like options—include a sturdy motorized rotisserie unit, side-mounted shelves, and a stainless steel grill grate cover.
Another wood-burner that took me by storm was the terracotta Beehive Oven sold by Al Fresco Imports. As the name implies, the oven resembles a large beehive on an iron stand—and when it comes to wood-roasting veggies or duck (not to mention baking pizzas), the flavor is out of this world. A beehive oven is both Old World and trendy: the cool factor is off the charts.
Nancy: One coal we wouldn’t mind finding in the stockings this year is charcoal — especially natural lump charcoal. You know, the stuff made from real trees, not petroleum binders and coal dust. One brand we really liked on the set of Primal Grill III comes from Honduras, where it’s made from oak (you can see the shape of the original tree branches). Order it from allnaturalcharcoal.com, and while you’re at it, pick up a bundle of fatwood firestarters. Once you grill over this stuff, you’ll want to throw stones at commonplace briquettes.
Speaking of charcoal, Weber has just introduced two oversized charcoal grills, the 26-inch One Touch Gold kettle grill and a 22-1/2 inch Smokey Mountain Cooker. (Both are sold through Amazon.com.) If you’ve ever struggled to grill or smoke a really big turkey or brisket, these bad boys are your ticket.
In any case, if you’re attracted to the oldest cooking method known to man, put in a request for South American grilling legend Francis Mallman’s new book, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (Artisan, 2009). Outrageous techniques including grilling on sticks, on fire- heated iron plaques, and in the embers; stunning photographs; irresistible recipes (try the salt-crusted chicken); this sizzling book has them all.
Steven: Food, of course, is always a practical gift. On my “A” list of purveyors are Allen Brothers—there’s a recipe for their long-bone Kurobuta pork chops below; Legal Sea Foods for impeccable seafood; and Melissa’s World Variety Produce for top-notch specialty produce.
Nancy: Little did we know when we met Albert Carver at Barbecue University® this past summer that we were making the acquaintance of one of the country’s top “lobstahmen.” Albert’s company, LobsterSelect.com, provides live Maine lobsters to some of the country’s best restaurants. The quartet of crustaceans I received at Albert’s generous insistence—each about 1-1/2 pounds—arrived in pristine condition and made for some of the best eating of the summer. Gift certificates are available, too.
Steven: Lobster makes a great splurge meal, but good gear will serve you for years. This month we’re offering a 10 percent discount on select grilling accessories in my Best of Barbecue collection at (see ad below). I’m especially proud of our new grilling tools with pakkawood handles—stainless steel skewers, spatulas, grill brushes and basting brushes, not to mention the toughest steak knives out there. In the seasoning department, there’s our new Spicy Gourmet Grilling Ketchup, Balsamic-Ginger and Sesame-Teriyaki spray glazes, and our fiery Fajita and Gaucho rubs.
Nancy: One of my new favorite gadgets from Best of Barbecue is the Chile Pepper Grill Rack and the clever tool for coring jalapenos that accompanies it. A “must” for Super Bowl parties.
Steven: Homemade gifts are always appreciated—especially in an unsettled economy. Make up and package your own rub or barbecue sauce along with recipes or suggested uses. Below you’ll find one of our favorites—a rib rub from Steven’s new book, Planet Barbecue. For other ideas, check out Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades (Workman, 2000), or go to the December 2006 issue of Up in Smoke.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.
GRILLED LONG-BONE PORK CHOPS WITH ONION JAM
Pork chops go upscale in this recipe hot off the set at Primal Grill III. Note: you can also make it with veal chops.
Method: Direct grilling
Advance preparation: 1 hour to make the onion jam.
For the onions:
1 pound small torpedo onions, cipollinis, pearl onions, or shallots
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1 cup honey, or to taste
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 gorgeous pork chops, preferably long-bone, Heritage-breed (each 1 to 1-1/4 inches thick and 10 to 12 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
2. Peel the onions, leaving most of the stem end intact. (The helps hold the onion together during cooking.) If you’re feeling ambitious, toss the onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill the onions until well browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. For ease in turning, you may wish to thread the onions on bamboo skewers before grilling. You can grill the onions at a previous grill session. This step is optional, but it will give the sauce a rich smoke flavor.
3. Place the onions (grilled or raw if you’ve omitted the previous step) in a large deep saucepan and add the wine, vinegar, honey, and 3 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the sauce until the onions are tender and the wine, vinegar, and honey have cooked down to a syrupy glaze, 6 to 10 minutes. If the onions become soft before the sauce has thickened, transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon, and continue boiling the sauce until thick and syrupy, then add them back. Correct the seasoning, adding salt to taste and vinegar or honey as needed. The onions should be a little sweet, a little sour, and very flavorful. The onions can be cooked several hours—or even a day ahead—and reheated just before serving. Immediately before serving, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. You should wind up with about 1-1/4 cups.
4. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Have one grill zone on medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.
5. Generously season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
6. Arrange the chops on the grill grate running on the diagonal to the bars of the grate. Grill until nicely browned on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the desired degree of doneness. Give each chop a quarter turn half way through on each side to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. If the chops brown too much on the hot zone, move them to the medium zone.
7. Transfer the chops to a platter or plates. Reheat the onion mixture. Spoon it over the chops and sprinkle with the parsley if using. Serve at once.
CARIBBEAN RIB RUB
Source: Steven Raichlen
Makes about 1 cup; can be multiplied as desired
1/2 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to mix, breaking up any lumps. Excellent when rubbed on pork ribs or even chicken before grilling or smoking.
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