Your Guide To Roasting Or Smoking Holiday Meats


Many are the times when my best friend, Kathy, with whom I often host a Christmas Eve open house, has asked me to grill or smoke the beef tenderloin or prime rib. Knowing she has paid nearly $100 (or more) for these gorgeous hunks of meat, you can imagine the pressure! Like me, she prefers her beef (and lamb) rosy rare. I always use the outdoor grill as her double oven is usually full of other things. (Plus, I love the peace and quiet!)

Like students at Steven’s famous Barbecue University, party guests often sidle up and ask how to consistently cook these indulgent meats to medium rare. My first piece of advice is to invest in an accurate meat thermometer. My second is to visit Steven’s website, where you can find recipes for nearly everything that can be smoked or grilled.

It’s a fabulous resource any time of year, but it’s especially valuable during the holidays. You can find everything from appetizers (try the Christmas Ribs recipe we just published) to desserts (this smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding is the bomb!) on this website.

But today, it’s those glorious meats we’re interested in. Here’s an introduction to some of the many holiday-worthy recipes you can find on

By the way, you might notice that ham isn’t on this list. That’s because most commercial hams—unless you want to cure and smoke one yourself—are already smoked and cooked. You simply need to reheat them.

Smoke-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Three Hots Horseradish Sauce: When I checked yesterday, this amazingly tender muscle was selling for $25.99 per pound. You can save some money if you buy a whole tenderloin and trim it yourself. Use the “reverse searing” technique to cook it to perfection. Don’t skip tying it at intervals with butcher’s string: it will maintain the tenderoin’s cylindrical shape. And that sauce? Also wonderful with potato chips. (Don’t judge me. I kept tasting it to make sure it had enough horseradish.)

Smoke-Roasted Leg of Lamb: My aforementioned friend, Kathy, and I have fond memories of being dressed to the nines on Christmas Eve, tottering in our high heels (sometimes in snow and ice), and tending to the leg of lamb, which we always cooked on the grill. This under-appreciated meat is wonderful when cooked medium-rare. Our favorite source is Jamison Farm of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Just an outstanding product.

Spit-Roasted, Garlic- and Rosemary-Studded Prime Rib: If there’s anything more spectacular than a bone-in spit-roasted prime rib roast, we haven’t seen it yet. Studded with small sprigs of fresh rosemary and garlic and seasoned with coarse salt and pepper, this magisterial roast will broadcast to your guests that they’re important people in your life. (Though you may want to share the bones with a privileged few.) If you don’t own a rotisserie (Santa?), you can grill the prime rib indirectly. We especially like it prepared with the reverse-sear method.

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork Loin: I’ve worked with Steven for about 15 years. And this is one of our most popular recipes. Definitely in the top five. The best news? Pork loin—not to be confused with pork tenderloin, which is much smaller—is one of the best bargains at the meat counter. A few years ago, I fed this to a holiday crowd of 15 and still had plenty left. Smoke-roasted potatoes or Hasselbacks make a great side dish, along with a salad.

Double Whiskey-Smoked Turkey: Did I have you at “double whiskey?” Thought so. This is one of the best smoke-roasted turkeys you’ll ever eat. (Start soon as it needs a 24-hour romp in the savory brine.) Steven is a fiend for crisp poultry skin, and knows you can’t get it simply by smoking. So he cleverly suggests finishing the bird at 400 degrees (you can even do this in your oven) to render the fat and crisp the skin. That rubbery stuff? You’ll never have to eat it again.

Smoke-Roasted Goose: When I was a child, goose was the centerpiece of the Christmas Day table. Ordered in advance by my grandmother from a local farmer, the freshly plucked bird was liberally seasoned with salt and Watkins-brand pepper, packed with bread stuffing, and roasted slowly in her largest speckleware roasting pan. It always reminded me of my favorite scene from A Christmas Carol:

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family…

And with that, all of us wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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