Hot Stuff

Our Most Popular Recipes from 2018


The ringing in of the New Year is always our cue to take a look in the rear-view mirror and identify the most searched topics and recipes on our website, Not only is it fun to see where we’ve been, but the data helps us map our editorial path for the coming year. Once again, pork dominated the field in 2018, with everything from pork belly (cured and uncured) to ribs.

Here are our top recipes, in order:

1. Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pork Loin

Here it is—one of our most popular recipes of the decade. This pork loin plays pinball on your taste buds, offering the sweetness of brown sugar, the tang of mustard, and the rich smoke flavor of bacon (the bacon also helps keep the meat moist). And just for polish, there’s a Tennessee whiskey glaze.

2. Cold-Smoked Salmon

The key is to cure the salmon in salt for at least a day (this both flavors and dehydrates the fish), then rinse it, dry it, and blast it with wood smoke, but—and this is a very important but—no heat. The low temperature (around 80°F) is crucial, for your goal is to smoke the salmon without cooking it. This gives you the translucent sheen, velvety texture, forthright smoke flavor, and briny marine tang (complete with a hint of iodine) characteristic of truly world-class cold-smoked salmon.

3. Made-From-Scratch Bacon

Bacon—a trend once characterized by its excesses (remember the Bacon Explosion? Bacon Manhattans? Bacon brownies?) has quietly morphed into a DIY movement that has more and more people curing and smoking bacon at home. The good news is that the process is easy, requiring few culinary skills and little actual work. (More good news: Pork bellies—once requiring a special advance order with your local butcher—can now be found at your local Whole Foods. Or you can purchase a 5-pound American Kurobuta pork belly online from Snake River Farms.)

4. First Timer’s Ribs

If your goal is to master ribs in 2019, start with this recipe. Originally published in 2005 in Steven’s fabulous rib book, it pulls out all the stops, using a rub, mop sauce, wood smoke, and barbecue sauce to build layers of flavor. And the best part? The ribs can be made in about 90 minutes. The method produces a rib with a little chew to it—exactly the way barbecue judges like them. (If you prefer a rib that is fall-off-the-bone tender, use our recipe for 3-2-1 ribs.

5. Beef Tenderloin with Ember-Roasted Peppers

Yes, it’s extravagant and expensive. But it’s guaranteed to delight the carnivores in your circle—especially when smoked to sanguine perfection. An added bonus? It’s ridiculously easy to prepare—you can even do it ahead—and can be served warm or at room temperature.

6. Barbecued Pork Belly

Bacon is about smoke and salt. Barbecue is about smoke and spice. They join forces in this barbecued pork belly. What is most remarkable about this sizzling, spice-crusted barbecued belly is how it retains the sweet, meaty taste of fresh pork. You’d never mistake it for bacon.

7. Memphis-Style Ribs

If you come from Memphis, your notion of ribs was probably shaped by a landmark restaurant called Rendezvous, where Greek immigrant Charlie Vergos grilled top loin ribs (a.k.a. baby backs) high over charcoal briquettes, swabbing the cooked racks with vinegar prior to sprinkling them thickly with spice rub. Thus was born the “dry rub” rib, which is unique in the annals of American barbecue. Said rub contains paprika, chili powder, oregano, and mustard, and unlike most American barbecue rubs, it’s not in the least bit sweet. Notice I said “grilled,” not “smoked”: The Rendezvous uses no wood in cooking its ribs—the flavor comes from the spices—and meat juices sizzling on the coals.

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