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My Thoughts for Memorial Day, 2020


Memorial Day is fast approaching and it’s going to be a holiday like we’ve never experienced.

No parties, no friends, only a few family members with proper social distancing.

The sheer strangeness of such a holiday, which honors the men and women who have given their lives for our country, makes me stop and think about how different life is now than it was 2 months ago.

Our 8-week confinement has been frustrating, illuminating, busy, and strangely satisfying.

I’ve been grilling and smoking even more than usual (if that’s possible!). And to judge from our website traffic and your wonderful posts on social media, YOU’VE been grilling more, too.

One thing I’ve been grilling a lot over the last 2 months is vegetables, in part because I’ve just finished my next book—on grilling vegetables (and pizzas, bread, cheese, eggs, desserts, and more). Don’t worry my carnivorous friends: it’s not strictly vegetarian. There are plenty of recipes with meat and seafood, too.

I’ve also been grilling vegetables because it’s been in the high 80s and low 90s the past few weeks in Miami, and when the weather is that hot, luscious light grilled vegetables are mostly what we want to eat.

But we’ve also been eating meat, and here we have a new philosophy: Eat less meat but better meat. Some of you may have seen my Instagram live on making bacon with an incredible A5 Wagyu brisket flat from Japan. A few weeks ago, I smoked a full packer brisket seasoned with Project Smoke Santa Fe Coffee Rub and slathered with Chipotle Molasses Barbecue Sauce. (Everybody got to eat some of that!)

And the other night, if you were watching my Facebook page, you saw me smoke an heirloom turkey we had in the freezer. I dry-brined it with sea salt and Greek Island Herb Rub and rotisserie-smoked it over applewood—a technique I pioneered in my book Project Smoke. The slow gentle rotation of the rotisserie keeps the bird moist, while the applewood delivers an incredible smoke flavor.

My various professional activities reflect the times—the Project Fire 3 TV shoot, for example, has been postponed until the fall, with the show launching in April, 2021. In keeping with the new normal, my public speaking business has evolved, too. I’m now doing lectures and grilling via Zoom.

One piece of great news: Barbecue University will take place as scheduled on June 18-21, at our new home: the gorgeous Montage Palmetto Bay resort near Savannah. We still have a few spaces in class: Click here for information and to enroll. This promises to be a very interesting Barbecue University, as we work Low Country flavors into our menu and figure out how to practice social distancing while gathering around the grill.

Like everyone else, we’re adapting every day.

So what’s on the menu for Memorial Day at my house? My wife Barbara has requested zucchini burnt ends (a recipe from the new vegetable book—sorry, you’ll just have to wait for that one). Among the grandkids, Julian wants buffaque shrimp to one of our shrimp recipes. Mia is jonesing for steak to our Malabar steak rub, while Ella wants my big bad smoky beef plate ribs

Big Bad Beef Ribs

Everybody wants grilled pineapple with smoked ice cream for dessert. And to wash them down, for the adults at least: a big pitcher of mezcalinis (think margarita meets mojito) from Project Smoke.

So, wishing you all a safe, happy, and above all—healthy!— Memorial Day! And may next year be different than this one!


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