UP IN SMOKE
SOME RAICHLEN FAMILY QUICKIES
It’s been a busy summer, and I’ve been on tour for most of it. The bad news is too many airports (Try clearing security with a set of 20 inch tongs and the ultimate grill brush!) The good news is, I’ve had a chance to meet many of you in person at my various grilling demonstrations and book signings. It’s always a pleasure to put a face with the name of someone you read on the Barbecue Board. And if you haven’t yet been on the board, it’s a great way to get answers to your grilling questions and meet some of the other members of our barbecue community.
NEWS AND VIEWS
This month’s lead story was inspired by our own web mistress, Amy Lewis, better known to you as Info@Workman. “How about some recommendations for the working person who needs to cook and eat in a hurry?” asks Amy. We suspect Amy has an ulterior motive here–not only is she a working person, recently back on the job full-time–she’s also a new mom.
Well, take heart Amy, because grilling, by its very nature, is quick and easy (or “fast and furious” as you write in your email). Mrs. R. and I have grilled lots of meals this summer that took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Here’s some general advice.
1. Cook the whole meal on the grill. This can be as simple as a piece of grilled tuna or swordfish accompanied by grilled garlic bread as an appetizer, grilled corn as a side dish (using the same garlic parsley oil or butter for basting) and melted butter-brushed, cinnamon sugar-dipped peach halves for dessert. (For the recipes, see below.) This keeps the cooking in one place and outdoors, so you minimize your prep time and clean-up. It also keeps you focused, which is the best way to cook quickly and efficiently.
2. Use rubs for seasoning. The basic barbecue rub is equal parts salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar. The basic seasoned salt is 2 parts salt and one part each black pepper, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder or flakes. What we do at home is make up double batches of rubs or marinades, so we always have some on hand for impromptu grill sessions (Barbecue Bible Rubs, Sauces, and Marinades is a great source for recipes). And, of course, now you can buy our Best of Barbecue Rubs (All Purpose Barbecue, Java Rub, Island Spice, and Mediterranean Herb) ready-made. Simply sprinkle some on both sides of that chicken breast, pork chop, or salmon steak, and you’ll have electrifying flavors in minutes.
3. Indirect grill. Beer Can Chicken, from my book Beer Can Chicken, takes about 5 minutes to assemble, and you can assemble it while you’re preheating your grill. True, the cooking time is 1-1/4 hours, but once you have your grill lit and chicken on, there’s virtually nothing to do until it’s done. Ditto for Planked Salmon, which only needs 30 or 40 minutes. Use the waiting time to set the table, open the mail, pay bills, or play with your children. (Or conduct some quality control tests on a bottle of wine or beer.)
4. Grill ahead for tomorrow. While you’re direct grilling your New York strip or tuna steak today, also throw on a couple of bell peppers, green or sweet onions, mushrooms, eggplant slices, or even tofu. They’ll keep for several days in the refrigerator and are great served at room temperature as salads (Simply drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar).
5. Keep it simple. Grilling, by its very nature, adds character and flavor to food–especially when you grill over charcoal or hardwood. You don’t need a lot of elaborate sauces or condiments. Often, I use nothing more than a sprinkle of salt (a good coarse sea salt), some freshly-ground black pepper, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil. Regardless of what you put on, whenever you grill, you feast like a king.
Do you have any tips for keeping it quick, simple, and flavorful on the grill? Let us know on the Barbecue Board. Remember, web mistress Amy is counting on you.
GRILLS, GEAR, AND FUELS
Thanks to all of you who visited our newly designed Barbecue Store last month. Your enthusiasm made June our best month ever. You may be curious to know what our top sellers are. Allow me to introduce another member of the Barbecuebible.com team, Jeff Wallace, who runs the Barbecue Store. According to Jeff, our # 1 seller was the Best of Barbecue University DVD, followed by the Ultimate Tongs, the 30 Inch Ultimate Grill Brush (the bad boy I use on the BBQ U TV show), the All-Purpose Barbecue Rub, and the Marinade Turbo Charger.
The Turbo Charger is a cool tool, consisting of a row of slender stainless steel needles mounted in a plunger handle. You use it to make rows of tiny holes in briskets, tri-tips, pork shoulders, and other roasts to speed up the absorption of the rub or marinade. Please note: this is not a meat tenderizer. (I like to let the low, slow heat of true barbecuing do that.) It’s designed to channel the seasonings inside the meat.
Two other hot sellers are the Java Rub and Wine Barrel Staves–thanks to my grill buddy, Howard Stern. Java rub is a bold flavored coffee and cocoa-based barbecue rub, while the wine barrel staves are a grilling and smoking fuel made from aged California red wine barrels. Howard uses them to make Beer Can Chicken.
Do you have any favorite recipes using Java rub? Post them on the Barbecue Board and we’ll send the creator of the best sounding recipe a free can of rub. (Just be sure to post your recipe by September 1, 2005.)
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
“I don’t own a gas grill (and damn proud of it, too),” writes Victor Campos of Northport, NY. (Come on, Victor, don’t be a snob–you can do some pretty awesome grilling on gas grills, too.) “I do own three 22 1/2 inch Weber kettles. Sometimes, when I try to make a tall beer can chicken or turkey, the lid fits too low in relation to the height of the grate. One day I purchased Weber’s rotisserie ring and a new world of possibilities emerged.”
The rotisserie ring, for those of you not familiar with it, is a sort of metal collar that sits atop the bottom bowl of a kettle grill, raising its height by 6 or so inches. Holes in the side accommodate a rotisserie spit and motor.
What’s interesting here is that Victor uses the ring (without the rotisserie attachments) to raise the height of the lid to accommodate tall beer can birds and other large roasts. One fringe benefit is that the ring keeps the metal lid high above the food, allowing for better smoke and heat circulation and more even cooking. Find out more about the Weber 2290 22-1/2-Inch Charcoal Kettle Rotisserie.
Some Raichlen family quickies.
All serve 4.
1) Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
2) Strip back the husks of 4 ears of corn, leaving them attached to the bottom, tying them at the bottom to form a handle, as pictured on page 362 in How to Grill.
3) Place about 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl and add 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or flatleaf parsley (This makes enough oil for both the corn and the garlic bread below.)
4) Brush and oil the grill grate. Lay the corn on the grate (with an aluminum foil shield beneath the husks to keep them from burning). Lightly brush each ear with garlic oil and season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
5) Grill the corn until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes in all, turning as needed, brushing with additional garlic oil ( You can certainly substitute garlic parsley butter for the corn.) Note: The Best of Barbecue Basting Brush, with its extra wide head and all natural bristles, works great for basting.
Grilled Garlic Bread
1) Using a serrated knife, cut a loaf of French bread sharply on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lightly brush each slice of bread on both sides with the garlic parsley oil.
2) Brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the bread until darkly toasted on both sides, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Don’t take your eyes off the grill—the difference between grilled garlic bread and burnt garlic bread is a matter of seconds.
1) Rub 1-1/2 pounds thick swordfish steaks on both sides with extra virgin olive oil and season very generously on both sides with your favorite herb rub (I, of course, am partial to our Best of Barbecue Mediterranean Herb Rub, but any herb blend, like French herbes de provence, will do.)
2) Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over both sides, patting it and the herb rub into the fish with a fork. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.
3) Arrange the steaks on the grate and grill until darkly browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Rotate each steak a quarter turn after 2 minutes to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks (For really pronounced grill marks, grill the fish on our Best of Barbecue Tuscan Grill).
4) Transfer the swordfish to a platter or plates and drizzle with more olive oil, another squeeze of lemon juice, and a spoonful of drained capers or chopped olives.
1) Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Cut 4 ripe peaches in half and remove the stone. Cut 1/4 inch off the founded bottom of each peach half.
2) Brush each peach half on all sides with melted butter, then dredge in a bowl of cinnamon sugar (I like to do the brushing and dredging at grill side.)
3) Brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the peaches (starting cut side down) until caramelized and golden brown on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Serve the hot peaches over cold vanilla ice cream. I wouldn’t say “no” to a shot of peach schnapps on top.
So if you’ve every wondered what your faithful grill master eats at home on a night off, that’s a pretty typical meal, and the best part about it is you’ll have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so.