Newsletter Up In Smoke

Get Raichlen's Burgers! plus weekly recipes and tips straight from Steven Raichlen!



Newsletter Archive

Liquid Gold


The ancient Greek poet Homer called it “liquid gold.” I call it indispensable for any serious griller. I reach for it daily, and like salt and pepper, I can’t imagine cooking without it. Not only does olive oil have well-documented health benefits, it, er, smokes other vegetable-based oils when it comes to flavor.

How do I use it? Let me count the ways:

  • Brushed on poultry, fish fillets, and vegetables to retain moisture, hold rubs and seasonings in place, and to keep food from sticking to the grill grate;
  • Whisked into lemon juice with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh basil, sage, rosemary, and other herbs for a quick marinade for fish, poultry, lamb, beef, pork, or vegetables;
  • As a finishing sauce drizzled over steaks (such as bistecca alla Fiorentina on page 145 of Planet Barbecue) seafood, grilled bread, and vegetables;
    In vinaigrettes, using 1 part of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to 3 or 4 parts of olive oil, adding mustard or seasonings of your choice;
  • For seasoning and oiling your grill grate (especially if you have cast iron grates). Use the same technique on cast iron cookware, such as a griddle, skillet, or plancha.

Olive oil is available in staggering variety at gourmet and grocery stores. Alas, not all olive oils are created equal. Italian versus Spanish. Extra-virgin versus virgin. And to add to the confusion, price is not always a consistent predictor of quality.

Olive oil enlightenment arrived to barbecuebible.com in 2005, when Nancy Loseke joined us as general factotum and Features Editor of Up in Smoke. Happily, Nancy wears another hat—that of professional olive oil taster (trained at the Robert Mondavi Olive Oil Center at U.C. Davis, no less). Nancy is a co-founder of the “The Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club”—based on the premise that olive oil, unlike wine, is the freshest and best the minute it leaves the press. Nancy and/or her associates crisscross the globe, ferreting out the best olive oil on six continents. Four times a year, they send out their top picks, and as a longtime member of the club, I want to tell you that these are simply the best olive oils you’ll ever taste. (Read more about the club below, including its exclusive offer to send readers of Up in Smoke a free bottle of olive oil with a trial subscription.)

I’ve asked Nancy to share her top tips for selecting and maintaining the best olive oils:

  1. Always buy olive oil labeled “extra-virgin”. This is a special title reserved for oils that have satisfied all the International Olive Council (IOC) standards for excellence, including an acidity level of 0.8 per cent or less.
  2. Look for harvest dates or “use by” dates on either the front or back labels affixed to the bottle. (Sometimes, they are printed vertically.) Olive oil, unlike wine, does not get better with age. It should be consumed as close to the harvest date as possible. Oils from the Mediterranean are pressed from October through January, while oils from the Southern Hemisphere (Chile, Australia, South Africa, etc.) are freshest during our summer months.
  3. Shop for oil at purveyors who have a brisk turnover in merchandise.
  4. Avoid purchasing oils that are displayed in direct sunlight or under fluorescent lights (common in supermarkets), as light quickly degrades olive oil.
  5. Color, surprisingly, is not a predictor of flavor; superior oils can range in color from vivid green to golden yellow.
  6. If possible, shop where sampling is encouraged. Some stores now have olive oil bars.
  7. Buy oils in dark green or brown bottles; clear bottles hasten light-induced degradation.
  8. Never buy olive oils labeled “light.” They are generally inferior oils that fell short of IOC standards and have had their flavor and color chemically stripped. And they still have 100 calories per tablespoon.
  9. California is now producing some excellent-tasting, high-quality olive oils. Purchase them in late Fall after the harvest.
  10. Look for oils that are estate-pressed, meaning the time between harvest and pressing is likely a matter of hours—not days.
  11. Store oils in a cool, dark place—never next to the stovetop. Unless you are a profligate user, buy olive oil in small bottles or tins.

Visit the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club for more information.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Valentine’s Day at BBQU


Don’t read this unless you want to make an unforgettable impression on Valentine’s Day. Seriously. We’re not talking roses, diamonds, chocolates, dinner out, or premium golf balls. We’re talking an epic, over-the-top gift that will be remembered-and enjoyed-for years to come. By you and your Valentine. (Although you could package this gift with any of the above, and score even more points. Serve the aphrodisiacal oysters below, and the rest will be history.)

We’re talking Barbecue University with grilling great Steven Raichlen at the luxurious Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Three days of fire, fun, and camaraderie for people who love barbecue and who want to learn more about it, but as Steven jokes, also appreciate high thread counts. (For more tantalizing details, including the number of grills you’ll be exposed to, go to barbecuebible.com/bbqu/.)

Steven is only doing two sessions of his famous BBQ U this year, and the first one has already sold out. No worries if you act fast: Session 2, which kicks off with a festive cocktail party and buffet, starts on June 12 and runs through June 15.Your gift will not only be the experience itself, but memories and meals that will sustain you and your Valentine for a lifetime. You can’t say that about chocolate or diamonds.

Don’t procrastinate.

To register for Barbecue University™ or to inquire about room and suite upgrade rates and availability, please call 800-634-7711 or e-mail Noemi Kiss-Baldwin at NKiss-Baldwin@broadmoor.com. Again, please book early.

Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2003)

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 6

24 oysters in the shell
Approximately 3/4 cup chipotle-style barbecue sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup freshly grated pepper Jack cheese
Good tequila

You’ll also need: A Best of Barbecue Shellfish Rack

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

Shuck the oysters. Arrange the oysters on a shellfish rack or on baking sheets, taking care not to spill the juices.

Place about 1-1/2 teaspoons barbecue sauce into each oyster. Top with 1-1/2 teaspoon chopped cilantro, 1-1/2 teaspoon cheese, and a few drops of tequila.

Arrange the oysters on the shellfish rack on the grate and grill until the sauce and oysters juices are bubbling and the oyster is cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. (If you don’t have a shellfish rack, carefully arrange the oysters directly on the grill grate.) Work in several batches as needed. Serve the oysters hot off the grill.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

The Spin on Spit-Roasting


It’s one of the oldest and most universal cooking methods on Planet Barbecue. And few sights make us hungrier than a duck, chicken, rib roast, pork shoulder, or even a whole suckling pig or lamb—fat glistening, exterior crusty—spinning slowly on a turnspit next to the fire.

Spit-roasting no doubt emerged as the third great grilling technology (after direct grilling and shish kebab) in prehistoric times. By the Middle Ages, massive joints of meat spit-roasted in baronial fireplaces sustained large households—turned by hand by young male servants called “spit jacks.” Later, power to spits was ingeniously supplied by dogs running on treadmills, steam, mechanical clockworks, and finally, by electricity.

Manually-turned spits remain quite common in the world’s grilling cultures. One practitioner is my friend Dietmar Brunk, who repeats the house rule: “In order for your drink to earn/you must the rotisserie spit earn.” (OK, it sounded more poetic in German.) Incidentally, Deitmar is the grillmeister who introduced me to one of the world’s greatest spit-roasted dishes: traditional German Spiessbraten—onion-stuffed, spit-roasted pork shoulder—at his home in Idar-Oberstein. (See recipe below.)

Spit-roasting rocks for many reasons:

  • The slow rotation of the meat (or vertical, in the case of gyros, Döner kebab or tacos al pastor) on the spit guarantees even browning and caramelization of the meat proteins.
  • Meat and poultry are self-basting as the melting fat and juices re-circulate through and over them as they cook.
  • Spit-roasted foods cook evenly.
  • Slow and gentle cooking yields tender, succulent meat.
  • You can spit-roast over charcoal, wood, gas, in a fireplace, or over a campfire.

Spit-roasting is a form of indirect grilling, usually done at medium-low to medium heat. (Though sometimes smaller items are spit-roasted over higher heat.) Spit-roasting is ideal for fatty or cylindrically shaped foods, like whole birds, boneless and bone-in rib roasts, pork loins and shoulders, lamb legs, and of course whole lambs, goats, and hogs. What you may not realize is that you can also spit roast whole vegetables such as onions and cabbages and fruit, such as pineapples, like they do in Brazil.

One of our favorite techniques is spit-roasting over charcoal, because it’s easy to toss soaked wood chips or chunks on the coals to generate wood smoke. Rotisserie collar-motor kits for a Weber kettle, for example, are available through Amazon.

Many gas grills come with rotisserie mounts; some even come with dedicated rear-mounted rotisserie burners. To speed up the cooking process, you can also light the outside burners, as you would for indirect grilling.

For wood fire and fireplace spit-roasting equipment, check out Spitjack.com, run by our friend Bruce Frankel. (Bruce designed “The Beast”—the industrial strength rotisserie we used to roast Greek-Style Whole Hog With Greek-Style Herbs in Episode 209 of Primal Grill.) My advice is to buy a kit with the sturdiest motor you can afford.

Among spit-roasting accessories, we like rotisserie grilling baskets, which can hold chicken wings, vegetables, and other foods too small to skewer. There are even flat baskets that hold whole fish or other thin foods in place as the rotisserie spins. Several models are sold on Amazon.com.

Before you are ready to spit-roast, make the food as compact and cylindrical as possible. Tie roasts, truss poultry, bind legs, etc. Flopping parts will not only throw off the rotisserie’s balance, but may jam against the grate or come too close to the fire.

When loading the spit, first put one fork on with the prongs facing the center of the spit. (We’ve all forgotten to do this at some point.) Thread the food on the spit through the center, then put the remaining fork on the spit and secure the food. Be sure the load is centered and well-balanced on the spit, making any necessary adjustments, then tighten the screws on both prongs. (The tines of a dinner fork work well for this.) Sometimes, you’ll need to use wire to secure whole animals or larger pieces of meat to the spit.

If grilling on a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling with a drip pan directly underneath the spit. Put the end of the spit into the motor socket. Adjust the load or counterweight to ensure the food spins evenly, then switch on the motor. Add coals every hour as needed.

When spit-roasting over a campfire—and only do this where it’s allowed, please—rake the embers into a lateral pile behind the axis where the spit will rotate. (You can also rake them into a pile in front if you want more heat.) Place drip pans directly underneath where the food will cook. Put the supports and spit in place. Replenish the coals as needed.

Here are two of our favorite rotisserie recipes to get you started—“cooked to a turn”—yes, that’s the origin of the popular phrase.

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman Publishing, 2010)

Method: Spit-roasting

Serves: 8

1 boneless pork loin (about 2-1/2 pounds)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced crosswise
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (optional)

You’ll also need: butcher’s string; a rotisserie; beech wood logs, chunks or chips (about 2 cups of the latter)

Butterfly the pork—that is, make a lengthwise cut through one side almost to but not through the other side, holding the knife blade parallel to the cutting board. Open up the pork loin as you would a book. Using the side of a heavy cleaver, a scaloppini pounder, or a rolling pin, lightly flatten the butterflied pork.

Generously season the inside of the pork with salt and pepper. Arrange the onion slices on top of one side. Arrange the garlic, if using, on top. Fold the other side over the pork to return it to its original cylindrical shape. Using butcher’s string looped over crosswise, tie the roast into a tight cylinder.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350 degrees F). Toss the soaked wood chips on the coals or place in the smoker box or a smoker pouch if using a gas grill. Cook the pork until crusty and browned on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F, about 1-1/2 hours.

Transfer the Spiessbraten to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the butcher’s string and carve the roast crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.

This simple dish is a staple at the Raichlen household. Note what may be a new technique for you: spitting the chicken through the side, not from front to back (a technique, incidentally used around Planet Barbecue). The bird browns better and stays juicier this way.

Serves 2

1 whole chicken, (3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons Best of Barbecue Mediterranean Herb Rub (available from Grilling4All.com), herbes de Provence, or your favorite Mediterranean-style herb rub
Olive Caper Salsa (see recipe below)

You’ll also need: Butcher’s string; a rotisserie

Wash and dry the chicken (removing the giblets from the cavity). Season the front and main cavities of the bird with 1 tablespoon rub. Truss the bird with butcher’s string (for step by step instructions, see page 000 in How to Grill) so the wings and legs don’t flop during cooking.

Brush or rub the outside of the bird with olive oil and thickly season with the remaining rub.

Set up the grill for spit-roasting and preheat the grill to medium. When ready to cook, thread the chicken onto the rotisserie spit through the side. Make sure it’s balanced.

Spit-roast the chicken until the skin is well browned and the meat is cooked through, 1 to 1-1/4 hours. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness, inserting it into the thickest part of a thigh, but not so that it touches a bone. The internal temperature should be about 170 degrees F.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and remove and discard the trussing string and skewer. Let rest for about 5 minutes before carving. Serve with the Caper Olive Salsa below.

1 ripe beefsteak tomato or 2 to 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted diced kalamata or black olives
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 fresh basil leaves, slivered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving (optional)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the tomato, scallion, olives, capers, basil, oil, and lemon juice in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Right before serving, toss to mix, adding salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Our Annual Barbecuers’ Gift Guide


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

Once a year, we brainstorm gift ideas for barbecuers—not the silly novelties you often see in catalogs and online—but products we’d actually want ourselves, that deserve places in our grilling and barbecuing lives.

All of us here at BarbecueBible.com wish you happy holidays and a healthy New Year.

Books, Books, Books: Too cold to fire up your grill? (For many of us, of course, winter grilling brings its own unique set of thrills.) Well, it’s never too cold to curl up with a good book. One of our favorites this year was Mark Schatzker’s Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef (Reed Business Information, 2010). Schatzker’s skills as a storyteller make this not only a great reference book, but a gripping read. My assistant, Nancy, recommends Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral by Mark Bitterman (Ten Speed Press, 2010). As Pliny observed, “Heaven knows, a civilized life is impossible without salt.” Not to mention great barbecue. Closer to home, one of the highlights of my year was seeing my latest book, Planet Barbecue (Workman, 2010), on the New York Times Best-seller List. It features more than 300 recipes from around the world, as well my travel tales from the barbecue trail, and if I say so myself, it makes a great addition to a barbecue library. Ditto for the new boxed gift set with Barbecue Bible and How to Grill, on sale now exclusively at Barnes & Noble.

Takumi Binchotan Charcoal: This is “coal” you’ll want in your stocking if you’re a serious griller. The world’s most exclusive (and expensive) charcoal, binchotan comes from Ubame oak, the official tree of the Wakayama Prefecture in southern Japan. Whole trees are burned for several days in a cave sealed with mud bricks. The resulting charcoal is exceedingly hard, pure, and slow-burning. A single piece can burn for hours, giving off no appreciable aftertaste.. This is the fuel used by Japan’s top yakitori masters and Kobe beef kings, and now you can buy it in the U.S. Binchotan isn’t cheap—a 2-1/2 pound bag costs about $25—but that quantity will take you through several grill sessions. Available at thekobebeef.com.

Japanese Yakitori Grill: Speaking of binchotan, you’ll want an authentic Japanese-style yakitori grill to go with your premium charcoal. Enter then, the clay Japanese tabletop grill sold by Korin (korin.com). The largest model is approximately 20 inches by 9 inches and features heatproof handles and side vents for temperature control. Perfect for foods on bamboo skewers—yakitori, sates, etc. It retails for $210.

planchaPlancha: My fascination with Argentinean-style grilling prompted me to create a cast iron plancha (called la champa in Argentina) for the Best of Barbecue® product line. It gives shrimp, scallops, veggies, and fruits a crusty, smoky sear without drying them out, and is perfect for delicate fish and anything small enough to fall through a conventional grill grate.

Bear Claws: You’ve smoked a huge pork shoulder to perfection and it’s now resting on your kitchen counter in all its glory. Now comes the hard part—pulling all that protein into shreds while the meat’s still hot. Many grill masters use their hands or a pair of table forks. But there’s a better way: these sharp molded plastic claws make quick work of the job. They can also be used to lift turkeys or hams off the grill. Inexpensive at $7.49 per pair plus shipping. Find them at the mega-barbecue store Hawgeyes in Ankeny, Iowa (hawgeyesbbq.com).

Primal Grill DVD, Season 3: Give a man a fish and he eats for one day, goes the old saying. Teach him to fish and he feasts for a lifetime. The same holds true for barbecue, and Steven’s Primal Grill DVD Season 3 is designed not only to show you great recipes, but teach you techniques that will last a lifetime. Includes the most popular episodes of Primal Grill Season 3: “Asia’s Crossroads,” “Spanish Smoke,” “Out of Africa,” and “Primal Grills for a Crowd.” Also included are five extra recipes (including Wood-Oven Pizza) and behind-the-scenes video. Go to www.primalgrill.org and click on “store.”

Grill Blower: One of our favorite ways to cook a thick steak is to season it and throw it directly on the embers (natural lump charcoal only, please). It’s imperative that you fan the coals to increase their temperature and to disperse any loose ash. A folded newspaper will work fine, but the “Air Grill” we found at Hawgseye is a more elegant solution. It resembles a blow dryer, but is hand-operated. No batteries or electricity required.

Smokenator 1000: A modest investment of around $60 will convert your 22-1/2 inch Weber kettle charcoal grill into a water smoker. The Smokenator enables you to maintain the “low and slow” temperatures required for great smoked foods like ribs, brisket, etc.
Constructed of 18-gauge stainless steel, the device fits over the coals and includes a water pan, that when filled, will help keep your food moist.

Red Sky Pizza Stone: Another modest investment will transform your kettle grill into a pizza oven. This ingenious D-shaped pizza stone fits perfectly on Weber’s 22-1/2 inch grill grate without blocking airflow and while allowing easy access to the charcoal baskets. Made of a composite heat-resistant material, the Red Sky Pizza Stone is designed to wick excess moisture out of the dough for a crisp, perfectly-cooked crust. It is accompanied by recipes, clear instructions, and a chunk of wood for extra flavor.

Pizza Peel: Grilled pizza is addictive—a sure way, we discovered, to grab the attention of the crew on the set of Primal Grill. Even the vegetarians were sneaking pieces of the bacon, onion, and potato pizza we featured in Season 3. (For the recipe, go to www.primalgrill.org.) But a pizza peel like the one made by The Companion Group would have streamlined production. The offset handle even folds for easy storage.

BBQ UNIVERSITY: And finally, the big kahuna—a gift certificate redeemable for the 2011 session of Barbecue University ®: On June 8-11 and June 12-15, 50 lucky people will join Steven at the luxurious Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs for the most exclusive barbecue experience in the country, Barbecue University®. It’s a three-day extravaganza of fire, food, fun, and camaraderie in the Rocky Mountains. The BBQ U gift certificate makes a perfect gift for the holidays, an anniversary, birthday, or father-son (or mother-daughter) bonding session. For more information, contact the Broadmoor’s Reservation Manager, Noemi Kiss-Baldwin at 719-577-5708, or e-mail her at NKiss-Baldwin@broadmoor.com.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Top Ten Tailgating Tips


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

If you’re a tailgater, you know there’s as much competition in the parking lot, pre-game, as there is in the stadium. Every week, it’s a new contest.

We’ve put together a grilled menu (with recipes) that will help you crush the opposition. How can you lose with “hammers,” spatchcocked “game” birds, or “pound” cake kebabs?

As a bonus, here our top ten tailgating tips:

1) Pack separate coolers for food and beverages; keep both cold by replacing some of the ice cubes with bottles of frozen water;

2) Choose foods that can either be direct grilled quickly, or indirect grilled foods that cook within 1-1/2 hours; do as much prep work as possible at home;

3) Stand propane tanks or bags of charcoal in milk crates so they don’t tip over in transit;

4) Float a large Mylar balloon above your vehicle so your tailgating guests can find you easily in the parking milieu;

5) Make a master list for essential tailgating supplies (include “tickets”), then have it laminated; make a separate list for food items as your menu changes;

6) If setting up at a new venue, check with the stadium in advance of game day to find out if there are special tailgating rules. And be sure to ask what time the parking lot opens—you don’t want to arrive at 6 a.m. when the lot doesn’t open until 9 a.m.;

7) Pack plenty of disposable aluminum foil pans, paper towels, disposable handwipes, zip-top type bags, and sturdy garbage bags;

8) Develop a plan for dousing and disposing of used charcoal;

9) Don’t leave food safety considerations at home: Keep hot foods hot (140 degrees and higher) and cold foods cold (40 degrees and lower);

10) Pack a couple of permanent markers with your supply of disposable cups so guests can initial their glasses (cuts down on waste).

Now go out and win big!

Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

Advance Preparation: None, although the “hammers” can be assembled several hours ahead

4 ounces Gouda cheese
16 pitted prunes
4 lean slices of bacon, or more as needed

You’ll also need: 16 short, thin bamboo skewers or wooden toothpicks, soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, and drained; a grill shield or a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil folded like a business letter

1) Cut the cheese into 1/4 by 1/4 by 1-inch pieces and stuff them inside the prunes.

2) Cut each slice of bacon crosswise into 4 pieces: Each piece should be just large enough to wrap around a prune. Wrap each prune in bacon and secure it through the side with a bamboo skewer or toothpick so that it resembles a hammer. The hammers can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

3) Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Leave one section of the grill fire-free for a safety zone.

4) When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the wrapped prunes on the hot grate with a grill shield or an aluminum foil shield under the exposed ends of the skewers to keep them from burning. (Alternatively, wrap the exposed end of each skewer or toothpick with foil.) Grill the hammers, turning with tongs, until the bacon is crisp and the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes per side. In the event you get flare-ups, move the hammers on top of the grill shield or the safety zone. Transfer the hammers to a platter and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2008)

Method: Direct grilling under a brick

Serves: 2 to 4

Advance Preparation: 2 hours for marinating the game hens

For the marinade:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup boiling water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch fresh basil, stemmed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 game hens (1 to 1-1/4 pound each)*

For serving:

Fresh basil sprigs
Lemon wedges
Cherry tomatoes

You’ll also need: 4 bricks completely wrapped with heavy-duty aluminum foil

A spray bottle of water to control flare-ups

1) Combine the oil, lemon juice, water, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a blender and process to a smooth paste. Refrigerate if not using immediately; it’s best the day it’s made.

2) For each hen, remove the packet of giblets (if any) from the body cavity and set aside for another use. Remove and discard any excess fat just inside the body cavity of the game hen; rinse the bird, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Place the bird, breast side down, on a cutting board.

Using poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut through the flesh and bone along both sides of the backbone. Cut from the tail end to the head end and completely remove the backbone.

3) Open out the bird (like opening a book) by gently pulling the halves apart. Using a sharp paring life, lightly score the top of the breastbone. Run your thumbs along and under the sides of the breastbone and attached cartilage and pop them out. Spread the bird out flat.

4) Turn the bird over. Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the skin between the lower end of the breastbone and the leg, on each side, approximately 1/2 inch long (you’re trying to accommodate the end of the drumstick). Stick the end of the drumstick on that side through the slit.

5) Put the spatchcocked hens into a nonreactive baking dish and pour the marinade over them, turning to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, preferably for 1 hour.

6) Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the game hens on the hot grate, all facing the same direction, at a 45 degree angle to the bars of the grate. Place a brick on top of each. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side; replace the bricks after turning. The bricks make it more difficult to control spontaneous flare-ups, so have a spray bottle on hand and use it judiciously if the flames threaten to burn the hens. The hens are done when an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh (but not reaching the bone) registers about 170 degrees F.

7) Transfer the hens to a platter; let rest for 3 minutes before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil, lemon wedges, and cherry tomatoes.

*Game hens are available from www.dartagnan.com if you can’t find them locally.



Source: Adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen (Workman

 Publishing, 2001)

Method: Direct Grilling

Serves: 4

8 Belgian endives, trimmed and halved lengthwise (See Note)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup English walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese, preferably Roquefort
1/4 cup curly parsley, finely minced

1) Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

2) Brush the endives with olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3) Arrange the endives on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side, turning with tongs.

4) Transfer the endives to a platter; arrange in two rows of eight pieces each.
Sprinkle the walnuts, cheese, and parsley down the center of the platter.

Serve immediately.


Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

For the glaze:

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rum
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the fruit:

2 large ripe freestone peaches, nectarines, or pears
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 plums
1 large banana
4 1-inch slices of pound cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (preferably Sara Lee; homemade is too crumbly)
1/4 cup melted butter

For serving:

Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Sprigs of fresh mint

You’ll also need: 4 long cinnamon sticks (8 to 12 inches each)

Metal skewer

1) Make the glaze. In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the cream, honey, rum, and cinnamon. Gradually bring to a boil over high heat, then let boil until the glaze is slightly reduced and just beginning to become syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2) Prepare the fruit. Cut each peach in half along the crease. Twist the peach halves in opposite directions to separate them. Remove and discard the pits. Cut each peach into quarters, and transfer to a bowl; gently toss with lemon juice. Pit each plum and cut into quarters. Peel the banana and cut into 1-inch pieces.

3) To assemble the kebabs, skewer the peaches, plums, bananas, and pound cake chunks on cinnamon sticks, dividing the fruit and pound cake evenly between each. Make starter holes in the fruit, if necessary, with a metal skewer, starting from the pit side and handling the fruit as gently as possible. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the melted butter on all sides of the kebabs

4) Preheat the grill to high.

5) Grill the fruit kebabs until the pound cake is lightly toasted and the fruit is sizzling (2 to 4 minutes per side). As the kebabs grill, baste them lightly with a little of the Honey-Rum Glaze.

6) To serve, place the kebabs on plates or a platter. Drizzle with warm Honey-Rum Glaze, and accompany with bowls of vanilla ice cream garnished with fresh mint sprigs (optional).

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Brisket, Demystified


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

The perfect brisket is the holy grail of barbecue, often pursued, but rarely attained. It is simultaneously one of the simplest and most challenging dishes a grill master can attempt.

At first glance, it seems straightforward enough, requiring only meat, wood smoke, and maybe salt and pepper. Smoke it at 225 to 275 degrees F for anywhere from 8 to 15 hours (depending on its size) until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190 to 195 degrees F, then slice, serve, and bask in the glory. Right?

Not necessarily. Brisket is as ornery as a mechanical bull, and will, er, “throw” the barbecuer who doesn’t approach it with caution. (The etymology of the word “brisket” itself hints at its toughness: The term’s origins are in Old Norse—“brjósk”—meaning “cartilage”. Middle English interpreted it as “brusket.”)

What makes this hunk o’ meat so intimidating?

Brisket is a cut that comes from between the forelegs of a cow, similar to a pectoral muscle in humans. (There are two per animal.) It gets a lot of exercise when the animal lies down or pushes itself to a standing position, which accounts for its deep beefy flavor.

A whole brisket—sometimes called a “packer”—is actually comprised of two muscles: the “flat,” a smooth rectangular hunk of meat, thinner and pointier on one end; and the “deckle,” a thicker oval muscle separated from the flat by a fault line of fat and gristle. A whole brisket usually weighs between 8 and 12 pounds, but can be as heavy as 18 pounds. It is usually a special order at butcher shops.

Supermarket meat departments are far more likely to sell center-cut flats of varying weights with the deckle and much of the fat already trimmed off. I recommend flats for barbecuers who are inexperienced with brisket. Allow 3/4 to 1 pound of raw meat per person; it will shrink considerably after its long smoke. And of course,
plan for leftovers, which are excellent.

When selecting brisket, try to buy grass-fed beef graded Choice or better with a cap of fat at least 1/4-inch thick. This fat is essential for keeping the brisket from drying out. (Avoid Select grade beef as its lack of marbling practically guarantees a dry, chewy brisket.) Many competition barbecuers swear by Choice “Certified Angus.” Some higher-end meat retailers, such as Chicago’s Allen Brothers, can custom-order Wagyu beef brisket to your specifications. E-mail them at info@allenbrothers.com, or phone 800-548-7777.

Let’s say you’ve got your brisket. Now what?

Make sure you have the proper equipment—ideally, a smoker, or a charcoal grill that is large enough to set up for indirect grilling/smoking and still accommodate the meat. Note: it is very difficult to smoke a proper brisket on a gas grill. You’ll also need wood chips or chunks for smoke, plus plenty of fuel as cooking time can be 12 hours or more. The process cannot be rushed, or your brisket will surely disappoint.

Here is a list of additional equipment you’ll want or need:

– An accurate instant-read meat thermometer;
– A large plastic cooler for keeping the meat warm while it rests (optional);
– One or two pairs of sturdy tongs, such as our Lumatongs™ with built-in lights;
– Heavy-duty aluminum foil;
– Aluminum foil drip pans;
Suede grill gloves and insulated food gloves such as our Best of Barbecue™ line;
– A spray bottle or barbecue mop;
– A good flashlight if your grill session will go into the night.

Next, calculate how much time you’ll need, counting backwards from the hour you want to serve the brisket. Include time for setting up the grill or smoker and for resting the meat, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour—that’s where the optional cooler above comes in handy. As the pros will tell you, every brisket is different, making cooking times challenging to estimate. In general, figure on 1.5 to 2.5 hours per pound. Always allow more time than you think you’ll need.

Ready to get started?

Remove your brisket from its packaging and rinse it with cool water. Dry thoroughly with paper towels. The brisket may require additional trimming if the fat cap is thick—again, you want a sheath 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Turn the brisket over and trim any visible silverskin from the bottom of the flat. If you are cooking a whole brisket, you can opt to separate the flat from the deckle following the line of connective tissue. You could also leave the muscles attached, or remove the deckle after cooking. (I prefer to leave the thicker, fattier deckle attached until service.)

Now you can do any of the following before cooking the brisket to boost flavor:

– Marinate the brisket for several hours or overnight;
– In lieu of marinating, apply a slather—a paste of mustard, apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, and/or even coffee—to anchor any seasonings or spices you put on the outside of the meat. Check out the Smok-la-home Brisket on p. 178 in BBQ USA.
– Apply a rub 1 to 6 hours before cooking—the longer, the richer the flavor;
– Season the brisket with salt and pepper up to an hour prior to cooking;
– Drape the top of the brisket with strips of raw bacon—something I like to do if there isn’t much of a fat cap on the brisket;
– Mix up a thin, flavorful mop sauce to be mopped or sprayed on the brisket after the first two hours of smoking (by then, the meat should have begun to form a “bark” which you don’t want to disturb with liquid), and two to three times more during the cooking time. A mop sauce could contain apple juice, bourbon, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, beer, cola, etc. For mop sauce recipes, check out BBQ USA (p. 181) and Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs (p. 177)
– Soak your preferred wood chips or chunks in water or beer for at least an hour before smoking; hickory, pecan, oak, mesquite, and fruitwoods are options;
– Concoct a sauce to be used on the brisket near the end of the cooking time or when serving; other sides might include baked beans, bread or buns, pickles, etc.

Next, fire up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions or set up your charcoal grill for indirect grilling/smoking (separate the mounds of coals with a drip pan). Aim for a temperature range of 225 to 275 degrees F. I try to keep the temperature around 250 degrees. (Note: To achieve this low temperature, use half a chimney of coals. Another way to lower the heat is by partially closing the top and bottom grill vents.) Add soaked wood chips or chunks to the coals if using a charcoal grill. You’ll have to replenish the coals and the chips or chunks every hour or so.

Brisket is nothing if not controversial, and one of the controversies is whether to start the brisket fat side up so it can baste the meat as the fat melts (the way I do it), or fat side down, the theory here being that the fat insulates the meat from heat rising through the grill or smoker grates.

When cooking a lean piece of brisket flat (the sort often sold at the supermarket), I place it in a large aluminum foil drip pan, the top draped with bacon, so that it cooks in its own juices and is less likely to dry out.

Another point of debate is how much smoke to apply. I like to smoke the meat the first half of cooking time (4 to 5 hours), then wrap the brisket tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil to seal in the juices and finish cooking. Some people prefer to smoke the meat the entire cooking time, which if you’re not careful, can result in an acrid aftertaste. Also, it’s questionable whether the meat can continue to absorb smoke after 6 hours.

After several hours, the internal temperature of the meat will rise above 150 degrees F, well on its way to the desired 190 to 195 degrees F. However, it’s likely the temperature will “plateau”, and maybe even drop slightly as the collagen breaks down. Be patient, and resist the temptation to crank up the heat and hasten the process, or your brisket will be tough and dry. And remember, frequent peeking at the meat’s progress will only slow things down: It can take from 5 to 20 minutes for a grill or smoker to recoup heat lost when the lid is opened.

How will you know when your brisket is done? The outside will be dark and crusty and the meat will feel very tender when poked. The internal temperature will be in the zone mentioned above, 190 to 195 degrees F as read on an instant-read meat thermometer. And of course, there will be that all-important smoke ring—a red-tinged layer just beneath the meat’s surface—the pit master’s badge of honor.

If you haven’t done so already, wrap the meat tightly in two layers of foil. Let the brisket rest for at least 30 minutes for a small brisket , and up to 1 hour for a full-size packer brisket (preferably, in the insulated plastic cooler) to allow the juices to redistribute themselves. Have a beer. The hard part is over!

Unwrap the brisket, saving any juices captured by the foil. Remove the fat cap, if desired, or any bacon draped over the top. With a sharp knife, slice the brisket across the grain into slices between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick. Shingle on a platter along with the saved juices. If you’re carving a whole brisket, know that the grain runs in different directions in the deckle and the flat, which is a good reason to separate them before slicing.

Warm the barbecue sauce, if desired, and serve on the side. In the unlikely event you have leftovers, they make great sandwiches, or you can finely chop them to add to burger meat or hash. (You can also freeze leftover brisket, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

Finally, before the details become hazy in your mind, write down exactly what you did at each step of the process to ensure you can replicate what I hope was a complete success.

Below is one of my favorite recipes for brisket, a synthesis of several I have made over the years. Get ready for some of the most righteous beef on Planet Barbecue!

We get a lot of email about how to nail the perfect brisket. Please forward a link to this newsletter to anyone you think will find it of interest.

Tools, Fuels, and Flavorings to Help You Take Your Brisket to the Next Level:

At Best of Barbecue, we use two simple guidelines when creating new products:

What problems do grillers face when preparing a particular dish and how can we provide a solution?

What does Steven use at home when grilling/smoking for friends and family?

Here are some Best of Barbecue products that will help you smoke a better brisket, and this month, grilling4all.com is offering a discount coupon for Up in Smoke readers.

Java Rub: What’s the best rub for brisket? A lot of Texas pit masters use nothing more than salt and pepper. In Kansas City, they go for a sweet brown sugar and paprika-based rub. After years of experimenting, I’ve concluded that the best rub for emphasizing the rich, meaty flavor of smoked beef brisket is … coffee. That’s right, coffee. (Hey, that’s what cowboys drink around campfires on the range.) Its bitter-sweet flavor makes a brisket taste, well, beefier—without overpowering it. Add cumin and pepper and you’ve got a brisket rub that will make even a cow wrangler sit up and take notice.

Beef Blend Smoking Chips: Travel the competition barbecue circuit and you’ll soon learn that the top pit masters don’t limit themselves to smoking with a single wood. They might start with oak for its rich robust flavor, switching to hickory for a blast of sweetness. Which got us thinking about the best blend of woods for brisket. Our Beef Blend smoking chips contain oak for body, mesquite for strength, and hickory for a nutty sweetness. Remember to soak the chips in water or beer before adding them to the fire so they smolder, not burn.

Stainless Steel Spray Bottle: As any pro pit master knows, making a killer brisket is all about layering flavors. The rub provides the base flavor, while the smoke gives the brisket its soul. Spraying a brisket with a flavorful liquid, like apple cider or wine, gives you an additional layer of flavor, and it also helps keep the brisket moist as it smokes. Our new stainless steel spray bottle is a lot tougher than the plastic version—meaning you will look like a serious practitioner of the barbecue arts.

Barbecue Mop and Bucket: You’ve seen it at contests and cook-offs—a floor mop (hopefully new) dipped in a bucket of sauce and swabbed over a pit full of meat. Which is fine if you’re cooking a couple dozen briskets. Here’s one designed for home use, with a removable head to make cleaning the mop a cinch and a food-safe plastic liner for the bucket. Use it to swab on your favorite mop sauce (for some great recipes, see Barbecue Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades). Adds flavor, moistens the meat, and looks cool as all get out to use.

Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)

Method: Smoking/Indirect Grilling

Serves: 8 to 12

Advance Preparation: 4 hours to overnight for curing the brisket (optional), then allow 8 to 9 hours for smoking the brisket and at least 30 minutes for it to rest.

1 beef brisket flat (6 to 8 pounds) with—very important—a cap of fat at least
1/4-inch thick
3 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
3 tablespoons cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire powder (see Note below)

You’ll also need: 6 to 8 cups oak or hickory chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained; a heavy-duty aluminum foil pan; heavy-duty aluminum foil

Trim the brisket so as to leave a 1/4-inch cap of fat. (Any less and the brisket will dry out; any more, and the fat will prevent the rub from seasoning the meat.)

Place the mustard, salt, pepper, powdered Worcestershire sauce, if using, in a bowl and mix them with your fingers. Sprinkle the rub on the brisket on all sides, rubbing onto the meat. If you have time, wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

To grill: If you are using a smoker, set it up following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to 275 degrees F. When ready to cook, place the brisket fat side up in the smoker. Add wood chips or chunks to the smoker every hour, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you are using a charcoal grill, set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a large drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to 275 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.) When ready to cook, toss about 2 cups of wood chips or chunks on the coals. Place the brisket on the hot grate over the drip pan, fat side up, and cover the grill. You’ll need to add fresh coals an more wood chips or chunks to each side of the grill every hour for the first 4 hours.

Smoke or grill the brisket until a dark “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature of the meat is about 150 degrees F, 4 to 5 hours; use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness. Then, tightly wrap the brisket in a couple of layers of aluminum foil, crimping the edges to make a tight seal. Return the brisket to the smoker or grill and continue cooking until the brisket is very tender, but not soft or “mushy,” and the internal temperature is 190 to 195 degrees F, about 4 hours longer.

Remove the wrapped brisket from the smoker or grill and place it in a warm spot. Let the brisket rest for about 30 minutes. This resting period is very important; during that time, the brisket will reabsorb its juices.

To serve, unwrap the brisket and thinly slice it. Spoon any juices over the brisket and get ready for some of the most extraordinary smoked beef on Planet Barbecue.

Note: Worcestershire powder is available by mail order through www.spicebarn.com. If unavailable, add 1 tablespoon more of dry mustard.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Father’s Day: Grill Gifts for the Big Guy


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

Father’s Day, 2010 is upon us, an occasion that challenges even the most resourceful gift givers. Procrastinate buying for Mother’s Day, and you can always duck into the supermarket for a lush bouquet of flowers. But slack on Father’s Day, and you’re in trouble.

Father’s Day, held the third Sunday of June, is one of the biggest grilling days of the season. On rare occasions, Dad is a guest at a barbecue. More likely, he’s hosting his own and doing the cooking. (I’m not sure how we managed to fall for that one—Moms get treated to breakfast in bed and a day out of the kitchen.) But it all works out, for what better way to celebrate any holiday than at the grill?

Happily, grilling—like golf—inspires a wealth of gift ideas.

For several years, I’ve been working with The Companion Group to design the gear I would want in my own arsenal of grilling tools. The result? My Best of Barbecue line of grill tools, fuels, and flavorings.

You’ve seen me use them on various TV shows. They’re also what I use at home and what I’d pick out for my own father, Sonny Raichlen.

All of the tools profiled below are available at www.grilling4all.com

Here’s my Top Ten List of Grill Gifts for Father’s Day. Thanks for everything, Dad.

1. With Planet Barbecue! already racing to #9 on the New York Times Bestseller List, I’m guessing a lot of Dads just couldn’t wait til Father’s Day (or couldn’t make it through Memorial Day weekend without it). But for those who have been patient, no griller’s bookshelf is complete without a copy! Better still, pick up the special gift set edition that includes packages of three of my proprietary rubs: Sicilian Rub, Pincho Powder, and Berber Blast. Available only at Barnes & Noble.

2. Best of Barbecue Real Big Gift Set: He changed your diapers and cheered on your ballgames, and of course, he taught you how to grill. Here’s a way to show your appreciation with our ultimate barbecue tool set. Included are: wine barrel chunks; 4 stainless steel skewers; meat shears; instant-read thermometer; marinade injector; spatula; basting brush; locking tongs; grill cleaning brush; charcoal/ash can; Panini griller; stainless steel chicken roaster; and a copy of How to Grill (Workman, 2001).

3. Ultimate Grill Brush. Here it is: the tool that generates the most inquiries—our monster grill brush, with an extra long –handle and a removable head that makes quick work of crusty grill grates. (C’mon…you don’t really think the crud from the last grill session is going to contribute good things to the next, do you?) On one side are steel bristles for stainless steel and cast iron grates; the other side features softer brass bristles for enamel or porcelainized grill grates. This bad boy brush might be hard to gift wrap, but Dad will absolutely love it.

4. Let there be light. Nothing dooms a cookout like grilling in the dark. Enter one of our best-sellers: the Lumatong ™—a 20-inch long set of tongs (no more singed arms, Dad) outfitted with two LED lights attached to the handle to illuminate whatever’s on the grill. The light box is removable for battery replacement or easy cleaning. Plan B is our Grill Headlight, which clips onto your grill and sheds light on your food. There’s no more excuse for burning.

5. Hot off the Plancha: This flat piece of cast iron (the Spanish call it a plancha but it’s known as a chapa in Argentina) is invaluable when you want a good sear on foods that you don’t want to dry out. Preheat the plancha over a charcoal, wood, or even gas fire for 10 or 15 minutes, then get ready for some of the best steak, seafood, lamb chops, vegetables, or even fruit of your life. (See a recipe for the latter below.) Takes grilling to a whole new level.

6. Marinade Spray Bottle: Here at BarbecueBible.com, it’s all about flavor, and one of the best ways to add an additional layer of taste is to spray the flavorings on the grilled food with a spray bottle. (No more grill brushes to clean.) Fill this handsome stainless steel-sheathed spray bottle with wine, beer, soy sauce, cola, or fruit juice and periodically spritz the food as it cooks. We took the technique straight from the playbook of some of the nation’s top competitive grill masters.

7. Crème Brulee Set: For a little end-of-the-meal drama, there’s nothing like crème brulee from the grill. Yes, we said from the grill. Hear the hiss screaming hot metal makes when it hits cold custard. Behold how the smoke curls around the dish seductively as the sugar caramelizes to a shatteringly crisp crust. Real men will ditch their wimpy kitchen torches and go back to making crème brulee the old-fashioned way—with a fire-heated cast iron salamander. (See the recipe for Catalan Creme below.) Also comes with two seasoned cast iron ramekins with enamel interiors. Additional ramekins are sold separately.

8. Stone Grill Press: Pollo al Mattone is one of the glories of Tuscan cooking, consisting of spiced spatchcocked chicken grilled under a brick on the grill. Did someone say brick? We’ve just upped the ante by creating a grilling brick with a metal and wood handle. The result is crisp skin, succulent meat, and an exceedingly cool way to impress family and friends. Large enough to weight an entire chicken or a couple of game hens.

9. Grill Scraper: If your dad is as particular about grill cleanliness as I am, he’ll appreciate this ingenious new tool—a sharp-edged scraper that allows you to clean both sides of the grill grate at once. You know Raichlen’s mantra: Keep it hot; keep it clean; keep it lubricated.

10. Primal Grill ™ Baseball Caps and T-Shirts: To judge from your emails, you like the new uniform worn by the crew on Primal Grill TV—black caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the bold orange Primal Grill ™ logo. Now you can buy them too in the Primal Grill web store to have the best-dressed father/grill master on the block.

And to all those dad and grandads out there, all of us at Up in Smoke wish you a happy, barbecue-filled Fathers Day.


Note: Retsina is a Greek wine flavored with pine resin. (Resin was once used to seal wine skins—the Greeks retained a taste for it.) Look for retsina in a good liquor store or Greek market or use an aromatic dry white wine, like Spanish verdejo.

Source: Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen
Method: Direct grilling
Serves: 4

2 pounds fresh shrimp with the heads on or 1-1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek, in a spray bottle
1/4 cup Greek retsina or other dry white wine in a spray bottle (optional)
Large crystals of sea salt for sprinkling

You’ll also need: Best of Barbecue Marinade Spray Bottle, or other spray bottle

If using whole shrimp, peel the tails, using kitchen scissors to open the shells. Leave the heads intact. Scrape out the veins with the tine of a fork. If using shrimp tails, peel and devein.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Spray the shrimp on one side with olive oil. Arrange oil side down on the grate. Lightly spray the tops with more olive oil and retsina. When the bottoms of the shrimp are sizzling and browned, turn over. Lightly spray this side with oil and retsina. The cooking time is brief, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Transfer the grilled shrimp to a platter or plates and sprinkle generously sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve at once and get ready for some of the best shrimp of your life.


Source: Adapted from Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann (Artisan, 2009)
Method: Direct grilling
Serves: 4

Here’s a dessert of such startling simplicity and bold in-your-face flavors, just to hear about it is to want to try it. It comes from the rock star of South American live-fire cooking, Francis Mallmann.

4 large juicy navel oranges
2 o 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (2 to 3 tablespoons leaves)
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups crème brulee ice cream or plain Greek yogurt, divided between 4 shallow bowls

Cut off both ends of each orange. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the peel and white pith in strips. Cut each orange in half widthwise and remove any seeds with a fork. Arrange the oranges on a plate cut side up.

Sprinkle the oranges with rosemary leaves, pressing the leaves into the flesh. The recipe can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead.

Set up your grill for direct grillingand preheat to high. Ideally, you’ll be grilling over wood.

If you have a plancha, preheat it screaming hot. If working directly on the grill, brush and oil the grill grate.

Just before serving, sprinkle the cut part of each orange with sugar. Invert the orange halves onto the metal plate or onto the grill. Cook until the sugar caramelizes, that is, turns dark brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Do not let burn or the sugar will taste bitter.

Using a spatula, arrange the orange halves, sugar side up, on the ice cream. If using a pan, spoon any juices over the oranges and serve at once.


Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)
Method: Caramelizing with a crème brulee iron or fire-heated cast iron skillet
Advance preparation: Make the custard at least 3 hours in advance, and up to 24 hours; must be thoroughly chilled
Serves: 6

For the custard:

1 quart whole milk
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 vanilla bean, split (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3 strips lemon zest (the oil-rich outer rind—remove it with a vegetable peeler)
12 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons honey
About 1 cup Sugar In The Raw (known as castor sugar in England or cassonade in French) or granulated sugar, or as needed

You’ll also need: 6 crème brulee dishes (each about 4 inches across and 3/4 inch deep—tradition calls for earthenware); a crème brulee iron (see description above) or a kitchen blowtorch

Make the custard. Place the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon zest in a heavy saucepan and simmer over the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and honey in a large heavy heatproof bowl. Whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Very slowly (you don’t want to cook the egg yolks) strain the hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium heat, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking steadily. The crema will thicken. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer and cook the mixture for 3 minutes, whisking steadily.

Spoon the mixture into the crème brulee dishes, shaking and tapping each to smooth the top. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until serving. You can make the Catalan creams up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerate, but if you do, press a piece of plastic on top of each to keep it from drying out and let warm to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving, heat the brulee iron or cast iron skillet screaming hot—ideally in a wood-burning fireplace, or alternatively in the embers of your charcoal grill or laid flat on the grate of your gas grill. (You can even heat it on one of the burners of your stove.) Evenly sprinkle the top of each Catalan cream with 3 tablespoons sugar. Press the hot iron into the surface of the Catalan creams to caramelize the sugar—this will take a few seconds and a puff of fragrant smoke will rise as the sugar darkens. Note: the sugar should be topaz-colored to a dark golden brown, not black. Burned sugar tastes, well, like burned sugar.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Planet Barbecue! is Released


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

We are very pleased to announce that Steven Raichlen’s latest book, Planet Barbecue, has just been released by Workman Publishing. First-run editions are now available—just in time for summer grilling—at booksellers and select kitchen and grilling equipment suppliers nationwide. Click here for a sneak peek inside.

We’ve also got an awesome new video to celebrate the book: Watch it here!

Here is what Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio had to say when he got his advance copy of the book: “Just when you thought Steven Raichlen taught you everything there was to know about grilling, he returns with Planet Barbecue.”

Knowing that Steven is embarking on a two-month, 35-city book tour, which is likely to make him as elusive as…well…smoke, we recently invited him to sit down for a short interview about Planet Barbecue.

By the way, you can click here to order your copy of Planet Barbecue. Francis Mallmann, the author of Seven Fires summed it up this way: “Planet Barbecue is an epic voyage.” Don’t miss it!

Steven on the barbecue trail in Athens, Greece

Planet Barbecue—with 638 pages, about 600 photographs, 60 country boxes and grill master profiles, and more 300 recipes featuring dishes from 60 countries—seems like your most ambitious book yet. How long did it take you to write it?

SR: The simple answer is five years—three spent traveling and researching, two spent recipe testing and writing. The fuller answer is that Planet Barbecue has been incubating since the day I started writing about barbecue in 1994.

How does it differ from other books you’ve written, such as The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill?

SR: It picks up where both books left off. Like Barbecue Bible, it explores global grilling, but whereas I visited only 25 countries to research Barbecue Bible, for Planet Barbecue, I toured 53 countries on 6 continents. As in How to Grill, I focus on grilling techniques, with step-by-step photos to show you how to make such global grilling classics as South African Piri Piri Chicken, German Spiessbraten, and Brazilian Spit-Roasted Pineapple.

In a sense, you could say that Planet Barbecue goes deeper than any of my previous books. And unique to Planet Barbecue are the history of global barbecue chapters at the start of the book and the section on grilling with a conscience.

Tell us more about these chapters. You don’t normally associate history and social conscience with a barbecue book.

SR: I became fascinated by the history of fire-making and grilling while doing research in the southwest of France. I visited the National Prehistory Museum and a Neanderthal theme park called PrehistoParc. I saw the magnificent cave paintings at the Lascaux and Pech Merle caverns. It dawned on me that barbecuing and grilling aren’t simply cooking methods—they’re hardwired into our collective consciousness and they define who we human beings are.

As for the “Grilling with a Conscience” section, well, we live in a very different world now than when I set out to write Barbecue Bible in 1994. Global warming. Overfishing. Contaminated meats. Factory farming and multi-national food supply chains. I wanted to address some of the ways we can grill and eat more healthily, while being mindful of the health of our planet.

Nancy Loseke tests Caribbean Pineapple Baby Back Ribs (page 234)

How did you get started in barbecue?

SR: Well, first I got a degree in French literature. Then I chose a Watson Foundation Fellowship over a Fulbright. The Fulbright was to study paleography (deciphering ancient handwriting); the Watson was to investigate medieval cooking in Europe. I chose the latter and quite by accident became a food writer.

So how does one go about writing a book like Planet Barbecue?

SR: The way I do all my books: by packing a suitcase and traveling. To some extent, all my books involve field research. For this one, I circumnavigated the globe several times. I returned to all the iconic barbecue regions—Argentina, Australia, India, Japan—but I also visited countries you don’t normally think of as grilling hotspots, like Cambodia, Colombia, Kenya, Romania, and Israel. I recorded my findings in more than 20 moleskin notebooks and took more than 5000 photographs to document what I found.

It’s been over fifteen years since you first hit the Barbecue Trail for your first grilling book, Barbecue Bible. What changes, if any, did you notice on Planet Barbecue?

SR: Well, first, some of the obvious changes brought about by globalization and technology. Barbecued ribs never used to be part of Indonesia’s grill culture, for example: Now, they turn up at grill shacks throughout Bali. (One good example of how East meets West: Nuri’s Ribs on page 239.) Fifteen years ago, most of the world’s grill masters used hand-waved straw fans to oxygenate the coals and control the fire. Today, electric fans do the work. Gas grills are turning up in places where charcoal once ruled.

But by and large, the most satisfying aspect of my travels around Planet Barbecue is how little has changed—how much meats and seafood are still spiced with the traditional seasonings and still grilled over wood or charcoal as they have been for centuries.

That’s good news! Did you discover any new techniques in your travels?

SR: Did I ever. Colombian Lomo al Trapo, which consists of roasting beef tenderloin in a salt and cotton cloth crust directly in the embers. Or German Schwenkbraten, a dish made by grilling spiced pork chops on a swinging grate (literally) over a beech wood fire. Or Eclade, a French technique that features mussels or other shellfish grilled on a bed of flaming pine needles.

Speaking of travel, how many miles do you estimate you logged researching this book? And did you travel alone, or with an entourage? Did you typically have a host or guide, particularly in countries where language was a potential barrier?

SR: I lost track of the miles logged after 200,000. For the most part, I was lucky enough to travel with my wife, Barbara, without which Planet Barbecue would have seemed like work, not pleasure. In countries where I don’t speak the language, I hired guides and interpreters. In several countries, I traveled with professional photographers—you can see their beautiful atmosphere photographs throughout the book.

Were your trips carefully planned in advance, or were you receptive to spontaneous encounters with grill masters?

SR: A combination of both. I always left with a list of objectives: grill masters to meet, restaurants to visit, must-try grilled dishes to sample. But I also tried to build in time for chance encounters—to follow my nose to the source of the smoke, as it were. That led to some pretty amazing discoveries.

Have your travels and research in the service of Planet Barbecue influenced your own grilling?

SR: Absolutely. I do a lot more caveman-style grilling now. (Grilling in which you lay the food directly on the embers.) I do a lot more grilling over wood and natural lump charcoal. I have come to use my rotisserie for foods you wouldn’t normally expect to spit-roast, like onions and pineapples (see pages 537 and 578, respectively—both specialties of Brazil).

You must have an iron stomach, Steven. Tell us about some of the stranger dishes you encountered—and ate—on Planet Barbecue.

SR: Where do I begin? In Greece, I ate kokoretsi, sheep’s brains, lungs, spleen, liver, etc. wrapped in small intestines, and roasted on a spit. (You could think of it as haggis on a spit and it tastes a lot better than it sounds—see page 281 for a description.) In Australia I sampled kangaroo (it tastes like beef) and in Africa I ate impala, kudu, ostrich, and crocodile. In the Philippines and Japan they grill every imaginable part of chickens, from the head to the feet to the skin and embryonic eggs. Latin Americans are big fans of organ meats and blood sausage.

Steven with 12 century portrayal of Cambodian barbecue at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap.

The stories behind the recipes are very engaging. Was there a grill master who really impressed you?

SR: Many. Victor Arguinzoniz of the restaurant Extebarri in Spain is a genius and mad scientist when it comes to grilling. South American chef and TV host Francis Mallmann takes a truly visionary approach to live-fire cooking. So do Peter Le Clercq in Belgium and Toshihiro Wada in Japan.

Is it true that you took most of the travel photos with a digital point-and-shoot camera?

SR: Believe it or not, most of the photos in Planet Barbecue are mine. However, the “beauty” shots of food, how-to shots, and many of travel shots were taken by professional photographers. I hope the difference isn’t too shocking.

For the most part, were the grill masters (and mistresses) generous in sharing recipes with you?

SR: Absolutely. Forget the stereotype of the chef who vows to take his secret sauce recipe to the grave. Most of the grill masters I met were not only happy to share their recipes—they often showed me step by step how to make them.

We have to ask: Do you have a favorite recipe from the book?

SR: They’re all my children and I love them all. I must say, though, that I never fail to be bowled over by Gaucho Beef Ribs (page 167), Lomo al Trapo (page 123), Piri Piri Chicken Wings (page 20), Cambodian Coconut-Grilled Corn (page 529), and Thai Grilled Bananas (see recipe below). And of course, the Martha’s Vineyard Grilled Swordfish with Garlic-Caper Butter (see recipe below) is a mainstay at home during the summer.

The eating must have been good at the Raichlen household during the recipe development phase of Planet Barbecue. Do you test every recipe?

SR: To say that we ate “high on the hog” during the multiple testing sessions for Planet Barbecue would be an understatement. Each of the recipes was tested multiple times by a team headed up by my assistant, Nancy Loseke. Our mantra was to make the good great and the great unforgettable.

We understand you’re currently on a two-month book tour.
How can people find out if you’re coming to their area?

SR: Over the next 2 months, I’ll be visiting more than 35 cities. (My wife doesn’t even know my full schedule!) I love to meet readers and viewers when I’m on tour. To find out when I’ll be in your area, visit the Steven’s Schedule section of BarbecueBible.com.

Or follow me on Facebook and Twitter—we’ll be announcing my tour schedule on a daily basis.

Do you have any other books planned?

SR: After a two-year hiatus, I’m back to work on my novel. No, it doesn’t involve barbecue.




Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)
Method: Direct grilling
Advance preparation: None
Serves: 4

Here’s a dish close to home and near to my heart, for during swordfish season, my wife Barbara and I make it at least once a week. And whenever I’m traveling Planet Barbecue, the mere thought of it makes me homesick. We’re talking quick—30 minutes max from start to finish—but the tart, salty, fried caper flavor explodes right off the plate. Note: Use the freshest swordfish you can find. And I’d rather see you substitute another fish (the preparation would be great with tuna or salmon steaks) before using swordfish that looks tired or old.

4 swordfish steaks, each 6 to 8 ounces and at least 1-inch thick
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground or cracked black peppercorns
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained

You’ll also need: oak or other hardwood logs, chunks, or chips, unsoaked (optional)

1. Prepare the fish: Rinse the swordfish steaks and them blot dry with paper towels.. Arrange them in a nonreactive baking dish and very generously season the swordfish on both sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil on both sides, rubbing it and the seasonings into the fish with your fingertips. Cut one lemon in half and squeeze it over the fish, turning to coat both sides. Let the fish marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 15 minutes.

2. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Ideally, you’ll grill over a wood fire. Alternatively, you can use wood chips or chunks to add a smoke flavor. If you are using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips or chunks on the coals. If you are using a gas grill, add the wood chips or chunks, if desired, to the smoker box or place them in a smoker pouch under the grate. You want a light wood flavor—that’s why you don’t soak the wood.

3. Drain the swordfish, discarding the marinade. Arrange the swordfish on the hot grate at a diagonal to the bars. Grill the fish until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. When done, the swordfish will break into firm flakes when pressed with a finger. If desired, give each swordfish steak a quarter turn after 1-1/2 minutes to create a handsome crosshatch of grill marks. Transfer the steaks to a platter and cover them loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

4. Make the sauce (you can start it while the fish is on the grill): Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and capers and cook over high heat until the garlic begins to brown and the capers are crisp, 2 minutes. Immediately pour this mixture over the swordfish steaks and serve at once, with the lemon wedges.


Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)
Method: Direct grilling
Advanced preparation: The sauce can be prepared a day ahead.
Serves: 4

To paraphrase Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, if you grill it, they will come. Such is the case for a Bangkok grill mistress named Saisuwan. Five years ago, she scraped together enough cash to set up a pushcart on Chareunkrung Road behind the Sheraton Hotel. Her grilling skills became so legendary, guidebooks from all over the world sing her praises. Saisuwan serves just one dish—but what a dish—grilled bananas slathered with coconut-caramel sauce. You can eat them for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert—and the moment you finish, you’ll very likely find yourself returning for seconds. And if you happen to find yourself near the Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok, you’ll recognize Saisuwan by her trademark white cap—and by sweet scent of bananas grilling over coconut shell charcoal.

For the coconut-caramel sauce:
1/2 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
8 apple bananas or 4 conventional bananas

You’ll also need: flat bamboo skewers (optional)

Make the coconut-caramel sauce. Combine the palm sugar and coconut milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Briskly simmer the mixture until thick, dark brown, and very flavorful, about 5 minutes, whisking often. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Place the sauce in a deep bowl. It can be prepared up to a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Let the coconut-caramel sauce return to room temperature before using.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.

3. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Peel the bananas and skewer them through one end, if desired. Grill the bananas until they are lightly browned and partially cooked, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Dip the bananas in the coconut-caramel sauce (That’s where the skewer comes in handy) or brush the bananas on all sides, using a basting brush, and return them to the grill. Continue grilling the bananas until they are golden browned and sizzling, 1 to 3 minutes per side longer. (Use a bamboo skewer to test for doneness; it should easily pierce the banana.)

4. Transfer the bananas to a platter or bowls. Spoon the remaining coconut-caramel sauce.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

On a Wing and a Prayer


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

America’s obsession with chicken wings, the story goes, began on October 30, 1964. Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the Anchor Bar, the popular Buffalo, New York, watering hole owned by his parents, Frank and Teressa, when a group of friends barreled through the door around 11:30 p.m. They were flush from a bowling victory and ravenous and thirsty. Dominic poured a round of drinks, then asked his mother to make something to eat other than the meatless dishes she’d been preparing all evening for the restaurant’s mostly Catholic clientele.

Teressa didn’t normally place meat orders on Fridays. But inspiration struck in the form of a case of chicken wings that had been mistakenly delivered to the kitchen instead of the backs and necks she routinely used for sauce. She chopped the wings into sections, dredged them in seasoned flour, and dropped them into the fryer. She then dunked the wings in a mixture of hot sauce (Frank’s RedHot, we hear) and melted margarine. The rest, as they say, is history.

Within weeks, “Buffalo Wings” were an Anchor Bar mainstay, and although the Bellissimos have since passed on, their landmark restaurant at the corner of Main and North Streets still serves wings—more than a half ton a day.

Of course, chicken wings turn up all over Planet Barbecue: in South Africa, where wings marinated in a fiery sauce of piri-piri chiles are glazed with butter, lemon juice, more hot sauce, garlic, and cilantro; (see the recipe in the January issue of Up in Smoke).

In Malaysia, where curbside pit masters and mistresses roast soy-and honey-glazed wings on special charcoal rotisseries. In Australia, where wings are soaked in local beer prior to being direct grilled and slathered with barbecue sauce.

Chicken wings were once routinely discarded (they don’t even do much for the chicken). So how has the lowly wing acquired such a cult following on the world’s barbecue trail?

• Wings are well-suited to grilling, consisting chiefly of skin (the most flavorful part of the chicken), which becomes crackling crisp when exposed to the high, dry heat of the grill.

• The bones are satisfying to gnaw on and for keeping a running tally of wing consumption. They’re the perfect finger food, with just enough meat to reward you for the effort of eating them.

• Wings are relatively inexpensive. People who keep track of such things say the Bellissimos likely paid about 5 cents a pound for wings in 1964.

• Wings are the blank canvases of barbecue—suited to an almost infinite range of flavorings. In my travels on the world’s barbecue trail, I have seen everything from yogurt to hot sauce to coffee used with great success.

In fact, nearly every book I’ve written in The Barbecue! Bible series has recipes for wings. EvenRaichlen on Ribs pays homage to the genre with a recipe for Buffa-que Ribs—inspired, of course, by Teressa Bellissimo’s creation.

As varied as the recipes are around the world for chicken wings, so are the methods of preparing and cooking them.

• In North America, wings are often broken down into “drumettes,” the white meat closest to the breast, sometimes scraped toward one end of the bone, making them resemble diminutive chicken legs; “flats,” the two-bone section of well-marbled dark meat in the middle; and the wing tips, which are typically discarded.

• To break down the wing, lay it flat on a cutting board, and using a sharp heavy knife or a cleaver, cut through the cartilage at the joints that separate each section. (Take care not to splinter the bone; the knife will move through the wing easily if you find the sweet spots.) Reserve the flats and drumettes, and either discard the wing tips, or—and I prefer this as I hate to waste food—freeze them for making stock.

• In Asia, the wings are usually grilled whole, often impaled on bamboo skewers to stretch them out, thereby maximizing the surface area exposed to the smoke and fire. Here’s how to do it: Using 12-inch bamboo skewers, skewer the chicken wings through loose skin, starting an inch or so below the end of the wing tip, and continuing through the length of the straightened chicken wing. (Try to buy larger wings, if possible.)

My preferred method of cooking when I wrote The Barbecue! Bible and How to Grill was direct grilling—8 to 12 minutes a side, 16 to 24 minutes in all. To test for doneness, make a small slit in the thickest part of one of the wings: There should be no traces of red or pink at the bone. (My Flexi-basket, available at www.grilling4all.com, makes stretching and turning the wings for direct grilling a snap.)

These days, my preferred method is indirect grilling the wings. You get the same crackling crisp skin and moist meat without having to worry about charring or flare-ups. The longer cooking time (30 to 40 minutes) renders more fat out of the wings. Simply set up your grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. Arrange the wings in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat, skin-side up, stretching the wings out as far as possible. Cover the grill and grill the wings until they are crisp-skinned and cooked through. (See test for doneness above.)

Spit-roasting has similar advantages. Either impale the wings crosswise on a spit, or corral them in a rotisserie basket and spit-roast for about 30 minutes, or until the wings are crisp-skinned and darkly browned. (In Asia, I have seen a special dual-spit rotisserie for wings. It pins the wings in such a way as to stretch them out and expose as much surface area as possible to the fire.)

Smoking chicken wings: You can add smoke flavor by throwing a couple of handfuls of soaked wood chips on the coals before arranging the wings on the grill grate. To you hardcore smokers, I have this to say: Smoking wings at low and slow temperatures makes the skin—the most alluring part of chicken wings, in my mind—too rubbery.

If finishing the wings with a barbecue sauce or glaze, especially one containing sugar or honey, apply it toward the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t scorch.

Here is a sampling of wings from Planet Barbecue, which will be out this May. Order an advance copy from Amazon.com or your local bookstore.



Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2010)
Method: Indirect grilling or spit-roasting
Serves: 4
Advance Preparation: 4 to 6 hours for marinating the wings

3 pounds whole chicken wings (about 12 large whole wings)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine, sake, or dry sherry
3 tablespoons oyster sauce (optional)
2 slices (1/4-inch thick) peeled fresh ginger, crushed with the side of a cleaver
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (optional)
1/4 cup Asian chile sauce, such as Thai Sriracha (optional)

You’ll also need: A rotisserie with a flat basket attachment (optional)

Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and blot them dry with paper towels. Place the wings in a large nonreactive mixing bowl.

Make the marinade: Place the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice wine, oyster sauce, if using, ginger, five-spice powder, pepper, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the marinade to the wings and stir to coat. Let the chicken wings marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 6 hours, turning them several times.

To grill: Drain the wings well, discarding the marinade before grilling.

If you are using a rotisserie, spread the wings out and place them in the basket. Alternatively, you can skewer the wings crosswise on a single spit rotisserie. Set up the grill for spit-roasting following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to high. When ready to cook, attach the spit to the grill and turn on the motor. Spit-roast the wings until they are crisp-skinned, darkly browned, and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Start basting the wings with the vegetable oil after 15 minutes, and baste them several times as they grill.

If you are using the indirect method, set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. Arrange the chicken wings skin-side up in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat, stretching the wings out as far as possible. Cover the grill and grill the wings until they are crisp-skinned, darkly browned, and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.
Start basting the wings with the vegetable oil after 15 minutes, and baste them several times as they grill.

To test for doneness, make a small cut in the thickest part of one of the wings; there should be no traces of red or pink at the bone.

Transfer the wings to a platter or plates. Normally, they’re so flavorful you won’t need a sauce, but sometimes they’re served with hoisin sauce and chile sauce. Place 1 tablespoon of each side by side in each of 4 tiny bowls. Mix the two sauces together with the tip of a chopstick and use as a dip for the wings


Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: Makes about 18 wings, serving 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Advance preparation: 4 to 5 hours for curing and marinating the wings

18 whole chicken wings (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) salted butter
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2/3 cup Dijon mustard
2/3 cup Tabasco sauce or your favorite hot sauce (Red Devil or Crystal
brand sauces are less hot)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup bourbon (or substitute apple juice)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

You’ll also need:
1-1/2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and blot them dry with paper towels. Place the wings in a large nonreactive bowl and toss them with the lemon pepper, paprika, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Let the wings cure in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour.

Melt the butter in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant and sizzling but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the mustard, hot sauce, lemon juice, bourbon, brown sugar, and black pepper. Season with salt to taste. Bring the bourbon mixture to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes, then let cool to room temperature. You’ll use this for the marinade and sauce.

Pour half of the bourbon mixture over the wings and toss to mix. Let the wings marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 4 hours. Set the remaining sauce aside.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat the grill to medium, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the wings and discard the marinade. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the wings in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the wings until golden brown and cooked through 30 to 40 minutes.

During the last few minutes of cooking, move the wings a few at a time so that they are directly over the heat, and leaving the grill uncovered, cook them until crackling crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the grilled wings to a platter or plates and serve at once with the remaining sauce. Provide hot wet towels for sticky fingers.


Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)
Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 4
Advance preparation: 6 to 24 hours for marinating the wings

1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
1 cup plain Greek-style whole milk yogurt, such a Fage brand
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
18 chicken wings (about 4 pounds)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional), for serving
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional), for serving
2 lemons, cut into wedges, for serving

You’ll also need: Flat metal skewers (optional)

Prepare the marinade and wings: Place the saffron threads and 2 tablespoon of hot water in a small bowl and let the saffron soak for about 4 minutes. Transfer half of the saffron and water mixture to a small bowl and set it aside for the glaze.

Grate the onion on the coarse holes of a box grater into a large nonreactive mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, salt, pepper, and remaining soaked saffron and stir to mix. Gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the olive oil. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or pepper as necessary; the mixture should be highly seasoned.

Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and blot them dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken wings in half, cutting off and discarding the tips. Add the wings to the marinade and stir to coat. Let the wings marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 6 hours, or as long as overnight, stirring them every few hours.
The longer the wings marinate, the richer the flavor will be.

Make the glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high het. Add the reserved saffron and water mixture and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and let the glaze simmer until blended and flavorful, about 2 minutes.

To grill: Drain the wings, discarding the marinade, before grilling. Set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken wings skin-side up in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and grill the wings until they are crisp and golden brown and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Once the wings start to brown, start basting them with the saffron glaze. Baste the wings several times.

To test for doneness, make a small cut in the thickest part of one of the wings; there should be no traces of red or pink at the bone.

Transfer the grilled chicken wings to a platter and pour any remaining saffron glaze over them. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses, if using, over the wings and sprinkle them with parsley, if using. Serve the wings at once with the lemon wedges.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Super Bowl Sunday Edition


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

If you’re a football fan, you know that Super Bowl XLIV will be played on February 7 in Miami, Florida, my adopted hometown. (For you trivia buffs, this is the tenth year Miami has hosted the annual contest between the best teams in the NFL.)

Just for grins, I went to the website this morning of an online ticket broker to determine what it would cost to trade a spot in front of the television for one of the 75,540 seats in Dolphin Stadium. Well, folks, the answer stunned me: The cheapest seat, in the uppermost section of the end zone, would set you back $2202; the most expensive, $386,750, would clinch a catered luxury suite for you and 31 of your best friends.

Neither option, incidentally, includes parking. Spaces range in price from $202 to $1190.

My internet fact-finding mission confirmed this: You can throw an incredible party for family and friends for a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl ticket…or even a parking space! Heck, you can even buy a new grill and still come out ahead. Host a Super Bowl Party at home and you’ll have a better view of the action (accompanied by those all-important instant replays and edgy commercials), ringside seats for the halftime show, and way better food than the stadium vendors will be hawking.

In my opinion, the best food, the only proper Bowl food should come hot off the grill. It should be fast, sizzling, hearty, and finger friendly.

The menu at my house will have an international twist this year in deference to my new book, Planet Barbecue (Workman, May, 2010) and the fact that the game is aired in 175 foreign countries.

Below are my all-new recipes for reinterpretations of Super Bowl stalwarts like wings, brats, and “sliders.” They’ll score big at your party, too.

Oops. My snow-beleaguered, mostly Ohio-based assistant, Nancy Loseke, reminded me your grill could be buried under three feet of white stuff. (As I write, the current temperature in Miami is an almost unprecedented 36 degrees. Back when I lived in New England, we used to ask a simple question to separate the men from the boys: When it snows, what do you shovel first, the path to your car or the path to your grill?) If bad weather has shut your outdoor operation down, don’t worry. These recipes can be adapted to the kitchen. For others, check out Indoor Grilling (Workman, 2004).



No Super Bowl party is complete without a bowl of a different sort—filled with smoky, fiery wings. Here’s how they do it in South Africa. I think you’ll like how the lemon-chile-herb sauce electrifies the flavor.

Though I like to serve the wings hot off the grill, you can make them before game time, then reheat in a 325 degree F oven.

Source: Planet Barbecue (Workman, 2010)

Method: Indirect grilling

Serves: 4 as an appetizer

Advance preparation: 6 to 24 hours for marinating the wings

For the marinade:

1/2 cup South African peri peri sauce (see Note below), Brazilian piri piri sauce,
Crystal, Tabasco, or other hot sauce
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds large chicken wings

For the glaze:

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoon peri peri sauce or one of the other hot sauces mentioned above
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Make the marinade: If using a blender, add the peri peri/hot sauce, garlic, onion, ginger, cilantro, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and puree until smooth. If using a food processor, puree the solid ingredients first, then work in the liquids. Transfer to a large nonreactive bowl, roasting pan, or large resealable plastic bag.

2. Cut the chicken wings in half, discarding the wing tips. Stir them into the marinade and marinate for at least 6 hours, or as long as overnight—the longer, the richer the flavor—stirring every few hours.

3. Make the glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the cilantro and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until sizzling and aromatic, about 2 minutes. (Do not let the garlic brown.) Stir in the peri peri sauce (or other hot sauce) and lemon juice and simmer for 2 minutes.

4. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350 degrees F). Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken wings on the grate and indirect grill until crisp and golden brown on the outside and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Make a small cut in the thickest part of one of the wings: There should be no traces of red or pink at the bone.

5. Transfer the wings to a platter and pour the hot glaze over them. Toss to mix and serve at once.

NOTE: Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce can be purchased online from www.southafricanfoodshop.com.


Currywurst is German comfort food, invented (or so the story goes) when a resourceful street vendor dropped a box containing ketchup and curry powder. What matters on Super Bowl Sunday is that currywurst gives you a whole new approach to bratwurst.

Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon for grilling the brats
1/4 cup white onion, minced as fine as sand
1 teaspoon mustard seed or mustard powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
1 cup ketchup (preferably Heinz)
8 bratwurst

1. Make the sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan. Add the onion and mustard seed and cook over medium heat until the onion just begins to brown. Stir in the curry powder, pepper, nutmeg, and anise seed and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup and gently simmer the sauce until thick and richly flavored, 3 to 5 minutes. The sauce can be made several days ahead of time, but it should be warmed for serving.

2. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.

3. Arrange the brats on the grill and grill until the casings are crusty and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per side, 16 to 20 minutes in all, turning frequently with tongs and moving to dodge hot spots or flare-ups.

4. Transfer the brats to a cutting board. Cut each brat crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Mound the slices in a shallow serving bowl and spoon the curried tomato sauce on top. Serve with toothpicks.


Despite the recent burger frenzy, the slider (or slyder, as it was originally called) originated in the 1920s at the White Castle chain in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921. To make upscale, off-the-charts sliders, use wagyu beef (the cattle breed that gives the Japanese Kobe)—available via mail order from www.allenbrothers.com. Or use regular ground beef, but make sure you have a fat content of at least 15 percent.

Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 8 as an appetizer

For the caramelized shallots:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or more butter)
1 pound shallots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

For the sliders:

1-1/2 pounds ground waygu or Kobe-style beef, or substitute ground chuck (ideally
between 15 to 20 percent fat)
12 small brioche rolls or Parker House rolls
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Your choice of condiments, including pickles, mustard, ketchup, etc.

1. Make the caramelized shallots: Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the shallots. Cook over medium heat until the shallots have been reduced to a thick, sweet paste. This will take about 15 minutes and you’ll have to stir often. Lower the heat as needed to keep the shallots from burning. (Add a tablespoon or two of water as needed.) Add salt and pepper to taste. The shallots can be caramelized several hours or even a day ahead.

2. Make the burgers: Divide the beef into 12 portions. Lightly wet your hands and mold each into a square patty about 2 inches square and 1/2 inch thick. Arrange on a plate and chill, covered with plastic wrap, until you’re ready to grill the sliders.

3. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.

4. Generously salt and pepper the sliders and arrange on the grate. Grill until cooked to taste, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes per side for medium, turning with a spatula. Meanwhile, brush the cut sides of the rolls with melted butter and grill them until golden brown. (Watch closely.)

5. To assemble the sliders, place a spoonful of caramelized shallots on the bottom section of each bun. Top with a slider and the top bun half, and serve at once with condiments.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

A Barbecuers’ 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.


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.

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.

Serves 4.

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.


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.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

Six Reason to Give Thanks


Dear Up In Smoke Subscriber,

Let’s face it: A lot of bad turkey gets served every Thanksgiving. The problem has less to do with human error—well, usually—than with avian anatomy. The simple fact is that the delicate white meat of the turkey breast cooks faster than the dark rich meat of the legs and thighs. So if you cook a turkey to a safe temperature (165 degrees F), the breast is almost guaranteed to dry out.

What’s a griller to do?

Well, there’s a simple solution to this problem. Actually, there are six. Brine the bird. Cure it. Inject it. Chop it. Smoke it. Grill it. All will give you every grillmaster’s dream holiday bird—moist, tender, smoky and bursting with flavor. Here’s a quick rundown on each:

Brine it. Brining is the process of marinating the bird overnight in a saline solution (saltwater). By the process of osmosis (remember your high school chemistry?), some of the brine is drawn into the turkey, making the meat both succulent and flavorful. Brining works great for both whole turkeys and turkey breasts. Below you’ll find an orange-brown sugar brined turkey adapted from my forthcoming book, Planet Barbecue.

Cure it. Curing is a bit like brining, only you use a dry rub instead of a liquid. The salt draws some of water out of the turkey. You might think this would make the bird dry. It doesn’t. What it does do is give you a rich-textured bird and bold flavor. Here’s a prime example: the turkey pastrami in The Barbecue! Bible (page 270 if you own the original edition, and page 286 if you own the anniversary edition). Or if you’re in a hurry, check out our Best of Barbecue Pastrami on the Grill Kit.

Inject it. You could think of the process of injecting a turkey as marinating from the inside out. Using a kitchen syringe (it looks an oversize hypodermic needle), you inject a mixture of broth, melted butter and other seasonings (such as cognac or Madeira wine) deep into the breast and thigh meat. This keeps the bird moist—even after prolonged cooking on a grill or in a smoker. Not to mention the mad scientist machismo of brandishing the injector. (Raichlen’s Rule #6—never underestimate the importance of looking cool when you set out to grill. Rule #7? Never put coarse ground spices in an injector sauce—they’ll clog the needle.) In the recipes section below, you’ll find a recipe for a Madeira turkey injection adapted from How to Grill.

Chop it. This refers to the “divide and conquer” approach to grilling. To keep turkey moist on the grill, start with thin slices of breast or thigh (as they do in Israel) or even finely chopped turkey (as they do in Russia and the Republic of Georgia) to make a sort of grilled skinless turkey sausage called shashlik. Small pieces of meat cook more quickly than large, so you can cook them through without drying them out. Below you’ll find a recipe for Russian ground turkey kebabs—again adapted from the new Planet Barbecue.

Smoke it: One of the best ways to keep turkey moist on the grill is to smoke it in the style of the American South. The closed cooking environment holds in not only the smoke, but the moisture. The low to moderate heat used in smoking cooks the bird without drying it out. By the way, smoked turkey is an excellent dish to make in the Weber 22-1/2-inch Smokey Mountain smoker or the Big Green Egg.

Grill it: When working with turkey steaks (cut from the breast) or chopped or ground turkey, the best method is direct grilling. Work over a medium-high to high heat to sear the meat on the outside while keeping it moist in the center. Target temperature for doneness is 165 degrees F. To add flavor, spray the bird as it grills with olive oil, wine, or a spray marinade, such as our new Best of Barbecue Balsamic Ginger Spray Marinade.

The turkey is a bird near and dear to the American heart, for it’s indigenous to the New World—domesticated by the Aztecs long before long before the arrival of the Spanish. Benjamin Franklin regarded turkey so highly, he wanted to name it—not the eagle—our national bird. So how did a fowl with such deep American roots come to be called turkey? In the 16th century, many luxury consumer products came from or through Turkey. Thus, labeling this New World fowl a “Turkie bird” helped lend it cachet and commercial acceptance. Here’s a new twist on an American Thanksgiving icon, and brining and smoking virtually guarantee your bird will be moist. Note: I prefer indirect grilling to smoking for turkey as smoking tends to make the skin leathery, while indirect grilling keeps it crisp. But I give both options below.

Looking for a unique recipe to spice up the holiday season? Try the Ultimate Grilling Contest winning recipe:

London Broil “Pizza” Grilled with Roasted Garlic, Kalamata Olives, and Fontina by Judy Armstrong of Prairieville, LA

Serves: 6

1 1/2 pounds London broil (top round steak), approximately 1 1/2 inches thick, butterflied and flattened
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons mashed roasted garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup seeded, halved Kalamata olives
1/2 cup jarred or frozen sliced artichoke bottoms, thawed
1 cup fresh grated Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving

1. Place the butterflied London broil in a food-safe plastic bag. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and thyme. Close the bag and massage the marinade into the steak and refrigerate for 1 to 6 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

2. Preheat the grill to medium.

3. Remove the steak from the plastic bag, and discard the marinade. Pat the steak dry with a clean towel. Season with the salt and pepper.  Open up the steak to its full measure and place it on the grill, cut side (inside of the butterfly) down. Grill for 1 minute to sear. Turn the steak and smear the cut side all over with the roasted garlic and Dijon mustard. Layer the Fontina, tomatoes, olives, artichoke bottoms, 1 cup Romano cheese, the red bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and the basil over the steak. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted, 7 to 8 minutes more.

4. Remove the steak to a cutting board, let sit for 3 minutes, then cut it into 4 pieces. Garnish with additional fresh basil and Romano cheese and serve.


Serves 12.

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman, May 2010)

For the brine:

1-1/2 cups kosher salt
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 gallon cool water
4 bay leaves
4 strips orange zest (removed with a vegetable peeler), plus the juice of the orange
4 whole cloves
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 turkey (about 12 pounds)
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted, for basting
Madeira Gravy (recipe follows)

You’ll also need: trussing string; about 5 cups soaked, drained hardwood chips or chunks

1) Make the brine: Place the salt, sugar, and 1 quart water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Whisk in the remaining water. Add bay leaves, orange zest strips, cloves, onion, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and orange juice to the brine.

2) Wash the turkey inside and out with cold running water, then place it in the bucket with the brine. Place a heavy weight, like a saucepan or a resealable plastic bag filled with ice, on top to keep it submerged. Brine-cure the turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

3) Drain the turkey well and blot dry with paper towels. For a more professional-looking presentation, truss the bird with butcher’s string.

Indirect grill method (best done on a charcoal grill): Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low (300 degrees F). Place the turkey, breast side up, on the grate over the drip pan. Add 3/4 cups wood chips or chunks to each mound of coals. Smoke-roast the turkey until dark golden brown and cooked through; the internal temperature of the meat in the deepest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees F. Here’s another test for doneness—pierce the thigh with a slender skewer: the juices should run clear. This will take 3 to 3-1/2 hours, and you’ll need to replenish the charcoal every hour. Add another batch of wood chips after the first and second hours, but not the third. Start basting the turkey with melted butter after 2-1/2 hours and baste every 20 or 30 minutes.

Smoker method: Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 275 degrees F. Drain the turkey well and blot dry. For a more professional- looking presentation, truss the bird with butcher’s string. Place the turkey in the smoker, breast side up. Smoke the turkey until dark golden brown and cooked through; the internal temperature of the meat in the deepest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees F. Here’s another test for doneness—pierce the side of the thigh with a slender skewer: the juices should run clear. Depending on your smoker and the temperature outside, this will take 4 to 6 hours. Start basting the turkey with butter after 3 hours and baste every 30 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a platter and remove the trussing string. Let rest for 20 to 25 minutes, loosely tented with foil. Make the Madeira Gravy (recipe follows) and serve at once.


Makes 3 cups.

Turkey is only as good as the gravy you spoon over it. This may be about the best gravy you’ve ever tasted, enriched as it is with smoked turkey drippings, Madeira, and for an unexpected touch, a splash of coffee. Note: the easiest way to defat the turkey drippings is to use a fat separating gravy boat (the sort whose spout comes off the bottom). Fat rises, so when you pour off the drippings, the fat stays in the gravy boat.

2 cups turkey drippings
1 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup Madeira wine
1/4 cup coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Strain the turkey drippings into a fat separating gravy boat. Wait a few minutes, then pour the drippings into a large measuring cup, stopping when the fat starts to come out. Add enough chicken stock to obtain 3 cups.

2) Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook until a dark golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

3) Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the Madeira, coffee, cream, and the turkey drippings with stock. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil, whisking steadily. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until richly flavored and reduced to about 3 cups, 6 to 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.


Below is a basic injector sauce I’ve adapted from How to Grill (Workman, 2001). It can be used on a raw turkey in place of a brine to keep turkey moist and succulent. Make the sauce as directed and keep it warm (not hot). Draw the injector sauce into the syringe, and inject into the drumsticks, thighs, and the plumpest parts of the breast. Then indirect grill, smoke, or rotisserie the bird. (Discard any leftover injector sauce.)

1/2 cup chicken broth (preferably homemade)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Madeira wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and cook just until the butter melts. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Keep warm until ready to use, then transfer to the kitchen syringe.


Advance preparation: For the best results, make the meatball mixture 2 to 4 hours ahead and refrigerate until firm.

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman, May 2010)

Makes 8 5-inch kebabs, enough to serve 4.

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless turkey thighs or breasts
2 ounces turkey or chicken fat, chilled, or 2 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup rough-chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Vegetable oil for oiling your hands.

You’ll also need: flat metal or bamboo skewers

1) Cut the turkey and turkey fat into 1-inch pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Grind the chicken to a coarse puree, running the processor in short bursts. Add the onion and dill and run the processor in short bursts just to mix. If using butter, work it in now, running the processor in short bursts.

2) Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. This step is optional, but it will make the turkey kebabs easier to form.

3) Mold the turkey mixture onto flat skewers to make kebabs that are about 1-inch in diameter and 5 inches long. You should get 8 kebabs. It helps to lightly oil your hands before molding. Place the kebabs on a plate lined with plastic wrap, cover with more plastic wrap, and refrigerate (ideally, 1 to 2 hours more, but you can grill them right away) until you’re ready to grill.

4) Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and generously oil the grill grate. Note: If using grateless grilling, there’s no need to oil the grate.

5) Grill the turkey kebabs until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes in all). Carefully slide the turkey kebabs off the skewers onto a platter or plates. Serve at once.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor

Facebook Twitter

1 44 45 46 47 48 50