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Grilling With Wood


Dear Up In Smoke Subscriber,

When it comes to fuels for grilling, nothing beats the flavor of wood. Cooking over a wood fire brings out the primal caveman in all of us. The flickering flames are as fascinating and soothing to stare at as the delicate smoke flavor is to taste.

A wood fire is at once deeply personal (remember your first campfire?) and archetypal. It is certainly universal and timeless. “Something happens to a man when he sits before a fire,” wrote the 20th century conservationist, Sigurd F. Olson. “Around a fire, men feel that the whole world is their campsite, and all men are partners of the trail.”

Ironically, his 1956 remarks roughly coincided with big changes in outdoor cookery, at least in this country. Wood, the primordial fuel of choice since Homo erectus first walked the earth, was supplanted in suburban backyards by natural gas, propane, and stamped charcoal briquettes. In most wilderness areas, even Olson’s beloved “campfire” now depends on a canister of petroleum-based substances for its heat instead of scavenged wood.

Elsewhere on Planet Barbecue—in places as far-flung as Tuscany, Germany, and South America—wood cooking fires still burn, tended by people who take great pride in grilling the way it’s been done for a million years or more. And more and more Americans are rediscovering a method of grilling that was commonplace when our country was founded, and practiced as recently as fifty years ago.

Lately, I’ve been inundated with e-mailed questions about hardwoods. One writer was motivated by a literal windfall: Patrick N. lost a crabapple tree in a storm and wondered if he could use the wood for grilling. (Absolutely.) Another, Brandon J., asked me if I had ever tried a hard thorny wood called madrone and went so far as to send me a sample. (The smoke smelled suspiciously similar to a substance that Bill Clinton tried but didn’t inhale.)

Still other grillmasters simply seek bigger challenges. And grilling over wood—an inherently mercurial heat source rife with hot spots and cool spots—is definitely more challenging than charcoal or gas.

The original wood-burning “grill” was a campfire—still the preferred “device” used throughout South America. Argentina’s asado, Brazil’s fogo de chao, and Colombia’s hogao are all variations on a theme of meats (and sometimes whole animals) impaled on sticks and roasted in front of a campfire. The heat control is as primitive as it is effective. You move the stick—and meat—closer to or further away from the fire.

One South American grillmaster has raised the art of gaucho campfire cooking to an art—Francis Mallmann, owner of the restaurants Garzon in Uruguay, of Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, and of Francis Mallmann 1884 in Mendoza, and author of the stunning new book, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (Artisan, 2009). For me, this is the simply one of the best books about live fire cooking ever published, and it belongs on every serious griller’s bookshelf. (Find it in bookstores or at www.amazon.com.)

Among Mallmann’s seven fires are asado (bonfire roasting), parilla (grilling on a gridiron over embers), champa (grilling on a fire heated metal plate), etc. The coolest (actually hottest) of all is the infiernillo ( “little hell,” literally)—a sort of open outdoor oven with fires above and below the food—inspired by primitive stone ovens made by Incan Indians.

If an open fire is not an option, there are several grills on the market that can accommodate wood fires or are built specifically for them. Among them are the Grillery (www.thegrillery.com), a high-end grill equipped with a flywheel for raising or lowering the grill grate patterned on the grills popular in Argentina—you’ve probably seen it on “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen.” Two other cool wood-burning grills are the CB940X made by Char-Broil and the stainless steel Aztec Home Grill, both equipped with a hatch in the front for adding the logs. On the set of Primal Grill, Season 2, we built a roaring fire in the larger-than-life Weber Ranch kettle grill, and when it burned down, roasted sweet potatoes directly in the embers. For the recipe, go to www.primalgrill.org.

In terms of other equipment, you’ll need long fire-resistant leather gloves or welder’s gloves; a long-handled grill hoe, garden hoe, or shovel; long-handled tongs; a steel fireplace poker; a lidded metal ash can and scoop; and of course, a fully-charged fire extinguisher.

You’ll also need a grill grate to cook on unless you plan on impaling your food on sharpened green sticks or on a telescoping fork. You can improvise a grate using, for example, an old oven rack, or use a cast iron Tuscan-style grill with legs to hold it over the fire. Position it over a bed of embers at your cook site or in your fireplace.

Here are some additional tips for grilling over wood:

  • Always use seasoned (dried) hardwoods like oak, alder, ash, beech, hickory, maple, pecan, birch, walnut, mesquite, or fruitwoods. Other options include olive wood, wine barrel staves and grapevine clippings. (For obvious reasons, all are popular in northern California’s Napa Valley.) Softwoods like pine and fir produce a resinous smoke that generally spoils the flavor of food.
  • If you’ve ever built a campfire or started a fire in a fireplace, you know the drill: Create a teepee of small twigs atop a pile of kindling (wood chips, newspaper, or other tinder), adding larger pieces of wood as the fire catches. What you may not realize is that you can start a wood fire in a chimney starter. Fill the chimney with hardwood chunks and light as you would charcoal. Or light some charcoal in a chimney starter, and use it as an under-fire to bring the wood to flame.
  • Allow plenty of time—up to 45 minutes—for the fire to mature and burn down to embers. Then, with a shovel or long-handled grill hoe rake the glowing orange embers underneath the grill grate. As with charcoal, the deeper the pile, the higher the heat. A common misconception among wood fire beginners is that cooking should be done over leaping flames. Note: The exception to the rule is Germany’s Spiessbraten, an onion-stuffed pork shoulder roast spit-roasted directly in the flames of a smoky beech wood fire. But in most wood fire-obsessed cultures, embers are the goal. Replenish as needed. In South America, log fires are built in a special wrought-iron rack called a leñero brasero; embers are harvested when they fall through the spaces at the bottom. A regular fireplace grate makes a reasonable substitute.
  • Wood burns faster than either lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes. Be prepared to replenish the embers every 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Open fires, i.e., those built on the ground or in a pit, are disallowed in many areas. Check with local authorities prior to your grilling session. An indoor wood-burning fireplace is also an option if you want to experiment with grilling over wood.
  • Of course, you’ll build your wood fire well away from anything flammable, including buildings, trees, spreading tree roots, dry vegetation, etc. Be sure to take note of wind direction and velocity. You don’t need to be a Californian to know that wind-driven fires can have tragic consequences.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, water hose, a bucket of salt, or a pile of dirt and a shovel nearby to keep the fire from spreading out of control. (Hey, things can happen fast.) Extinguish the fire completely once you are finished with it. If you’ve built the fire in a charcoal grill, starve it of oxygen by putting the lid on and closing all the vents. If the fire has been built in an open area, douse it thoroughly with water (watch out for rising steam) or smother it with dirt. Tend the site for at least 30 more minutes to ensure the fire is completely out. (Remember “Smoky the Bear” and his public service words of wisdom?)
  • Incidentally—because I know some of you will ask—while wood fires send more particulate matter into the atmosphere than cleaner-burning propane, the Environmental Protection Agency does not currently endorse one over the other. Scientists say a fallen tree will release carbon dioxide into the air whether it is burned or left to rot, and over its lifetime, will have efficiently converted CO2 to oxygen. Unlike natural gas, wood is also a renewable resource. If possible, find a local source for grilling and smoking woods.

Finally, here are a couple of recipes to inspire your wood-fired grilling:



Source: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann (Artisan, 2009)

Method: Grilling over embers

Serves: 1

Advance Preparation: Make chimichurri sauce 1 day ahead

One 1-pound boneless rib-eye steak per person, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches thick
Coarse salt
Chimichurri (recipe follows)

Make a wood fire about an hour before you plan to serve the meat. Shovel or rake a 2- to 3-inch bed of coals under the grill grate. (The grate should be 3 to 4 inches above the coals.) You want a medium-high temperature, a “2 Mississippi” fire. Salt the steak(s) to taste. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Place the meat on the grill. Rotate the meat after 5 minutes. Cook for 4 more minutes, then turn the steak(s) over with tongs and cook for approximately 7 more minutes, or until medium-rare, rotating after 4 minutes to achieve a handsome crosshatch of grill marks. Transfer the steak(s) to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Serve with chimichurri.


Makes about 2 cups

1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and stir until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Mince the garlic very fine and put in a medium bowl. Mince the parsley and oregano and add to the garlic along with the pepper flakes. Whisk in the vinegar, then the olive oil. Whisk in the salt-water mixture. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 1 day. Chimichurri will keep, refrigerated, for 2 to 3 weeks. 


Recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Indoor Grilling (Workman, 2004)

Method: Grilling over embers

Serves: 4 to 6 as an appetizer

When Argentineans say grilled cheese, they really mean it—thick slabs of provoleta (a firm cow’s milk cheese similar to provolone) seared on the gridiron until they are melted and lightly browned. It’s mandatory fare at any Argentine steakhouse and a great recipe to do in the fireplace.

2 thick slices of provoleta or Provolone (each about 3/4 to 1 inch thick and 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried oregano, or 3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, preferably small ones
Crusty bread for serving

Brush each slice of cheese on both sides with the cracked black peppercorns and oregano.

Prepare a wood fire. Rake red hot embers under the gridiron and preheat it for 3 to 5 minutes. You want a hot, 2 to 3 Mississippi fire. When ready to cook, brush and oil the gridiron. Place the cheese slices on the hot grate. The cheese will be done after cooking 2 to 4 minutes per side. Take care to remove it before the cheese melts on the embers.

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

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Paella to Make a Valencian Weep

Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber:

Quick—name the most famous grilled dish in Spain: Chuleta (Spain’s famous salt grilled rib steak)? Rodobalo (garlic grilled turbot from the Basque country)? Both are popular, but Spain’s most famous grilled masterpiece is…paella.

That’s right, paella (pronounced pah-YAY-a), for the true, the traditional, the authentic way to cook paella is outdoors over a campfire. Alas, mediocre versions of this glorious rice dish—cooked in a wide, flat-bottom pan also known as a paella—abound, and even in its native Valencia, the wood-grilled version is hard to find.

First, some background.

Authentic Spanish paella, which was first seen during the 18th century near the coastal city of Valencia, has much in common with American barbecue. It was poor peoples’ food, cooked over open fires (usually fueled by orangewood or vine clippings or even pine cones) for the midday meal by laborers for laborers, and nearly always by men. Cooks developed their own “secret” recipes, and jealously guarded them. Competitions sprang up. Today, a “Paella King” is crowned each year in the northwest region of Galicia.

Originally, the key ingredients for a traditional paella Valenciana were scavenged close by—the most important being the unique strains of short-grain rice known as arroz bomba or Calaspara that grew (and still grow) in the lagoon-like marshes on Spain’s eastern seaboard. Local produce, like bell peppers and runner beans, added color, while saffron and pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) ramped up the flavor. Protein came in whatever form people could scrounge it: vegetables, garden snails, rabbit, or the occasional duck—shrimp, clams, etc., if they lived by the sea.

So what constitutes an authentic paella today? It depends on where you are and the occasion. Even in Valencia, paella has multiple personalities: “Paella de mariscos” comes crammed with shellfish or other seafood; “paella mixta” would include seafood and meat such as chicken, pork, chorizo, sausage, or all of the above. There’s even a green paella from Alicante flavored with rabbit, snails and green herbs that mimics the first paellas.

But before you get started, there are a few things you should know about a dish that should be in every grillmaster’s repertory:

1. A paella pan is the preferred equipment for cooking this classic dish. It not only looks cool, but it encourages the rice to caramelize into a golden brown layer (called soccorat) on the bottom of the pan—the best part, some people say, of a well-made paella. You can find one at Spanish grocery stores or cookware shops. We recently added a stainless steel paella pan to the Best of Barbecue line. In a pinch, you can substitute a large frying pan with a heatproof handle.

2. If possible, do cook the paella the traditional way—over a wood campfire. If you go this route (and I encourage you to), a Tuscan grill will help you position the pan securely and stably over the fire. Cooking paella over a campfire can get mighty hot: you might also wish to invest in a grill hoe. The long handle makes it ideal for stirring the paella.

3. Like risotto or pilaf, a good paella lives or dies by the rice. The traditional bomba or Calaspara rice are available at Spanish markets or from Internet purveyors such as www.tienda.com or www.thespanishtable.com. Italian Arborio rice can also be used, although you may need to use slightly more liquid to keep the rice from drying out.

4. Chorizo is a Spanish sausage made with large chunks of cured pork. (It differs from Mexican or Spanish Caribbean chorizo, although the latter can be used in a pinch.) Piquillo peppers are small, bright red peppers with a sweet aromatic flavor—they’re almost always sold bottled or canned. Pimentón is a Spanish smoked paprika. Again, these are available at Spanish grocery stores, or via www.tienda.com or www.thespanishtable.com. Red bell peppers and regular paprika make credible substitutes.

5. Paella is a festive and abundant dish that is meant to be shared communally. Give each diner a wooden spoon for scooping out a portion. Accompany the paella with grilled garlic bread (How to Grill, page 418) for sopping up the juices, a green salad, and either White Sangria (see Ribs, page 268) or a crisp, dry Spanish wine such as an Albariño or Txakoli.

Click here for a traditional recipe for Paella on the Grill, from Planet Barbecue.

For a vegetarian adaptation of Paella on the Grill, click here.

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

A Guide to Budget Grilling

Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber:

Plug the words “budget” and “grilling” into any Internet search engine, and you’re likely to churn up headlines referring to squirmy appearances before Congress by high-profile auto and banking executives who are being “grilled” about their roles in undermining our economy, and who probably feel like their hindquarters are figuratively “in the fire”.

Like most Americans, I miss the good ol’ days when TARP meant something you threw over the woodpile and Bernie Madoff wasn’t a household name.

But you don’t need a degree in finance to know that all of us are watching our money more closely.
Here’s some rare good news from the economic front: tough meat and tough times don’t have to go together.
Less expensive cuts of meat respond beautifully to the low, slow heat of smoking and barbecuing. They can even be the stars of your live fire show. Below is my strategy for saving money on food in these challenging economic circumstances:


Stay home and fire up your grill. Simply commit to grilling at home and automatically save money—especially when entertaining a group. Grilling at home is also healthier for you and more fun.

True barbecue is the original budget food. The low, slow heat of the smoker breaks down tough meat, making cheap cuts like brisket and ribs supernaturally flavorful.

Save leftover charcoal for next time. If there is charcoal left over, cover the grill, closing the top and bottom vents to put out the fire. Use the remaining charcoal for a future grill session.

Inexpensive steaks, like skirt and hanger, have a lot more flavor than costlier cuts, like filet mignon. Tenderize these cuts by flash-grilling over high heat and slicing the meat thinly across the grain.

Choose the less-expensive dark meat pieces of a chicken. Dark meat, like thighs and legs, is better marbled, richer tasting, and less prone to drying out when exposed to the high, dry heat of the fire than pricier white meat pieces. Ninety-five percent of the world’s grillmasters prefer dark meat.

Expensive sirloin and Kobe beef may have the prestige, but chuck delivers more flavor when making a burger. Choose chuck that is at least 15 percent fat and your burgers will be juicier. And try making an inside-out cheeseburger by grating sharp cheddar, pepper Jack, parmesan, or blue cheese directly into ground meat; it melts as the meat cooks, producing an exceptionally moist burger.

Grill dark oily fish like sardines, Spanish mackerel, or kingfish as an inexpensive seafood alternative. The omega-3 fatty fish oils are great for your health and keep the fish from drying out on the grill.

Smoke whole briskets, beef clods (shoulders), pork shoulders, whole turkeys, and racks of spareribs. This yields more meat for the money, much less work is required, and everyone loves the primal pleasure of cutting into a communal-size roast.

Cook the whole meal on the grill. Appetizer, main course, vegetable side dishes, and even dessert can be cooked using live fire. It saves on fuel, clean-up, and wear and tear in the kitchen. And don’t forget, if something tastes good baked, fried, or sautéed, it probably tastes better grilled!

Farmer’s market buys on summer vegetables can be the centerpiece of a grilled meal. In some Asian countries, meat is often served as a precious condiment to vegetables and salads.



Penny for pound, it’s hard to find more flavor than turkey legs and thighs.

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

Method: Smoking

Serves: 4

Advance Preparation: 3 to 4 hours for brining the turkey

For the brine:

1/2 cup bourbon (or substitute apple juice)
1/2 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
8 cups water

For the turkey:

8 turkey legs
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Spicy Apple Barbecue Sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce for serving

You’ll also need: 1 large container or a jumbo or 2 large resealable plastic bags for brining.  About 2 cups wood chips or chunks (apple or pecan work great), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained.

1) Make the brine: Combine the bourbon, salt, brown sugar, lemon, garlic, peppercorns, and mustard and coriander seeds in a large nonreactive bowl with 8 cups of water and whisk until the salt and brown sugar dissolve.

2) Rinse the turkey legs under cold running water. Put the legs into the resealable plastic bag(s) and add the brine. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, turning periodically to distribute the brine evenly.  For faster brining, perforate the meat with a fork or marinade turbocharger.

3) Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium, about 325 degrees F. If using a gas grill, place half 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 lower the heat.  If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat it to medium, then toss half of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

4) When ready to cook, drain the brine off the turkey legs and blot dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.  Lightly rub the turkey legs with the olive oil. Arrange the turkey legs in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and indirect grill the turkey until cooked through, 1 to 1-1/2 hours, adding charcoal as needed To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be about 165 degrees F.

Note: you can also smoke the turkey in a smoker.  You’ll need 2-1/2 to 3 hours at 250 degrees.

Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.


The brat-fry (act of grilling bratwurst) is a Wisconsin institution.  Unfortunately, the high fat content makes brats prone to spectacular flare-ups. You can avoid the pyrotechnics and add incredible flavor to this iconic American barbecue staple by smoke-roasting using indirect grilling. Another advantage is that the skin is less likely to split and lose those great juices to the fire. You can find some of my favorite brat variations, such as wine-simmered brats and Philly cheese brats, on page 353 of BBQ USA.

8 uncooked brats

For serving (optional):

Dark, spicy, German-style mustard
Grilled onions
Dill pickle slices
Hard rolls, hearth rolls, or Kaiser rolls

You’ll also need: 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably apple or hickory)

1) Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350 degrees F).
If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips or chunks in a smoker box or 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 2 cups of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

2) When ready to cook, place the brats in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Grill the brats until crusty and browned on the outside and cooked thoroughly, 30 to 40 minutes.  (To check for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer in one end—it should read 160 degrees F.)

3) Serve the brats immediately with the accompaniments suggested above…and of course, plenty of cold beer.

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

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Make no Mis-Steak for Father’s Day

Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber:

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Red roses are the “official” flower of Father’s Day. But—no surprise here—it’s red meat that most red-blooded American dads are thinking of on their special day (and most other days, too).

The perfectly cooked steak is one of the holy grails of barbecue—often pursued, rarely achieved. It challenges even the most experienced grillers. I can explain the fundamentals to you in a few minutes. It takes years to master all the fine points.

There are, of course, a lot of steaks to choose from, but in this issue of Up in Smoke, I want to focus on one particular steak, the ultimate steak for many grillmasters and my personal favorite—the mighty T-bone.

The T-bone is actually two steaks in one: a New York strip (a.k.a. Kansas City strip if you happen to come from Missouri), and a portion of filet mignon, both connected by a T-shaped bone. So why a T-bone? Remember, meat on the bone is always the most flavorful—the reason, by the way, so many people love ribs.

Closely related to the T-bone is the Porterhouse, which also consists of a piece of New York strip and a piece of filet mignon. So what’s the difference? The T-bone is cut closer to the center of the steer, which means a tastier New York strip, but a smaller piece of filet mignon. The Porterhouse is cut closer to the hindquarters of the steer, which means a large piece of filet mignon, but a slightly tougher New York strip. Seeing as I prefer the robust, beefy flavor of the New York strip to the mild—some would say bland—taste of the filet mignon, the T-bone is the cut for me. If you happen to prefer filet mignon, go for the Porterhouse. Whichever steak you select, make sure it’s cut thick (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches).

So who else likes T-bones besides American dads? Grillmasters in Tuscany, where the T-bone reaches its apotheosis in the form of Italy’s legendary bistecca alla fiorentina, also known as Florentine-style steak (see The Barbecue! Bible for a recipe).

In Argentina, a country obsessed by beef, this noble cut goes by the name of bife de costilla. And of course, there’s the Texas T-bone, sometimes called a “cowboy steak”—rubbed with chili powder and spices and seared over a wood fire.

But when it comes to seasoning a great T-bone, there, the consensus ends. Italians usually use only salt for seasoning and a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil as a sauce. Argentineans serve their T-bones with a vibrant and addictive condiment called chimichurri. (There’s a great recipe in The Barbecue! Bible). Brazilians use veritable fistfuls of sea salt so coarse you could use it for salting your sidewalk or driveway. In the U.S., upscale steakhouses often anoint their grilled steaks with butter or melted beef fat.

This summer, you may have seen me grilling T-bones my new favorite way—directly on the embers “caveman style”. The micro-charring gives you an unbelievable crust and smoke flavor, and of course, the process looks extreme and ultra-cool. Click here for the recipe.



There are a number of myths concerning how to cook a great steak, T-bones included. So let’s separate fact from fiction.

Myth number 1: Let the steak warm to room temperature before grilling.

Bad idea. Meat at room temperature is a formula for microbial disaster. Steakhouse pros keep their meats ice-cold and bacteria-free until the moment of grilling.

Myth number 2: Salt toughens steak, so don’t salt before grilling.

On the contrary, a generous dusting of salt (kosher or coarse sea salt) and cracked black peppercorns right before grilling gives you the rich flavor and savory crust characteristic of a great steakhouse steak. So, season the steak right before it goes on the grill. Do not, however, season a steak hours ahead, or the salt will draw out the juices and make the steak dry.

Myth number 3: A barbecue fork is the proper tool for turning a steak.

Wrong. The only purpose served by puncturing a steak with a fork is to drain out the flavorful juices. Always use tongs when turning a steak.

Myth number 4: Turn the steaks often.

False. Most of the world’s meat masters turn the steaks only once. Why? This helps achieve a better crust.

Myth number 5: The best way to check for doneness is to cut into the steak with a knife.

False. Again, the last thing you want to do is cut or puncture the meat. For the same reason, don’t buy Dad one of those temperature-reading barbecue forks for Father’s Day. The best way to check for doneness is to use the poke test: Press the thickest part of the steak with your finger. When the meat is rare, it will feel soft and squishy. When medium-rare, the meat will feel semi-soft and yielding. When medium, the meat will yield just a little, while when well-done, the meat will feel hard and springy. Not that we advocate serving a T-bone (or any steak) well done.

For really thick steaks, use an instant-read meat thermometer. Insert it through the side of the steak to get an accurate reading. Here are the temperatures that define varying degrees of doneness:

Rare: 125 degrees F

Medium-rare: 145 degrees F

Medium: 160 degrees F

Well-done: 180 degrees F

Myth number 6: Steak tastes best sizzling hot off the grill.

False: A steak hot off the grill will be dry and leathery. You should let all grilled steaks (all meats, actually) “rest” for a couple of minutes on a hot platter. This allows the meat to “relax,” redistributing the juices. The result: a more tender, succulent steak

So get out there, Dad (or moms and kids who want to wait on him hand and foot). By dispelling these widely-circulated untruths, I hope I’ve helped you ascend the ladder of grilling enlightenment.


Source: Steven Raichlen

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4 generously

4 T-bone steaks, each about 12 ounces and cut 1-1/4 inches thick
2 cups rock salt or very coarse sea salt

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

Arrange the steaks on the grate and sprinkle the top with a 1/4-inch layer of salt. Grill the steak until the bottom is darkly browned and beads of blood start to form on the top, about 5 minutes.

Turn the steak over (some of the salt will fall into the fire—it’s supposed to). Sprinkle another 1/4-inch layer salt on top of the steak. Continue grilling until the bottom is again darkly browned and the steak is cooked to taste—4 to 5 minutes more.

Turn the steak on its side with tongs and whack it with the back of a knife to knock off the excess salt.

To serve, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 2 minutes. Cut the meat off the bone. (Return the bone to the fire to char it, then serve it separately.) Cut the now boneless steak crosswise and slightly on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick
strips. Serve with a well-aged Rioj a and get ready for some of the best steak you’ve ever tasted.


Source: Adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2001)

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4 generously

Advance preparation: 1 to 2 hours for chilling the butter

4 T-bone steaks, each about 12 ounces and cut 1-1/4 inches thick
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Walnut-Roquefort Butter for serving (see recipe below)

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

Sprinkle the steaks on both sides with the salt and pepper.

Arrange the steaks on the hot grate at a 45-degree angle to the bars of the grate. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare (about 145 degrees F on an instant-read meat thermometer), rotating the steaks after 3 minutes to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Transfer the st eaks to plates or a platter and top each with a pat of Walnut-Roquefort Butter.


Makes about 2/3 cup

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
2 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the butter, cheese, walnuts, parsley, and salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

Lay a 12-inch square piece of plastic wrap, waxed paper, or parchment paper on your work surface and mound the flavored butter in the center. Roll it up into a cylinder, twisting the ends to compact the butter. Chill until firm. The flavored butter will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. To use, unwrap the roll and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

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

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Special Mother’s Day Edition


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber:

There’s a perception in the U.S. that grilling is the domain of men—that a Y chromosome is a prerequisite for playing around with fire.

Well, guys, I’ve got news for you: According to a Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) survey, more women than ever before are involved in the grilling process—from purchasing food and hardware to firing up the grill. In fact, more than 34 million women report using a grill “a couple of times a week” during grilling season last year, and another 3.4 million claim to grill “every day.”

Malaysian grill mistress_2.jpg

Of course, if you travel the world barbecue trail as much as I do, this won’t come as much of a shock. In many parts of the world, women at the grill are the norm, even the majority—not the exception. While researching my next book, “Planet Barbecue,” I’ve encountered many formidable grill mistresses.

There’s Azlinah Kudar, the headscarf-wearing owner of the famous grilled fish restaurant Gerai 11 & 12 in Melaka, Malaysia. And Milica Perunovic, the Montenegran-born chef-owner of the popular restaurant Chubura in Belgrade—lightning-fast and laser-focused, she makes multi-tasking at the grill look like child’s play. And how could I forget the shy woman I met at a grill stall in Oaxaca, Mexico—she would only give me her first name, Laura—who taught me how to make the Cecina Adobada (Chile-Marinated Pork) in The Barbecue! Bible.

Closer to home there are the ’Que Queens—Karen Adler and Judith Fertig—whose popular books like The BBQ Queens’ Big Book of Barbecue (Harvard Common Press, 2005) give the female perspective on the venerable arts of smoking and grilling. Another wave-making grill mistress is Elizabeth Karmel, author of Taming the Flame (Wiley, 2005) and the creative force behind Hill Country, the excellent Texas-style barbecue restaurant in New York City.

So with so many remarkable women grill masters, how did barbecue come to be considered a “guy” thing? Anthropologists point to traditional hunter-gatherer societies, where men took on the roll of procurers of animal protein, which they butchered and roasted on impromptu campfires. IMG_1321.jpgWomen gathered roots, fruits, and starchy tubers, which were better suited to boiling, stewing, or slow-roasting in the ashes.

Of course, it may be that women just have more common sense than their male counterparts. “Why stand outside in the sun (or rain) downwind of a hot, smoky barbecue grill, when I can get my husband to do it?” one lady friend observed wryly.

Even when women aren’t grilling, their presence is felt everywhere.

“Here’s how it works at our house,” explains my wife, Barbara. “I pick the date, plan the party, invite the guests, do the shopping, make the marinades, set the table, and orchestrate the serving and clean-up.  Steven spends 20 minutes sticking the food over the fire and they call him America’s ‘grill master’.”

Incidentally, reservations for Barbecue University at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, would make a spectacular Mother’s Day gift! BBQ U
is a great bonding experience for mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, or husbands and wives. For details, go to http://www.barbecuebible.com/bbqu/.

Well, regardless of who usually wields the tongs in your family, Sunday is Mother’s Day, a perfect time to show the moms in your life your boundless appreciation for all they do—namely by grilling a Mother’s Day feast just for them. By ‘feast,’ we don’t necessarily mean brats and beer, guys. Here’s a brunch menu designed by Up in Smoke Features Editor and a mom herself, Nancy Loseke. Hey, besides thanking the most important woman in your life, you get an excuse to fire up the grill before noon.



Bloody Mary Bar*
Pineapple Rumaki*
Grilled Vegetable Strata*
Grilled Sausage
Peaches ’n Cream On the Grill*
*Recipes or instructions below.


Bloody Marys are, of course, a brunch drink classic. We like to set up a bloody mary “bar” where everyone can custom mix his or her own to taste. (Also great for tailgate parties.)

Here’s how you do it:

In a small shallow bowl, mix 1/3 cup kosher or rimming salt (sometimes sold as “Margarita Salt”) with 2-1/2 tablespoons of my All-Purpose Barbecue Rub or your favorite barbecue rub, and 2 teaspoons of celery salt. Place this next to a bowl of sliced lemons or limes. Guests run the cut side of a lemon or lime around the rim of a glass and then dip it in the seasoned salt. (Plastic cups or glasses won’t work here, guys, as the salt won’t stick. Sorry. Dish duty.) This will service several drinks. Multiply as needed.

Set out glasses, vodka, a pitcher of good-quality tomato juice (we like the Sacramento brand, especially when laced with a couple of judicious drops of liquid smoke), and any or all of the following:

-Worcestershire sauce
-Bottled hot sauce
-Steak sauce, such as my Ultimate Steak Sauce
-A small bowl of horseradish
-Assorted pickled vegetables such as asparagus spears, cocktail onions, olives, okra, dilled pickle spears, whole pepperoncini, caperberries, etc., and 6-inch bamboo skewers
-Celery spears
-Cherry or grape tomatoes
-Salt and pepper
-Beer (some people like this as a Bloody Mary chaser)


Method: Direct grilling
Makes about 36 pieces
Source: BBQ USA

For the marinade:

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 inch fresh ginger, finely grated

1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cored
12 strips bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
36 small sprigs of cilantro (optional)

You’ll also need: 36 toothpicks or small bamboo skewers (6 inch);

1. Make the marinade. Combine the soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, oil, vinegar, and ginger in a bowl and whisk to mix.

2. Cut the pineapple widthwise into 1-inch slices. Cut each slice into 6 wedges to make 1-inch chunks. Stir the pineapple into the marinade and marinate for 1 hour.

3. Drain the marinade off the pineapple and strain into a heavy saucepan. Boil the mixture until syrupy, 5 minutes. Set this mixture aside: you’ll use it as a glaze.

4. Meanwhile, wrap each pineapple chunk in bacon, placing a sprig of cilantro (if using) between them. Secure with a toothpick or skewer. The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

5. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If grilling the pineapple on bamboo skewers, fold a 12 by 18 inch sheet of aluminum foil over three times to make a shield to protect the skewers.

6. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the pineapple pieces on the grate and grill until the bacon is crisp, about 2 minutes per side, basting with the glaze. (If flare-ups occur, move the pineapple to a cooler section of the grill.) If grilling the pineapple on skewers, place the foil under the exposed part of the skewers to keep them from burning. Arrange the pineapple on plates or a platter (or serve directly off the grill). Drizzle any remaining glaze over the fruit before serving.


Source: Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen
Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 8
Advance preparation: 8 hours to overnight

4 to 5 cups vegetables (such as asparagus, mushrooms,
peppers, onions, etc.), grilled at a previous grill session and cut into bite-
size pieces
10 to 12 slices of rustic bread, crusts trimmed
8 small breakfast sausages, grilled at a previous grill session and
sliced into20coins
8 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped chives
Several drops of your favorite hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces of grated Colby or Jack cheese
Butter for greasing the pan

You’ll also need:

2 disposable aluminum foil pans, 9×13-inch
Bamboo skewers

1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, chives, hot sauce, and salt and pepper.

2. Nest the two pans (this is for strength), and grease the top one with butter.

3. Spread half of the bread cubes on the bottom of the greased pan. Top with half the vegetables, sausage, and cheese. Repeat. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top. Cover the strata and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, remove the strata from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (about 350 to 375 degrees). Uncover the strata, and place on the grill grate away from the coals or in the unlit portion of the grill. Cover the grill. Cook the strata until it is firm in the center and golden brown on top, about 45 minutes to an hour. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.


Method: direct grilling
Serves 4

Source: Beer-Can Chicken

For the cinnamon-whipped cream:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon light rum

4 large ripe freestone peaches
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. Prepare the whipped cream. Place cream in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer or in a metal bowl over ice. Beat to soft peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar, cinnamon, and rum and continue beating until the cream is stiff, 1 to 2 minutes more. Keep the cream chilled until serving.

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

3. If using regular peaches, cut each in half around its circumference to the seed, starting at the stem end. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate them. Using a spoon, pry the stone out of the half that it’s lodged in. If using doughnut peaches, remove the stems.

4. Brush each peach half (or whole doughnut peach) with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the peaches on the grill cut side down (simply on the grill if using a doughnut peach). Grill until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the peaches to a platter or plates, cut side up, and place a dollop of whipped cream on top. Garnish each peach half with a mint leaf. Serve any remaining whipped cream on the side.

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

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The feast day of St. Patrick, the legendary fifth century English missionary to Ireland, has become a convenient excuse for Americans to party.  No matter if they are of Irish descent or subscribe to the privations of Lent: Come March 17, it’s time to break out the brogue, the beer, and the beef—corned beef, that is.

So how did beef brisket—a chewy cut with strong ties to German transplants to Texas and Jewish immigrants, and with virtually no popularity in Ireland—come to be the iconic food of the American version of St. Paddy’s Day?

Here’s the answer: Irish immigrants to New York’s Lower East Side in the 1800s, unable to afford bacon and cabbage (the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal in their homeland), substituted the beef brisket so popular with their equally poor Jewish neighbors.  But the Irish made it their own by brining it with salt—the term “corn” refers to the large particles of salt used—and other spices, and boiling it, usually with cabbage.

Well, this knowledge prompted me to rewrite my mantra: “If something tastes good baked, fried, or sautéed, it probably tastes better grilled.”  I figured something that tastes good boiled—as corned beef usually is—would also taste better grilled. (or more precisely smoked) Note to self: Add the word “boiled” to mantra. So I road-tested the theory last week by smoke-roasting corned beef brisket on the grill.

The challenge with any brisket, of course, is to cook it long enough to make it tender, without drying it out. The solution in this case is to cook it in an aluminum foil pan (to shield the meat on the bottom from the heat), draping the top of the corned beef with bacon, so the melting fat bastes the meat.

I think you’ll agree that the wood smoke adds a whole new dimension and depth of flavor to corned beef, while the low-slow smoking makes the meat tender enough to cut with the side of a fork.
Not incidentally, the leftovers—not that there were many—were turned into a soul-satisfying hash for a crew lunch the next day by by our fearless Nancy who was in Miami to test recipes for my next book, “Planet Barbecue. (Her cryptic recipe for hash is below.)

Barbecue for St. Patrick’s Day? Hey, it works for me.


You can stay true to the Irish-American and barbecue themes by preparing Barbecued Cabbage as a side dish (the recipe is below), or smoke-roasted potatoes.

Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen
Method: Smoking
Serves: 6

1 4-pound corned beef, drained and scraped of excess whole spices
6 strips of bacon
Mustard and rye bread for serving (optional)

You’ll also need: aluminum foil drip pan, 6 cups hickory, oak, or other hardwood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained

1) Place the corned beef fat side up in an aluminum foil pan.    Drape the bacon strips over the top of the corned beef.

2) If using a smoker, light it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 250 degrees F.    Toss 1-1/2 cups wood chips on the coals.

3) If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling using only half as much charcoal as you usually would (the equivalent of 6 to 8 nice lumps of charcoal per side).    Toss 1-1/2 cups wood chips on the coals.

4) Smoke the corned beef until very tender, 5 to 6 hours or as needed, replenishing the coals every hour and replenishing the wood chips every hour for the first 4 hours.    Try to maintain an even temperature of 250 degrees F.

5) Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes, loosely tented with foil.    Thinly slice the corned across the grain and serve with mustard and rye bread, if desired.

Note from Nancy: If you want to turn the corned beef leftovers into hash, boil a couple of decent-sized potatoes until tender, then peel and dice.  Chop up the leftover corned beef until you have at least half as much as the potatoes—more if desired.  Combine in a mixing bowl.  Dice a small onion and a clove of garlic and sauté them in oil in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over low heat until translucent.  Add to the potatoes and corned beef.  Toss the mixture with a bit of dry mustard (a half-teaspoon, or more to taste), a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, a bit of minced fresh parsley, and enough heavy cream to moisten the mixture.  Pack into your well-seasoned and oiled cast iron skillet.  Transfer the skillet to a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the hash is attractively browned and crusty.  Top with a fried or poached egg, if desired.


Source: How to Grill by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2001), pg. 360
Method: Indirect Grilling
Serves  6 to 8

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slivers
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
Coarse salt and black pepper

You’ll also need: 2 cups wood chips, soaked in cold water to cover, then drained.  Best of Barbecue Grill Ring (optional) or aluminum foil, crumpled into a 3-inch ring

1) Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and onion and cook until just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain the bacon and onion in a strainer over a bowl and reserve the drippings.

2) Core the cabbage by angling your knife about 3 inches down toward the center and cut in a circle that is about 3 inches in diameter.  The piece removed should look like a cone.  Discard this piece.  Dice the remaining butter.  Stir the barbecue sauce into the butter/bacon mixture.  Prop the cabbage upright on the grill ring or aluminum foil, cavity facing up.  Place the bacon and onion mixture in the cavity and top with the diced butter.  Using a basting brush, paint the outside of the cabbage with bacon drippings.  Season the cabbage with salt and pepper.

3) Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium.  If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

4) When ready to cook, place the cabbage on its ring in the center of the hot grate away from the heat.  If using a charcoal grill, toss all the wood chips on the coals.  Cover the grill.

5) Grill the cabbage until very tender (when done, it will be easy to pierce with a skewer), 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour if the cabbage is not done.  To serve, peel off any dried-out or charred outside leaves and discard.  Cut the cabbage into wedges and serve.

Again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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

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Super Bowl, XLIII

On Sunday, February 1, the current Titans of the NFL—the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers—will clash on a modern-day Mount Olympus (in this case, Tampa Bay, Florida) for the forty-third time.   An astounding 100-million Americans will be glued to the event.   Chances are good some of these people will be watching from your living or family room, collectively rooting for an exciting game, an entertaining half-time show, chuckle-inducing commercials, and above all—great food.

Personally, who wins or loses matters less to me than who eats well: The only Titan I truly care about is Prometheus, who according to Greek mythology, gave man the gift of fire.  And I know he would be disappointed if your Game Day menu consisted of nothing but chips and pretzels—not when there are so many terrific grilling and barbecuing options.

Make Prometheus (and me) proud.

Below are recipes you’ll want to add to your Super Bowl Sunday repertoire.  We’ll assume, like all good winter warriors, you’ve been grilling all year, but if your grill happens to be buried under 12 inches of snow or outside temperatures are low enough to freeze your beer, it’s a good time to pull out Steven’s book, Raichlen’s Indoor Grilling with more than 270 grilling recipes created for indoors. The following recipes work well on indoor contact grills, grill pans, stove-top smokers, rotisseries, or even fireplaces. Kitchen not in line of sight of the 46-inch plasma screen? Now that’s a problem.

May your team win.


1. Position your grill in a wind-protected outside area (wind really reduces your grill’s efficiency) that is well-ventilated. Never grill in a garage, under a porch overhang, or other enclosed area. Not only is the potential for a fire great, but deadly carbon monoxide can build up. Clear any accumulation of snow off the grill.2. If grilling with gas, check all lines and connections for leaks. In cold weather, parts become brittle or cracked. Make sure the control knobs are not frozen and turn freely.

3. Once you’ve started your gas grill or built your fire, preheat the grill for at least 20 minutes.

4. Line charcoal grills with heavy duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, to help retain and reflect heat; poke holes through the foil corresponding to the bottom vents.

5. Have plenty of extra fuel on hand. When charcoal grilling, I like to have a second kettle grill for lighting and holding live coals. Or have extra chimney starters at the ready on a heat-proof surface. (Not on your wooden deck!) Add coals every half hour, or as needed.

6. Heat escapes rapidly each time the grill lid is lifted; resist the urge to “peek.” A digital temperature probe can keep you apprised of what’s going on under the lid. Some charcoal grills come equipped with a built-in thermometer—very useful in the wintertime.

7. Allow extra time. Food will take longer to cook in cold weather—anywhere from 30 to 100 per cent longer.

8. Remember, winter days are short. If lighting around the grill is dim, supplement it with a Clip-On Grill Headlight or food-illuminating Lumatongs. At the very least, have a flashlight on hand.

9. Save the slow-cooked menus for friendlier grilling conditions. Select foods that can be cooked quickly—in 30 minutes or less— over direct heat. Steaks, chops, burgers, chicken breasts, shrimp, fish steaks or filets, kebabs, etc., are all good bets.

10. In my experience, smoking is very difficult to do in cold weather as many smokers are constructed of thin-gauge metal and do not retain heat well. You can smoke in a kettle grill if you maintain temperatures of 250 to 275 degrees by periodically adding fresh coals.

11. Gas grills with double-walled construction are better at holding in heat. Kamodo-type cookers, such as the Big Green Egg are extraordinarily heat-retentive, too.

12. My assistant, Nancy, has winter camping experience, and reports people unthinkingly touch hot surfaces when they themselves are cold. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t touch your hot grill without grilling gloves or other protection.



Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 4 to 8 as an appetizer 

I encountered these sweet and crusty ribs on Bali—part of a marathon trip to research recipes for my next book, Planet Barbecue, which will be published next year.   I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t love the sweet-soy glaze.  By the way,  if you’re grilling for a crowd, a rib rack will be exceedingly helpful…on Super Bowl Sunday and beyond. 

2 racks of baby back pork ribs (each 2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
1 onion, quartered
2 inches ginger, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, and flattened with the side of a cleaver
2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with the side of a cleaver
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and flattened with the side of a cleaver

For the glaze:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

You’ll also need:  1-1/2 cups wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained (optional); a rib rack (optional)

1. Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a work surface. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer, under it. Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane. Repeat with remaining rack.

2. Cut the onion, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass into 1/2-inch pieces and puree in a food processor, adding enough water (about 1/4 cup) to make a thick but spreadable paste. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and spread the spice paste over them on both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

3. Make the glaze: Place the soy sauce, molasses, sugar, ginger, garlic, shallot, and pepper in a heavy saucepan. Boil over high heat until thick and syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring often. The sauce can be made several hours ahead of time.

4. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.

5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs bone-side down in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. (If your grill has limited space, stand the racks of ribs upright in a rib rack.) If cooking on a charcoal grill and wood smoke is desired, toss half the wood chips on each mound of coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until tender, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, applying the glaze halfway through the cooking time. When the ribs are done, they’ll be handsomely browned and the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones about 1/4–inch.

6. Replenish the coals as needed. Reglaze the ribs a few minutes before serving; cook until the sauce is sizzling, 1 to 3 minutes per side.

7. Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board.  Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks into individual ribs. Serve any remaining glaze, warmed, on the side.


I first discovered braciole at a  butcher shop on Boston’s North End when I was the restaurant critic for Boston Magazine.  Though well-known to almost anyone of Italian extraction, braciole (pronounced “bra-zohl”) was a revelation to me.  Think of it as a hoagie wrapped in a steak.    Great served hot or cold.

Source: Adapted from Indoor Grilling by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2004)
Method: Direct grilling
Serves: 8 to 10 as an appetizer

1-1/2 to 2 pounds very thinly sliced (1/4-inch) round steak (some supermarkets sell meat labeled “braciole”; otherwise, ask your butcher to do this)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 ounces thinly sliced Provolone cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or ham
2 ounces thinly sliced Italian salami
2 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup Italian pickled hot peppers (optional), drained and finely chopped

You’ll also need: Butcher’s string, cut into 6-inch lengths

1. Cut the meat into rectangles approximately 4 inches by 5 inches.  (Avoid any sinewy spots.) Arrange on the work surface.  Season each piece on both sides with salt, pepper, and oregano.

2. On each piece of meat, arrange the slices of Provolone, prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, and the pickled hot peppers, if using, leaving the top inch of the piece of meat bare. Roll each piece of meat up tightly, starting opposite the bare side, and secure each meat roll by tying crosswise with two pieces of butcher’s string.  (Trim any loose ends of string.)  The braciole can be prepared to this stage several hours ahead and refrigerated, covered.

3.When ready to cook, set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. Brush and oil the grill grate.

4. Cook the braciole until crusty and brown on the outside and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.   Transfer to a cutting board and let rest a few minutes.  Remove and discard the strings.  Serve the braciole whole, or (best) cut each crosswise on a sharp diagonal into 1/2–inch thick slices.  Arrange attractively on a platter.

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

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Holiday Gift Guide for Barbecuers and Grillers


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

Thanksgiving may be receding in the rearview mirror, but the rest of the holiday season is gaining on us faster than a Tesla Roadster (the high-performance electric sports car).

So take a deep breath: In the coming days, not only must you come up with inspired gift ideas for the people on your “A” list, but in all likelihood, well-intentioned relatives and friends will be asking you what’s on your wish list.  (Besides the Tesla.)

This year, of course, Americans’ purchasing decisions will be heavily influenced by the weakened U.S. economy.  It’s been predicted that consumers will not only be spending less during the holiday season than they have in the past, but they’ll be seeking out more practical gifts–even making homemade gifts.

That’s good news for us. It’s hard to get more practical than barbecue.

As a genre, barbecuers and grillers have always been easy to please. Their needs are fairly basic: Fire, fuel, food, and friends.

With that in mind, Nancy Loseke, Features Editor of Up in Smoke, and I have compiled a holiday gift guide specifically for people who love live-fire cooking—people like us.

(Steven): I have long been a fan of Lodge Cast Iron, a Tennessee company that has been in the cookware business since 1896. I not only own several “Sportsman” hibachi-style grills—you’ve seen them on Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen—but I consider Lodge’s cast iron skillets a grilling necessity. You can cook anything from Yorkshire Pudding (see The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary edition page 439) to smoked-roasted Blueberry Crumble (BBQ USA, page 715) in them. Recently, Lodge added individually portioned Mini-Servers to their line—great for entertaining at home. They come in four shapes: round, oval, rectangular, and divided rectangular.

(Nancy): Fewer hours of daylight (not to mention snow and numbing cold) can make winter grilling challenging. Believe me, I know: I live in Cleveland, and spent several wintry weeks testing recipes for Raichlen on Ribs.  Weber has incorporated grill lights into its most popular gas grills, and also manufactures a solar-powered unit that clips to the side of the work table.

For external grill lights, it’s hard to best Steven’s Best of Barbecue Grill Headlight and Lumatongs®.   The former clamps onto your work table and shines 10 LED bulbs under the grill hood onto your food. The latter was one of the first barbecue tools Steven ever designed. Lumatongs® feature spring-loaded tongs (the longest on the market) with twin halogen lamps built into one arm to illuminate whatever you’re cooking. Talk about a great gift for your favorite grill lover!

There’s nothing more disappointing than running out of gas in the middle of a grilling session.  GasWatch™ manufactures a UL-approved, easy-to-read gas level indicator for 20-pound tanks. Additional features include a built-in leak detector and an emergency flow limiter (in the event of a major leak).


(Nancy): If you watch our shows, you know we’re always beating the drum for “killer” grill marks. The easiest way to achieve them is to grill on cast iron grates—available on some, but not all grills.   Enter our cast iron Tuscan Grill, which you lay directly on top of your stainless or porcelain grate. Preheat until it’s screamin’ hot, brush with oil, then grill. You’ll get grill marks worthy of a pro.

And since it’s December, we might point out that the 14- by 14-inch Tuscan Grill, which comes with attachable legs, was originally designed for use in your fireplace. Perfect when the weather outside is frightful or the power’s off. Or when you want to infuse your food with the primal scent of wood smoke. Priced well below comparable models.

(Steven): Based on our mail, it appears one of grillers’ biggest insecurities is knowing how to determine doneness. An instant-read thermometer is your best ally, and one of the finest on the market is the Thermapen™. This device digitally calculates temperature in as little as 4 seconds, and has a range of -58˚ to 572˚ F.  Even more appealing is a thin, needle-like probe that can infiltrate a thin piece of sole as readily as a jaw-stretching hamburger. The thin probe also minimizes juice loss.  The Thermapen™ is admittedly more expensive than most instant-read thermometers, but if one beautiful, expensive steak is saved from overcooking…  Well, you can do the math.

(Steven): It’s hard to improve upon the iconic Weber 22-1/2-inch kettle grill that was first sold in the 1950s and is beloved by millions of people the world over.  But this accessory proves you can teach an old dog new tricks: The 2290 Rotisserie enables you to spit-roast everything from boneless prime rib to whole pineapples.  And as an added bonus, the metal collar that supports the spit and heavy-duty motor is useful in its own right: It raises the lid of the grill by several inches—enough to accommodate a large turkey or a bevy of beer can chickens.

Food, we’ve read, is going to be a popular gift this year.  Here are some recommendations for companies we have personally done business with:

Are you all “turkeyed out”?  Seafood is a great alternative to all those heavy holiday foods, and it doesn’t get any better than Legal Sea Foods.  Fresh lobster, swordfish, tuna, Alaskan crab legs, and much, much more, are only a mouse click away.  All are superb when grilled.  Gift certificates are also available on the company’s website.

Melissa’s, based in Los Angeles, California, is one of the country’s top purveyors of specialty produce from around the world.  Their huge online store features a Grilling Basket filled with grill-worthy seasonal produce such as cipolline onions, portobello mushrooms, chayote squash, fennel, elephant garlic, Anaheim chile peppers, and other goodies.  Hardware includes a perforated vegetable grilling basket and a set of four circle kebabs.  Nancy has visited their facility, and pronounced it “first class”; they even have separate facilities for their organic business.


Our next idea is shamelessly self-serving, but we like it anyway because everyone wins:  Give your family and friends gift certificates to the best steakhouse in town…which just happens to be at your house.  Buy prime steaks from the same supplier the pros use and we use on Primal Grill, Chicago-based Allen Brothers.  Consider their bone-in filets mignons, beautifully marbled center-cut rib steaks, or dry-aged bone-in ribeyes.

A “Steak Lover’s Grill Kit” will guarantee your success: an incomparable rub, steak sauce, beef smoking chips, and two button-type thermometers are included.

People who love live-fire cooking are always trying to improve their game or add new recipes to their repertoire.  I have never put Nancy, who has worked for me for several years, on the spot to name her favorite book from the Barbecue Bible series.  But she volunteered that she gives How to Grill to graduating seniors, newlyweds, and people who rarely venture beyond hamburgers or who really want to learn more about the art of grilling.  The more adventuresome, foodwise, get BBQ USA and/or The Barbecue! Bible.


She likes to package them—along with a few goodies like Best of Barbecue rubs and sauces—in a galvanized ash can, and then runs a big ribbon from the bottom, through the handles, and over the lid.  This year, everyone on her gift list will be receiving the “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen” DVD—three commercial-free hours of the first seven episodes of the show, along with additional footage.  And her brother—the one who continues to believe the last grilling session’s residue will season the next one (it will, but not in a good way)—will be getting The Ultimate Grill Brush.

Of course, homemade gifts—always appreciated, and never out of style—are a great alternative when times are tough.  And even when they’re not. As you might know, Steven has been been traveling extensively throughout the world this year, doing research for the next book, “Planet Barbecue.” Below are two recipes he collected while in Africa—a chutney and a rub that would make great gifts.


Makes eight 1-cup jars

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, or good-quality canned tomatoes
2 pounds fresh or dried figs, stemmed and chopped (see Note)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 cup of water
Granulated sugar to taste (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the vegetables are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes more.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, figs, vinegar, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, Coca-Cola, and 1 cup of water. Simmer the chutney until thick and jam-like, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. You can start cooking the mixture at a higher heat to evaporate the excess liquid. As the mixture thickens, you’ll need to lower the heat to medium, then to low. Do not let the chutney burn.

3. The chutney should strike a nice balance between sweet and sour. Normally, the sugar in the figs and Coca-Cola is enough to sweeten the chutney, but you can always add a little granulated sugar if you feel you need it. Likewise, additional vinegar can be added for extra tartness. Remove the bay leaf and package in attractive jars.

Label, and include instructions for keeping (refrigerate) and serving (excellent with ham, pork, and poultry, especially duck, pheasant, and game hens).


For best results, be sure to use fresh spices.  This rub is inspired by the fiery chicken dishes based on the piri piri chile that you find in Angola, Mozambique, and Portugal.  To use, mix the Piri Piri rub with a little vegetable oil or olive oil, and slather it over chicken, lamb, or shrimp before grilling.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

1/3 cup paprika
2 to 5 tablespoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup ground coriander
3 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to mix; break up any lumps with your fingers. Package in attractive jars and give instructions for use. Will keep for about 6 months away from heat and light

From all of us—myself, Barbara, and Nancy, have a wonderful holiday season.

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

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Barbecue University: An Insider’s View


Dear “Up in Smoke” Subscriber,

As far as I know, only one person has attended Barbecue University™ more times than I have: Barbara Raichlen, Steven’s wife.  She was there in 2001 when Steven founded the school, and has personally watched it evolve into one of the most popular culinary vacations in the country.

Hi.  I’m Nancy Loseke, Steven’s assistant and the Features Editor of Up in Smoke.  If you are one of the people who has written to me asking to be notified immediately if I tire of my position, I am advising you not to hold your breath or quit your day job.  I’ve got it good, and I know it.

One of the many perks of being the assistant to the world’s foremost authority on all things barbecue is nearly unlimited access to Barbecue University™, or as we call it, BBQ U.  Truthfully, I don’t know how many times I’ve “repeated” the class since I joined Steven’s organization in the Spring of 2005.  But I always learn something new and meet wonderful and interesting people, many of whom I’m still in touch with.  There’s nothing like great food and live-fire cooking to bring people together.

We’ve just announced dates for next year’s sessions of BBQ U—only two, as Steven is working on a new book and TV show—and if you’re motivated to further your barbecue education (and cultivate potential friends for life!), you may want to get in queue now as classes fill up fast. You can read all about BBQ U™ in the October issue of the Robb Report. Newly-minted grill masters and mistresses often sign up for the next session before the ink has dried on their BBQ U-issued diplomas.

Though a serial student of Barbecue University™ myself, the 2008 session was the best so far. It was magic. I can’t wait for 2009.

Within minutes of my Friday night arrival at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs last June, I was ensconced in a beautiful room in the historic hotel.  I went to sleep with the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains outside my west-facing windows.  The Broadmoor, incidentally, is an easy drive from the Denver International Airport—about 90 minutes—although you can also take a commuter flight directly to Colorado Springs.

Their first night on “campus,” incoming students are treated to a welcoming cocktail party and dinner featuring specialties from the Broadmoor’s more than dozen on-site restaurants.    Most people in attendance have been looking forward to the BBQ U experience for months, and their anticipation is at its zenith.    I especially enjoy hearing the stories of how people got here—how one woman tricked her husband into believing they were attending a financial conference, or how a daughter surprised her father with a trip just for the two of them.

(It goes without saying that reservations for Barbecue University™ make unforgettable holiday gifts.  And the 2009 schedule conveniently abuts Father’s Day!)

There were no less than two dozen grills and smokers in the “burn area” at BBQ U, 2009.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Loseke.

I love the next morning, too, when the students breakfast on the mountain and first lay eyes on the “burn area” where the grills—some two dozen—are lined up, sexy as sports cars, the shiny stainless steel reflecting the blue skies and jaw-dropping scenery.  Some people linger around the fire pit, as mornings can be cool in the Rockies.  But most stake out their seats in the lecture area, jostling for front-row views.  At 9 a.m. sharp, the “professor” begins sharing the knowledge he’s accumulated about the world’s barbecuing and grilling traditions.

As you can imagine, it takes a considerable amount of manpower (and womanpower, I might personally add!) to set up all the grills and organize a field kitchen for the classes. But the genial staff, led by Food and Beverage Director Craig Reed, lived up to the Broadmoor’s can-do reputation.

The lessons take a practical turn once Steven starts demonstrating the food preparation—an ambitious eight or nine recipes each day. Teams are recruited to help, and soon, everyone has moved outside where the real live-fire action takes place. Meanwhile, the Broadmoor’s Executive Chef, Austrian Siegfried Eisenberg, prepares lunch for the class using the same recipes the students make in class. En masse, the class moves back inside to plate the dishes they’ve grilled or barbecued. Competition is fierce for the most attractive presentation. Steven summarizes the day’s lessons and fields questions.

Broadmoor culinary student Katharine helps Steven illustrate the finer points of brisket.
Photo courtesy of Pat Hemenway.

Spirits are high when everyone sits down for lunch to trade grilling tricks and/or war stories, or make plans for the rest of the day.  (Afternoon naps are often mentioned, but the Broadmoor offers a large menu of recreational opportunities, including golf on one of its championship golf courses, tennis, spa services, art classes, horseback riding, etc.  Nearby are tourist attractions such as Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, Pike’s Peak, a world-class zoo, quaint towns, and many other things.)

On Day 3 of BBQ U, students discover the test Steven’s been alluding to—an oral and written exam—is real. But to my knowledge, no one has ever flunked. Personalized diplomas validate the entire experience. And individual framed photos with Steven give attendees bragging rights when they return home.

As I said earlier, two sessions of Barbecue University™ have been scheduled for 2009: the first runs from June 11 – 14; the second takes place June 14 – 17. For reservations or more information, contact the Broadmoor: 1-800-634-7711.

Steven has already selected the recipes for Barbecue University™, 2009.  It’s a sensational list, folks, that highlights dishes from Steven’s travels on Planet Barbecue, including:

–a spectacular Colombian lomo al trapo (whole beef tenderloin wrapped in a cloth with salt and roasted in the embers)
–piri piri prawns
–leg of lamb provencale
–Indian grill breads with grilled cheese kebabs
–a spectacular whole hog spit-roasted Greek Island style.

In the meantime, here are two of my favorite recipes from the 2008 session:


This is a terrific salad for Fall, one I have made several times and always to great reviews.  It would mesh well with a Thanksgiving menu.  (Scatter with sweetened dried cranberries, if desired.)

Lori puts the finishing touches on Grilled Endives with Roquefort and Walnuts at Barbecue University™, 2008.
Photo courtesy of Pat Hemenway.

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 (2 to 3 ounces) crumbled blue cheese, preferably Roquefort
1/4 cup curly parsley, finely minced

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

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

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

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

Note: A mix of green and red endives (the latter is also called Treviso) makes an especially attractive presentation.


Spatchcocked game hens pay homage to the 2008 Olympic games.
From left, Jessica, Larry, Steven, Matt, and Chris.
Photo courtesy of Pat Hemenway.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

We hope to see you in 2009!

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

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Three Strategies for Perfect Steaks


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber:

Steak. For the world’s meat-eaters, there is probably no word more seductive (dare I say voluptuous?) than this one. The mere mention of steak triggers pleasurable associations: the audible sizzle, that crusty first bite, the rich, beefy flavor. In short, it’s pure carnivorous bliss. And often there’s some incarnation of potato—baked, mashed, or fried—loitering in our peripheral vision.

But let’s face it: steak can be an intimidating hunk of meat that brings out insecurities in even the most experienced grill jockeys. Overcook a burger, and you’ve only committed a grilling misdemeanor. Overcook a pricey porterhouse, and you’ve got a grilling felony on your record (with, incidentally, little chance of mercy from the court).

No wonder I’m often buttonholed at Barbecue University by anxious students who whisper, “Steven, just between you and me, how do I grill a perfect steak?”

Just in time for Labor Day—which ties with the Fourth of July as the largest beef-eating holiday after Memorial Day, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association—I’ll share with you my best steak tips and two recipes to help you mark the figural end of summer.  (But not, Up in Smoke reader, the end of the grilling season!)

The word “steak” derives from Saxon-Jute word steik,  meaning “meat on a stick.” In what is now Denmark, fifth-century cattlemen impaled their steaks on long sticks and cooked them over live fire. Beef was introduced to America by early Spanish and English explorers. Descendents of these seafaring bovines eventually formed the great herds that defined the American West in the 19th century; they shaped the “cowboy” culture and whet our country’s appetite for beef in general, steaks in particular.

Here are my three key and interdependent strategies for grilling compliment-worthy steaks.


The United States Department of Agriculture inspects the nation’s beef supply and grades it according to tenderness, texture, and “marbling,” a term that refers to the distribution of intramuscular fat.  (Remember this equation: Fat = Flavor.) There are eight USDA grades, but only two—“Prime” and “Choice”—are of interest to steak lovers.

Only about 2 per cent of U.S. beef is graded “Prime.” Most is exported or sold directly to restaurants, but it can be found at specialty meat markets or through high-end Internet purveyors like Allen Brothers or Lobel’s. “Choice” is the grade generally carried by supermarkets, and because the guidelines for classifying meat are fairly subjective, it can be as good as “Prime,” in some cases.  I often buy “Choice.”

(In-the-know beef eaters have also become aware, mostly in the last decade, of ultra-premium beef such as Japanese Kobe beef and its American counterpart, Wagyu—sometimes called “Kobe-style beef.”   These exceptionally well-marbled meats are also available through the above online butcher shops, but are extraordinarily expensive: A 1-lb. bone-in ribeye can cost more than $100…before shipping!)

I advise you to make good friends with your butcher, and have him or her notify you when they have especially nice steaks on hand.  Tender, generously-marbled cuts—I always prefer bone-in if that’s an option—are best suited to the high, dry heat of the grill.

Good candidates include:

T-bone – This is a happy marriage of a New York strip steak and beef tenderloin;
Porterhouse – Like a T-bone, this cut contains the bone joining the top loin and the tenderloin, but the tenderloin must be more than 1-1/4 inches in diameter;
New York strip – Sometimes known as a shell or club steak, this cut is taken from the top loin;
Rib steak – very beefy, but not as tender as the above. This same cut without the bone is known as a Delmonico steak;
Tenderloin – one of the tenderest cuts of beef, but the least flavorful. (Muscles that are used the least develop the least flavor.) Individual cuts from this muscle are known in restaurants as filet mignon, or if they are large enough to serve two or more, they are called Chateaubriand;
Sirloin – Adjacent to the short loin; moderately tender, but very beefy-tasting.

Other, more fibrous cuts that have become popular with grillers are flank steak, skirt steak (the traditional meat for fajitas), hanger steak, and flat-iron steak.

Here are two other terms steak lovers should know:

Wet Aging – Meat is vacuum-sealed in its own juices in plastic, such as Cryovac, and kept under controlled conditions until natural enzymes tenderize it from within and deepen its flavor;
Dry Aging – In an environment where temperature, circulation, and humidity are scrupulously controlled, meat is held for two to three weeks. Again, enzymes tenderize the meat and deepen the flavor, but because the raw meat’s exposed to air, dessicated parts have to be trimmed off; this makes dry-aged steaks more expensive as approximately 20 per cent of the meat goes to waste. Dry-aged steak is my hands-down favorite.


OK, it’s a bad thing to do at work, but it’s essential if you want to nail the perfect steak. Build a three-tiered fire (see How to Grill, page 14 for specific directions) and preheat one part to high—screaming high, actually— one part to medium-high. Leave one part unlit for a “safety zone” where you can move the steaks in case of flare-ups. If using a gas grill, preheat one section to high (600+ degrees F) and another section to medium-high (400 degrees F); keep one section unlit.

For the simplest preparation, season the steaks generously with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Coarser grain salt crystals dissolve more slowly than fine table salt, so they hold up better during cooking. Steak pros all over the world use this trick. Some people argue salting the meat before cooking draws out its juices, but believe me, you won’t get much juice loss in the short time it takes to cook a medium-rare steak. I like the crust salt makes, and it is fabulous mingled with caramelized meat juices. In fact, I often season the meat both before and after grilling.

Of course, you could also coat soak the steak in a marinade for several hours before grilling. Be sure to dry it well before cooking and scrape off any solid bits—garlic or onions, for example—that tend to burn when the steak is seared. Or you could apply a dry rub to the meat, like Steven’s Best of Barbecue Steak Rub.

Before you bring the food to the grill out, check the heat again, using the “Mississippi” test.

Hold your hand about three inches over the grate and start counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi.” After that, the heat should force you to snatch your hand away. If not, preheat a bit longer, lid closed.

Place the steaks (they should be refrigerated until the moment of grilling—there isn’t a respectable steak house around that leaves the meat out at room temperature) on the oiled grate, all lined up in the same direction. This might sound obsessive, but you’ll look and feel like a professional and the technique will help keep you organized. After 2 minutes, rotate each steak either 45 or 90 degrees; this creates an attractive crosshatch of grill marks.

Sear the steak until beads of blood appear on the surface, 1 to 2 minutes for a steak 1/2-inch thick, 3 to 5 minutes for one 1-inch thick, and 6 to 9 minutes for a thickness of 1-1/2 to 2 inches. (NOTE: For a steak over 1-1/2 inches thick, it is best to start it over high heat and then finish it over more moderate heat.) Turn the steak using tongs or a spatula. Never stab it with a fork, or the juices will escape.

Continue cooking the steaks on the other side, rotating after 2 minutes. To test for doneness, press the top with your index finger: A rare steak will be softly yielding; a medium steak will be firmer; a well-done steak will be quite firm. (For more explicit information, see page 30 in the new edition of the Barbecue Bible.) Alternatively, use an instant-read meat thermometer inserted through the side. For rare, cook to 125; for medium-rare, cook to 145 degrees F; cook to 160 degrees F for medium; for well-done, look for a thermometer reading of “UGH!”, which translates to anything over 165 degrees F. Never cut into a steak to gauge doneness. (You know who you are…)


If you really want to distinguish yourself as a grilled steak master, let the steaks rest for 2 to 3 minutes on warmed plates or a platter before you serve them, or carve them for serving. Only amateurs rush them from grill to table. The high heat drives the meat’s natural juices to the center, and a short rest allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the steak. This gives you time to tend to grill maintenance such as scraping the grill grate, shutting off the gas, closing the vents, etc., that is…unless your menu also includes a spectacular grilled dessert…and I hope it does! In which case you’ll probably want to readjust the heat.

There’s one last thing you can do to aspire to grilled steak perfection, and that’s to top the steak right after it comes off the grill with a splash of high quality olive oil—preferably a fresh one with some pepper on the finish—or a pat of butter, plain or mixed with fresh chopped herbs.

And if you like steak sauce? Well, we defy you to find a better condiment than Steven’s Best of Barbecue Ultimate Steak Sauce.


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

For the rub:

2 tablespoons ground dark roast coffee
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon pure chile powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 ribeye steaks, at least 1-inch thick (8 to 10 ounces each)

You’ll also need:

Red-Eye Steak Sauce (recipe below) for serving (optional)

1-1/2 cups wood chips or chunks (optional), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover,
then drained

Make the rub: In a small bowl, combine the coffee, salt, chile powder, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, black pepper, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Place the steaks on a platter and sprinkle on both sides with the rub. Let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the grill.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, add the wood chips (if using) to the smoker box before preheating. If using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the steaks on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until cooked to taste, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a warmed platter and let rest for 3 minutes.

Serve with Red-Eye Steak Sauce, if desired.


Makes about 1-1/2 cups

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced celery
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the shallot, garlic, and celery and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Stir in the coffee, ketchup, tomato sauce, cream, soy sauce, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, and liquid smoke and gradually bring to boil.

Reduce the heat slightly and simmer the sauce until thick and richly flavored, 8 to 10 minutes, whisking from time to time. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper or any other ingredient to taste



This recipe comes from an unassuming steakhouse in Juarez, Mexico, called Mitla. Mitla’s steaks owe their extraordinary flavor to the fact that they’re cooked over blazing mesquite logs. You can approximate the flavor by tossing a couple cups of soaked mesquite chips on a backyard barbecue grill. The fire-charred salsa reinforces the smoky flavor of the beef.

Source: The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2008)
Method: Direct grilling
Serves: 4

2 to 4 chiles de arbol (4 give you a nice heat)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1/3 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 T-bone steaks or sirloin steaks (each about 3/4-inch thick)
4 large or 8 small flour tortillas

You’ll also need:
2 cups mesquite wood chips, soaked in cold water to cover for 1 hour, then drained (optional)

Soak the chiles in a bowl of warm water until pliable, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, set each tomato directly on a gas stove burner and roast it over high heat until the skin is charred and blistered on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes in all. (Or do the tomatoes in a previous grilling session.) Transfer the tomatoes to a plate and let them cool.

Drain the chiles and remove the seeds if you prefer a milder salsa. Place the chiles in a blender with the cooled tomatoes and the onion, garlic, and cilantro, and process to a coarse paste. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, add the wood chips (if using) to the smoker box before preheating.

When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Salt the steaks generously on one side. Arrange the steaks on the oiled grate, salt side down, and grill, turning once with tongs, until cooked to taste, 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange the tortillas on the grate and grill until soft and pliable, but not browned, about 20 seconds per side. Serve the steaks with the tortillas and the salsa on the side.

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

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Behind the Scenes with Primal Grill


Dear Up in Smoke Reader:

An e-mail circulated last week by Maryland Public Television contained some great news: “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen” now airs in over 95 percent of households that are within signal reach of a PBS station.

That means almost anyone in the U.S. who has access to a television can tune in to Steven Raichlen’s dynamic new show, Primal Grill.   Talk about a cure for mid-summer grilling doldrums!  C’mon, folks…people are getting sick of hamburgers, hot dogs, and even pulled pork shoulder.   (Well, maybe not the latter.  And notice I didn’t mention steaks.  Steven’s “Tubac T-Bone,” a recipe he dedicated to the host of “Primal Grill,” the Tubac Golf Resort in Tubac, Arizona, is a recipe I never want to lose.)

We hope you’re already a fan.  If you haven’t seen the show yet, log onto www.primalgrill.org for more information and air times.   Then take the cyber trip just to see the wealth of printable recipes archived there.  We’ve reprinted two below, just to whet your appetite.  The Tubac T-bone recipe is there, too.

In the meantime, we thought you might enjoy a “behind-the-scenes” peek at what’s involved in producing a show like “The Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen.”  For the straight story, I interviewed two key players:

Matt Cohen, producer of “The Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen,” is the head of Resolution Pictures.  He’s a seasoned veteran of food shows, and has multiple “Emmys” and James Beard Foundation Awards to prove it;

Steven Schupak is the Senior Vice President of Content Enterprises for Maryland Public Television, the producing station and PBS sponsor of “The Primal Grill.”  (Note: MPT also presented four seasons of Steven’s popular show, “Barbecue University,” which still airs in some markets. Check local listings, or go to www.bbqu.net.)

I didn’t ask the obvious question: “Does the food get eaten?” I’ve been privileged enough to be on Steven’s sets before, and I can tell you, the answer is (strongly), “Yes.” In fact, a you’ve never seen eating until you’ve watched a TV crew devour an 18 pound Texas-style smoked brisket.

Yours in great grilling,

Nancy Loseke
Features Editor
Up in Smoke

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Matt, we know you work with Steven. Tell us about some other cooking shows you been associated with.

Matt Cohen: Well, there’s “Lidia’s Italy” with Lidia Bastianich.  And I followed Todd English to Japan for an episode of “Food Trip with Todd English.” We filmed segments on sushi and Kobe beef, and the show won a James Beard Award.  But I’ve done work for other networks, too—including “My Country, My Kitchen,” which aired on the Food Network in the 2001-2002 season.  I did it with Moroccan host-chef Rafih Benjelloun; it also won a Beard Award.

What were some of the challenges you and the crew faced on the set of “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen”?

Matt Cohen: We were shooting on a tight schedule, right up until the day before Thanksgiving.  And of course, everyone wanted to get home for the holiday. Extending the shoot wasn’t an option.  Fortunately, the weather in Arizona cooperated, so we were lucky there. Usually, that is a factor on a multi-day shoot.  Adjusting for changing light is always tricky, though, when you’re shooting from sunrise to sunset.

Other challenges?   Hmmm…  Keeping the fires going in the grills and the smokers requires work and coordination.  The smoke on the set is a deterrent, but you still have to be conscious of flying insects as you don’t want them on camera or on the food.  Another thing: We didn’t have any running water on the set, which made things more difficult for the kitchen and prep crew, meaning water had to be hauled in in large containers.  And we had to keep an eye on the cows in the background! They always seemed to be curious about what it was we were doing.

Describe a typical day on the set for us, Matt.

Matt Cohen: Days started before sunrise.  The film crew would eat a buffet breakfast and talk about the day’s shooting schedule, then we’d head to the set, uncover the equipment, which we kept in tents, and set up.  Meanwhile, the prep kitchen, which was also in a tent, would have to have the food ready for the first segment of the day—usually something that could be direct-grilled quickly in real time.  Long-cooked dishes were generally saved for later.  We’d try to get at least one complete episode shot per day, but were there until nightfall sometimes.  Then you’d have a quick dinner, go to bed, and set the alarm for another early morning.

In the show, the cooking segments are interspersed with fireside interviews with Steven by someone off-camera. Why are these chats important to the show?

Matt Cohen: The idea is that the viewing audience doesn’t necessarily know Steven or the interesting back stories behind the dishes he prepares or the techniques that he demonstrates.  To some people, he might just be the guy who can show you how to achieve “killer grill marks.” But I wanted to illustrate the extraordinary historical and world dimension Steven brings to the food and to the show, to add a subtext to what he does. The chats became a way for people to get to know him better and to understand why he does what he does, and with such passion.

“Primal Grill” was taped in November. Does it really take 6 months to bring it to the air?

Matt Cohen: Yes, it does.  The real work begins once we’re back in the studio. We have to edit the content from three cameras that are not switched live on the set; this usually takes at least one week per episode. Then we have to add in music, graphics, background shots, rolling credits, and advertisements from the show’s sponsors. Closed captioning—where everything said is translated to text at the bottom of the screen—also takes time. Meanwhile, Maryland Public Television begins promoting the show to other stations in the American Public Television family. Once stations select “Primal Grill” for their spring/summer line-up, we have to set up a “feed” so they can download all 13 episodes. It’s quite a process from beginning to end.

Steven (Schupak), how does “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen” differ from his long-running show, “Barbecue University,” also on PBS?

Steven Schupak: From my perspective, “Primal Grill” is the next logical step for Steven. The concept is the most important element, of course, and this series was based on Steven’s extensive research and travel around the world. This new series gets to the roots of barbecue, including flavors, aromas, equipment, techniques, and cooking styles.  It is a chance for his devoted followers—of which I am one—to easily recreate these recipes on their own grills, but to also understand and appreciate the origins of these dishes.  Plus, we had some really cool new grills.

What does the show mean for Maryland Public Television, and where does it fit in your line-up?

Steven Schupak: Maryland Public Television has a long history of cooking and how-to programs, including working with Julia Child in the 1970s.  “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen” is a featured series in our current national line-up. The series was released just prior to Memorial Day, and we know it’s a hit.  Not only are 95 per cent of all public television stations carrying the series, but viewer response has been excellent.

On the set, Steven makes it look so simple. How many people are actually involved behind the scenes to make the show possible?

Steven Schupak: It’s a big group, more than 25 people. It starts with Steven, of course. His vision, his recipes. Behind him is the collective expertise of MPT, as well as Matt Cohen and his creative team at Resolution Pictures. Together, we shape the program content, design elements, graphic look and format into thirteen dynamic episodes. In addition, there are camera operators, lighting professionals, make-up people, photographers, audio people, food prep people, food coordinators,  fire-tenders, and even cattle wranglers in golf carts, who move the cows in and out of background shots!

Critical to the production was the gracious staff at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa who took care of everyone’s needs, especially the young kitchen team that prepped all the food shown on camera.

Last, but not least, nothing in public TV happens without our sponsors.  We had a fabulous group of sponsors, including Weber, Reynolds Wrap, The Companion Group, and Workman Publishing.

How important are book sales through MPT?  What do the revenues from sales help to fund?

Steven Schupak: Book sales are essential to public television stations like MPT. We count on these sales to cover the costs of funding a big series like “Primal Grill.” (Go to www.primalgrill.org to buy some of Steven’s titles) Part of the proceeds help us market the series so people know it’s on!

We understand a DVD featuring all episodes of Primal Grill plus extra footage has been produced.  Tell us about it, Steven.

Steven Schupak: We are really proud of this DVD; the layout of the episodes is really well done. Volume 1, which includes episodes 1-7 plus extras, has just been released. It includes two of my personal favorites: Shoulders and Butts, which helps anyone conquer the panic of cooking large hunks of meat; and Fish Without Fear, which helps you overcome all the insecurity of grilling seafood.  Volume 2, which will include the remaining six episodes plus even more extras, will be released soon.


Sneak preview! Here’s a recipe from “Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen” that hasn’t been posted yet at www.primalgrill.org.

Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 8

8 Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices good-quality bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup your favorite brand of sweet red barbecue sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

You’ll also need:

8 pieces of aluminum foil, twisted into 2-inch rings or grilling rings
1-1/2 cups of wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour, then drained

Using a sharp paring knife and working opposite the stem end, cut a cone-shaped cavity in each onion by angling your knife toward the center and cutting in a circle. Finely chop the onion you’ve removed. Set each onion on a foil ring with the cavity facing up.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and chopped onion and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the bacon in a strainer over a bowl. Place a spoonful of the bacon mixture in the cavity of each onion. Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into 8 equal pieces. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the barbecue sauce into each onion and place a piece of butter on top. Sprinkle with pepper.

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

When ready to cook, place the onions on their rings in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan, and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the onions until they are golden brown and tender, 40 to 60 minutes. To test for doneness, pinch the side of an onion; it should be squeezably soft. If the filling starts to brown too much before the onions are fully cooked, cover the onions loosely with aluminum foil. Transfer the grilled onions to a platter or plates and serve at once.


Simplify the preparation of these ribs by substituting Best of Barbecue “Five Spice Barbecue Rub” and “Shanghai Barbecue Sauce” for the homemade versions here. Find both at www.grilling4all.com.

Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 4 to 6
Advance Preparation: 4 to 6 hours for marinating the meat

3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs, bone-in

For the rub:

2 tablespoons Chinese 5-spice powder
1 tablespoon fine grained sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper

For the Shanghai Barbecue Sauce:

1 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
2 scallions, white and green parts minced

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

Make the rub: Combine the 5-spice powder, salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Make the barbecue sauce: In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the hoisin sauce, wine, soy sauce, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens (5 to 10 minutes).

Generously sprinkle the ribs on all sides with the rub. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate them while you set up the grill.

Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the ribs in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Toss half of the wood chips on each mound of coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until they are well-browned, cooked through, and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.

Just before serving, brush the ribs on all sides with the Shanghai Barbecue Sauce and move them directly over the fire. Grill until the sauce is sizzling, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Watch carefully so the sugars in the barbecue sauce don’t burn. Transfer to a large platter or cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side. [Back to top]

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

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Special Fourth of July Edition


Dear “Up in Smoke” Subscriber,

According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, Americans will be firing up their grills and smokers in record numbers this July 4th weekend.  Last year, a full 69 per cent of households celebrated with a cookout.

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, and ribs lead the charge in most American back yards on Independence Day.  The Raichlen household—just in case you’ve ever stood over your grill or smoker wondering what’s on Steven and Barbara’s menu—will enjoy Cousin Dave’s Chocolate-Chipotle Ribs, Grilled Swordfish with Summer Salsa, Firecracker Corn, and Blueberry-Peach Crisp (to take advantage of the glorious blueberry crop on Martha’s Vineyard) with vanilla ice cream.  See recipes below.

From all of us, have a safe and wonderful holiday. 


Cut into individual ribs and serve as an appetizer, or cut into 3-rib portions if serving as a main course.  Warning: These are addictive!  Steven’s assistant, Nancy Loseke, has wondered aloud if there’s such a thing as “Rib Rehab.”  She prefers to use spareribs rather than the baby backs called for here.  The choice is yours. A rib rack (see www.grilling4all.com) is especially useful, particularly if you double the recipe.

Source: Raichlen on Ribs by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2006)
Method: Indirect grilling
Advance Preparation: At least 4 hours for marinating the ribs
Serves 4 as a main course, 8 to 10 as an appetizer

3 to 6 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, with 1 tablespoon of their juice
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated or cut into pieces
2 strips fresh lemon zest, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure chile powder, such as ancho
2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 to 5 pounds total), papery membrane
from the back removed
Lime wedges, for serving

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

Place the chipotles and their juice, onion, garlic, 1/4 cup of cilantro, chocolate, lemon zest, brown sugar, chile powder, salt, and lemon pepper in a food processor and puree, adding enough oil to obtain a thick paste.

Using a rubber spatula or your hands, spread the chipotle paste on both sides of the racks.  Cover with plastic wrap or put into a large zip-top type bag.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (325 to 350 degrees F).  Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.  Place the ribs bone side down in the center of the grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat.  (If your grill has limited space, stand the racks of ribs upright in a rib rack; see above.)  If cooking on a charcoal grill and using wood chips, toss half of them on each mound of coals.  Cover the grill and cook the ribs until well browned, cooked through, and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers (1-1/2 to 2 hours).  When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/2 inch.  If using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals as needed.

Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board.  Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then cut the racks in half or into individual ribs.  Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining cilantro and serve at once with lime wedges.



Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2003)
Method: Direct grilling
Advance Preparation: 15 to 30 minutes for marinating the fish
Serves: 4

4 swordfish steaks (each about 3/4-inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces), rinsed
and blotted dry
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Summer Salsa (recipe follows)
Fresh tarragon sprigs for garnish

Place the swordfish in a nonreactive baking dish and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.  Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil on both sides; refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.  Brush and oil the grill grate.  Arrange the swordfish on the hot grate, placing the steaks at a diagonal to the bars.  Grill for 2 minutes, then rotate a quarter turn.  Continue grilling until the undersides are nicely browned, about 2 minutes longer.  Repeat on the second side.  When done, the swordfish will break into clean flakes when pressed with a finger.  Transfer to a platter or plates.  Spoon the salsa over the swordfish, garnish with the tarragon, and serve at once.


Makes 1-1/2 to 2 cups

1 clove garlic, minced
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
Kernels from two shucked ears of sweet corn
2 red, ripe tomatoes, finely diced, with their juices
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
3 tablespoons diced pitted black olives, such as kalamata (optional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a mixing bowl.  Mash to a paste with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add the corn kernels and the tomatoes, scallion, tarragon, lemon juice, olives, if using, olive oil, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Toss gently just before serving, adding more salt and/or lemon juice as necessary.


Source: Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen
Method: Direct grilling
Serves 8 as a side dish

8 ears sweet corn, in the husk
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and very finely minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and very finely minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon pure chile powder (optional), or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)

You’ll also need:
Butcher’s string

Shuck the corn, stripping the husk back as though peeling a banana, but leaving the husk attached at the stem end.  Holding an ear of corn in one hand, gather the husk together so that it covers the stem and then tie it with a piece of butcher’s string.  This forms a sort of handle.  Remove the corn silk.  Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.

In a medium mixing bowl, blend the butter, garlic, jalapeno(s), red pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and chile powder, if using.  Add salt to taste.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.  When ready to cook, arrange the corn on the hot grate so that the husks hang over the edge of the grill (this keeps them from burning) or place a folded sheet of aluminum foil under the husks to shield them.  Grill the corn until nicely browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes in all), turning with tongs.

Transfer the corn to a rimmed baking sheet, and while the corn is still hot, slather it with the butter mixture using a knife, pastry brush, or flexible spatula.  Transfer to a serving platter and serve at once with the remaining butter.


Source: Adapted from BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Indirect grilling
Serves: 6-8

2 pints fresh blueberries, picked over
2 large ripe peaches (preferably freestone), peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled biscotti or shortbread cookie crumbs
1⁄2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream (optional), for serving
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

You’ll also need:

One 8-by-10-inch aluminum disposable foil pan; cooking oil spray;
1 cup wood chips or chunks (preferably apple), soaked for 1 hour in water
to cover, then drained

Pick through the blueberries, removing any stems, leaves, or bruised berries. Place the berries and the diced peaches in a large nonreactive mixing bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and stir gently.  Add 1/4 cup of the flour and the granulated sugar, and the lemon zest and gently toss to mix.  Lightly spray the aluminum foil pan with cooking spray.  Spoon the fruit mixture into the aluminum foil pan.

Place the biscotti crumbs, brown sugar, and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until a coarse powder forms. Add the butter and salt, then pulse until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Spoon the topping over the filling.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. 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-high. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium-high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

When ready to cook, place the pan with the filling in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the crisp until the filling is bubbling and the topping is browned, about 40 minutes. Serve the crisp hot or warm, ideally with vanilla ice cream.  Garnish with mint.

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

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