Newsletter Archive

Beet Meets Heat

January 30th, 2012

Veggies on the grill? We all grill high-moisture summer veggies, like corn, zucchini, and asparagus. That’s a given. But what about those sturdy and stalwart roots, tubers, and squashes that proliferate in the produce section in the icy dead of winter?

Well, it turns out you can get as much satisfaction grilling winter veggies as summer. Bright colors and soulful flavors? Check. Rich smoke taste? Check. The smoky sweetness that results from the caramelization of plant sugars? Check.

Call it the endless summer, but winter vegetables enable you to go from garden to grill all year long.

Withal, winter vegetables require special treatment on the grill. Most tend to have a denser texture and lower moisture content than summer vegetables, which makes them better-suited to an indirect grilling method. And many—like sweet potatoes, onions, and winter squash—contain a lot of residual sugar, so they’re prone to burning when grilled over high heat. Here are some of my favorite techniques:

Caveman grilling (directly in or on the embers of a wood or charcoal fire): Especially well-suited to sweet potatoes and onions. Lay the veggies directly on the coals and grill until charred black on all sides, turning with tongs. This takes 30 to 40 minutes. (On a gas grill, you’d crank up the heat to high and direct grill until skins are charred and the flesh is tender.) Use the skewer test below to check for doneness. To serve, cut the veggies in half and drizzle with olive oil, butter, or balsamic syrup. The charred skins impart an incredible smoke flavor.

Indirect grilling/smoke-roasting: Winter squash, whole cabbages and onions, whole beets, rutabagas, turnips, celery root, etc.. Cut acorn squash in half and stuff with beans, wild rice, and cheese to make a terrific meatless entrée. For cabbage and onion, remove the stem and core (cut it out in a cone-shaped plug) and stuff it with bacon, butter, and barbecue sauce. Indirect grill until soft, about 1 hour. For a smoke flavor, add wood chips to the fire. Pull off any charred leaves before serving.

Pan-roasting in a cast iron skillet or disposable foil pan: Pan-roasted carrots, parsnips, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and fingerling potatoes are all the rage at fashionable restaurants these days. They’re easy on the grill (and even better than in the oven because you can add a smoke flavor). Cook whole or cut into 2-inch chunks. Arrange in a single layer in a cast iron skillet or aluminum foil pan and season with extra virgin olive oil or butter and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Indirect grill at medium-high heat (about 400 degrees) until browned and tender. To make garlic roasted potatoes, break up a head of garlic (leave the skins on the cloves) and add to a pan full of fingerling potatoes. Brussels sprouts are terrific roasted with thinly sliced bacon.

A few other points to keep in mind when grilling winter vegetables:

    • To hold round vegetables like acorn squash and cabbage upright, crumple and twist sheets of aluminum foil into 2-inch rings and place the vegetables on top.


    • To add a smoke flavor, toss fruit wood or hickory chips on the coals (or place in the smoker box of your gas grill).


    • When grilling vegetables “caveman style”, use a metal skewer to check for doneness. It should pierce the vegetables easily.


    • When indirect grilling whole round vegetables, use the “Charmin test” to check for doneness—the sides of the vegetable should be squeezably soft.


Whole vegetables like potatoes, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc., take about one hour to cook—sometimes more. To shorten cooking times, cut the vegetables into chunks, slices, or cubes. Or parboil, which is especially useful for artichokes. (I try to do everything from start to finish on the grill. But that’s me.)

One of the best grilled winter squash dishes I know comes from a restaurant right here in Miami: the Asian-inflected Gigi in Midtown.

Butternut squash is one of the few winter vegetables you can direct grill, but work over a moderate heat to cook it through without burning. Gigi serves the squash with a spicy sweet-sour reduction of house-pickled Fresno chili juice. Heat-seakers can use pickled jalapeno peppers.

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

1 large butternut squash,1 to 1-1/2 pounds
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon juice from a Meyer lemon, or more to taste
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno juice (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin or squash seeds)

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium, about 350°F.

Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out any seeds with a spoon, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Lightly brush the squash slices on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush and oil the grill grate.

Arrange the squash slices on the grate and grill until browned and tender, 6 to 10 minutes per side, turning with a spatula. If the squash starts to burn, lower the heat.

Make the glaze: In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat on the stovetop. Add the maple syrup, lemon juice, and jalapeno juice.

The last couple minutes of grilling, brush the squash slices with a little glaze. Arrange the cooked squash on a platter and pour the remaining glaze over it. Sprinkle with the toasted pepitas, and dig in.

Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen, Grill Master and Editor-in-Chief
Nancy Loseke, Features Editor
and the staff at Workman Publishing

Return of the Winter Warrior


A snow-capped Weber
It wasn’t so long ago that people routinely retired their grills after Labor Day, stowing them in a corner of the garage or basement to commiserate with the golf clubs until better weather.

My, how times have changed. Whether it’s due to larger investments in grills and outdoor kitchens, a protracted appetite for the smoky flavors of summer, or the continued need for barbecue bragging rights, live fire cooking outdoors has become a four season endeavor. The Hearth and Patio Barbecue Association reports that the majority of Americans (56% in its latest survey) grill year-round.

Now, you might wonder why you’d accept winter grilling advice from a man whose home base is Miami, Florida. Well, I grew up in Maryland and lived in Boston for 20 years, and book tours and television shoots—not to mention regular winter excursions to Martha’s Vineyard—keep me up on grilling in inhospitable weather. And even when I’m in Miami, I grill vicariously through my Cleveland-based assistant, Nancy Loseke, who claims her traditional Christmas Eve lamb roast always turns out better when the weather outside is frightful, and she wears high heels for traction around the ice- and snow-packed grill. (I guess spike heels work like crampons?) Nancy doesn’t have photos, or so she claims, but says she can produce witnesses…

Here are some indispensable tips for winter grilling:

    • Dress appropriately. Dashing through the snow in jeans and your team sweatshirt during commercial breaks from the game suggest you’re not taking your grilling seriously. Dress warmly, avoiding dangling nylon cords, ultra-puffy sleeves, etc., that could brush up against the fire. Wear good-quality griller’s gloves in lieu of mittens or nylon ski wear.


    • If snow is a factor, clear the space around your grill and sprinkle it with sidewalk salt to give yourself better traction. Likewise, if there’s snow on branches directly over the grill, knock it off, or move the grill.


    • If using a propane grill, make sure the tank is full before starting your grill session. Preheat it for five minutes longer than normal. (Food should sizzle when it touches the grill grates.) If using charcoal, preheat your grill with about 25% more charcoal than normal to compensate for cold temperatures.


    • For maximum efficiency, position your grill out of the wind but at least five feet from flammable surfaces. Do not be tempted to move your grill into the garage or under a covered patio. Carbon monoxide poisoning is nothing to fool around with.


    • Resist the temptation to check on your food often as heat will quickly escape each time you lift the lid.


    • Add 20-30% to your cooking times in cold temperatures.


    • A welder’s blanket (not the version made with fiberglass) when thrown over the lid of a low-temperature smoker (225°-250°) helps hold the heat in.


    • In the wintertime, if you’re in a hurry, plan menus built around foods that can be direct grilled in 30 minutes or less, such as burgers, brats, chicken breasts, shrimp, fish fillets, etc.
    • Don’t overcrowd your grill grate. Allow the heat to circulate freely around the food.


    • Invest in a cover to protect your grill from the elements when not in use.


  • Replace your grill grates with cast iron grates, which retain heat much better than stainless steel or porcelain-coated grates. Or, lay Steven’s Tuscan Grill Grate right on top of your grill grate. Cast iron also produces killer grill marks!

Steven on the snowy set of his Canadian show, Le Maitre du Grill
Below is an incentive to brave the elements and shovel a path, if necessary, to your grill.

Mexico’s mole sauces are not traditionally paired with beef short ribs, but their earthy fruitiness complements the richness of of the meat. Coloradito is one of Oaxaca’s classic sauces. Do not be intimidated by the length of the recipe. It is actually quite easy to make, especially if your tool of choice is a blender—and not a molcajete.

Method: Indirect grilling

Advance preparation: 6 to 12 hours for marinating the ribs

Serves: 4

For the coloradito sauce:

7 guajillo chiles
1 ancho chile
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, rough-chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, rough-chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 ripe plantain, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup yellow raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes with their liquid
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, rough chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar (or to taste)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (or to taste)
1/2 to 1 cup beef broth or water

For the ribs:

6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
3 to 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
Pure chile powder, such as ancho
Dried oregano, preferably Mexican

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

Prepare the coloradito: Tear open the guajillo and ancho chiles and remove the stems and seeds. Place the chiles in a bowl with 2 cups warm water to cover and let soak until softened, 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent but not brown, stirring with a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for 1 minute.

Drain the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid, and add them to the onion mixture. Sauté the mixture until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the soaking liquid, cinnamon, clove, sesame seeds, oregano, bay leaf, coriander seeds, plantain, raisins, almonds, tomatoes, chocolate, brown sugar, wine vinegar, and salt (start with 1 teaspoon). Gently simmer the mixture until the plantains and raisins are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cinnamon stick. Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the mole to the saucepan.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup of the beef broth—enough to obtain a thick but pourable sauce. Correct the seasoning, adding salt, sugar, or vinegar to taste—the sauce should be highly seasoned and a little sweet with just a faint hint of tartness. The coloradito can be prepared several hours or even a day ahead and reheated.

Prepare the ribs: Add the garlic cloves to a mortar and sprinkle them with the salt. Using a pestle, pound them until they are thoroughly crushed. Blend in enough oil to make a paste. Spread the garlic paste on all sides of the ribs, then sprinkle the ribs generously on all sides with black pepper, chile powder, and oregano. Arrange the ribs in a nonreactive pan and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (325-350°F). Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill under the grill 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. Toss the wood chips on the coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until cooked through and very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours in all. (If they start to brown too much, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil.) Replenish the coals as needed.

Generously brush the short ribs on all sides with the coloradito. Put the ribs directly over the coals and sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Transfer to a platter or plates, and serve with additional coloradito sauce on the side.

If you have winter grilling tips you’d like to share, send them to me at

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

Barbecuers’ Gift Guide 2011


It’s once again our pleasure to assemble a list of gift ideas that will delight the barbecuers on your holiday list (including you). The challenge is always winnowing the list down to our top twelve—items we’d actually like to receive ourselves—from stocking stuffers (a remote wireless thermometer) to once-in-a-lifetime gifts (a gift certificate to Barbecue University).

All of us at wish you Happy Holidays and a healthy New Year.

THE SMOKING GUN™: The flannel shirt, the socks, the car care kit…you mumble your thanks to well-intentioned givers. But admit it: What you really want are toys. Maybe even toys that run on four AA batteries. Well, The Smoking Gun™ qualifies. It looks like a blow dryer tricked out with a rubber hose—not normally a good look in serious barbecue circles. But in 30 seconds, it will infuse meat, seafood, vegetables, cheese, and even cocktails (like classic Manhattans) with real wood smoke. It has a good pedigree, too, being the least expensive product invented by PolyScience, a serious U.S.-based company known for commercial and industrial temperature-control devices. Available online through

PRIMAL GRILL WITH STEVEN RAICHLEN DELUXE BOXED DVD SET: To paraphrase the old saying, give a man a smoked brisket sandwich and he’ll eat well for a day. Teach him how to smoke that brisket and he’ll eat well for a lifetime. What better gift that keeps on giving than the boxed set of the complete seasons 1 and 2 of Steven’s popular PBS show, Primal Grill. Twenty-six episodes (10 hours of programming), more than 100 recipes, and Steven’s favorite tips and techniques are included in this 8-DVD set.

THE JAPANESE GRILL: Some of you may know that Steven was born in Japan (on a U.S. Air Force base in Nagoya). So any with a theme of Japan and grilling certainly grabs his attention. The Japanese Grill (Ten Speed Press, 2011) by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat does a masterful job of melding Japanese food sensibilities with American live-fire cooking. Even the book’s cover, which features an artfully carved porterhouse steak, is worth a visit to or your local bookseller.

PLANET BARBECUE® SPICE PASTES: New this year! Bring bold and exciting flavors to your next barbecue with these unique spice pastes inspired by Steven’s world travels. Choose from Colombian, Jamaican, Malaysian, or Moroccan. Add a copy of Steven’s book Planet Barbecue (Workman, 2010) to further inspire. Order both from

FROGMATS: Foods that tend to stick to the grill grate or fall into the fire are the bane of grill masters everywhere. Enter Frogmats, nonstick sheets of wire mesh that lay directly on the grill grate. Owner Mike Riblett, whose 15 tattoos of frogs on lily pads inspired the product’s curious name, uses his for meatballs, biscuits, small vegetables (such as green beans or sliced mushrooms), shrimp, and even meatloaf. Frogmats are heat-resistant to temperatures of 550°F, and intended only for indirect grilling. They come in a variety of sizes. There is a dealer map on the company’s website (, or you can buy them from

BODUM FYRKAT CONE CHARCOAL GRILL: This unique cone-shaped grill from Bodum (best known for its coffee presses) fuses functionality and sleek Scandinavian design. Perfect for a party of two, the grill features two grill grates—one closer to the coals for steaks, chops, etc., and the other several inches above it for breads or slower-cooking items—as well as a battery-powered rotisserie sturdy enough to accommodate a 6-pound chicken. Ashes accumulate in the bottom and empty easily. It comes in cool colors, too: red, orange, green, and black.

PREMIUM SEAFOOD: When it comes to seafood in the U.S., the distribution chain can be disturbingly long. From the fisherman, this highly perishable product usually travels to a middleman, then to a wholesaler, then to a retailer, and finally, to you. But Farm-2-Market contracts directly with the fishermen as soon as it receives your order. This cyber-storefront carries no actual inventory, but can deliver the catch-of-the day to your door within 24 hours. Live California spot prawns are being offered at this writing, as are halibut cheeks, sushi-grade blue fin tuna, crawfish, stone crab claws, and no less than 8 different kinds of oysters. Check out for your holiday seafood needs.

BEST OF BARBECUE® INSULATED FOOD GLOVES: As anyone who has tried to pull blistering hot pork can tell you, it’s an uncomfortable experience unless you have the calloused hands of a professional pit master. Ditto for lifting a finished beer can chicken off its aluminum throne. Sure, you could press your wife’s rubber dish washing gloves into service, but you don’t really know where those gloves have been, do you? Not that your wife will be happy, and in any case, they don’t fit. Since Steven first introduced his insulated food gloves to the market, they’ve become one of his bestsellers. Light and flexible, these heavy-duty gloves will protect your hands to temperatures of 248°F.

MAVERICK ET-732 WIRELESS REMOTE THERMOMETER: There are several intuitive ways of gauging doneness in foods that are grilled directly—chicken breasts, hamburgers, fish fillets, etc. But an accurate thermometer is called for when larger hunks of protein—pork shoulder, beef shoulder clod, and brisket, to name a few—are on the grill or smoker. For less than the cost of a 3-bone prime rib, you can arm yourself with a high-tech remote thermometer, one that will allow you to watch the big game while your meat cooks to perfection. Two probes, one for the meat and one for the grill, allow you to monitor conditions from up to 300 feet away using an LCD receiver. Find it at

THE MEADOW: Food-obsessed Portland, Oregon, is home to one of Steven’s favorite retail stores, The Meadow. Opened in 2006 by Mark and Jennifer Bitterman, The Meadow specializes in salts of the world, chocolate, wine, flowers, and bitters, a new interest for Steven. (Mark is the author of Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, which we featured in last year’s gift guide.) The Meadow’s “Salt Starter Kit” featuring six distinct salts from around the globe would make a fine gift for anyone interested in the nuances of seasoning. Gift certificates are available, too.

CRÈME BRULEE GRILL KIT: One of the most dramatic moments in filming Season 3 of Primal Grill came when Steven lowered a fire-heated cast iron salamander to the surface of a silky crème brulee: It sizzled and smoked as the sugars caramelized to a hard candy-like shell that begged to be shattered by a spoon. So successful was the experiment that Steven decided on the spot to add a crème brulee set to his Best of Barbecue® line. Each kit includes the salamander and two cast iron crème brulee ramekins along with a recipe. (Extra ramekins are sold separately.)

And finally, the ULTIMATE gift for any griller:

BBQ UNIVERSITY 2012: Barbecue with a high thread count? Yes! This is a very special, very exclusive gift for anyone interested in perfecting their barbecue skills or making memories—a certificate redeemable for Barbecue University® at the luxurious Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s three days of food, fun, and camaraderie in the Rocky Mountains. Steven will be teaching two sessions of “BBQ U” of limited class size. At this writing, there are only 5 places available in the first session (June 6 – 9) and 10 in the second (June 9 to 12). For more information, contact the Broadmoor’s Reservation Manager, Noemi Kiss-Baldwin at 1-800-634-7711, or e-mail her at

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

Thanksgiving Edition


Turkey, plattered up and as burnished as George Hamilton, is the undisputed star of Thanksgiving dinner in most American households. (Vegetarians, take comfort—we have you covered below.) Substitute anything else—prime rib, ham, or Cornish hens—and you will disappoint the adults at your table and make the children cry. It’s as disheartening as waiting all year to attend a Broadway show only to arrive when an understudy is playing the lead role.

The only real latitude an adventuresome cook has on Thanksgiving is with the side dishes, and even then, freedom is not without its limits. There must be stuffing. There must be mashed potatoes. And in your household, perhaps, an immutable family tradition like marshmallow-topped yams or a certain green bean casserole birthed from cans. (In the Raichlen household, it’s my mother’s cranberry and kumquat relish. See the recipe below.)

That being said, wouldn’t it be refreshing to add some new side dishes to your repertoire—dishes that will not only invigorate your Thanksgiving menu, but that also can be prepared on the grill, taking some of the pressure off your beleaguered oven? Of course it would.

Living here in America, or wherever you call home, we have a lot to be thankful for this year. Health. Happiness. Barbecue and grills. So from my family to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, over the next two weeks, Steven will give you his 2011 “Thanksgiving in the Tropics” menu he’ll be making in Miami, complete with recipes, on his Facebook page. Also please join us on Twitter.

Historians tell us oysters were likely served at the first Thanksgiving. This recipe riffs on oyster stew—cooked on the halfshell on the grill.

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 6 to 8 as an appetizer

  • 24 large oysters
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • Sweet paprika
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts finely minced
  • Small oyster crackers for serving

You’ll also need: A shellfish rack

Scrub the oyster shells with a stiff brush to remove any grit or mud. Discard any oysters that fail to close when tapped. Shuck the oysters: Set the oyster, flat shell side up, on a damp dishcloth on your work surface. Wiggle the tip of an oyster knife into the hinge and gently push the knife handle down. The shell should pop off. Slide the knife blade under the top shell to cut the adductor muscle, then discard the top shell. (Take care not to spill the oyster juices.)

Arrange the oysters on a shellfish rack or baking sheet, being careful not to spill the juices. Put a tablespoon of cream on each, along with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Top with a teaspoon of butter and dust lightly with paprika. Sprinkle with scallions.

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

When ready to cook, place the rack with the oysters on the hot grate (or arrange the oysters directly on the grill grate) and grill until the sauce and oyster juices are bubbling and the oysters are cooked through, 3 to 6 minutes. Serve the oysters hot off the grill accompanied by oyster crackers.

Here’s an incredibly flavorful stuffing made with wild rice, nuts, and fruit, the whole shebang indirectly grilled in acorn squash halves. It’s a side dish that will make omnivores sit up and take notice, and a welcomed show-stopping entrée for any vegetarians who show up at your Thanksgiving table.

Method: Indirect grilling

Serves: 6

3 good-size acorn squash
6 tablespoons salted butter plus 2 tablespoons for finishing
1 leek or onion, trimmed and chopped
2 stalks celery, strings removed and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2- to 1 cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 dried plum or apricot halves, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup yellow raisins
2 tablespoons Madeira or sherry
5 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

You’ll also need: 1 cup maple or other hardwood chips, soaked for 30 minutes, then drained (optional)

6 Best of Barbecue Grill Rings or aluminum foil grill rings.

Slice each squash in half widthwise. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy, fibrous parts. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a saute pan. Lightly brush the inside of each squash half with a little of the melted butter. Place each squash half on a grill ring.

Working over medium heat, sauté the leek, celery, garlic, and apple in the remaining melted butter until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the poultry seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add 1/2 cup of broth as well as the plums, cranberries, raisins, and Madeira. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until the dried fruits soften. Stir in the wild rice and the nuts. If the mixture seems dry, add more broth. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the pecans, if desired.

Fill each squash half with 1/6 of the rice and fruit mixture. Top each with 1 teaspoon of the remaining butter.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium (350°F). Toss the wood chips, if using, on the coals. Arrange the squash on their rings upright on the grill grate away from the heat. Indirectly grill the squash until tender, 40 to 60 minutes. (Use a metal skewer to test for doneness—it should pierce the squash easily.)

My mother wasn’t much of a cook (that’s putting it mildly), but she did make and love this astringent, bracingly tart cranberry relish. Think of it as cranberry sauce for grownups.

Serves: 8 to 10 (makes about 2 cups)

1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
6 kumquats or 1 small orange (see Note below)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts or pecans

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more to taste
3 tablespoons port or dry red wine
2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste

Rinse, drain, and pick through the cranberries, removing any stems and discarding any that are blemished. Cut each kumquat into quarters and remove the seeds. Place the kumquats and walnuts in a food processor and coarsely chop, running the mixture in short bursts. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon and coarsely chop. Add the port and honey and pulse the processor just to mix. The relish should have some chew to it. Taste for seasoning, adding more honey and/or cinnamon as necessary.

Note: If using an orange instead of kumquats, cut it into 8 pieces and remove any seeds before adding it to the food processor.

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

Jerky 101


Jerky is one of the mysteries of life: Overcook a slab of beef, for example, and the texture toughens, the natural juices disappear, and chewing becomes a grim exercise. But slice the same beef into thin strips and expose it to low dry heat for several hours, and you’ve created the greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts delicacy known as jerky.

For thousands of years, mankind has sought to preserve fresh meat and fish by salting it, drying it in the sun and/or wind, or smoking it. Native populations of both North and South America developed jerky-making techniques. Indeed, our word “jerky” actually comes from the Quechan Inca tribe’s term for dried meat, “charqui.”

Today, jerky is a popular and egalitarian snack, sold at high-end specialty food retailers and gas stations alike. Americans consume over 2 million pounds of it annually—most of it commercially produced. But jerky is very easy to make at home if you have a smoker or charcoal grill and a bit of patience.

Here are some general guidelines, followed by two recipes to get you started.

    • Use lean cuts of meat with very little intramuscular fat or connective tissue, such as top or bottom round.


    • Slice the meat into 1/4- to 3/8-inch slices. This is easier if the meat is partially frozen first. Alternatively, ask your butcher to do it for you on his meat slicer.


    • For the best texture, slice beef against the grain and fish and poultry with the grain.


    • Beef jerky is far and away the most popular type of jerky in this country, but you can turn many other wild and domestic meats into jerky. If you are a hunter, know that most big and small game species make great jerky: venison, moose, mule deer, antelope, elk, rabbit, and bison—to name a few.


    • Smoking and drying require low temperatures, which you can achieve by using just a few coals or chunks of hardwood.


    • If making turkey or chicken jerky, be sure to cook to 165°F either before or after smoking.


    • For safety reasons, pork is not generally used to make jerky.


    • If making fish jerky, select non-oily species. One exception is salmon: While it is considered a fattier fish, salmon makes excellent jerky. (In the Pacific Northwest, it is known as “Indian candy.”)


    • You can smoke the jerky, if desired, and then finish it in a counter-top dehydrator, a convection oven, or a conventional oven set on its lowest temperature, the door propped open a half-inch with the handle of a wooden spoon.


  • Store jerky in resealable plastic bags or lidded jars. Refrigerate for the longest shelf life.

Makes about 12 ounces of jerky

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup cola
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Morton’s Tender Quick® (optional: see Note)
2 teaspoons Best of Barbecue All-Purpose Rub, or your favorite barbecue rub
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds trimmed beef top or bottom round, sirloin tip, or flank steak

You’ll also need: 4 to 6 cups of wood chips, preferably oak, soaked in cold water for an hour, then drained.

Make the marinade: In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, curing salt (if using), barbecue rub, and pepper and whisk to mix.

With a sharp knife, slice the beef into 1/4-inch thick slices against the grain. (This is easier if the meat is partially frozen.) Trim off any fat or connective tissue. Put the beef slices in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the beef, and massage the bag so that all the slices get coated with the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.

Set up your grill or smoker for indirect grilling and preheat to low (180°F or less). If using a charcoal grill, put 1 cup of chips on the coals.

Remove the beef from the marinade and discard the marinade. Dry the beef slices between paper towels. Arrange the meat in a single layer directly on the grill grate.

Smoke for 4 to 5 hours, or until the jerky is dry but still chewy and somewhat pliant when you bend a piece. Replenish the smoking chips as needed. Transfer the jerky to a resealable plastic bag while it’s still warm. Let the jerky rest for an hour at room temperature. Squeeze any air from the bag, and refrigerate the jerky. It will keep for several weeks.

Note: Morton’s Tender Quick® is a commercial curing mixture—a blend of sodium with small parts of sodium nitrate and nitrite. It will give the jerky a translucent look and tenderer chew. You can substitute Prague powder (also called “pink salt”), but be sure to follow package directions carefully as less than 1/2 teaspoon is enough to cure 2 pounds of meat.

Makes about 12 ounces of jerky

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup, divided use
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds skinless salmon fillet (preferably wild-caught), pin bones removed

You’ll also need: 4 to 6 cups of wood chips, preferably alder, soaked in cold water for an hour, then drained.

Make the marinade: In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, brown sugar, lemon juice, and pepper and whisk to mix.

Make the glaze: Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside.

With a sharp knife, slice the salmon into 1/4-inch thick slices with the grain. (This is easier if the fish is partially frozen.) Put the salmon slices in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the salmon, and massage the bag so that all the slices get coated with the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Set up your grill or smoker for indirect grilling and preheat to low (180°F or less). If using a charcoal grill, put 1 cup of chips on the coals.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and discard the marinade. Dry the salmon slices between paper towels. Arrange the meat in a single layer directly on the grill grate. Smoke for 4 to 5 hours, or until the jerky is dry but still chewy and somewhat pliant when you bend a piece. Brush 2 or 3 times with the glaze after the first 3 hours. Replenish the smoking chips as needed. Let the jerky rest, uncovered, for an hour at room temperature. Transfer the jerky to a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze any air from the bag, and refrigerate the jerky. It will keep for several days.

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

Fourth of July Recipes on Facebook



So many of you wrote asking for the other recipes in the Raichlen family July 4th menu that I’ve decided to post them on my Facebook page.

Today you’ll find the recipe for Summer Berry Sangria; Saturday, look for Grilled Garlic Bread with Smoke Clam Dip; Sunday, Grilled Watermelon Salad; and Monday, Nancy’s Grilled Corn.

Come see us at for recipes, photos, and more.

And have a great July 4th!

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

Fourth of July Menu


July 4th is one of the year’s most anticipated holidays at the Raichlen home. Steven, fresh off his annual multi-month book tour, hungers to embrace the slower, take-a-breath pace of Martha’s Vineyard. He and his wife, Barbara, look forward to hosting family and friends for an epic Independence Day feast, featuring locally-sourced clams (dug by Steven himself), wild blueberries (picked from bushes that line the driveway), local lobster, peak season peaches, etc.

Here’s a sneak peek at the menu they’ve chosen for this year’s celebration, as well as a couple of recipes you’ll want to add to your 4th of July repertoire.


* Recipes provided for starred dishes.

  • Summer berry sangria
  • Grilled garlic bread with home-smoked Katama Bay clam dip
  • Grilled watermelon, goat cheese, and local baby arugula salad
  • Grilled lobster with fried-caper herb butter *
  • Grilled Morning Glory Farm corn with Nancy’s olive oil and sea salt
  • “Burnt” peaches (a recipe from Steven’s Argentinean grilling pal, Francis Mallmann) *

For the caper butter:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped chives, tarragon, and/or basil
2 1-1/2 pound lobsters
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the fried caper butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan (you can do this on the stove, the grill, or on your grill’s side burner). Add the capers, garlic and herbs and cook over medium-high heat until sizzling, fragrant, and just beginning to brown, 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.

Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the lobsters and cook, covered, over high heat for 3 minutes. Drain the lobsters and let cool, then, working on a grooved cutting board, cut the large claws off the lobsters and set aside. (Discard the rubber bands.) Using a large heavy chef’s knife, cut each lobster in half lengthwise. Remove the paper sack in the head and the vein running the length of the tail. You can leave or discard the tomalley (the green stuff—actually the liver, or if you have a female, the blackish-blue stuff, which is the roe). I love both, so I keep them. Save any juices that may gather on the cutting board. Season the lobster with salt and pepper right before grilling.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Under the best of circumstances and for the best flavor, you’d be grilling on wood. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Arrange the lobster claws on the grill and grill until orange and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Move to a cooler part of the grill to keep warm. Arrange the lobster bodies on the grate, cut side down, and grill until the meat starts to brown, 3 minutes. Turn the lobsters over and pour any reserved juices over them. Continue grilling the lobster until the meat is cooked through 4 to 6 minutes. Start basting the cut side of the lobster with the caper butter after 2 minutes and baste again right before serving.

Serve the lobster at once with metal crackers for the claws. Reheat the caper butter and serve it in ramekins for dipping. Eat with your hands. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Adapted from Francis Mallmann, Negro restaurant in Punta de l’Este, Uruguay

Time: 30 minutes

1 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2 teaspoons Amaretto liqueur, or to taste
4 luscious ripe freestone peaches (the sort that go splat when you drop them)
1/2 cup granulated sugar in a shallow bowl
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Cast iron chapa, plancha, or 10-inch cast iron skillet (optional)

Place the mascarpone in a serving bowl and whisk in the Amaretto to taste. Set aside.

Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Ideally, you’ll be working over a wood fire. Place the plancha, chapa or skillet on the grate and heat it very hot. (To check the heat, sprinkle a few drops of water on it. They should sizzle and evaporate within 2 seconds.)

Break each peach in half through the crease: the edges needn’t be perfectly smooth. Discard the stones (seeds). Arrange on a platter. Have the sugar in a bowl by the grill.

Place a piece of butter in each quadrant of the plancha. As it melts, dip the flat side each peach half in sugar, then arrange on the melted butter. Cook the peaches until the bottoms are very dark brown—almost black—2 to 3 minutes. The idea is to caramelize them as darkly as possible without quite burning them. Transfer the peach halves to bowls or plates, 2 to a bowl. Spoon dollops of the amaretto mascarpone on top and serve at once.

Have a happy, safe, and smokin’ holiday!

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

Liquid Gold


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Valentine’s Day at BBQU


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

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

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

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

Don’t procrastinate.

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

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

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Spin on Spit-Roasting


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

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

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

Spit-roasting rocks for many reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman Publishing, 2010)

Method: Spit-roasting

Serves: 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Annual Barbecuers’ Gift Guide


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Top Ten Tailgating Tips


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

As a bonus, here our top ten tailgating tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now go out and win big!

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

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method: Direct grilling under a brick

Serves: 2 to 4

Advance Preparation: 2 hours for marinating the game hens

For the marinade:

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

For serving:

Fresh basil sprigs
Lemon wedges
Cherry tomatoes

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

A spray bottle of water to control flare-ups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

 Publishing, 2001)

Method: Direct Grilling

Serves: 4

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

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

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

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

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

Serve immediately.


Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

For the glaze:

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

For the fruit:

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

For serving:

Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Sprigs of fresh mint

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

Metal skewer

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

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

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

4) Preheat the grill to high.

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

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

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

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