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Brisket, Demystified


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

What makes this hunk o’ meat so intimidating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to get started?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method: Smoking/Indirect Grilling

Serves: 8 to 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Father’s Day: Grill Gifts for the Big Guy


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

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

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

All of the tools profiled below are available at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

For the custard:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Planet Barbecue! is Released


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

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

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

Steven on the barbecue trail in Athens, Greece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you get started in barbecue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any other books planned?

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On a Wing and a Prayer


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Super Bowl Sunday Edition


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Source: Planet Barbecue (Workman, 2010)

Method: Indirect grilling

Serves: 4 as an appetizer

Advance preparation: 6 to 24 hours for marinating the wings

For the marinade:

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

For the glaze:

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce can be purchased online from


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

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

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 4

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Method: Direct grilling

Serves: 8 as an appetizer

For the caramelized shallots:

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

For the sliders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Barbecuers’ Gift Guide


Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,

In early black and white movies, a common technique for illustrating the passage of time was to film calendar pages flipping from January through December, whipped by an unseen wind. Folks, that’s how fast this year has gone for us. There was a huge push the first quarter to finish writing my next book, Planet Barbecue, followed by weeks of recipe testing. (The book will be released in May.)

There was the stretch after Memorial Day when I mostly lived out of my suitcase, traveling on a 20-city book tour. In June, I taped the second season of my French TV show, Le Maitre du Grill, and spent a terrific few days in Colorado, first at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs teaching two back-to-back sessions of Barbecue University®, then at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival. Happily, July was all about family.

Come fall, I repacked my bags and headed to southern Arizona to film Season 3 of Primal Grill — the show launches on PBS in May. If you’d like a Primal Grill fix before the grilling season starts in earnest next spring, add Volumes 1 and newly-released Volume 2 of the DVD to your culinary library.

It’s time once again to compile Up in Smoke’s annual Barbecuer’s Gift Guide! Whew.

I’ve invited Nancy Loseke, assistant extraordinaire and Features Editor of Up in Smoke, to help me in this endeavor. Ladies first.

Nancy: I’m going to start at the top. In my estimation, one of the most cherished gifts you can give or receive is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: Barbecue University® is that, and more. It’s simply the ultimate gift for devotees of live-fire cooking. The mountain-side setting is stunning, and the hospitality at the Broadmoor resort is world-class, and the accommodations are as well. Be sure to inquire about the availability of “The Cottages” if you make plans to attend Barbecue University®.

The excitement is palpable at the evening welcome buffet…and wait until you get your first look at the collection of smokers and grills. Husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, buddies and BFFs—they’ve all come for three days of smoke, fire, and camaraderie. Well… that and the food! Students learn to prepare at least eight recipes in each class — the icons, like brisket and ribs and the cutting-edge dishes like grilled pizza and Catalan cream — to be sampled at a belt-busting lunch. Afternoons and evenings are free for golf, hiking, spa treatments, and enjoying all that the Broadmoor and Colorado Springs have to offer. For gift certificates or more information, call the Broadmoor at 1-800-634-7711.


Steven: Grilling and roasting with wood has become a new passion for me. So imagine my pleasure when I got to “test drive” several new wood-burning grills and ovens last month while shooting Primal Grill.

Consider the Aztec Home Grill. Clad in stainless steel and built like an Iowa-Class battleship, this front-loading grill features heavy-duty cast iron grates and a full 3 inches of firebrick. Options—and I always like options—include a sturdy motorized rotisserie unit, side-mounted shelves, and a stainless steel grill grate cover.

Another wood-burner that took me by storm was the terracotta Beehive Oven sold by Al Fresco Imports. As the name implies, the oven resembles a large beehive on an iron stand—and when it comes to wood-roasting veggies or duck (not to mention baking pizzas), the flavor is out of this world. A beehive oven is both Old World and trendy: the cool factor is off the charts.


Nancy: One coal we wouldn’t mind finding in the stockings this year is charcoal — especially natural lump charcoal. You know, the stuff made from real trees, not petroleum binders and coal dust. One brand we really liked on the set of Primal Grill III comes from Honduras, where it’s made from oak (you can see the shape of the original tree branches). Order it from, and while you’re at it, pick up a bundle of fatwood firestarters. Once you grill over this stuff, you’ll want to throw stones at commonplace briquettes.

Speaking of charcoal, Weber has just introduced two oversized charcoal grills, the 26-inch One Touch Gold kettle grill and a 22-1/2 inch Smokey Mountain Cooker. (Both are sold through If you’ve ever struggled to grill or smoke a really big turkey or brisket, these bad boys are your ticket.

In any case, if you’re attracted to the oldest cooking method known to man, put in a request for South American grilling legend Francis Mallman’s new book, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (Artisan, 2009). Outrageous techniques including grilling on sticks, on fire- heated iron plaques, and in the embers; stunning photographs; irresistible recipes (try the salt-crusted chicken); this sizzling book has them all.

Steven: Food, of course, is always a practical gift. On my “A” list of purveyors are Allen Brothers—there’s a recipe for their long-bone Kurobuta pork chops below; Legal Sea Foods for impeccable seafood; and Melissa’s World Variety Produce for top-notch specialty produce.

Nancy: Little did we know when we met Albert Carver at Barbecue University® this past summer that we were making the acquaintance of one of the country’s top “lobstahmen.” Albert’s company,, provides live Maine lobsters to some of the country’s best restaurants. The quartet of crustaceans I received at Albert’s generous insistence—each about 1-1/2 pounds—arrived in pristine condition and made for some of the best eating of the summer. Gift certificates are available, too.

Steven: Lobster makes a great splurge meal, but good gear will serve you for years. This month we’re offering a 10 percent discount on select grilling accessories in my Best of Barbecue collection at (see ad below). I’m especially proud of our new grilling tools with pakkawood handles—stainless steel skewers, spatulas, grill brushes and basting brushes, not to mention the toughest steak knives out there. In the seasoning department, there’s our new Spicy Gourmet Grilling Ketchup, Balsamic-Ginger and Sesame-Teriyaki spray glazes, and our fiery Fajita and Gaucho rubs.

Nancy: One of my new favorite gadgets from Best of Barbecue is the Chile Pepper Grill Rack and the clever tool for coring jalapenos that accompanies it. A “must” for Super Bowl parties.

Steven: Homemade gifts are always appreciated—especially in an unsettled economy. Make up and package your own rub or barbecue sauce along with recipes or suggested uses. Below you’ll find one of our favorites—a rib rub from Steven’s new book, Planet Barbecue. For other ideas, check out Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades (Workman, 2000), or go to the December 2006 issue of Up in Smoke.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Pork chops go upscale in this recipe hot off the set at Primal Grill III. Note: you can also make it with veal chops.

Method: Direct grilling

Advance preparation: 1 hour to make the onion jam.

Serves 4.

For the onions:

1 pound small torpedo onions, cipollinis, pearl onions, or shallots
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste
1 cup honey, or to taste
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 gorgeous pork chops, preferably long-bone, Heritage-breed (each 1 to 1-1/4 inches thick and 10 to 12 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

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

2. Peel the onions, leaving most of the stem end intact. (The helps hold the onion together during cooking.) If you’re feeling ambitious, toss the onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill the onions until well browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. For ease in turning, you may wish to thread the onions on bamboo skewers before grilling. You can grill the onions at a previous grill session. This step is optional, but it will give the sauce a rich smoke flavor.

3. Place the onions (grilled or raw if you’ve omitted the previous step) in a large deep saucepan and add the wine, vinegar, honey, and 3 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the sauce until the onions are tender and the wine, vinegar, and honey have cooked down to a syrupy glaze, 6 to 10 minutes. If the onions become soft before the sauce has thickened, transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon, and continue boiling the sauce until thick and syrupy, then add them back. Correct the seasoning, adding salt to taste and vinegar or honey as needed. The onions should be a little sweet, a little sour, and very flavorful. The onions can be cooked several hours—or even a day ahead—and reheated just before serving. Immediately before serving, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. You should wind up with about 1-1/4 cups.

4. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Have one grill zone on medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.

5. Generously season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper.

6. Arrange the chops on the grill grate running on the diagonal to the bars of the grate. Grill until nicely browned on the outside and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the desired degree of doneness. Give each chop a quarter turn half way through on each side to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. If the chops brown too much on the hot zone, move them to the medium zone.

7. Transfer the chops to a platter or plates. Reheat the onion mixture. Spoon it over the chops and sprinkle with the parsley if using. Serve at once.


Source: Steven Raichlen

Makes about 1 cup; can be multiplied as desired

1/2 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to mix, breaking up any lumps. Excellent when rubbed on pork ribs or even chicken before grilling or smoking.

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

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Six Reason to Give Thanks


Dear Up In Smoke Subscriber,

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

What’s a griller to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves: 6

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

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

2. Preheat the grill to medium.

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

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


Serves 12.

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman, May 2010)

For the brine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Makes 3 cups.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Adapted from Planet Barbecue (Workman, May 2010)

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

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

You’ll also need: flat metal or bamboo skewers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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 (, 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

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 or 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 or 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

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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