Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

The Grill Lab

Under the Hood

Kalamazoo Cabinet Smoker and Russ Faulk, the Man Who Created It

Kalamazoo Cabinet Smoker and Russ Faulk, the Man Who Created It

Most grill and smoker designs have been around for decades, even centuries. It’s not often that a manufacturer comes along with something radically new. Well, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet has, and I got to test drive it during the taping of Project Smoke, Season 3. (We used it to smoke pastrami bacon and Korean pulled pork shoulder.) It’s the Kalamazoo Cabinet Smoker and it’s simply one of the most intriguing fusions of high design, ingenious engineering, and primal smoke and fire on Planet Barbecue. You’ve probably heard of Kalamazoo—the manufacturer of super premium grills that perform like Ferraris—and are priced like Ferraris, too. Kalamazoo’s first grill—the...

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Under the Hood

How to Buy A Smoker, Part 2

How to Buy A Smoker, Part 2

If you own a charcoal grill with a tight-fitting lid, you already have a smoker. Simply set it up for indirect grilling, add wood chips or chunks to the coals, and you’re in business. (If you own a gas grill, you can add subtle smoke flavor to your food by using a smoking pouch or smoking box, but the grill’s rear vents will allow most of the smoke to escape.) There are some drawbacks, however. Because kettle grills are designed for grilling, it’s difficult to maintain an even heat at lower temperatures....

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Under the Hood

How to Buy A Smoker, Part 1

How to Buy A Smoker, Part 1

If you’d like to take the next step toward grilling enlightenment, fall is a good time to do it. Along with back-to-school promotions, many retailers are anxious to reduce their inventories of grilling hardware, meaning potential deep discounts for you. (A few years ago, my assistant, Nancy Loseke, scored a Weber Ranch for half price.) The first step is to select the right smoker for you. There are dozens of types and hundreds of individual models. The right smoker depends on your experience, goals, budget, and how many people you usually cook for—collectively called your smoker personality. Beginner:...

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Under the Hood

The Smokers and Grills of Project Smoke Season 3

The Smokers and Grills of Project Smoke Season 3

Oh my God, I’ve died and gone to grilling heaven. That’s a common reaction when people step on the set of Project Smoke (this year taped at the stunning Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang, California). If you’re a grilling or smoking enthusiast, our selection of grills and smokers is inspiring and not a little overwhelming. A religious experience the be sure. Perhaps you’ve wondered what sort of grill or smoker I’m using in a particular show, what I cooked on it, and what’s fired up in the background. Here's a guide...

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The Science of the Smoke Ring

The Science of the Smoke Ring

The smoke ring is the red badge of honor of great barbecue. Many of you smoke fiends have seen it up close—that prized layer of pink under the bark (crust) in slow-smoked meats. But what is it really and what causes it? The explanation lies within the meat itself. First, a simple meat chemistry lesson. Myoglobin is the protein that gives meat its red color. Beef has about four times as much myoglobin as pork, giving it a much redder color. And chicken thighs...

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Umami—This Ancient Asian Taste Can Help You Up Your Game at the Grill

Umami—This Ancient Asian Taste Can Help You Up Your Game at the Grill

Welcome to the second installment of The Grill Lab, where we explore the science behind skillful grilling and barbecuing. The topic today: umami. Umami (pronounced “oo-mah-me”) has been grabbing a lot of attention in the food world recently (consider the national expansion of the Los Angeles-based Umami Burger chain and the recent launch of Umami Barbecue). Closer to home, a growing number of grill and pit masters are talking umami in the context of barbecue and using the concept to score big at competitions. So what exactly is...

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The Science of Brining

The Science of Brining

Photo of brined turkey by Flickr user austinmatherne Believe it or not, brining is a hotly debated topic. (Does the barbecue world ever agree on anything?) Some people swear by it, while others scoff at the effort and time it can take (as little as 15 minutes or as long as several weeks). But nobody can dispute this: Brining makes meat juicier. Why? It’s in the science. Lean meats, like chicken breasts, pork chops, shrimp, or fish fillets, trip up many...

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Introducing The Grill Lab

Introducing The Grill Lab

Over the years, I've fielded literally thousands of questions about grilling and barbecuing. Everything from "What are BTUs and do they really matter when buying a grill)? to "Why is my brisket still tough—I cooked it to 190 degrees?" And do you know what I've noticed consistently? People from all over the country (and possibly the rest of Planet Barbecue) are challenged by the same foods, like whole birds, ribs, briskets, pork shoulders, and steaks. Well, I'm...

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