BackyardInformation To Help Any BBQ or Griller
If You’re Lookin’ You Ain’t Cookin’
It is a widely accepted shibboleth, appearing in practically every barbecue book ever written: “If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’.” The message is that when you open the lid of your grill or smoker to baste or peak, cooking slows, and each furtive look adds time to the length of the cook, especially long cooks like brisket, ribs, and pork butt. But it’s a myth.
Yes, hot air inside the cooker warms the surface of the meat and opening the lid lets the warm air out, but warm air doesn’t warm the inside of the meat. The inside of the meat cooks because there is heat stored in the outer layers of the meat and it transmits heat to the center slowly.
I asked the AmazingRibs.com science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder of Boston University if he could prove or disprove this. Armed with a stopwatch and a thermometer with four probes, he set out to test the theory.
Drip Pans And Water Pans, How To Use Them, What To Put In Them, How To Clean Them
Drip pans and water pans are really useful but badly misunderstood.
Let’s begin by defining a drip pan and a water pan. Sometimes they are the same thing, sometimes they are different.
Drip pans go under the food. The purpose of a drip pan is to collect the flavorful juices that come from the meat for use in a sauce or stock, to keep them off the flame and prevent flareups, and, if you are using both a drip pan and a water pan, to keep oil from coating the water in the water pan and preventing evaporation.
Take it easy on the Shug? “No Way!” “Yes Way!”
aka Remus Powers
BBQ Hall of Famer
If such a trophy existed, do you know of a competition barbe- cue team, barbecue restaurant or barbecue product that would be a contender?
– A Whole Hog, Ribs or Shoulder entry injected, rubbed & smothered in sweetness at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest?
– A Chicken, Ribs, Pork or Brisket entry injected, rubbed & smothered in sweetness at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue?
– Entries at any of the hundreds of competition barbecue contests throughout the world this summer and fall?
– Aramark’s “BBQ Reese’s Sandwich” at Kansas City’s MLB Kauffman Stadium?
– Betty Rae’s Joe’s Kansas City Burnt Ends & Sauce Ice Cream?
Are You In Your Lane?
aka Remus Powers
BBQ Hall of Famer
“Maybe. But maybe they’ll let me work it.” “You’re giving the rest of us a bad name, Renée.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Just stay in your lane. Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt, right?”
– LAPD Officer Moore to Officer Ballard in Michael Connelly’s novel, The Dark Hours (2021)
“Stay in your lane” as a popular expres- sion has been with us since at least 2015. When it’s a put-down it goes like this: “You don’t know diddley-squat about that. Stay in your lane!” “You don’t know diddley- squat” is implied. “Stay in your lane!” delivers the jab.
Keeping Up with the Joneses: 4th of July Edition
Colors rising through the air, waiting to
burst into a cloud of excitement. That
burst is the same sensation you hope to
experience when you take your first bite
at a cookout. We will make it easy for you
this 4th of July by sharing some of our
families’ favorite recipes. Sure to please
your guest whether they want the meat
sweats or are trying to cool off.
Chinese-Style Sweet & Sour Pork On The Grill
You will be amazed at how good this riff on the deep-fried Chinese classic is when cooked on the grill, and you will be delighted by how easy it is. By grilling, you get wonderful pork flavor, and pork tenderloin remains tender and moist. Grilling fresh pineapple to caramelize the surface makes it infinitely more interesting than just tossing in canned pineapple and warming it. Oh, and unlike the fried stuff, leftovers are good straight from the fridge in the wee hours. It is also a huge hit with the kids.
Remember, pork tenderloin and loin are very different and I strongly recommend that you use tenderloin. You can, however, substitute chicken or shrimp. If you are making this with chicken, the internal temperature must be 160°F. If you use shrimp, pull them off the grill as soon as they turn pink and the centers are opaque. If you want a little heat, add a poblano to the pepper mix and garnish with a finely chopped jalapeño or two.
I dedicate this recipe to Sterling Ball of BigPoppaSmokers.com who cooks it often, and to Greg Rempe who shares my love of grilled pineapple.
Smoked Beef Back Ribs with Bold Texas BBQ Sauce
2 racks beef back ribs approximately 5 lbs.
½ cup beef broth
Simple Beef Rub:
½ cup ground black pepper
3 tbsp seasoned salt such as Lawry’s
3 tbsp kosher salt 1 tbsp granulated garlic
2 tsp onion powder
BGE Basics and Guinness
Resident Book Guru
I’d reckon that most readers of Barbecue News magazine are familiar with Ray Sheehan, either as a contributor to this publication, the founder of the BBQ Buddha line of sauces and rubs, a member of the BBQ Buddha competition barbecue team or in his latest venture as an author. Last year he released “Award-Winning BBQ Sauces and How to Use Them”, which was favorably reviewed in this space. He had quickly followed up with his newest book (released just weeks ago), “Big Green Egg Basics From a Master Barbecuer” ($21.99, Page Street Publishing, 168 pp.).
As an owner of a BGE (shorthand for Big Green Egg), I was amused to see a cover blurb from “Famous Dave” Anderson, referring to a BGE as “the Ferrari of the world’s best barbecue grills”. BGEs – which is a brand of kamado-style outdoor cooker – are incredibly versatile as they seemingly do very well at both grilling and smoking and also make for great pizza ovens. From my own personal experience, they are a lot of fun to use and are amazingly forgiving when compared to other sorts of grills, smokers and cookers. However, that versatility seems to be a bit intimidating to some and is likely a barrier to ultimately purchasing one.
Ultimate Sauces & Easy BBQ
Resident Book Guru
I said it this space before and I’ll say it again: When the title of a book contains the word “ultimate”, you are already imposing a steep expectation upon yourself. Some accomplish that through shear volume, others do so with expert knowledge and selectivity. Either way, there’s an inordinate risk of coming up short of that lofty claim. Seems like I’ve given away many copies of such books because they just didn’t earn a spot on my bookshelf.
With that being said, let’s dive right into our first book this month – “Ultimate Book of Barbecue Sauces: American Classics and International Favorites” by Sterling Smith ($14.99, Rockridge Press, 116 pp.). Smith is the owner and pitmaster of Loot N’ Booty BBQ, an Arizona-based competition team that has made its name in many of top events (American Royal, Jack Daniels) and currently sells branded rubs and sauces. With credentials like those – plus the fact that this book is a svelte 116 pages – it seems to me Smith is choosing to go the expert knowledge and selectivity route to earn that “ultimate” distinction. In my estimation, he did a pretty darn good job at it.
aka Remus Powers
BBQ Hall of Famer
A stick, a potato and a campfire. Anyone can figure out that you won’t get burned if you stab a stick in a potato to cook it over flames and hot coals; likewise, a helping of tender beef, pork or chicken. Is that “true barbecue?”
Ask anyone in the barbecue world, “What is true barbecue?” and you’ll get a variety of responses.
Some say, “It’s a matter of opinion.” Opinions range from pure hogmatism: “The only true barbecue is pork barbecue!” to “True barbecue is any food cooked with live fire—no dead fire, mind you—from vegetables to animals!” Some will bumper sticker quip it: “Grill It.” Others are like the excessive talker who explains how, when and where his timepiece was made when you simply ask, “What time is it?” —except in this instance you’ll hear a lengthy history of their meat fires experiences—from campfire potatoes to whole hog and whole beef quarters with an emphasis on where and how it was cooked and how delicious it was: “You shoulda’ been there!” And that’s only the introduction. Stay tuned for pits, spits, woods, charcoal, marinades, brines, rubs, sauces, meats, flavors, gadgets, cookers, pits and pitmasters, plus loads of advice. If you’re patient, you may learn some tips to improve your game—but at some point, especially in our hurry-up/temporocentric culture, you may give a polite “Thanks, I’ve gotta’ go,” as you wonder if there’s a 12-step support network for excessive talkers: “On&OnAnon?”
Although true barbecue is as simple as Fuel, Fire and Food, defining it today is like aiming at a moving target—a target that can move as slowly as a desert terrapin or as fast as a jackrabbit. It slows to the speed of a terrapin when sidetracked with talk about the origin of the word “barbecue” or where and when the barbecue method of cooking began—much of which is shrouded in speculation, mystery and myth. It moves faster than a jackrabbit when new school meets old school.
By now, if you haven’t already lost patience with where this discussion is going, you have put “True” and “April” together. Although “True Barbecue” is a fascinating topic to the barbecue faithful, defining it to everyone’s satisfaction is an “April Fool’s” errand. Please be foolish responsibly. Happy April!
Meat is cut from the muscles of mammals and birds. For some reason, fish muscle is not considered meat by some people, but it should be. It is fish muscle tissue.
On average, lean muscle tissue of mammals typically breaks down like this: Water (about 75%), protein (18%), fats (5%), carbohydrates, salt, vitamins, sugars, and minerals (2%).
Muscle cells are more frequently called muscle fibers because they are shaped like tubes. Muscle fibers bundled together are called sheaths, and sheaths bundled together are called muscle or meat.
The fibers, about the thickness of a human hair, contain several types of protein, among them myosin and actin which bind up water and act like living motors by contract-ing and relaxing on command by nerves. As an ani-mal ages, grows, and exercises, its muscle fibers get thicker and tougher.
How Dietary Science Fails Us
For many of us food is a source of angst. We fear that some foods will shorten our time on earth. We think that others will lengthen it. So we are susceptible to a steady bombardment of news, myths, research, and pseudo research. Here is what I have learned about food and health: Worrying about what you eat will kill you faster than anything you eat.
The problem is that dietary and nutritional science is barely science. Not like physics and chemistry, for example. Results of physics and chemistry research are often definitive. Research is done with strict adherence to the scientific method. Data are easy to repeat and test and once the results are proven they are rarely overturned.
This is not true of dietary and nutrition science. Researchers can’t apply the scientific method. They can’t take 1,000 people, divide them into groups, feed them different diets for years, and see how it impacts their health and mortality. If they do an autopsy and see arteries clogged they don’t know for sure what caused it.
Most of the dietary studies we hear about are known as epidemiological or observational studies. These are not lab studies where a hypothesis is stated, variables are isolated, pristine conditions maintained, control groups studied, data collected, and analyzed. Epidemiological studies are usually based on survey data. Researchers collect information from a group of subjects carefully chosen to represent a larger population. They keep diaries and are asked a bunch of questions, the data is punched into a computer, and the researchers look for correlations.
The problem is, and this is crucial to remember: Correlation is not causation!
Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Grilled Carrots
1/3 cup real Maple syrup
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 lbs. (1 inch thick) carrots well-scrubbed or peeled
1 lb. classic (thin) cut bacon
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect cooking, about 400F. Light a charcoal chimney, and when the edges of the char-coal at the top of the chimney begin to ash over, dump the pile of hot coals onto one side of the grill to form your hot side (direct Cooking), leaving the other side empty to form your cool side (indirect Cooking) forming 2 zones.
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, spray a baking rack with nonstick spray and place the rack on top of the foil. In a small bowl combine the Maple syrup and Sriracha sauce, set aside.
Prepare the carrots:
Wrap each carrot with a slice of bacon and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Dust the carrots with the black pepper and garlic powder to season.
Once the grill reaches your desired cook temperature place the tray with the carrots on the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 25 minutes, then, using tongs carefully turn the carrots over and baste with the Maple Sriracha sauce.
Close the lid and continue cooking, turning occasionally, for another 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the carrots) or until the carrots are cooked through and the bacon is crisp. Remove the carrots from the grill and baste them with any remaining sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
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