Outdoor Cooking TECHNIQUES

GLENN MOORES

From the experts at Char-Broil

Many people mistakenly refer to any type of cooking on their grill as “barbecuing,” but that’s not entirely correct. Let’s compare the outdoor cooking techniques needed for the recipes in this book.

• GRILLING

Grilling involves quickly cooking individual portions of food at relatively high temperatures over a direct heat source. The first step in many grilling recipes is to sear the meat over high heat – between 350 F and 550 F. The higher heat browns the outside of smaller cuts of meat, sealing in juices that would be lost if the meat were cooked more slowly. My mother did this before placing a roast in the oven, and I do it every time I grill a steak. Cast-iron grates on a grill are also highly conductive, which significantly aids the searing process.

Once food is seared, you’ll often finish cooking over indirect heat on another part of the grill. The reason food can continue to cook this way is that there’s still plenty of heat generated by one or more of these sources: (1) convective heat from air heated by the fire; (2) conductive heat from the grill grates; and (3) radiant heat produced by either a charcoal or an infrared gas grill.

• BARBECUING

Barbecuing is a slower way of cooking large portions of meat or poultry using an indirect source of heat at a lower temperature (usually between 225 F and 350 F). It takes time, but your end result is tender and juicy.

Here’s the science behind barbecuing: When meat is placed away from the heat source, it cooks by “bathing” in the hot air – or convective heat – generated by the fire. Another way you might describe barbecuing is slow roasting at low temperatures. Cuts of meat that benefit from this type of cooking, such as pork shoulder and beef brisket, have a high ratio of collagen in the meat. (Translation: They’re tough.) Slow cooking with indirect heat works magic on these cuts, breaking down the dense collagen and adding tenderness and flavor.

Talk to any longtime outdoor cooking enthusiast, and sooner or later you’re going to hear the phrase “low and slow.” In fact, it’s pretty much the official motto of all barbecuing. “Low” refers to temperature – generally between 225 F and 350 F. “Slow” means the time it takes to cook the food. Simply stated, “Good eating comes to those who cook low and slow.”

• SMOKING

Smoking is the process of cooking food on or near an open fire made from materials such as wood or charcoal. The fire releases particles of these materials into the smoker that impart a unique flavor to the meat. The more these materials smolder and generate smoke, the greater the number of particles to flavor the food. Cooking at temperatures between 140 F and 225 F is called hot smoking.

If the smoke passes through a cooling chamber and comes into contact with the food at a temperature of around 45 F, you are cold smoking the food. (Note: Cold-smoked food isn’t actually cooked; it’s being slow-cured and flavored.)

When moisture is added to the smoker to increase its humidity level, it’s called wet smoking. A simple pan of water is placed away from direct heat inside the grill or smoker. If desired, you can use fruit juice or wine instead of water, or add these liquids to the water for an additional flavor boost.

• ROTISSERIE COOKING

Rotisserie cooking involves skewering a large piece of meat or poultry on a rotating spit set over your grill’s heat source. The spit, usually driven by an electric or battery-powered motor, turns at a constant speed to allow for even cooking over the entire surface of the food. Rotisserie cooking is best for large roasts, whole poultry, and pork.

To check for doneness with rotisserie-grilled food, stop the rotisserie motor and insert an instant-read thermometer into the deepest part of the food. To avoid overcooking the food, check the temperature about 15 to 20 minutes before the final estimated cooking time. Always use heat-resistant gloves when removing the rotisserie spit rod from the grill, because it can get very hot.

APPLE BUTTER BBQ RIBS

Yields 4 to 6 servings. Grill: 2 hours, indirect heat, then 1 hour with sauce; sear 30 seconds on each side over direct heat.

2 full slabs baby back ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/ 2 tablespoon salt
1/ 2 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Apple wood chunks

APPLE BUTTER BBQ SAUCE:

1 cup apple butter
1/ 2 cup ketchup
1/ 2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Preheat grill for indirect heat: Place an aluminum foil pan filled with water under the grill grate and toss a chimney of hot coals alongside.

2 With a butter knife and some paper towels, remove the membrane under each slab of ribs by inserting the knife between the membrane and one of the bones. Pull the membrane with a paper towel to remove it completely.

3 Mix brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, ginger, and dried thyme in a small bowl. Apply the rub on both sides of the ribs with your hands, so it penetrates the meat.

4 Place ribs on the grill grate in indirect heat, and toss a few apple wood chunks onto the hot coals. Close the lid and cook for 2 hours at 300 F.

5 Combine all the Apple Butter BBQ Sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

6 After 2 hours of cooking, wrap ribs in foil, with 1 cup sauce spread on top of each. Cook for another hour at 300 F. You know the ribs are done when the meat has shrunk about 1 inch from the bones. Once fully cooked, remove ribs from foil, and sear over direct heat for 30 seconds per side to caramelize the sauce.

BROWN SUGAR-BRINED SMOKED SALMON

Yields about 4 servings. Marinate: 6 to 7 hours Cook: 3 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 160 F.

3 cups warm water
1 cup soy sauce
1/ 2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh diced garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/ 2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 pounds salmon fillets

1 In a large baking dish, mix water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, onion powder, and ginger until combined. Let cool completely.

2 Add fish fillets to cooled mixture, and marinate in refrigerator for 6 to 7 hours.

3 Preheat smoker to 160 F, and add alder wood chips to smoker box. Place salmon in smoker, and cook for about 3 hours.

4 Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon. Remove from smoker when fish reaches 160 F, or when fillets take on a light pink color and begin to flake apart.

SPIT-ROASTED PORK CHOPS

Yields 8 servings. Prep: 20 minutes Grill: 35 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/ 4 cup kosher salt
1/ 4 cup paprika
1/ 2 teaspoon plus a pinch cayenne pepper, divided
1/ 3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons celery salt
8 center-cut pork chops, 3/ 4 -inch thick
1/ 4 cup fresh lime juice
1/ 2 cup honey
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/ 8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/ 4 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
2 limes, each cut into 8 wedges

1 Preheat grill to medium-high.

2 Pour oil into a shallow dish. Mix in salt, paprika, 1/ 2 teaspoon cayenne, brown sugar, garlic powder, and celery salt. Dip chops into mixture, turning to coat.

3 Coat rotisserie basket with nonstick cooking spray. Lay chops in basket, and close lid tightly. Load basket onto spit rod. Cook for 10 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, make a glaze by combining lime juice, honey, thyme, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne. After chops have cooked for 10 minutes, stop rotisserie and baste chops with glaze. Restart rotisserie, and grill for another 25 minutes, or until thickest part of chops reaches 160 F, stopping rotisserie three more times to baste.

5 Remove chops from basket, garnish with cilantro and lime wedges, and serve.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH CHERRY TOMATOES, GARLIC, & OLIVE OIL

Yields 4 servings. Prep: 10 minutes Grill: 20 to 25 minutes

2 pounds pencil-size asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, washed and stemmed
12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/ 4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/ 2 teaspoon black pepper
1/ 4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
(reserve lemon halves)

1 Preheat grill to medium-high.

2 In a large bowl, combine asparagus, tomatoes, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

3 Transfer to a large aluminum baking sheet, and drizzle with lemon juice. Add lemon halves to pan. Place on grill, and roast until asparagus stalks are tender and tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 20 to 25 minutes.

4 Serve hot or at room temperature.

COOKOUT POTATOES

Yields 4 to 6 servings. Prep: 15 minutes Grill: 1 hour

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/ 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
1/ 3 cups shredded low-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/ 3 cup real bacon bits
1/ 3 cup chopped bell pepper
1/ 2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 Preheat grill to medium.

2 Spray a 9-by-9-by-2-inch foil pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

BACON CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIES

Yields 24 servings. Prep: 20 minutes Grill: 16 to 18 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cups turbinado sugar or light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 pound bacon, fried crisp, cooled, and crumbled

1 Preheat grill to 325 F, and set it up for indirect cooking. Grease cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper or baking mats; set aside.

2 Sift flours, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl; set aside.

3 Using a mixer, combine sugar and butter. Add egg, egg yolk, cinnamon, and vanilla, and mix until creamy. Blend in sifted ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips and crumbled bacon.

4 Drop 1/4-cup-size dough balls onto prepared cookie sheets, 3 inches apart.

5 Bake for 9 minutes, then turn and bake for an additional 7 to 9 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets before moving to a rack to finish cooling.

3 Layer half the onion, half the potatoes, half the cheese, half the bacon bits, half the bell peppers, and half the garlic salt in prepared pan. Repeat layers using remaining ingredients.

4 Cover pan tightly with foil, and grill over medium heat for 1 hour, rotating the pan occasionally to avoid hot spots.

WOOD-FIRED APPLE-PECAN PIE

Yields 8 servings. Prep: 20 minutes Grill: 40 to 45 minutes

CRUST:

1/ 2 cups flour
3/ 4 teaspoon salt
1/ 2 tablespoons sugar
1/ 2 cup shortening
1/ 2 tablespoon butter
5 tablespoons water

FILLING:

4 Granny Smith apples
3 Gala apples
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/ 4 cup flour

CRUMB TOPPING:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/ 2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 For crust, mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in shortening and butter. Mix in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, using a fork.

2 Roll out dough, and line a pie plate. Set aside.

3 For filling, peel, core, and slice apples into a large bowl. Add pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour, and mix to combine.

4 Spoon filling mixture into crust-lined pie plate, creating a mound in the middle.

5 For crumb topping, mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in butter until pea-size crumbs form.

6 Sprinkle topping mixture over filling in pan.

7 Bake pie in a smoker at 375 F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until crumb topping is golden brown.

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