1,001 Best Grilling (and Barbecuing) Recipes by Rick Browne

When I received a copy of Rick Browne’s new cookbook, 1,001 Best Grilling Recipes, I had a few concerns.

First, 1,001 recipes? Really, is there a need for that many recipes? I figure slow cooked pork butt, pork shoulder or whole hog pretty much covers it and saves 998 recipes.  Second, the books cover features a quote from Regis Philbin: “Rick Browne is one of America’s leading barbecue experts.” Until proven otherwise, I would assume Regis Philbin knows about as much about barbecue as Al Roker knows about 13th century Italian poetry.  Third, and most important, I noticed the word “grilling” in the title and the word “barbecue” used in Philbin’s quote.

In my opinion, grilling and barbecue are two different things, like sauteing and pan-frying: related techniques but not the same.  Whereas grilling is cooking for a relatively short time over high heat, barbecuing is cooking for a relatively long time over lower heat.  Plus, real barbecuing requires wood or charcoal, whereas you can grill over gas, electric or anything else you can dream up.  Browne takes on my holier-than-thou attitude before he even gets to page one.

In his Introduction, Browne writes, “This book is a collection of recipes I’ve gathered over ten years of roaming… an endless pursuit of the world’s best barbecue and grilling recipes–terms, by the way, that I use interchangeably, much to the chagrin of some barbecue purists.  But to me, if you cook food outdoors using wood, charcoal, natural gas, propane or just about any other combustible materials, you’re barbecuing.”  Well, I won’t concede this point, especially knowing that Browne is a Canadian by birth and therefore should be viewed with suspicion, but I give Browne credit for addressing it right off the bat.  Plus, the man knows more about barbecue (and grilling) than most anyone on the planet.

Rick Browne’s TV show, “Barbecue America”, aired on PBS for seven years.  He has published several cookbooks, including The Best Barbecue on Earth, The Barbecue America Cookbook, and Barbecue America: A Pilgrimage in Search of America’s Best Barbecue.  He has traveled to dozens of Continue reading

How to Make Carolina Barbecue

This video, despite the cheesy Muzak and accompanying voiceover, is actually a fairly good introduction to how to make barbecue on a backyard cooker.  Check it out here or below.  And if you want to turn it into a drinking game, take a swig every time the video shows something that should make North Carolina BBQ aficionados cringe (drink twice when you see the BBQ plated next to steamed brocolli!).

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xkg3bf
How To Make Carolina Barbecue by Howcast

A Break from BBQ: Two New North Carolina Cookbooks

As the summer heat cranks up, things get interesting in North Carolina.  For one thing, Porky LeSwine starts to speak about himself in the third person and craves food beyond just barbecue.  While man could live just fine on the holy trinity of swine, slaw and hush puppies, sometimes a taste of something else is good for the soul (and the aorta).  Luckily, there are two new cookbooks from North Carolina that allow folks like Porky to get a taste of the good life beyond pork.

Andrea Reusing, newly minted James Beard award winning chef at Chapel Hill’s Lantern Restaurant has released her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal RecipesReusing is best known for the Asian-inspired, locally sourced, carefully prepared fare she and her team serve at the Lantern, but Cooking in the Moment features few Asian recipes.  Instead, it is full of fairly simple, eclectic recipes that are organized by season, well explained, beautifully photographed and, judging from the few dishes I’ve made thus far, delicious.

Cooking in the Moment is particularly enjoyable for anyone who lives in or near Durham and Orange Counties, as it includes many stories involving local farmers many of us recognize from the area’s several farmer’s markets.  But don’t get me wrong, this is a hell of a cookbook and will appeal to people who live anywhere and love good food.  So, we can forgive Ms. Reusing that she fails to include any recipes for barbecue.  Die hard pigavores will have to suffice with cider-braised pork shoulder, carnitas and the like.
Another cookbook with a similar theme and Chapel Hill ties, this one published by The University of North Carolina Press, is The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle.   The title hints at what is inside: over 300 recipes organized alphabetically by vegetable/fruit ingredient–apples to zucchini, and a whole lot in between.

Rest assured that ham and plenty of other pig parts make their way into The New Southern Garden Cookbook’s recipes.  This is the “new south” but it is still the south.  I should confess that I’ve yet to read this cookbook–my copy is in the mail–but it sounds like a winner from all I’ve heard.  I’ll report back once I get a chance to test drive the recipes. Until then, happy cooking… and don’t forget to take an occasional break from all the produce for some barbecue.  It’s important to stay in shape, after all.

Backyard BBQ Season is Here

As I write this post it is one of those remarkably beautiful North Carolina spring days.   The temperature and humidity are perfect, the sky is Carolina blue (even for a devout Duke basketball fan like myself), and the swarms of summertime mosquitoes have yet to come out of hibernation or wherever the heck they are over the winter. In other words, it’s the perfect time to cook some barbecue.

If you want to become a master barbecue cook, or at least not embarass yourself too badly, I highly recommend reading through the great info at AmazingRibs.com.  The chief blogger/cook/all around BBQ guru over there, Meathead, offers a ton of free advice on everything from cuts of meat to buying guides for grills and accessories.  Really valuable info that ignorant wanna-be BBQers like myself can’t match.  If good old fashioned cookbooks are more your speed, I highly recommend Peace, Love, & Barbecue by Mike Mills or pretty much anything Steven Raichlen has written. Sure, he looks like a bit of a goofball but he knows his stuff.

You can spend a ton of money on a grill or smoker, but if you’re a newbie I recommend starting with something basic.  Cooking barbecue isn’t easy but it’s not all that complicated either.  There are lots of places to buy a grill, and online shops have started offering a lot of choices at competitive prices.  For example, CSGrills.com offers everything from entry level charcoal Brinkmann Smokers to top of the line Weber Gas Grills, as well as a range of other BBQ grills (with free shipping on most).  In my opinion, the only thing better than using a grill is dreaming about what a darn good pit master you’d be if you just had the right set up.  (Okay, maybe that’s just me).

Anyway, enough about my fantasies.  The bottom line: if you need a grill, buy one; if you have a grill, use it; and if you are planning to cook a bunch of barbecue, by all means save me some!  Happy cooking.

Shylock’s Simple Collard Greens

Collard greens are a common side dish at barbecue joints in Eastern North Carolina, and winter is prime collard green season.  Cooking collards is surprisingly easy so stay away from the nasty canned stuff at the grocery store and cook ‘em up yourself. It takes a little more than an hour start to finish, but most of that time is spent waiting while the greens cook–in that time, you should make some cornbread and drink a beer.  Here’s my collards recipe, but please feel free to submit your own in the comments section or just tell me why my recipe is inferior to your’s.

2 pounds collard greens (about 2 bunches)
3 cups of warm/hot water
1 cup of chopped/diced pork of some sort (anything from leftover cooked ham to a pork chop to raw bacon will work)
2 tablespoons basic oil (no EVOO, for god’s sake) unless you are using uncooked bacon or other pork that provides its own fat
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Vinegar for seasoning at table

Thoroughly clean collards and remove stems, then chop into roughly 1″ pieces or smaller. Heat oil in large stock pot and cook the pork for 5 minutes if cooked already or until cooked if raw. Add warm/hot water (cold water and a hot pan gets a bit dicey and takes longer to heat to a simmer) and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pork and set aside. Add collards, salt and optional Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boil, then turn to low and cook for 60 minutes or so (depending how tender you like the greens, you may want to taste at 45 mins).  Add the pork back in a few minutes before you finish cooking. Add water to keep the collards moist during cooking if needed, but it shouldn’t be if you cook at a low temperature.

Be sure to make use of the soupy liquid in the pot, aka “pot likker” or “pot liquor”, either to serve with the greens or dip cornbread in.  Also, add some vinegar to the collards at the table if you are into such things; hot pepper vinegar is best but plain old cider vinegar or Texas Pete will suffice.  Recipe makes ~ 6 servings.

Pork Alchemy: Transforming Christmas Ham into Barbecue

As much as I enjoy a good spiral cut Christmas ham, it’s not as good as barbecue.  I decided to perform a little pork alchemy and attempt to turn my leftover ham into barbecue. My secret recipe follows:

1. Dice the ham to make it somewhat resemble barbecue.

2. Sauce the ham liberally with barbecue sauce (in this case from the North Carolina Barbecue Company).

3. Eat.

Although the end product bears little resemblance to NC barbecue in appearance, taste or texture, it does taste pretty decent in its own right. Gratuitous before, during and after pictures follow.

Happy (Barbecue) Turkey Day

Newsflash: Thanksgiving is tomorrow. 

You still have time to put your bird in a brine bath and get it ready to barbecue tomorrow.  Barbecued turkey is delicious and keeps the oven free for all the other Thanksgiving delicacies, which is convenient.  Need a recipe?  You could do a lot worse than this one for Bourbon-Brined Smoked Turkey.  If you don’t have an actual smoker, you can follow this basic recipe but cook over indirect heat on a Weber or even a gas grill (I’ll confess that the latter is all I have the time/patience for on Thanksgiving).  Also, you can raise the temperature up to 300 or so without burning the bird. If you want to get fancy, and have a thing for needles, I recommend using a flavor injector to add basting liquid (chicken broth with herbs and melted butter works great) into the bird’s thighs and breast before putting on the grill.

However you cook your bird, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Hanukkah Coming Soon: Still Time to Buy a Pork Cookbook

Fellow BBQ Jews, need I remind you that Hanukkah comes early in the year 5771? (That’s 2010 for you genteel gentile readers.)  Indeed, the Jewish Festival of Lights begins less than one month from today, as you can likely tell from all the Hanukkah tunes polluting the radio (my local station has “Latkes Roasting on an Open Fire” in predictably heavy rotation).  Though time is slipping away, rest assured it’s not too late to find the perfect Hanukkah gift for the ones you love. 

In case this website sells out of BBQ Jew Merch again, as it has in many past Hanukkah shopping seasons, then consider buying The White Book instead.  As implied by the awkward title (awkward at least for those of us in America, where “white” suggests a mayonnaise-loving racial group more so than a type of meat), The White Book is a pork cookbook.  It was written for Israeli Jews by an Israeli Jew.  Former cardiologist, current author and likely future hate mail recipient Dr. Eli Landau is a not too serious man after my own heart (as The New York Times article puts it, “ANY author has to deal with bad reviews, but how about the wrath of God?”).  He waxes poetic about the other white meat, telling the Times, “Pork meat is to a cook like canvas to a painter.”  He also goes on record suggesting that Israeli Jews will abandon their pork-scorning behavior in a couple of decades; a bold assertion for a people awash in thousands of years of tradition and religious teachings but time will tell. 

Alas, the Mediterranean focus of Landau’s cookbook seems to exclude North Carolina style barbecue pork from the list of recipes, but no matter.  Assuming The White Book manages to break down the thousands of years old wall of anti-pork (and pro-boiled chicken) sentiment among my Jewish brethren then no doubt whole hog barbecue will soon sweep the Promised Land quicker than Moses parted the Red Sea.  Until then, at least you’ll have a nice cookbook to get you through the holiday season if you get sick of latkes.

Recipes to Share?

Readers,

As you may have alread concluded, one of this site’s numerous weaknesses is its lack of recipes.  This fact has been pointed out to me by several regular readers (and by my own wife, bless her, who is not a regular reader).  I’d like to remedy this problem but need your help. If you have a North Carolina barbecue-related recipe to share, please send it to me at  BBQJew at gmail.com or by leaving a comment on this post. Note that I only want recipes you have a right to use; e.g., your mama’s coleslaw recipe would work but the coleslaw recipe you stole from page 126 of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue would not.  Got it?  Good.  Your reward for sharing a recipe will be getting acknowledgment when I post the recipe and maybe even getting discovered by the producers of The Food Network’s “Next Boiled Barbecue Potato Star” or whatever.

Thanks in advance, and I’ll try and semi-regularly share recipes in the months ahead,

Porky

BBQ&A: James Villas, Writer and Cookbook Author

A self-described “Southerner by birth and temperament and appetite,” James Villas has given the people of his native North Carolina many reasons to be proud over the years.  His latest cookbook, Pig: King of the Southern Table, is perhaps the most significant reason yet.   Tarheels and tarheels at heart will be wowed by Pig’s wide-ranging collection of recipes, which describe how to cook every part of the pig one could ever imagine wanting to eat (and then some). 

Long before penning his culinary ode to North Carolina’s favorite animal, Villas received his PhD in Romance Languages and Comparative Literature and served a stint as a university professor.  Soon he left academia to follow his heart/stomach (they are one and the same after all) into the world of food writing.  Villas spent the next 27 years of his life as Food and Wine Editor of Town & Country magazine.  In addition, he has written for Esquire, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Life, and The New York Times, and published a baker’s dozen of cookbooks, two novels, and a memoir.  Mr. Pig himself was kind enough to chat with us about biscuits, barbecue and his heart-wrenching (for us readers) decision to never write another cookbook focused on swine.  Enjoy…

Follow this link to read the interview with James Villas.

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