A Melange of Main Dishes

Using the techniques in Chapter 4 and the recipes in the earlier chapters, you can pull together no end of great meals. In this chapter, I give you some inspiration for putting everything together.

Here, I give space to some of the dozens of recipes that teams submitted for grilling. (Even devout barbecue worshippers bust out the grill on occasion, as you find in the pages to come.)

You also find here a recipe for making a calzone in a smoker — who knew? — and for bringing a brisket to a tasty end right inside the house. Other recipes give you further opportunity to use your barbecue skills in ways traditional and not so.

Brisket : Out of the Smoker and into the Soup Pot

The very thing that makes brisket such excellent fodder for slow smoking is the thing that makes it a good choice for soups and stews, as well: its abundance of connective tissue.

Brisket comes from the chest area of the cow and includes the pectoralis muscle. Because it comes from such a hardworking area, the muscle is well developed and tough, a condition that lends itself not at all to the hot-and-fast methods of cooking like grilling.

Give a brisket a chance to break down all that connective tissue, though, and you’re steps from paradise. Simmering it in liquid takes you there.

Vegetable Brisket Soup

No reason to reserve brisket for the smoker. Doug Golden of JD’s Barbecue Shoppe browns it up and throws it into vegetable soup, which is a great way to take advantage of this tough cut.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: About 2 hours

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound beef brisket, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 141⁄2-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 11⁄2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1⁄2 cup corn
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen peas
  • 1⁄2 to 2 teaspoons herbs of your choice (basil, oregano, or dill)

1 In heavy stockpot, brown beef over medium-high heat.

2 Add onions and cook for 3 minutes.

3 Add water, beef broth, and tomatoes and simmer until beef is tender, about 90 minutes.

4 Add potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, and green beans, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

5 Add peas and herbs, and simmer another 2 minutes.

A Little Something Fabulous for Cooking Fish

Fish lends itself well to the hot-and-fast cooking you get from grilling, but with a caveat: Fish is much more delicate than pork, chicken, beef, or lamb and requires a little more care to keep it intact on the grill.

When you plan to cook fish on the grill, make sure you start with a nice, clean grill grate. You may also want to give the grate a light coating of oil before you cook your fish. Because most fish flakes, getting it stuck to the grill can sink your project.

Sea Bass with Nectarine Salsa

Jon Carr from Grillmaster’s Garden uses a rich-tart marinade of coconut milk, lime juice, and curry powder to start off this recipe with a bang.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 4 pieces Chilean sea bass, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 cups cubed nectarines, in1⁄4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons diced poblano peppers
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh mint

1 In a mixing bowl, combine coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and curry powder.

2 Season the sea bass with salt and place in the marinade, covering completely.

3 In a fresh mixing bowl, combine the nectarines, peppers, cilantro, and mint with the remaining 4 tablespoons of lime juice.

4 Grill the sea bass over medium-hot coals, about 4 minutes per side, or cook it in marinade in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.

5 Place cooked fish on plate and top with salsa.

Smoking Traditional Barbecue Cuts Like a Champ

They don’t call it “Championship Chicken” for nothing, and in this section you get one team’s formula for winning smoked chicken, as well as recipes for other standard barbecue cuts like ribs and pulled pork.

Chapter 4 gives you further details about the methods that these recipes cover.

Championship Chicken

Doug Spiller of Smoked Signals BBQ uses brine, a sweet rub, and an even sweeter spray to cook chicken that doesn’t even need sauce.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Brining: 1 to 3 hours

Cooking time: About 2 hours

Yield: 8 servings

Brine :

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 quarts tangerine/grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3⁄4 cup salt
  • 4 pounds chicken, either bone-in pieces or a whole chicken

1 Combine ingredients in a Dutch oven or stockpot and heat, stirring, just until the salt and sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.

2 Place chicken in brine.

3 Let stand 1 to 11⁄2 hours for chicken parts, 2 to 3 hours for a whole bird.

Rub :

  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup salt
  • 1⁄4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried celery leaves
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1⁄4 tablespoon garlic powder

1 In small bowl, combine all ingredients.

2 Pat onto chicken over and under the skin. Let rest 30 minutes.

Super Chicken Spray

  • 1⁄4 cup Triple Sec 1⁄4 cup apple juice
  • Combine ingredients in spray bottle.

Chicken :

1 Place chicken in a 280-degree smoker.

2 Let cook for 1 hour, being careful not to use too much wood, because chicken absorbs smoke quickly.

3 Raise temperature to about 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp the skin and bring chicken to finishing temperature (about 180 degrees internally).

4 Spray chicken after it’s fully smoked.

Variation : Grill chicken after spraying to crisp the skin.

Putting triple sec to work in the kitchen

Triple sec is a liqueur that hails from France (where sec means dry) and traditionally is flavored with orange peels. It provides orange flavor without a lot of extra sweetness.

In case you’re buying a bottle just for this recipe (and it’s good enough that you shouldn’t hesitate), here are further uses for the stuff :

  • Mixing cocktails, of course: Use it in drinks like the margarita, cosmopolitan, Long Island iced tea, and Mexican sunset.
  • Flavoring fruit salad: Just mix triple sec with an equal part orange juice and pour over any mix of fruit.
  • Adding snap to French toast: Drop a couple tablespoons of triple sec into the batter.
  • Enlivening desserts: Add a tablespoon of triple sec to a cup of whipped cream to add a crisp orange flavor and cut back the sweetness a smidge.

Jon’s Baby Backs

Chef JJ of Grillmaster’s Garden gives this rub a tinge of smokiness with a little chipotle pepper powder.

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus marinade time

Cooking time: 4 hours

Yield: 1 cup rub (about 8 servings for the ribs)

  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2 Stir or shake to mix. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.


  • 4 racks baby back ribs, peeled (see Chapter 4)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Coat ribs with rub and let stand at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

2 Place ribs in large pan with water and vinegar.

3 Wrap pan with foil.

4 Place pan in a smoker or on a grill, using indirect heat (see Chapter 2) to cook the ribs at 275 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. (You can also accomplish this step in an oven.)

5 Remove ribs from pan and finish directly on grill with the barbecue sauce of your choice. (Check out Chapter 9 for ideas.)

Stink-Eye Pulled Pork

James Caldwell sells his Stink-Eye BBQ Sauce in several states. He’s not giving up that recipe, but he is sharing his pulled pork rub, which of course he shamelessly recommends serving with Stink-Eye BBQ Sauce.

Preparation time: 25 minutes plus 30 minutes cooling time

Cooking time: 7 to 9 hours (mostly in a slow cooker, unattended)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • 2 Stir or shake to mix. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder, about 8 pounds Stink-Eye BBQ Sauce, or other barbecue sauce of your choice

1 Rub the pork shoulder with all the dry rub, on top and bottom of the shoulder.

2 Place pork shoulder in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker on low heat. Add 1⁄2 cup water in the bottom of the slow cooker to prevent burning.

3 Cover and cook 6 to 8 hours.

4 Check meat temperature every hour thereafter until it reaches 170 degrees.

5 Remove from slow cooker.

6 Place in a roasting pan in a preheated 500-degree oven. If you can pull out the ceramic insert from your slow cooker, skip the roasting pan and put the insert onto a cookie sheet and place both in the oven.

7 Cook 15 minutes.

8 Remove meat from oven and let rest 30 minutes.

9 Pull meat apart with forks.

10 Serve with Stink-Eye BBQ Sauce or other barbecue sauce of your choice.

Have Pizza Stone, Will Smoke Calzone

Barbecue competitions usually include an “anything but” category wherein teams vie for bragging rights over dishes that don’t fit into the main judging categories — ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and chicken. The calzone (a filled pizza crust shaped more or less into a turnover) in this chapter is a dish that qualified as “anything but.”

Grilled Calzone

The Smokin’ T’s team says this recipe is further evidence that you shouldn’t stop shopping for things to cook on the grill at the meat aisle — bread, vegetables, pizza, fruit, and so on are fair game.

Preparation time: 45 minutes (includes rising time)

Cooking time: 30 hours

Yield: 2 large calzones, about 6 to 8 servings

Special equipment: Pizza stone

Calzone Dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 21⁄2 cups flour

1 Combine water and yeast in a bowl.

2 Let mixture rest for 5 minutes.

3 Stir oil, salt, and 11⁄2 cups of the flour into water-yeast mixture.

4 Add remaining flour, kneading until dough is smooth, not sticky.

5 Remove dough and place in a lightly greased bowl.

6 Let dough rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size.

7 Punch dough down and divide it into two portions.

8 Cover dough and let rest 20 minutes.

Calzone Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, loose or without casing
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped onion
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup cubed or shredded mozzarella
  • 1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (or 3⁄4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large eg

1 Preheat smoker or grill (using indirect heat — see Chapter 2) to 450 to 500 degrees, and set a pizza stone on the grate.

2 Heat oil in skillet at medium-high heat and brown the sausage. Set aside.

3 Using the skillet you cooked the sausage in, sauté the onion and green bell pepper for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

4 Press each dough ball into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper or foil.

5 Combine cheeses, sage, black pepper, and egg in a large bowl.

6 Add sausage, green bell pepper, and onion, and mix well.

7 Place half of the filling onto one side of each dough circle.

8 Fold dough over to make a half-circle, and crimp the edges to seal.

9 Using a fork, poke several holes in each calzone.

10 Slide the calzones onto a pizza stone, making sure no edges hang over the edge of the stone, which would cause the crust to burn.

11 Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove carefully.

Tip: If you prefer smaller serving sizes, you can divide the dough into three or four portions rather than just two, and press them into smaller circles accordingly.

Stylish Recipes for Lamb and Beef

Throwing burgers or steaks onto the grill is an experience most people have had and a starting point for even timid outdoor cooks.

In this section, you find still-simple recipes that go at least a step beyond the “meat on grill” formula, making use of rubs and marinades.

Lamb usually isn’t marbled as heavily as beef is, so what you want to look for when you buy lamb chops is a layer of smooth, white fat around the edge. Mutton is the name for meat from older sheep and has a much stronger, gamier flavor (probably the one that people who say they don’t like lamb associate with the stuff) than the meat from young lambs.

Tuscan-Style Lamb Chops

This recipe from the Porkrastinators team gives you an easy formula for a great-tasting lamb dish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Juice of 1 lemon (preferably a grilled lemon)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 racks of lamb chops
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

1 Combine olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

2 Use additional salt and pepper to season lamb liberally.

3 Over medium-high heat, grill lamb to desired doneness, approximately

5 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees (for medium rare).

4 Remove lamb from heat and place in a small baking dish.

5 Pour oil-herb mixture over meat.

6 Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 7 minutes.

7 Section racks into single chops.

8 Spoon lamb drippings and marinade over chops, and serve with grilled lemon wedges.

Beef Tenderloin with Cascabel Chile Aioli Marinade

A Cascabel chile is a small, globe-shaped number that packs a tangy, low to medium-hot punch. Paul Kirk adds Cascabels to a light-flavored, refreshing aioli.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 3 1⁄2 pounds beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Cascabel chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
  • 3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2 Place roasting pan on stove and heat oil over medium-high heat.

3 Pat tenderloin with paper towels.

4 Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.

5 Place in roasting pan with oil and roast in oven (or in a hot, covered grill).

6 While meat cooks, toast Cascabel chile in a small skillet over high heat, turning pieces once, until blistered and fragrant.

7 Let cool until brittle.

8 Using a mortar and pestle, pound chile into a powder.

9 Mix powder in medium bowl with remaining ingredients to create the aioli.

10 Remove meat from oven or grill after 25 to 30 minutes, or when internal temperature is in the 130- to 150-degree range. Because you’re using such a hot oven, you may want to check the internal temperature of the meat as the 25-minute mark approaches to make sure you don’t overcook it.

11 Let rest 10 to 15 minutes

12 Slice and serve with aioli on the side.

Italian Espresso Steak

Brandon Hamilton concocted this recipe for the java lovers of the world.

The coffee flavor in the rub isn’t overbearing, and the other seasonings pair nicely with the coffee overtones.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour resting time

Cooking time: About 15 minutes, depending on desired doneness

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2-pound beef strip loin, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee beans
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (optional)
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges (optional)

1 Cut the cleaned strip loin into 4-ounce portions, about 1 inch thick.

2 In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

3 Press the rub generously on the beef steaks. Discard any remaining seasoning mixture.

4 Place steaks in a glass dish; cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

5 Preheat the grill to a medium temperature.

6 Place seasoned steaks onto grill uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until desired doneness, turning occasionally.

7 Serve steaks sliced on an angle; garnish with green onions and lemon wedges, if you like.

Korean Beef Barbecue (Bulgogi)

Brandon Hamilton offers this recipe, which gives you a super-simple way to grill beef that produces a striking result.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time

Cooking time: About 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2-pound top sirloin steak, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Clean the excess fat from the beef and slice diagonally against the grain into 2-inch-thick slices.

2 In a resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal the bag securely, making sure to remove the excess air from the bag.

3 Marinate the beef in the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours, rotating the bag occasionally to ensure that all the beef is covered in marinade.

4 Preheat the grill to 350 degrees.

5 Gently remove the beef from the marinade and transfer directly to the grill. Make sure to place the slices of beef against the grain of the grill grate.

6 Grill the beef for approximately 5 minutes (about 2 minutes per side) or until desired doneness.

Traditionally, the meat for bulgogi is sliced almost paper thin, which is no mean feat unless you have a meat slicer. Keeping the slices thicker also enables you to cook it on the grill, adding an extra layer of flavor.

Bulgogi often is served in lettuce leaves, but it tastes great with rice, too.

Pork Satay

Paul Kirk draws from Southeast Asian cooking tradition for this simple and savory recipe.

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus marinade overnight

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Special equipment : Metal or bamboo skewers, soaked in water

  • 1⁄2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean pork loin, sliced 1⁄4-inch think and cut into 3-x-3⁄4-inch strips
  • Lettuce leaves

1 Combine first seven ingredients.

2 Pour into large freezer bag and add pork pieces.

3 Refrigerate at least 2 hours and as long as overnight.

4 Thread strips on skewers and grill over medium-hot fire about 3 minutes per skewer, depending on the thickness of the strips.

5 Serve with lettuce leaves.


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