The smoke ring. A much sought after, magical thing in BBQ. The visibly identifiable symbol of good BBQ - even though it doesn’t indicate the quality of the BBQ (you can have great BBQ with no smoke ring, as well as terrible BBQ with a smoke ring) - it is a status symbol. There is an undeniable satisfaction cutting into your smoked meat and seeing the pink band around the surface of the meat.
Smoking and BBQ is often low-and-slow cooking, that is, cooking for an extended period of time (anything from an hour through to double figures or overnight cooks) at a lower temperature. Normally in the range of 110-135C (225-275F). But why these temperatures and times? Most elements of cooking (from meat transformation to food safety) are a product of time and temperature, so why do we bother cooking low-and-slow? What’s so special about cooking at lower temperatures? Burning coal can, obviously, easily reach temperatures way above this range without any issue so it’s not an intrinsic limitation of grilling.
This is kinda silly. This one started when I watched a video on the SousVideEverything YouTube channel titled “I Try Making a 3 MICHELIN STAR Short Rib”. The host sous vides some beef short ribs (for 16 hours), then shreds them with some other bits and pieces, compacts and wraps in cling film to cool before frying them. The end result being some fancy looking, 3 Michelin star stack of fried beef rib on top of mash and pea puree. My take away from it all wasn’t to sous vide them, but to smoke them and then turn it into a burger. 3 Michelin stars it is not, but it is incredibly tasty.
Dirty cookies are an idea I played with a couple years ago which worked out pretty well, and is basically just for a bit of fun. It isn’t quicker particularly than oven cooking cookies, and there is higher risk of them getting pretty badly burnt - but the flipside is the end result is crazily-decadently-good and can be fun if you are entertaining people. If you have been entertaining in the garden at the grill, its quite good fun to whip a couple of these little foil-wrapped balls of decadence straight off the coals for people to dig into.
I’m not really sure if this should be my first Mac’n’cheese post. Mac’n’cheese is something that I love. I love to cook it and love to eat it. Even a basic mac’n’cheese made properly is ace, but there are levels to this, and it can quickly be elevated to something even more special.
If you have been in or around the low-and-slow BBQ community at all, you will likely be familiar with what is known as the stall. A dreaded, yet strangely respected, part of cooking any larger piece of meat at a lower temperature.
Over-the-top chilli (or over-the-top anything for that matter) is something I have only fairly recently discovered. Its an obvious technique when you start to think about it - I have often reflected on the fact that whilst smoked beef is an excellent ingredient in chilli, you loose a lot of the delicious meat juices (connective tissue broken down in to gelatin and the fat rendered out) into the grill. Juices that with a standard braise would be running directly into the gravy and adding to the richness of the dish.
What is it about cast iron that we all love so much? I remember when I bought my first cast iron skillet, I was so excited about it and spent much of that first weekend reading about how, and then seasoning it (it was the 12” Lodge skillet pictured above, as it happens).
Beef short ribs are one of my all time favourite cuts to cook low and slow. They are always popular on the BBQ circuit, and have an incredible savoury, meaty flavour. They cook down to a beautifully tender, flavourful cook and also provide really impressive servings as Dino Bones. All these BBQ recipes will work equally well on a ceramic grill such as a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe, a bullet smoker such as the Weber Smokey Mountain or a pellet grill such as Traeger or Broil King - no adaptation of the recipe or technique needs to change.