Building a deck is almost a rite of passage for Club members. And once the deck is done, what better way to end the day than by popping a cool one and grilling some meat? Steven Raichlen is all about grilling. He is host of Barbecue University on PBS and author of The Barbecue Bible cookbook series. He's also no stranger to HANDY, he wrote the article "Grill Guide for Guys," that appeared in the May/June 2007 issue of HANDY. In the magazine he discusses grills and fuel. Here he explains why men are so attracted to grilling and shares a recipe.
You own 60 grills, but do you use them all?
At some point in the year, I use all of them. We have about 30 grills at the Barbecue University. "We" refers to my wife, Barbara, me and our staff. We use most of them in rotation during our sessions. In addition, we have 15 grills in each of our homes. I tend to use four or five often and rotate them in and out of service. OK, so maybe there are one or two grills I don't use.
Why do you rotate your grills?
Each grill has unique strengths and weakness, so we rotate grills according to the task at hand.
In the magazine article, you called grilling “the primal act of cooking.” What does this mean?
It was the first act of cooking, done about 500,000 years ago by a human ancestor called homo erectus. All other forms of cooking evolved from barbecue.
Why does grilling connect with men so much, especially since many men don’t get into other forms of cooking?
First, because guys like to set stuff on fire and play with fire. We're sublimating our base urges. And second, because women are too smart to stand outside in the heat, smoke, bugs and sweat of grilling.
One of your grilling “commandments” is to turn the meat with long-handled, spring-loaded tongs and not to use a fork, which creates holes that drain out the meat juices. Can you share another commandment with the members?
My 10 Commandments of Great Grilling are listed on the Barbecue University Web site www.barbecuebible.com, but here is one more commandment, the ninth: Give it a rest. Beef, steak, chicken — almost anything you grill — will taste better if you let it stand on the cutting board for a few minutes before serving. This allows the meat juices, which have been driven to the center of a roast or steak by the searing heat, to return to the surface. The result is a juicier, tastier piece of meat.
One of the raps on grilling is that the food is not heart-healthy. True?
Not true. Grilling is very healthy. It removes excess fat while adding a tremendous amount of flavor.
Can you give a recipe that is heart-healthy?
I have many on the Web site, but here’s one:
BBQ U Maple-Smoked Turkey Breast
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
Advance Preparation: 12 hours for curing the turkey
For the rub and the turkey:
2 tablespoons maple sugar or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 bone-in turkey breast (about 5 pounds)
For the maple-butter basting mixture:
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted
You’ll also need:
2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably maple), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained
1. Make the rub: Place the maple sugar, paprika, black pepper, coarse salt, celery salt, garlic and onion powders, cayenne and mustard in a small bowl and stir to mix.
2. Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Using poultry shears or a large knife, cut out the ribs so the turkey breast lies flat. Trim off and discard any excess fat. Sprinkle the rub over the turkey on all sides, patting it onto the meat with your fingertips. Place the breast in a covered bowl or re-sealable plastic bag and let cure overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Make the basting mixture: Combine the maple syrup and melted butter in a small saucepan.
4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat the grill to medium and then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.
5. When ready to cook, place the turkey breast in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the turkey until cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer: The internal temperature should be about 170 degrees F. After 45 minutes, brush the turkey breast with some of the maple-butter basting mixture. Baste the turkey two or three more times with the maple butter. If using a charcoal grill, after one hour you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals to each side.
6. Transfer the grilled turkey breast to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 to10 minutes, then carve. Or refrigerate the turkey until completely chilled and serve it cold.
VARIATION: While I call for a turkey breast here, you could certainly smoke a whole turkey the same way. For a 10-pound turkey, you’d need a double batch of the rub and basting mixture. The cooking time would be 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Recipe from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen Copyright © by Steven Raichlen. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Workman Publishing.