With the temps warming up, it is most certainly time to get mouths a-watering for barbecue season. Whether gas or charcoal, most of us have a backyard grill, but a dedicated smoker can be a luxury. They take up space, can cost a lot, and while they make sense for true smoked food fans, might not be necessary for the average grill fan.
In fact, they're not necessary at all. Cause with a little creativity and DIY ingenuity, you can turn the grill you already own in a smoker that can turn out tender, fall apart food fused with the flavor of fire.
You want your meat board to be a statement of your ambition. Not as a cook, but as an eater. If you can avoid it, don't just let this be a venue for a dinner plate. You want a board that seems deliberate and larger than life. Wood is good. But so is slate or stone or anything smooth and safe for food. In this moment, when you are putting together a board, you are not a chef, nor even a cook. You are an artist in front of a fresh canvas, but your paints are going to be the foods that you most love.
I did not grow up in a "crock pot" family. We had one, an old avocado green job my parents got from their wedding registry. And, though I'm sure it got used, it wasn't something that characterized the food in our house. My wife's parents, on the other hand, were both doctors working day shifts, and according to her, nearly every thing her mom cooked came from the slow cooker. And, says my wife, protein + a mix of canned foods = dinners, all which tasted basically the same... like "crock pot food."
Among the true believers, there's a fair consensus that when it comes to grilling: charcoal simply tastes better than propane. No disrespect to the gas grill; it can turn out great results. But when the true taste of summer is the priority, nothing can beat the smoky, open-flame flavor of food grilled over hardwood coals.
Well, except for food cooked over an actual hardwood fire, with coals freshly made from whole logs that you just ember-ed down yourself. This is easy enough to do in a backyard firepit, or even in the same kettle grill you likely use with your charcoal.
Bon Appétit has become a paragon of food media lately with a gorgeous magazine, a wonderful podcast and some serious web content that is standing in where other outlets have stopped putting meaningful content in front of audiences. But they have quietly rolled out a series of videos on highly technical food crafts that are so well done, so well produced and so sharply executed that they serve as both educational content and an opportunity to truly marvel at people who have spent a lifetime perfecting their skills. Bon Appetite really deserves credit for providing a venue to showcase such talent and expertise.
In these videos you can
The burger is usually thought of as summer fare — the progeny of some spatula-wielding self-appointed grill master. But true burger fans know that the very best are not cooked over grill grates, but on screaming hot solid surfaces, where the rendering fat and juices stay near the patty, creating not only a crispy exterior, but the deep, caramelized, confit-like richness that defines the flavor of a great burger.
Which means, of course, that burgers are actually year-round food, and armed with a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, a great way to spend an dark, cold evening stuck inside. If we're gonna have January, than let us always have burgers.
Editor's note: From time to time, we like to feature the voices of ManMade readers on the site. We love hearing what you're up to, what you're making, and how you stay creative. When ManMade reader Scott Huntington wrote in to share how he hadn't fired up his grill once for the entire summer and it revolutionized his cooking, I asked him to share his experience.
My life changed forever this summer. It was the summer I didn’t grill a single time. It was also the summer I made the best meats I’ve ever had, all because of a simple backyard ssmoker. It took my cooking level from “yeah I’ll eat that” to “I need to share this with the world.” And it couldn’t be easier.
Here's the thing about beef: it's expensive. And it should be; it's a part of a huge, expensive-to-raise animal. So, when you've invested in a high-quality piece of meat, especially a nice thick one, you don't want to screw it up. This recipe is the only way I cook it, partially because it's so darned easy, but mostly because it's the best steak I've ever tasted. Here's how to do it.
It turns out, we may have been slicing up that steak wrong all these years. Here's a case for switching it up and getting a better experience out of your meal.
With grilling season in full force, I thought it was time to expand a bit from my well-used staple tomato/vinegar/brown-sugar BBQ sauce.
With a list like this, there's no reason to be grilling with a store-bought sauce. Most will take about an hour total to make, and it will last for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
Healthy protein intake is essential for all of us, and especially important for adult men. Unfortunately, for lots of us, the standard delivery system - namely, the muscles of animals - can be high in fat, cholesterol, and other baddies that need to be taken in moderation. So? Try these meat-free protein-laden alternatives that are worthy of a Game of Thrones warrior. True fact. Or something....
Here's the thing with cooking up a flavorful piece of protein: it's kinda expensive. Especially if you get the good stuff from a butcher you trust. Mess up a carrot? It's pretty easy to peel and cook up another one. Mess up a 48-day aged Frenched crown roast of prime beef? You're out nearly a Benjamin.
Last weekend I grilled in a public park for a friend's birthday and my buddy remembered all of the necessary ingredients... except for the grill. Someone dashed out to pick up a cheap grill from Target ($16!) and I began scouring the internet for cool ways to good meat on a cheap grill. And that's how I learned about the Snake Method...
Here's all the info you'd ever want about different meat cuts, what part of the cow they come from, and how to cook them -- all compiled into one massive infographic. Never again find yourself standing in the butcher section stalling as you realize you don't really know exactly which cut is best for whatever you're hoping to prepare.
I like smoked foods. More than the average bear, I think. I mean, sure, slow smoked barbecue meats like ribs and brisket, but I particularly like other proteins (like fish or turkey), vegetables (leafy greens, beets, carrots), and snacks (nuts, cheeses, olives). Even cocktails.
Prepare yourself for this exhaustive exploration of the breath of diversity in the American sandwich market. The guide begins defining the parameters of the sandwich according to the United States Department of Agriculture and the famous 2006 court case, Panera v. Qdoba. In other words, the "product must contain at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread" and cannot be open-faced. Also excluded from this complete list are hamburgers, hot dogs, gyros, shawarmas, tacos, and burritos.
If you're the type of guy who pays attention to food or restaurant type things, you know "America's most celebrated butcher," Pat LaFrieda. His story, philosophy, and technique don't take meat for granted, but instead honor the fact that 1) it's not a commodity product 2) meat is expensive, and deserves to be treated well.
Made from an affordable 55-gallon steel drum and some easy-to-find parts from the home improvement store, this DIY smoker can produce excellent results, and unlike many DIY grilling projects you'll find online, doesn't require a welder or advanced metal working skills.