An Excerpt From:
Low & Slow
Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons
By Gary Wiviott with Colleen Rush
Running Press, Philadelphia PA
Available on Amazon.com here.
Although 50% of Americans own a charcoal grill or smoker, only about 3% of them know how to use them correctly. More than a cookbook, Low & Slow is a teaching tool, focusing on the barbecue basics and encouraging beginners to trust their instincts rather than rely on thermometers or recipes. Everyone—from the low-skill gas grill man to the artisan-foodie type—can benefit from Wiviott’s lessons on fire and smoke control, the different kinds of barbecue, and hour-by-hour instructions to produce their own authentic barbecue.
Featuring 130 recipes, Low & Slow takes the aspiring barbecue fan from half chickens, to ribs, to pulled pork—Wiviott’s “very favorite vegetable.” The book also includes perfect pairings for your barbecue dishes, such as old standbys like mac and cheese and pork-smoked baked beans, to unconventional smoker treats like smoked veggies and Dragon Turds.
Gary Wiviott is the founding father and owner of LTHForum.com, the Chicago-based culinary chat site. His site logs an average of 6 million hits per month. Gary is also a respected authority in the most popular national barbecue forums and food communities, including TheSmokeRing.com, Slow Food USA, Chowhound.com, and more. Visit him online at www.lowslowbbq.com.
The word barbecue most likely evolved from one of three origins: the Caribbean word barabicu, the Spanish barbacoa, or the French de barbe et queue (“beard to tail”), all methods of drying or roasting meat and whole animals on a platform over a wood-burning fire. Today barbecue has become a catchall word covering everything from grilling hot dogs or drowning chicken in a slow-cooker full of sauce to any gathering where outdoor cookery takes place. But for the purpose of this program, and if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, barbecue is a method. It’s a noun. Barbecue is not a verb or a sauce. It’s a cooking technique that requires the interaction of wood, charcoal, fire, and meat. If there’s no smoke and fire involved, it’s not barbecue. (Some hardcore barbecue traditionalists would even argue that point and insist that you have to burn down your own wood to make charcoal. I’m not going that far.)
Gary Wiviott's Rub
This is my signature rub—the recipe I’m asked for most often and the one I’m most protective of. To be honest, my version never stops evolving. Sometimes I add pequin chile and habañero powder to amp up the heat. I’ll add cumin, coriander, and turbinado sugar if I’m making beef ribs. Lemon zest in the mix works well on chicken, and ground sage goes in if I’m making pork. In other words, this is a highly futz-able rub. This recipe yields a big batch of rub, but I think you’ll find many other uses for it. I throw it into everything, including dips, mayo, and salad dressing. Shameless self-promotion: The rub is also available online through The Spice House. I like to use a blend of my favorite dried, ground Mexican chili peppers. I recommend toasting and grinding whole, dried peppers instead of using the store-bought powder, or you can substitute two tablespoons of the Toasted Mexican Pepper Blend, recipe in the book.
10 tablespoons hot Hungarian or “half sharp” paprika
6 tablespoons garlic powder
6 tablespoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chipotle powder
2 tablespoons ancho powder
1 tablespoon guajillo powder
Mix the ingredients in a medium bowl, using a whisk to thoroughly blend.
To apply, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons over each rack of ribs, or more to taste.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two months.
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
Toasted Mexican Pepper Blend
This is the blend I use on a regular basis and reference it throughout the book. Feel free to customize it, using more or less of the same chiles, to suit your taste. I recommend making a double or triple batch so you have a supply on hand.
4 or 5 dried guajillo chiles
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried morita chiles
10 dried pequin chiles
Stem, seed, and roughly tear the dried chiles. Toast the chiles in a preheated skillet until they’re fragrant. Pour the toasted chile pieces into a spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder.
This is a popular snack anywhere you find barbecue guys, but the origin of the recipe is long lost to wood smoke and bourbon. True chile-heads might use habanero peppers instead of jalapeños, but you can also sweeten the bite by mixing chopped dried fig or date into the chorizo. Given the variability of jalapeño size and cooker temperature, it’s difficult to nail down an accurate cooking time. They’re done when the sausage is fully cooked, so make a few extra and check them periodically for doneness. It could take as little as thirty minutes, or as long as an hour and a half. Wear gloves when handling jalapeños or any hot peppers.
25 jalapeños, washed
1 pound fresh chorizo or spicy Italian sausage
1 pound bacon (about 16 strips), cut in half crosswise
5 to 7 dried figs or dates, chopped (optional)
Remove stem and top of each jalapeño and slice it down one side. Remove the seeds and, if you want to reduce the spiciness, remove the white ribs or pith, In a small bowl, stir together chorizo and chopped dates, if using. Stuff each jalapeño with about 1 tablespoon chorizo mixture. Wrap each with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Set the stuffed jalapeños directly on the cooker grate. Smoke until the sausage is cooked enough.
Makes 25 servings.