(CBS News) Most people do not associate the Northeast with the best barbecue in the country, but chef John Stage, the founder and CEO of the hugely successful Dinosaur Bar-B-Que restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, is changing that.
The chef is self-taught and traveled to some of the country's top barbecue locations to learn about the secrets of the craft.
Stage built his barbecue empire the old fashioned way. He catered motorcycle shows, fairs and festivals throughout the Northeast.
He originally launched Dinosaur Bar-B-Que as a mobile concession in 1983, and they used a 55 gallon drum, cut in half, to form a makeshift barbecue. The mobile restaurant lasted about five years before it made a quick-serve joint in downtown Syracuse.
Now, 25 years later, there are seven locations in the Northeast, and Dinosaur's made it on Forbes magazine's top 10 barbecue joints in the country list.
He shared his ultimate dish, skirt steak with charred tomato and avocado salsa, on "CBS This Morning: Saturday."
Skirt Steak with Charred Tomato and Avocado Salsa
For the steak:
4 8-oz. skirt steaks, trimmed
1/4 cup red rub (recipe below)
1/4 cup olive oil
For the sauce
1 1/2 lbs. plum tomatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced jalapeno
1/2 cup avocado, diced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. tabasco sauce
2 tsp. barbecue sauce
For the rub:
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar in the raw
2 tbsp. dark chili powder
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. granulated onion
1 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1. Make the sauce: Fire up the grill to medium heat. Core and split tomatoes in half lengthwise, place them in a bowl and toss them with the oil. Grill them on both sides until charred, transfer them to a cutting board and chop to a chunky texture. Add them back to the bowl and gently stir in the rest of the ingredients until combined.
2. Make the steaks: Combine 1/4 cup of rub, the olive oil, and the lemon juice in a bowl to form a paste and rub it on both sides of the chicken. Preheat grill to high. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat them dry. Grill steaks to desire temperature, let rest and slice across the grain.
3. Serve with the Charred Tomato and Avocado Salsa.
Honey hush corn bread
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1. Set the oven to 350. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with shortening. Pop the pan in the oven to heat while you're mixing up the corn bread.
2. Mix the cornmeal, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and give them a good stir, just until everything is moistened.
3. Pull the hot greased pan from the oven and pour in the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Take the corn bread out of the oven and brush the top with honey.
4. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before cutting into squares.
Dinosaur-Style Bar-B-Que Beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
Pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces hot Italian sausage, removed from casing
2 cans (28 ounces each) baked beans, preferably Bush's
3/4 cup store bought BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon store-bought creole seasoning
1 tablespoon molasses
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft, adding a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss in the garlic and cook for one minute more.
2. Crumble the sausage into the veggies and cook, chopping to break the meat into small pieces. Cook until the pink disappears. Drain off some of the bean liquid in each can so that it's at the same height as the beans; then mix the contents of both cans into the cooked veggies and sausage.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add all the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately, or cool and reheat before serving (letting the flavors blend a while never hurts). Feeds 10-12
1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup granulated onion
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Combine everything in a bowl and mix it up real well. Store in a plastic or glass container with a lid. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
For the Ribs:
2 racks of pork spareribs, St. Louie cut (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1/2 cup of All-Purpose Red Rub (recipe below)
For the Mop Sauce:
1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of Worchestire sauce
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Red Rub
For the Red Rub:
1/2 cup of paprika
1/2 cup of kosher salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated garlic
6 tablespoons of granulated onion
1/4 cup of chili powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Make the mop sauce: Throw everything together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cool, pour into a plastic container, cover and refrigerate for later use. Makes 1 3/4 cups.
2. Make the rub: Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and rub them together with your hands. Store in a plastic or glass container til ready to use. Makes 2 3/4 cups total.
3. Prepare the grill: Pull off the grill rack and fire up the grill; then prepare the smoking packets by putting 3 cups of hickory wood chips in a bowl and covering them with water. Soak for at least half an hour. Drain well and divide between 2 squares of aluminum foil. Form into 2 individual packets, poking holes in one side. Set aside.
4. Spread out the coals once they're good and hot, piling them on one side of the bottom of the grill. Set the wood chip packets on top of the coals. Stick a drip pan filled with 1/2 inch of water on the side opposite the coals. This will catch the drips from the ribs and keep things moist inside the grill. Reposition the grill rack over the coals and the drip pan. Cover the grill and let the fire simmer down a bit.
5. Make the ribs: Rub the ribs all over with the rub, making sure you are getting it into every surface. (You can even do this step well in advance.) Use just enough to coat the ribs evenly.
6. Grab the ribs and position them on the rack over the drip pan. Cover the grill and test its internal temperature by dropping an instant-read thermometer down the vent hold. You want the grill to be from 225 to 250 degrees (same temperature you would use in an oven.)
7. Walk away from the grill and let the heat and smoke do their thing. Come back to check on the ribs in about 45 minutes. Then check on things once every hour. If the ribs are looking a bit thirsty, mop lightly with the Mop Sauce (recipe below). If the temperature of the grill is dipping below 225 degrees, add a few more coals to the fire.
8. Test the ribs: Test the ribs for doneness once they've been cooking for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You'll know they are done if you can gently tear the meat between the bones, or poke your finger through the meat, or if they've reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees, or if they bend nicely when you grab them in the middle with a pair of tongs. Once you've determined that they're done, get out the sauce and apply another coat.
Lemon Icebox Pie
About 18 graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons butter, melted
4 extra-large egg yolks lightly beaten
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1.2 cup lemon juice (from 3 or 4 lemons)
Sweetened whip cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get busy making the pie crust. Break the graham crackers into the workbowl of a food processor and process to crumbs. You should have 1 1/4 cups.
2. Mix the crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Pour on the butter and mix till the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch pie pan. Set aside.
3. Make the filling by whisking together the yolks, condensed milk, zest, and juice in a bowl. Pour the mixture into the crumb crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or till the edges and the center are just set.
4. Pull the pie out of the oven and cool to room temperature; then chill it in the fridge. Slice into wedges and serve with a dollop of sweetened whip cream.
4 1/2 cups peeled seedless watermelon, diced
3/4 cup high-quality tequila
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. triple sec
4 cups ice
1. In a blender, process half the watermelon, half the tequila, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of triple sec and 2 cups of ice until smooth. Transfer to a pitcher.
2. Repeat with the remaining watermelon, tequila, sugar, lime juice, triple sec and ice. Add this second batch to the first and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Pour over ice into a sugar rimmed glass, garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!