Chris Kimball and his team at Cook's Illustrated are known for finding the best recipes and best tips for making home cooking easy.
Their latest culinary release, "Steaks, Chops, Roasts, And Ribs," is plump full of everything you'll ever want to know about cooking all types of meat in the oven or on the grill.
Kimball visits The Early Show to share a few recipes and grilling tips.
- Get a chimney starter and forget the lighter fluid. To jump-start the chimney starter, Kimball suggests splitting the difference. Use 4 or 5 Matchlight briquettes in the bottom of a chimney starter and then fill with regular briquettes. The overload of regular briquettes squashes off any flavor imparted by the Matchlight (which is soaked in lighter fluid).
- For a hotter fire that burns fast and is ideal for grilling, use hardwood. Hardwood charcoal is also called natural or lump charcoal. Briquettes are for longer, slower cooking such as barbecue (which is why he is using them for the pork butt, which cooks low and slow).
- To save the bother of last-minute soaking, take the chunks of wood, soak them, and then freeze them in a plastic bag. Remove the chunks as needed to get some smoke going in the barbecue.
- Once the fire is started, the next step is to get the top grate in order. Nothing is worse than cooking meat on a grill that hasn't been cleaned first. A dirty grill can leave meat and poultry tasting like the meat that preceded it, or, even worse, tasting burnt rather than having that char-grilled flavor.
- To cook with a seasoned grill grate, use a wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil or tongs to clean/season the grate before cooking.
- Barbecue is low and slow cooking, so heat is indirect. So here's the set up: Once lit, all the coals are moved to one side of the grill, leaving the other side free of coals. The food goes on the side of the grill grate that DOES NOT have coals below. Have the air vent of the grill lid over the food - not the coals. This creates the optimal flow of heat over the food and keeps a constant temperature.
- Temperature is key to a great-tasting finished product. The easiest way to keep an eye on temperature inside the grill is to place a thermometer through the air vent. Be sure to rotate the air vent to get a reading over the food, not the coals (the temperature over the coals will give a much higher reading, but it will not be an accurate reading for the temperature at which the food is cooking). Be mindful to keep the thermometer stem from touching the food.
Grilling: About 500 degrees
Grill-Roasting: About 300 to 400 degrees
Barbecue: 250 to 300 degrees
Now that the grill is set up and the fire is hot, you are ready to prepare the recipe bellow. Just keep in mind that moving the meat around can take a little skill, especially if you're working with a heated surface. Some cooks insist you must be close to your food to really know what's going on, so the choice is often short tongs.
Here are Kimball's tips:
- When it comes to utensils, Kimball prefers long, stainless, spring-loaded tongs for turning foods. The added value is they are inexpensive and won't damage the food. The overall winner in Cook's taste tests, 16-inch AMCO tongs.
- For added heat protection, one might consider a cooking mitt of sorts. The winners, in the Cook's tests, are the new ORCA mitts because they worked well with very high heat applications. They're a little too bulky for home kitchen use, but they're great for the grill.
Barbecued Pulled Pork On A Charcoal Grill
Pulled pork can be made with a fresh ham or picnic roast, although our preference is for Boston butt. Preparing pulled pork requires little effort but lots of time. Plan on 9 hours from start to finish: 3 hours with the spice rub, 3 hours on the grill, 2 hours in the oven, 1 hour to rest. Hickory is the traditional choice with pork, although mesquite can be used if desired. Serve the pulled pork on plain white bread or warmed buns with the classic accompaniments of dill pickle chips and cole slaw. You will need a disposable aluminum roasting pan that measures about 8-inches by 10-inches as well as heavy-duty aluminum foil and a brown paper grocery bag.
1 bone-in pork roast, preferably Boston butt (6 to 8 pounds)
3/4 cup Dry Rub for barbecue (see below)
4 (3-inch) wood chunks or 4 cups wood chips
2 cups barbecue sauce
- If using a fresh ham or picnic roast, remove the skin. Massage the dry rub into the meat. Wrap the meat tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
- At least 1 hour prior to cooking, remove the roast from the refrigerator, unwrap, and let it come up to room temperature. Soak the wood chunks in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drain, or place the wood chips on an 18-inch square aluminum foil, seal to make a packet, and use a fork to create about 6 holes to allow smoke to escape.
- Meanwhile, light a large chimney filled a bit less than halfway with charcoal briquettes (about 2 1/2 quarts or 40 coals) and allow to burn until covered with a thin layer of gray ash. Empty the coals into one side of the grill, piling them up in a mound 2 or 3 briquettes high. Open the bottom vents completely. Place the wood chunks or the packet with the chips on top of the charcoal.
- Set the unwrapped roast in the disposable aluminum pan and place it on the grate opposite the fire. Open the grill lid vents three quarters of the way and cover, turning the lid so that the vents are opposite the wood chunks or chips to draw smoke through the grill. Cook, adding about 8 briquettes every hour or so to maintain an average temperature of 275 degrees, for 3 hours.
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the pan holding the roast with heavy-duty foil to cover completely. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.
- Slide the foil-wrapped pan with the roast into a brown paper bag. Crimp the top shut. Let the roast rest for 1 hour.
- Transfer the roast to a cutting board and unwrap. When cool enough to handle, "pull" the pork by separating the roast into muscle sections, removing the fat, if desired, and tearing the meat into thin shreds with your fingers. Place the shredded meat in a large bowl. Toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce, adding more to taste. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.
Dry Rub For Barbecue
Makes about 1 cup
You can adjust the proportions of spices in this all-purpose rub or add or subtract a spice, as you wish. For instance, if you don't like spicy foods, reduce the cayenne. Or, if you are using hot chili powder, eliminate the cayenne entirely. This rub works well with ribs and brisket as well as with Boston butt for pulled pork.
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. (The rub can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.)