The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks


Tue Sep 1, 2015

Apricot-Glazed Barbecue Ribs

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Apricot-glazed Ribs

Ever since taking up competition barbecue, I've become obsessed with finding a way to make the most consistently perfect slow-smoked pork ribs that can elicit awards from faceless judges. In the process, my rib method has grown to include all sorts of meticulous steps, like wrapping the ribs in foil at just the right time, adding a braising liquid to get them perfectly tender, and monitoring the temperature more closely than doctors keeping tabs on patient's vitals in the ICU.

The resulting competition ribs have earned me a few trophies, but they're honestly not the kind I love most. You see, I'd rather use a simpler method and push the flavor with additional spices and heat, but that can be risky in a competition setting, since I don't want to take that chance on judges with sensitive palates.

So at the beginning of last summer, I decided it was time to get back to my barbecue roots and smoke up some racks of ribs using a less intensive method, instead focusing on hitting those bolder flavors that can make barbecue so incredible. Of course, going with my standard sauce and rub would have been a little too easy on me, so I came up with a new apricot barbecue sauce and complementary rub to make these glistening beauties extra special.

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Thu Jun 11, 2015

Kingsford Invitational 2015

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Kingsford Invitational 2015

Back at the beginning of May, I had the honor of joining my Kingsford family for the 2015 Kingsford Invitational set against the beautiful skyline of lower Manhattan. For those not familiar with the event, think of it as the most elite of all barbecue cook-offs. Unlike a normal competition, where just about anybody can sign up, the Kingsford Invitational invites only the top team from five of the most prestigious events in barbecue. This year that brought in the grand champions of Memphis in May (Big Bob Gibson), Houston Livestock and Rodeo (Bar-B-Que Commanders), the American Royal (Cool Smoke), Blue Ridge BBQ Festival (Warren County Pork Choppers), BBQ Pitmasters TV show (Rescue Smokers), and one wild card team made up of some of the most well regarded NYC pitmasters from Hometown, Mighty Quinn's, and Ducks Eatery (dubbing themselves The Dirty Water Dogs). Altogether the competition spanned three unforgettable days of great food and great friends.


Tue Jun 2, 2015

Memphis-Style Dry Ribs

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Memphis Dry-rubbed Ribs

Back in the day, I'd call pretty much any rib I didn't slather with sauce, "dry ribs." Not only were they indeed dry, but they looked and tasted like the dry ribs I've always been served at restaurants. It wasn't until I had some excellent dry ribs at Peg Leg Porker, down in Nashville, that I understood just what I'd been missing. So I got to talking to pitmaster Carey Bringle about what sets his ribs apart from the crowd.

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Tue May 26, 2015

Smoky Pulled Barbecue Chicken

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Pulled Chicken

Pulled pork is a wondrous thing. Made from pork shoulder, it's slowly smoked until the intramuscular fat and connective tissue renders and softens, leaving nothing but tender, juicy meat that can be shredded easily by hand. The process takes a good twelve to fourteen hours at a low temperature of 225°F, during which time the meat picks up a smoky flavor while developing an intensely flavored exterior bark. It's one of the classics of the barbecue cannon, which raises the question: Why does pulled barbecue chicken fail to reach a similar level of renown?

If my own experience is any indication, the answer is that pulled chicken, as tender and juicy as it can be, almost always lacks the right balance between meat, seasoning, and smoke. It tends to be so inundated with sauce that any trace of chicken flavor is completely drowned out. It's also often devoid of smokiness, unless the barbecue sauce contains liquid smoke (an ingredient I detest for its overpoweringly acrid flavor).

But just because most pulled chicken fails to reach the heights of pulled pork doesn't mean it shouldn't still taste great. I decided that it was time to figure out how to make really good pulled chicken. And with a little barbecue know-how, I was able to come up with a recipe that's outdone any pulled chicken I've ever encountered before.

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Tue Dec 16, 2014

Coke and Pineapple Glazed Ham

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Coke and Pineapple Glazed City Ham

I'm a ham fiend, but this sweet swine is usually relegated to a once-a-year occasion, when it takes center stage at my in-laws Christmas party. In that one night, I bask in the ecstasy of the cured and smoked meat, stuffing myself well beyond reason.

While I'm pretty well versed in ham consumption, when I was plotting to prepare one myself last fall, I realized that my experience cooking it was limited to a single prior attempt. Although it's a seemingly simple prospect—hell, the thing is already cooked—I learned that the devil is in the details and decided to do a test run, which led to this amazing Coke-and pineapple-glazed ham.

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