Barbecue may be our one true American food and a reminder of the power of patient smoke, with no need to fan the flames of raging fire. Whatever the focus, whether wild or farmed, from land or sea, low and slow barbecue can render our toughest to tenderness.
In the middle of barbecue season and with Fourth of July right around the corner, new cookbooks from some of the best-selling authors of the craft offer essential yet customizable recipes for sauces, rubs and marinades. We've drawn one recipe each from three of them.
Steven Raichlen, perhaps best known for "The Barbecue Bible," shares Doctor Sauce in his new book "Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades — Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, Too." The recipe shows how to doctor your favorite store-bought sauce with just three main ingredients: honey, orange marmalade and lemon juice.
Known as "The Legend," Mike Mills and daughter Amy Mills made their bones at the barbecue shrine called 17th Street in southern Illinois. Their release, "Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations From a Legendary Life in Barbecue," reveals Pure Magic, their favorite rub, which they recommend not only for meats, but vegetables and even popcorn.
Weber's master griller Jamie Purviance rose to the challenge of choosing the best recipes for users of not only the iconic grill but all home pitmasters for "Weber's Greatest Hits: 125 Recipes for Every Grill." While his recipe for beer-marinated chicken tacos had fast grilling in mind, when Purviance visited the Tribune test kitchen recently, he said it could be adapted for lower and slower barbecue too.
"What I might do is spatchcock or butterfly a whole chicken, so you're laying it out flat," said Purviance, "Then you could put the marinade down in a baking dish and put the skin side down so the breasts and the legs get a nice soak."
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Makes: 2 cups
From "Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades" by Steven Raichlen (Workman, $17.95), who writes, "Most of the sauces in this book are built and simmered from scratch. This "doctor" sauce lets you customize your favorite commercial barbecue sauce. ... If using apricot jam, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice to offset the sweetness."
1 cup commercial tomato-based barbecue sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange marmalade or apricot jam
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste, optional
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy nonreactive saucepan, and stir or whisk to mix. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat; simmer, stirring, until the marmalade is melted and the sauce is richly flavored, 5 minutes. If desired, add the lemon juice to offset the sweetness. Use right away, or transfer to a large jar, cover, cool to room temperature and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for several weeks.
Prep: 15 minutes
Makes: about 2 cups
From "Praise the Lard" by Mike Mills and Amy Mills. (Rux Martin Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), who write. "For our favorite rub, the spices are ground to a fine powder. ... Spice particles that are all the same size create a rub that melts when used on meat. No one flavor will predominate, and you won't feel gritty spice particles when you're eating."
½ cup sweet Hungarian paprika
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup granulated garlic
¼ cup chili powder
¼ cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Mix all the ingredients. Using a spice mill or coffee grinder, blend ¼ cup at a time to a powderlike consistency so that all of the spice particles are relatively the same size.
2 Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dark place. The rub keeps for about 6 months or until the color or pungent aroma fades.
Variation: To make this rub a little spicier, increase the mustard and black pepper to 2 tablespoons each.
Use it: With all kinds of meat, plus fish, vegetables, french fries and popcorn.
Beer marinade for chicken
Prep: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
From "Weber's Greatest Hits," by Jamie Purviance (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99). "We have concocted marinades with twice as many ingredients, and have fussed with spice rubs that are much more complicated, yet none works quite as well for chicken tacos as this magic combination of flavors," Purviance writes.
1 cup dark Mexican beer
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients.
Use it: To marinate chicken for tacos; recipe below.
Beer-marinated chicken tacos
Prep: 20 minutes
Marinate: 2 to 4 hours
Grill: 8 to 10 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each about 4 ounces
Marinade, see above
2 Hass avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 flour or corn tortillas (6 to 7 inches)
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta, optional
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
1 Place the thighs in a large, resealable plastic bag, and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag, and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, place the bag in a bowl, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
2 Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Using a fork, mash the ingredients together. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole to prevent browning, and refrigerate until about 1 hour before serving.
3 Preheat the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450 to 550 degrees).
4 Brush the cooking grates clean. Remove the thighs from the bag and discard the marinade. Grill the thighs over direct high heat, with the lid closed, until the meat is firm and the juices run clear, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice. During the last 1 minute of grilling time, warm the tortillas over direct heat, turning once. Remove the chicken and tortillas from the grill. Let the chicken rest, 3 to 5 minutes. Wrap the tortillas in foil to keep warm.
5 Cut the chicken across the grain into thin strips. Pile the chicken strips on the tortillas, and top the chicken with the guacamole, a sprinkle of queso fresco and some cilantro. Fold and serve right away with the lime wedges alongside....Read more