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Low And Slow Barbecue On The Grill

samchills via flickr (Creative Commons BY 2.0)

If you accept the idea that grilling and barbecue are not the same thing...grilling is fast cooking over high heat, while barbecue is a long, slow cooking process using indirect heat...you'll realize that some days you just want to go long and slow and let time be your featured ingredient. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino points out, sometimes you just don't want to rush things.

While steaks, chops and burgers benefit from fast grilling, bigger tougher cuts of meat want the blessings of the barbecue approach. Here are some tips for running an efficient barbecue.

1. Get the coals going early. Allow about 30 minutes for the coals to fire up, then settle down to a red hot glow. Bank the coals to one side, leaving a large portion of the gridiron available for indirect heat. And be patient. Putting food on too early will give you a scorched, sooty exterior and an undercooked middle.

2. If you are using a gas grill, only light one burner. When you're ready to go, cover the grill and allow heat to build up inside. The zone over the unlit burner will be your cooking zone, where indirect heat will work its magic.


3. Tin foil is your friend. Lots of barbecued foods will benefit from the insulation that tin foil offers, prolonging the cooking time.


4. Some food should be precooked. Sausage and chicken for example can be parboiled. This helps to get the inner portions of the meat cooked while the indirect heat of the barbecue cooks from the outside in.


5. Veggies are perfect for cooking in foil over indirect heat. But you should remember to season before you cook them so the flavors can intermingle in the heat.


6. If you have an electric rotisserie on your barbecue oven, don't hesitate to use it. This ancient way of turning meat over indirect heat does a fabulous job of

searing the outside, gently cooking the inside, rendering the fat and getting every cubic inch of your meat evenly cooked.


7. Once you have committed your protein to the gridiron, let it be. There is no need to turn it all the time. If you are patient, the meat will not stick to the grill when you try to turn it. If it does, you haven't given it enough time. And you cannot get those fabulous grill marks if you are a barbecue busybody.


What cuts of meat are best served by barbecue? Ribs, briskets, and shoulder roasts are ideal candidates. In fact, anything with a relatively high fat content is good. If you want mouthwatering, moist, melt in your mouth cuts, then a fatty piece of meat cooked slowly in the barbecue style is your best bet. 


Let's talk about one of the most impressive cuts. If you're bold enough to try a rib roast, you can have a lot of fun. Start with the meat totally at room temperature. And do not cut the fat cap off. Place the roast in a roasting pan, away from the heat source, with the fat side up. This will allow the rendered fat to drain down through the meat, leaving flavor along the way. Roast it for at least two hours over very low indirect heat, until it reaches an internal temperature of 110°. Next you will crank up the heat to high, but still indirect, close the lid and burn a luscious crust on it. (This is why you put a flavorful seasoned herbed rub on the meat.) When it gets to 135° take it out and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in a slightly warm oven. Then be sure to hand out plenty of napkins for your guests to wipe their chins.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.