The summer solstice was earlier today at 12:24 a.m. EDT making today the longest day of the year with 14 hours and 39 minutes between sunrise and sunset.
More hours of daylight mean more hours to cook outside, so it’s time to get serious about grilling. Tomorrow we lose three seconds of daylight and it’s all downhill from there.
This is probably a good time to dispel some popular myths about grilling, as the solstice has given us a few extra seconds.
First, grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing. You probably already know that but there are vast areas of the country that do not. Grilling is cooking on a hot grill at, say, 300° or higher, which works great for steaks, burgers, hot dogs and seafood. Barbecuing uses very low heat, 225° to 275°, to cook meat slowly, sometimes very slowly, for thicker cuts like pork shoulders and briskets. It can take all day or all night. And just so we’re clear, slapping barbecue sauce on something doesn’t make it barbecue. You can do that if you want to, and you can even call it barbecued whatever, as long as you know it’s not so.
That pink liquid oozing out of rare meat is not blood, so don’t call it that. This is what causes children to become vegetarians. Beef is bled out during the butchering process so that pinkish juice you see is not blood, it’s myoglobin, an enzyme that binds iron and protein and is found in the muscle tissue of animals. But you don’t need to know all that. You just need to know it won’t hurt you. It’s perfectly safe. And you should call it juice or juices.
And speaking of juices, searing meat does not seal them in. They can still make their way out of a piece of fully blackened meat. Or at least they can escape until there are none left to escape. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sear. You definitely should. When beef comes into contact with a super-hot grill, the meats proteins rearrange themselves with sugars to trigger the Maillard Reaction, which makes that outer crust taste so good.
And while it’s a lot of fun to wave around a giant barbecue fork and stab your steaks with it and flip them over in the air, it’s not really a very good idea. That puncture your fork makes is a big old exit wound for the juices the meat needs to be tender and delicious. Use tongs instead. Get yourself a great big pair if it makes you feel better.
And while you’re at it, get yourself a meat thermometer. One of those spiffy digital ones, if you want to be fancy. And take the meat off the heat five to seven degrees before reaching your target temperature. If you don’t want to bother learning all the temperatures for the different doneness levels of different kinds of meat and fish, just download an app for your phone and pull it up when you need it.
Your children and/or grandchildren will be very impressed with your tech savvy.
First in a series of three grilling articles this summer. Coming up — sides and vegetables and grilled desserts. Please share your recipes and grilling pictures (both of the food and of you cooking it) to bcolvard@MtAiryNews.com
Not-So-Secret Butt Injection Recipe
This works for me but I am a simple backyard grill guy. I don’t put together competition plates. I just grill and eat.
3/4 cup pineapple juice (Cheerwine or other cola will work)
½ cup of water
½ cup of sugar
¼ cup salt
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Texas Pete or Sriracha
Mix ingredients together till salt and sugar are dissolved.
This will be plenty of injection for 2 Boston butts in the 8 -10 pound range. Inject the butts in every area that you want it to taste awesome. Put your favorite pork rub on generously. I use Bad Byrons Butt Rub.
There are a lot of ways to cook butts. I use a Kamado Joe Charcoal grill from G & B Energy. These are similar to a Big Green Egg. The main thing is a constant temperature. I personally cook the butts fat side up at 275 degrees. I also cross hatch the fat cap on top. This is more about presentation than anything. Fat side down is fine also. I will cook the butts until they reach an internal temp of 160 degrees. I double wrap the butts in aluminum foil and continue cooking until I get an internal temperature of 205. I remove the butts and let them rest for at least 30 minutes. When it reaches 205 it literally falls apart. Once it has cooled down get your hands in there and pull it apart. This is a pure caveman move that is very satisfying. You can top with your favorite BBQ sauce like Blowin Smoke or simply eat it as is. If you like you can use a bun with some red slaw (please) or simply eat it like any other finger food.
Sticky Balsamic Ribs
Ribs that forsake low and slow orthodoxy but are well-marinated and steamed, so they come out tender, yet sturdy enough to hold up to flipping on the grill.
For the ribs:
8 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. kosher salt (divided)
2 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
2 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 cup water
For the glaze:
2 cups hot water
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, remaining tablespoon salt, and pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans, meaty side up. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours. Alternately, marinate in a zippered bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap. Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter. Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes. Brush ribs with more glaze and serve remaining glaze on the side.
This recipe halves well. You’ll only need one roasting pan, placed on the middle rack of your oven. If you can only get larger ribs (4 racks), you will need more glaze; use 12 large garlic cloves, 3 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary, 3 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1 1/2 tbsp. salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper.
Ribs can be roasted and glaze can be made 1 day ahead and chilled separately (covered once cool). Bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing and grilling. Ribs can be broiled 3 to 4 inches from heat (instead of grilled) about 8 minutes, but only in an emergency.
Grilled Oysters with a Sriracha Lime Butter
A nice change of pace from raw oysters.
2 dozen oysters on the half shell
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. Sriracha
2 tsp. shallots, finely minced
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. cilantro, minced
Mix the butter with the shallots, sriracha, lime, salt, and cilantro. Let set up in the fridge. It doesn’t have to set up completely but it should be more solid than liquid Meanwhile, heat the grill until very hot. Toss each oyster with a dollop of butter. Grill for 3-4 minutes. Be careful as the shells will be very hot.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.