May is National BBQ Month

According to the National Day Calendar website, the Barbecue Council founded National Barbecue Month in 1963 to encourage outdoor cooking. Since then, grilling and barbecuing have increased in popularity.

National Barbecue Month encourages us to break out our special recipes and get some mouthwatering deliciousness started. Whether you prefer charcoal, wood, or gas, barbecuing is fundamentally a slow cooking method over indirect heat. While the type of protein and seasonings vary, each part of the country specializes in its own flavors and sauces. From sweet to spicy, techniques range from region to region and state to state. Even the way a place smokes its barbecue can be considered unique.

According to the website, pork is the original barbecue meat, but beef, chicken, lamb, and other proteins find their way into barbecue. Some of the best side dishes associated with this time-honored cuisine are coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, potato or macaroni salad, corn-on-the-cob, and baked beans.

So, how can you observe National BBQ Month? You can either put on an apron or a bib, because it can get messy whether you’re making barbecue or eating it. Then dig in! Try different flavors and recipes all month long. And, if you’ve heard about a good barbecue restaurant, get there early. The good ones sell until it’s all gone then close up shop. That’s the sign of real barbecue!

Here are some recipes from a few of America’s best BBQ Pitmasters:


One 3-4 pound whole chicken

2 TBS Salted Butter

Zest from 1/2 lemon plus juice from 1/2 lemon

4 tsp Lemon Pepper, divided

4 tsp Garlic blend seasoning, divided

Spatchcock chicken by cutting the backbone out, then lightly slicing through the wishbone.  Pat chicken dry on all sides.  Lightly season the underside with 2 tsp of the Garlic blend and 2 tsp of the Lemon Pepper.

In a small bowl, mix butter, 2 tsp Garlic blend seasoning, and 2 tsp Lemon Pepper.  Add in juice and zest from 1/2 lemon. Using your fingers, press some of the butter mixture under the skin and over the breast meat.  Then, slather the rest over the skin of the chicken.  Lightly coat the skin side of the chicken with more Garlic blend and Lemon Pepper.

Place in a 300-degree smoker with extra smoke flavor – apple or cherry are good choices. Cook until the breast reads 162 degrees, about 45 minutes. Remove to a sheet pan and lightly cover with foil.  Rest for at least 5-7 minutes.  Carve and serve.


RIB MARINADE (Makes 1 quart)

Don’t listen to folks who say ribs don’t need marinating. It’s OK to listen to folks who do a dry marinade on ribs with a rub — people have a lot of success with that method — but I prefer to soak my ribs overnight in this wet marinade before I apply rub to them.

0.5 liter ginger ale or ginger beer

2 cups orange juice

0.5 cup soy sauce

1 cup salt

1 (1-ounce) packet of dry ranch-flavored salad dressing mix

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir well to thoroughly incorporate. Pour into a quart-size container and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Shake well before using.

MEAT RUB (Makes 3 cups)

This rub is a good basic rub for almost any food you want to smoke. You can use it as a jumping-off point or a template, and then once you’ve mastered it, you can use the basic formula to create your own rubs.

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons mustard powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

0.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely, but it’ll begin to lose its strength after about 3 months — and if I had any left after 6 months, I’d make a new batch.

FIREPIT RIBEYE – Aaron Franklin

2 two-bone rib steaks (approx 2-3 lbs), trimmed and tied

Kosher salt

Water, beef stock, or vinegar for spritzing

4 Tablespoons melted tallow or grape seed oil for coating

Horseradish Cream Sauce (recipe follows)

Liberally salt the exterior of the steaks and set them on a baking sheet. Let the steaks air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours.

Build a firepit fire, burning down six to eight logs to create a nice coal bed, then maintain another couple of logs burning on the side to supply coals.

When it’s time to start cooking, clear the burning logs off the coal bed so you have just coals to cook over. The logs can continue to burn on the side. While the first logs are cooking down, remove the meat from the fridge to temper it a bit before putting it on the fire. When the coal bed is ready, stand the steaks vertically on the bone on the grate.

After the bone is browned, turn the steaks onto a side, making sure to not turn the spinalis side (the ribeye cap or muscle that runs along the outside of the steak, opposite the bone) to face the flames from the burning logs. The spinalis is the most tender and flavorful part of the rib eye. It will always cook past rare, but it’s good to protect it from too much heat so it retains its moisture.

Keep the steaks over low to medium heat on the cooler areas of the grate. Move them around fairly frequently, flipping them at the same time. While you’re flipping, keep a spray bottle full of water handy to prolong the cooking by spritzing the steaks to cool the sides and keep the crust from drying out too much.

Slowly build a crust on the side facing the heat and then flip the steaks to let that side cool while the other side cooks. Do this repeatedly until a digital thermometer inserted into the side of each steak in the middle reads 110° to 112°F. Once the steaks are up to temperature, take them off the grate to rest.

Add some wood to replenish the coal bed until it is raging hot. After the steaks have rested no less than 30 minutes and for up to 1 hour—however long it takes to get the fire really hot again.

Gently coat the steaks in the tallow and throw them back on the grate for a couple of minutes on each side, until the crust sizzles. Remove the steaks from the heat. When the steaks are cool enough to hold, slice between the bones to create two rib-eye steaks.

Slice the meat off the bone, leaving the bone in place, thus retaining the shape of the original steak. Then cut across the steaks, fanning from the bone to obtain nice long strips.

Arrange the slices on a platter and include the bones. Serve horseradish sauce alongside.

Horseradish Cream Sauce (Makes 1 ½ cups)

1 cup sour cream

2/3 cup prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Fine sea salt

In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, horseradish, vinegar, and lemon zest and mix well. Season with salt. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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