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MEATHEAD: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling

Meathead Goldwyn with Greg Blonder, PhD

Rux Martin Books
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
May 10, 2016
$35/Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0544018464

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Subject Craig Goldwyn, the Meathead guy who owns the Amazing Ribs website and who has done so much to advance the science in barbecue cooking. Innovator CCB Upfront 10.21.2014.

Meathead Goldwyn is the founder, barbecue whisperer, and hedonism evangelist behind AmazingRibs.com, the world’s most popular outdoor cooking website. His articles have appeared in numerous publications and he was previously the syndicated wine critic for the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He has taught at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, and he has judged food, wine, beer, and spirits all around the world. He lives with his wife in Chicago.

The founder of the destination website amazingribs.com applies the latest scientific research to barbecuing and grilling, including 118 recipes 
for succulent results every time. According to Meathead, nothing is more crucial than understanding the science behind the interaction of fire and food. In this definitive guide to the concepts, methods, and equipment of barbecuing and grilling, “Meathead” Goldwyn shatters the myths that stand in the way of perfection. “Busted” misconceptions include:

  • Meat should be brought to room temperature before cooking: In fact, cold meat absorbs smoke better.
  • Hardwood charcoal is better than briquets: Actually, there’s no difference in flavor, and briquets last longer.
  • Meat needs to rest after grilling to reabsorb its juices: Tests show it does not take up juices but can become cold and overcooked.

Meathead reveals everything backyard heroes need to know, including how to decide when to use a dry rub or a brine and a detailed roundup of equipment—from grills and grates to the best thermometers and equipment.

Lavishly designed with full-color photos and illustrations, this book contains all the sure-fire recipes for traditional American favorites: Tennessee Hollerin’ Sauce, Last Meal Ribs, Simon & Garfunkel Chicken, Schmancy Smoked Salmon, Roman-Style No-Knead Pizza, and Ultimate Corn on the Cob.

SKINNY STEAKS

MAKES: 2 servings
TAKES: 10 minutes

Reverse sear works best on thicker cuts. For thin steaks and ultrathin steaks like skirt steak, you need a very different technique. As with thick steaks, the goal is the same: a dark brown exterior and a tender, juicy, medium-rare interior. For steaks 1 inch thick or less, the secret is to use very high heat and keep them moving.

 

skinny steaks

  •  2 steaks, each about ¾ inch thick
  •  Kosher salt (about ½ teaspoon per pound)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Prep. Trim the surface fat and silverskin from the steaks, if necessary sprinkle with salt and dry brine in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before cooking.

Just before you cook it, pat the meat dry with paper towels (moisture creates steam and prevents browning). Sprinkle with pepper and press it in with your hands.

Fire up. Get your grill screaming hot. If you are using charcoal, pile the coals just beneath the cooking surface. On a gas grill, drop the grate as close to the burners as possible. Leave the lid off. You won’t really be using the indirect zone, but it is nice to have in case you need a safe zone away from the flames.

Cook. Put the meat over the hottest part of the grill. You need to stand by the grill and flip every minute so the hot surface cools, inhibiting heat buildup and preventing the interior from overcooking. Aim for a uniform dark brown without grill marks and 125 to 130° F in the middle. Things move fast, so be on your toes. You are a human rotisserie. Be the rotisserie.


HAPPY MOUTH YAKITORI RIBS

MAKES: 2 servings
TAKES: 20 minutes to prep, and about 90 minutes to cook

06-026-happy_mouth_yakitori_ribs

Ribs are not traditional in Japanese yakitori restaurants where chicken on skewers is popular, but the sauce is wonderful on them. Here’s how I do yakitori ribs.

  • 1 slab baby back ribs
  • ½ cup Japanese Happy Mouth Yakitori Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Prep. Skin and trim the slab. Cut the slab into individual bones, trying to leave the same amount of meat on all sides of all the bones.

Fire Up. Get your smoker up to 225°F or set up the grill for two-zone cooking and shoot for about 225°F on the indirect side.

Cook. Put the ribs over indirect heat. Put the lid on and resist the temptation to add wood. (Smoke flavor clashes with the sauce.) They cook a lot faster when cut into individual bones than when cooked as a slab. After about 90 minutes, insert a fork and twist it. If it twists easily, the ribs are done. (The meat is too thin to get an accurate reading with a thermometer.) Paint both sides of the ribs with sauce or dip them in the sauce and put them back on the grill in the indirect zone for about 15 minutes to bake it on. One coat should be enough.

Serve. Just before serving, sprinkle the ribs with the green onions as a garnish. If anyone reaches for a knife and fork, throw him out.

NOTE: If you like the high heat of wasabi, put a dab on your plate and dip the meat into the paste.

JAPANESE HAPPY MOUTH YAKITORI SAUCE

MAKES 1 generous cup, enough for about 2 slabs of ribs
or 2 small chickens and a whole mess of chicken livers
TAKES about 45 minutes

Years ago my wife was invited to deliver a scientific paper at a conference in Japan. I came along and registered for the “wives” tours and learned flower arranging and tea service, visited a silk factory, and ate marvelous morsels.

One evening my wife and I went to a baseball game to watch the Ham Fighters play the Carp. From a vendor with a steaming box strapped around his neck, I bought two bamboo skewers of hot grilled meat. One had bite-size chicken livers and the other had squid, both shiny with a dark, chestnut-colored sauce.

The next day I learned the dish was called yakitori and we went to one of the many yakitori-ya, small afterwork hangouts where skewers of meat are grilled over charcoal and coated with this wondrous sauce. I asked a waitress if she could tell me what was in the sauce. She replied, “Happy mouth.” So I took lots of notes and when I got home, I set about researching and reverse-engineering it.

Yakitori, I learned, is a thick, rich teriyaki-like glaze, a soy-based elixir laced with ginger and garlic. In addition to chicken livers and squid, it’s great on salmon, chicken, turkey, chunks of pork, and many veggies, especially onions. First, grill the meat, then paint on the glaze and cook it for a minute or two more over medium heat, but beware—it will burn if you don’t keep turning the skewers.

Try my recipe for Happy Mouth Yakitori Ribs (page 210) the next time you have the gang over to watch a ball game.

 

  • ½ cup soy sauce, preferably low sodium
  • ½ cup sake or dry white wine
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup grated fresh ginger, and any liquid exuded during grating (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch

In a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan, mix all the ingredients except the cornstarch and gently simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into another saucepan. By now, the chunky stuff has given its all and it’s time to discard it like letters from ex-lovers. With a ladle or spoon, gently press the mush left in the sieve to release all those good juices. Taste the sauce and adjust the honey or hot sauce if you wish. Put the saucepan back on a burner over medium-low heat.

Put the cornstarch in a coffee cup and add 2 to 4 tablespoons of cold water. With a fork, whisk the mixture until the cornstarch has dissolved. Before it has a chance to separate, dump the cornstarch slurry into the sauce. The sauce will get milky, thicken considerably, and start burbling like lava when it warms up. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s as thick as motor oil and has clarified a bit. Now paint it on everything except the kitchen walls.

Note: To get enough ginger, begin with one fat ginger finger, perhaps the size of your thumb. Grate it on a microplane or the small holes of a box grater.


These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from MEATHEAD: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn with Greg Blonder, PhD. (Rux Martin Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2016; $35/hardcover; ISBN: 978-0544018464).

Contact: Carrie Bachman
(646) 637-6303
carrie@carriebachman.com


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