BBQ101 – Perfect, juicy smoked chicken breast filets (with bacon!)

Tastes great with some grilled corn salsa, coleslaw and homemade bourbon-pickled jalapenos!

Tastes great with some grilled corn salsa, coleslaw and homemade bourbon-pickled jalapenos!

The last year I have had a personal focus on eating healthier and working out. Does that have to mean less BBQ? No, of course not. It means more BBQ. And one of the most protein-rich, low-fat foods you can put on your smoker is the chicken breast. However, due to the low fat content and the temperature levels you have to cook them to, they can easily end up being dry and bland. Some months ago I saw a (stupid) comment from someone about how you “had to” employ sous vide techniques to make a good chicken breast. Of course you don’t, as we all know EVERYTHING tastes better smoked or grilled (don’t get me started on the whole sous vide first and then smoke it debacle, it doesn’t even come close to real BBQ, and you know it). So I have experimented for a while, and believe now that I have found a very good (perfect?) way to make chicken breast! We will combine low and slow BBQ with the method known as the reverse sear, and some glazing in the end to achieve perfection while cooking outdoors. Let’s go!

 

What you will need for 6 filets:

  • 6 large chicken breast filets
  • 6 strips of quality dry smoked bacon
  • Some BBQ sauce for glazing (I like to use this one, but you can buy a good one too of course)

Serving suggestions:

  • I like to serve with some good coleslaw, maybe some grilled corn salsa (recipe to come later…) and some good homemade bourbon-pickled jalapenos. Some bratwurst is never a bad idea either!

Preparations (15 min):

  • Set up your grill or smoker for indirect cooking and try to stabilize grate temp at Chicken filets on the Primo Oval XL. Yum!around 100C/212F
  • I like to rinse the filets under cold water and then pat them dry with kitchen towel. You can brine them too if you like that, but I don’t find it necessary using the method we will use
  • Season the filets. I use salt and pepper only for this, but you can use your favorite rub for more spiciness too if you like.
  • Once rinsed and dry, roll/fold the filets lengthwise into a ball that is uniform as possible. This together with low temperature smoking will aid in even cooking throughout, plus it looks cool. Wrap a strip of bacon (or two, cross-wise if you’re feeling like partying) around the filet, and use a small wood skewer to hold it all in place.
  • Chicken is now ready to go!

How to cook it (120-150 min):

  • Place your chicken balls safely on the cold side of your grill smoker. Throw some (cherry/apple) wood chips on if you like, I don’t find it necessary on my lovely Primo Oval XL, I get enough smokiness just from the lump charcoal I use. Either way go easy on the smoke, poultry is easily oversmoked.
  • Stick a thermometer probe in the largest one and keep an eye on the temperature throughout cooking. On around 100C/212F grate temp it usually takes a bout 90 minutes to get to the desires temp, which should be about 65C/149F (not safe for eating, but we are not done yet!)
  • Once the chicken has reached 65C/149F, take them off the grill, and get the temp up a bit. Heat up a grate over the coal side of the grill, because we will do some searing next
  • When the grate is nice and hot, get the chicken balls nicely seared on all sides. ThisChicken safe temp reached and resting commencing should bring them up to around 70C/158F.
  • Once searing is done move them over to the cold side of the grill again, and brush them with the BBQ sauce selected earlier. I normally have a grate temp of around 150C/300F at this point, try and keep it at that or lower, or the sugar in your BBQ sauce will burn and create bad flavors
  • Let the filets glaze for 5-10 minutes. At this point I check each one with my ThermaPen, to see if I have reached the safe temp for chicken (USDA says 165F/74C, and I agree)
  • Winner winner. Chicken dinner.Once they reach the correct temp, take them off the grill and let them rest 5-10 minutes. Serve it up and enjoy the juiciest, most delicious smoky chicken filets you have ever eaten. Perfection!
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BBQ 101 – Smoked leg of lamb

DSC_1977Lamb season is fast approaching here in Norway, and bone-in leg of lamb is my favorite. I know boneless is just as good, and butterflied is much quicker, but nothing beats the visual impact of a big chunk of meat with the bone still in it for me. Maybe it’s my Nordic genes, or maybe it’s the caveman or woman in all of us wanting some satisfaction? Anyhow, I will use bone-in for this recipe, it’s just more fun that way, plus the bone-in version has to great other features: Firstly, a nice handle for turning the meat in the form of a bone, secondly a litttle chef’s snack muscle towards to thin end of the bone. So there, bone-in wins for me, every time. Note: I have to excuse the lack of a photo of the plated food in this post, but sometimes the food is so good and I am so hungry that I forget. So enjoy a ton of pics of the lamb on the grill instead…. 😀

Serving suggestion:
I like to serve leg of lamb spiced in the mediterranean way, with an aubergine purée, some red onion compote and some freshly grilled greens. You can make a sauce too from the drippings.

2014-03-28 19.53.49-1Total time: 5-8 hours, marinating the day before if you want to
Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone
Grill temperature: About 110-120 degrees centigrade (230-250F), or even lowe if you can manage

You’re going to need:

  • A leg of lamb per four people should be about right, depending on how big they are
  • Rosemary, lots of rosemary
  • Garlic, lots of garlic
  • A lemon
  • Honey
  • Mustard, a homemade one is of course best
  • Good olive oil
  • Cayenne pepper

How you do it the day before:

  • If you want to marinate the meat, you should start the day before. Mix up lemon, rosemary, honey, lots of crushed garlic, some mustard and a good olive oil in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some cayenne pepper if you want some heat (I always do)
  • If you’re lucky enough to have one of those fancy vacuum machines like I do, throw the leg in a bag with the marinade and vacuum it up, leaving it in the fridge overnight. If not, use a plastic bag, and try to cover it well in the marinade before wrapping it up and putting in the fridge.

DSC_1981How you do it on BBQ day:

  • Fire up your grill, and set it up for
  •  indirect, low and slow cooking with some coals on one side, and place for the met on the other. If you want to make sauce, you’re going to need a drip pan to put under the meat to catch drippings
  • If you didn’t marinate the night before, go up a couple steps, make the marinade mix and get the meat slathered in that stuff before you put the meat on the grill. If you did, take the meat out of the bag, but save up the marinade leftovers for later.
  • Remember to get the smoke going before putting the meat on. I like to mix rosemary branches with hickory for lamb smoking.
  • Add some water to your drip pan. Not a lot, this is just to keep the drippings from burning, remember you will make that into a sauce later.
  • Add a temperature probe to the meatiest part of the leg, and add another one to the grill grate to monitor grill temperature. You don’t have a two-probe style wireless thermometer yet you say? Go and get yourself one. I have been using the Maverick ET-732 for a couple years, and it works quite well.
  • Keep the grill low and slow for hours, keeping an eye on meat and grill temp. Add aRoasted aubergine. Not quite done yet. cup of water to the drip pan if it runs out, and add coals if you need to (I don’t anymore thanks to my lovely new Primo Oval XL)
  • Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of exactly 68C (155F), take it off the grill, wrap it in a double layer of aluminium foil, and wrap that in a plastic bag, then a couple towels. Ideally you want to rest the leg for at least one hour, but if you’re done well ahead of dinner, resting it for 2-3 or even 4 hours is not a problem at all.
  • Take out the drip pan, put the sauce in a pot, and make a delicious sauce. Adding some red wine, salt and pepper to taste and reducing until you have the desired consistency is a good idea. If the sauce is too sharp, some honey might be able to help you out.
  • While you wait for the guest to arrive, you can make the sides, like aubergine purée and some red onion compote
  • When you are about ready to serve, fire the grill up for direct cooking at a temp of about 150-160C (300-320F), brush the leg with any marinade leftovers, and finish the leg off over direct heat. The goal here is to get a nice sear before serving, and crisping up the outside.
  • Let the lamb rest for 5-10 minutes again, while you grill up some fresh spring oninon and/or asparagus. Serve and enjoy!DSC_1988

BBQ 101 – Baby Back Ribs

Delicious, glazed BBRs!Once you have mastered the art of Smoking Bratwurst – it is time to up your game a little and try your hand at another BBQ staple: Baby Back Ribs!

A lot of people’s favorite food of the smoker, BBRs are not to be taken lightly. I like to make mine tender, but not fall-off-the-bone tender. A lot of (gruesome) chain restaurants have made people think that BBRs should be cooked (I believe they steam/braise them at most of those restaurants) so they can be eaten without teeth. I tend to disagree, and go more for the BBQ competition level of doneness, ie tender, but not doughy and fall-of-the-bone. Anyway, if you want fall-of-the-bone and/or do not have teeth, I will teach you how to do that too.

Serving suggestion:
I like to serve my BBRs straight up with a coleslaw on the side and some homemade pickles. For this occasion photographed, I made my regular creamy coleslaw recipe but substitued regular cabbage with the red one for some interesting color combos. Some people like extra sweet and smoky bbq sauce on the side!

Total time: 3-5 hours
Skill level: Intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone
Grill temperature: About 110-120 degrees centigrade (230-250F), more for the finishing

You’re going to need:

  • As many racks of ribs as there are people, at least. Some people can muster 1.5 racks too
  • A rib rack can be a nice way to fit more BBRs on your grill, they do take up a lot of space
  • Some lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 1 cup of wood smoking chips (I like to use apple or cherry for baby back ribs, read more about smoke wood here.)
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen is useful too
  • Your favorite BBQ rub – this one works well for ribs too.
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce for glazing at the end if you want to. I like a sweet and smoky style sauce for ribs, not too spicy. Your favorite store bought or homemade one will do!

How you do it:

  • We are going to use the three step method for doing BBRs. That means step 1 is BBRs, coleslaw and pickles. Who needs more? Hai, beer!smoking the ribs, step 2 is foiling and steaming, step 3 is finishing/glazing. This method is sometimes referred to as the 3-2-1 methods, where the numbers refer to number of hours in each step. Anywho – the goal is not to achieve 3, 2 and 1, but to achieve rib perfection, so your mileage on those may vary, but as a guideline it is sound.
  • Prep the baby back ribs by removing the membrane from the bone side. It’s very easy to do, check out a video over here if you don’t know how.
  • Fire up your grill or smoker and try to stabilize the temperature in the desired range of 110-120C (230-250F). On my Webers I will use a water pan to help me out in the stabilizing, it adds both mass and moisture inside the grill. On my Primo Grill I don’t really need that, and I also like to put the meat in when the grill is warming up, so it can get the maximum amount of smoke time. Remember to get good smoke going before putting in the meat.
  • Smoke the meat for as long it takes for the racks to reach 80-90C (175-195F)in the meatiest parts. The longer you spend on this step, the more smokey flavors.
  • Once they are smoked, it is time for step 2, the foiling and steaming of the ribs. Put them in a stainless steel pan on top of a rack, or on top of some crumbled up foil so they don’t touch the bottom, add a cup of water or apple juice, and cover with two layers of foil so it’s fairly airtight. Place the pan back on the grill.
  • Now for steaming time, this can take anything from 45-120 minutes. The best way to find out if they are finished is to check every 15 minutes towards the end. Take the foil off, wiggle the bones, pole them a little bit. When they are close to done, the meat should loosen from the bone with not too much effort. If you want them chain restaurant style, toothless done, they should start coming apart if you try to lift from one end.
  • Whenever your preferred doneness is achieved, take the pan of the grill, and DSC_1781increase the grill temp to about 150-160C (300-320F). This is the best temperature for the third and last step – finishing the ribs.
  • The reason you don’t go above 160C/320F for the finishing, is that at about 175C/350F, sugar will burn. This means your BBQ sauce and possibly your rub will turn from sweet to nasty in no time.
  • So, once stabilized at the new higher temp, lay out the ribs again, and brush them with a layer of your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides. Leave them on the indirect side 10 minutes, add another layer and flip, and leave them for another 10 minutes. After this they should have a nice, glossy laquer to them, and they should be finished, so serve it up!
  • ENJOY!

Grilled duck breast with winter vegetables

Grilled duck breast with winter vegetablesDuck breast is my wife’s favorite dinner. I can only agree, it’s got that light gamy flavor, and the duck fat is widely known to be bacon’s only challenger in the world of fats. All the fat on a duck breast also makes it perfect for grilling – because fat takes up a lot of smoky flavors. This is a nice and quick weeknight or weekend dinner, nothing fancy – but man it tastes good!

Serving suggestion:
This time I served it straight up like this, just the duck and the vegetables, but adding a little red onion compote probably won’t get you a lot of complaints either – it goes perfect with duck meat. If you want a sauce a simple balsamic reduction works really well too.

Total time: 60 minutes
Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate
Grilling method/setup: 50/50
Grill temperature: About 170-200 degrees centigrade (340-400F)

You’re going to need:

  • Duck breast – one per person might be a bit too much, usually two filets is enough for 3 people
  • Some sweet potatoes and some parsnips
  • Lemon infused olive oil (or just mix up some lemon juice and olive oil)
  • Some lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 1 cup of wood smoking chips (I used cherry wood and it worked well. Pretty sure apple or hickory would work too, go read more about smoke wood here.)
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen, or a leave-in probe style thermometer

Perfect medium rare duck breast and crispy fat. Mmmm...How you do it:

  • Fire up your chimney starter full of briquettes or lumps of charcoal (this is basedon my 22.5″ Weber kettle, and your mileage and/or method may vary on other grills and smokers)
  • While the charcoal gets ready, score the fatty side of the duck breasts with a sharp knife. The goal is to increase the surface area of the fat to ensure crispy fat and ease rendering, so a fairly tight diamond/cube pattern is best. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through the fat and into the meat.
  • Peel and dice parsnips and sweet potatoes, and put them in a perforated grill pan (like this one for instance),on a griddle or even some foil. I highly recommend getting a perforated grill pan of sorts, it is a useful tool.
  • Once the charcoal is ready, fill up one half of the grill with the charcoal, and leave the other half to be the “cold/indirect” zone. Throw some cherry wood chips on the coals at once, because you want smoke going for real when you put the cold duck breasts on for the first time.
  • Here is a neat trick: Put the duck breasts on instantly when the coal is in place, on a cold grate. Starting the duck breasts carefully/slowly, renders a lot more of the fat off than going direct to high heat, and rendering is necessary for that crisp finish you want on the fat side. It also means fewer flame-ups later on. I usually leave them like this for 7-8 minutes, to let a bit of the fat melt off. If you put a drip pan underneath, you might even be able to catch some fat for use on the vegetables.
  • After rendering some fat off, put the duck on a plate off the grill while you grill vegetables, let it rest a while.
  • Using the vegetable grill pan, fry up the vegetables directly over the coalswith duck fat and/or olive oil, turning over often with a spatula so nothing gets burnt. Gloves are nice to have.Once the vegetable are nicely browned, move them to the indirect side and cook with lid on for 20-30 minutes, turning them over every 5-6 minutes to get even cooking. When they’re done I usually stash them in the kitchen oven on low to keep warm while I focus on the meat.
  • Winter vegetables waiting for the star of the showNow it’s time for the fun part, sear the duck breast properly on both sides over direct heat. Be aware, there will be flame-ups, especially when searing fat side down. Just move them around, burnt food is never tasty.
  • Once seared check the internal temp using a Thermapen or other instant read thermometer. I like my duck at 55C (131F) which is sort of medium rare. If you want medium go to 60C (140F). If the duck isn’t finished after searing, put it on the cold side, lid on, and let it have another short round before checking again.
  • Let the duck breasts rest for at least 7-@8 minutes before cutting them in thin slices and serving.
  • Enjoy!

Quick and easy summer food- Mussels on the grill!

Delicious fruits of the sea taste even better straight from the grill.

Delicious fruits of the sea taste even better straight from the grill.

Don’t have a lot of time, so thinking about skipping the appetizer? Don’t do that, just get yourself a net of fresh mussels and grill’em up. Here’s how:

This is so easy, and it’s perfect for those times when you’ve set up for direct cooking the main course. How about some mussel and tenderloin surf and turf? Or, you could serve the mussels as a starter with some homemade buns and chipotle mayo. Me and my wife made them for dinner, with a side salad with some fresh spinach and chickpeas. Delicious.

Total time: 10 minutes

Skill level: Beginner
Grilling method: Direct
Grill temperature: High!

You’re going to need:

  • Fresh, live mussels
  • Whatever you want on the side

How you do it:

  • Set up your grill for direct cooking, and wait until it’s all nice and evenly hot
  • Throw the mussels on the direct heat! No prep, no seasonings, no smoke chips. They make their own smoky, salty flavor, and to me it’s just perfect.
  • As the mussels open up, take them off the grill and put them in a bowl. The ones that don’t open up a lot, or at all, need to be discarded, or you could get sick
  • Enjoy!

BBQ 101 – Smoked Bratwurst

Smoked bratwurst is great "waiting food" if you've got some spare room and you're doing a long cook.

Smoked bratwurst is great “waiting food” if you’ve got some spare room and you’re doing a long cook.

So you’ve been grilling a little, and want to try your hand at low & slow style BBQ. This is the definitive place to start!

For a lot of people firing up the grill means hot dogs. Which is great. What is not so great, is that it all too often also means bland, cheap, mystery meat pre-boiled sausages with about 20+ ingredients in them. A good sausage should have three basic ingredients: Meat, fat, and spices (and a casing of course). No preservatives, potato flour or corn starch. No secret chemicals. And once you’ve tasted slow-smoked sausages that were uncooked when you started, you’re never going back to pre-boiled ones. Would you buy pre-boiled ribs? Pre-boiled pork butt? If you would, please step away from my blog. So, either make yourself some sausages, or head down to your local butcher or quality food store and get you some of the real stuff. They’re much more filling too, so instead of eating five, you might eat two. In this recipe I like to use raw bratwurst from my local sausagemaker / butcher shop here in Oslo, Strøm-Larsen. One of few places in Oslo that sell uncooked sausage.

Serving suggestion:
I serve these sausages with homemade hamburger buns, a creamy coleslaw,  some pickled gherkins, some homemade ketchup, some quality mustard and sometimes also a little red onion compote.

Total time: 90 minutes
Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone
Grill temperature: About 110-120 degrees centigrade (230-250F)

You’re going to need:

  • Quality uncooked bratwurst, chorizo or other uncooked sausages.
  • Some form of bun or bread
  • Condiments as mentioned above
  • Some lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 1 cup of wood smoking chips (I like to mix hickory and some apple or cherry for sausages, read more about smoke wood here.)
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen, or a leave-in probe style thermometer

How you do it:

  • Fire up your chimney starter with 20 briquettes or lumps of charcoal (this is based
    The setup for smoked brats. A great place to start when you're getting into BBQ style grilling.

    The setup for smoked brats. A great place to start when you’re getting into BBQ style grilling.

    on my 22.5″ Weber kettle, and your mileage and/or method may vary on other grills and smokers)

  • In the meantime, put a briquette basket on one side of the grill only, and a big water pan covering the whole middle part of the grill. Why water you say? The mass of water (I use a stainless steel pan from Ikea that holds about 4-5 liters or one US gallon) helps me maintain a steady temperature inside the kettle, because water stores (in this case) heat pretty well. It also helps the meat retain its moisture during the long cook by increasing the general moisture in the cooking environment.
  • When your briquettes are white hot, put them in the briquette basket you put on the one side of the grill.
  • Put two smokebombs (a handful of soaked wood chips wrapped in aluminium foil) on the briquettes. Putting them out towards the edge of the fire makes them last longer. Wait 5-10 minutes until they start smoking. Replace these as often as you please once they are smoked out. This is especially important the first 4 hours, after that the meat won’t really soak up the smoky flavours anymore.
  • Put the grate on, sausages away from the fire on the opposite side, put the lid on
  • Refill with wood chips when it stops smoking
  • The brats are ready to. Look at the fantastic coloration from the smoke. Oh man!

    The brats are ready to. Look at the fantastic coloration from the smoke. Oh man!

    After about 60-90 minutes sausages should be ready. If one of them bursts, you’re running too hot. Don’t do that. Use your thermapen to check the temperature, uncooked sausage HAS TO be cooked all the way through, ground meat is something you don’t serve rare. I usually take them off the grill when they’re at 85C/185F

  • Enjoy!

Lamb Chops grilled with Hickory and Rosemary smoke

Grilling and smoking lamb chops with rosemary and hickory smoke

Grilling and smoking lamb chops with rosemary and hickory smoke

There’s not much that can top some fresh young lamb for the grill. In this recipe we’ll pair it with some hickory and rosemary smoke, raw spring onions finely chopped and a delicious mint oil to go with your preferred side. Let’s roll!

What you need (to serve 4):

  • 2 racks of young lamb (3 if they’re small, and small is good here)
  • A fistful of fresh rosemary
  • A fistful of hickory wood chips
  • 6-8 spring onions
  • A cup of good olive oil of the extra virgin variety
  • A fistful of fresh mint
  • A Thermapen or similar instant-read thermometer is very useful for this one

How to make the mint oil (can be made a few days ahead, and should at least be made the night before for max flavor):

  • Finely chop the fresh mint
  • Combine with a pinch of good sea salt and about a cup of quality olive oil in a mortar, and crush away
  • Pour into a jar and leave it in the fridge overnight or for a couple days to let the oil take the flavor

How to grill the lamb:

  • Get your firestarter going, fill it up to the top with coals. For this you want the 50/50 setup so you can sear the chops on one side of the grill, and then move them over to the other side for finishing
  • Once your grill is nice and hot, might be a good time to dump some yams on there for a side dish, my recipe for ember-roasted yams is great with the mint oil.
  • Slice a nice little diamond pattern in the fatty parts of the rack, making sure not to Lil' lamb chops - all ready to go go goslice into the meat. This is to help the fat render, and to help with the crispiness of the skin. Important!
  • Cut your lamb racks into “chops” in the order of two bones on each. Doing one boned chops is possible, but you’re going to need your grill to get REALLY hot to pull that off – so let’s go with two. It’s a handy compromise
  • Season the chops with salt & pepper
  • Once your yams (if youre doing those) are done and out of the way, get the grill real hot (you want the grate to be so hot it whitens for this one), and chuck in the rosemary and hickory chips right on the coals.
  • The smoke will start fairly instantly, so get your chops on there (I usually do fatty side down first), and put the lid on for about a minute. Repeat for all sides so you get a good sear all round.
  • When you’re done searing, move the chops to the “cold side” of the grill, and take their temp. Continue to do so until they’re all done (I usually go with 56C/132F, nice and pink in the middle, tastes great!)
  • Give the chops a five minute rest while you finely chop some spring onion
  • Serve on warm plates, with abovementioned yams sprinkled with mint oil and spring onion
  • Enjoy!

BBQ 101 – Pulled Pork

Homemade coleslaw and pulled pork sandwich. Ah yeh…

Pork butt is a fantastic piece of meat. It’s quite a tough cut, with a lot of collagen (and fat), which makes it perfect for low and slow BBQ. If you can’t get pork butt where you live, you can try a boned-out ham. However, the best cut for this is the pork butt which is essentially the upper part of the pork shoulder ham cut, here in Norway not a regular cut, but when I tell my butcher I want the upper part of the ham, basically the shoulder-blade, with all the meat and fat on it, I get the right thing. Keeping the bone in there helps the meat become more juicy because the bones contains gelatine, so I always get bone-in when I can. Gives you that lip-smacking goodness feel you get from good ribs. Guess that’s why gelatine is used a lot for making candy, huh… That goes for any meat – bone-in = better. Talk to your butcher and show him some charts and google images, and I’m sure you’ll get it right. Now, to get a historical fact out of the way, they’re not called butts because they’re from the butt (because they’re from the shoulder end of the pig really..), but because this cut was stored in special barrels known as butts, in the olden days. Read more on Wikipedia.

Pork butts ready for pullin’

This is not a good place to start for the novice griller, but if you think you’ve got indirect grilling and temperature control on your kettle or smoker down, you should try it. Pork butt is some of the best eats to ever come out of a BBQ, and it’s a cheap cut, which enables you to feed tons of people for little money. Time for a party, in other words. Let’s get to it.

Serving suggestion:
I serve this dish in a very traditional manner, on homemade hamburger buns, with a creamy coleslaw, a basic Eastern North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and some pickled gherkins. Don’t make it complicated, the meat should be the star.

Total time: 10-14 hours (prep starts the day before)
Skill level: Intermediate/Expert
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone (some coals on one side, large drip pan filled with water under the meat)
Grill temperature: About 120-140 degrees centigrade (250-285F)

You’re going to need:

  • Time, I usually start around 6-7 AM when I do this and we eat around 7-8 PM. A great excuse to drink beer and “mind the bbq” all day, in other words. Kinda like fishing or golf in that regard (dads will know what I mean…)
  • 2 pork butts (I always make two, because that’s what I have room for on my kettle. Pulled pork freezes well, so if I have leftovers, that just means my wife is going to be happy for the next few weeks eating pulled pork sandwiches..)
  • 1 cup of your favourite all-round spice rub
  • Some yellow American mustard (to be used as a glue)
  • 1-2 bags of charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 4-5 cups of wood smoking chips (I like to mix hickory and some mesquite for pulled pork, read more about smoke wood here. Apple wood is also great)
  • A notebook and a pen, for taking notes during the process
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen, or a leave-in probe style thermometer

Pork butt, rubbed and ready to go

How you do it, the night before:

  • Prep should ideally start the day before. Cut the skin off the butts unless your butcher did it, but leave a good thick layer of fat on the meat
  • Lay out some lengths of plastic wrap on your workspace, and put a pork butt on there. Put a thin layer of yellow mustard on it, and apply generous amounts of spice rub all around it. I use about 0.5 cup for each butt
  • Wrap in several layers of plastic wrap, and repeat.
  • I store my butts overnight in the fridge. It’s (almost) always a good idea to room temper your meat before it goes on the grill, as long as you’re able to do it in a safe, hygienic manner. However, if you want to maximize your smoke penetration and smoke ring size, you should go straight from the fridge on this one. Experienced BBQ’ers tell me the smoke ring only happens when the meat is below 60 degrees centigrade (140F)

How you do it, cooking day:

  • Taking notes is paramount if you want to learn

    Fire up your chimney starter with 20 briquettes (this is based on my 22.5″ Weber kettle, and your mileage and/or method may vary on other grills and smokers)

  • In the meantime, put a briquette basket on one side of the grill only, and a big water pan covering the whole middle part of the grill. Why water you say? The mass of water (I use a stainless steel pan from Ikea that holds about 4-5 liters or one US gallon) helps me maintain a steady temperature inside the kettle, because water stores (in this case) heat pretty well. It also helps the meat retain its moisture during the long cook by increasing the general moisture in the cooking environment.
  • When your briquettes are white hot, put them in the briquette basket you put on the one side of the grill.
  • Put two smokebombs (a handful of soaked wood chips wrapped in aluminium foil) on the briquettes. Putting them out towards the edge of the fire makes them last longer. Wait 5-10 minutes until they start smoking. Replace these as often as you please once they are smoked out. This is especially important the first 4 hours, after that the meat won’t really soak up the smoky flavours anymore.
  • Put the grate on, pork butts on the grate away from the fire, and put the lid on
  • Next is 10-12 hours of temperature watch. You should try to adjust your temperature using only the bottom vent(s) on your grill. The top one should stay at least 50% open. If you close the top one too much, you can get a soot buildup, which will not taste nice.
  • Eventually, usually after 4-6 hours you may run into something BBQ’ers call “the stall” – The temp of the pork butt will stabilize or plateau at about 68-70 degrees C (154-158F) – sometimes it will even drop a little. This can go on for hours and really f up your dinner schedule. Read up on the stall in this great article, it’s got useful, common sense information you need to be aware of if you do low and slow.
  • A lot can be said on how to do this on a kettle style grill, but it should be possible. However, there are a lot of factors that come into play when doing a long cook on a kettle or smoke. Wind. Rain. Sun. Shade. Air temperature. Humidity. Which is what makes this fun, and exciting, and a skill that is learned from experience.
  • If it gets too hot, I take my tongs and dump a briquette or two right in the water pan. You can take them out too of course, just don’t put them on your wooden deck…
  • If it gets too cold, you might need more briquettes. I put in 6-8 unlit briquettes every hour when I do this. If you get a strange dip in temp and really need to knock it up quickly, you can use unsoaked wood chips or chunks, or you can put on some lump charcoal which burns a lot hotter than briquettes. Just be patient and don’t overdo it.
  • I will not go on in lengths on all the different ways to get there, you shold keep a log of times, kettle lid temp and meat temp, so you’ll have something to learn from for your next cook. The important part is to have fun, and reach a target temp of about 87-90 degrees centigrade (that’s 190-195F). The other important part, is to get there slowly.
  • If you get to the target temp too early, don’t worry. Wrap the meat in aluminium foil, and a couple of kitchen towels, and put it all in a cooler, and it will stay warm enough for hours.
  • When you’re ready to serve, it’s time to pull the pork. If you did everything right, it

    Two butts, a ham and a cow chest

    should be easily pullable by hand. Here’s a neat tip, get some thin carpenter’s gloves from your local hardware store, and buy some vinyl gloves one size up at the supermarket. Put the builder’s gloves on first and then the vinyl gloves (duh!), and you will be able to pull two pork butts without burning off your fingers (I’ve tried, not fun). If it’s not easy to pull by hand, you took it off the grill prematurely. Don’t worry, use a knife to assist you, it should still taste great. If it does not taste great, you have failed, and consequently brought shame upon your house and family.

  • Once all the pork is pulled, drench it in the North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and serve. Enjoy the taste of a fantastic dish, knowing it tastes even better for you, because you’ve been outside working the BBQ all day. NICE!

Bacon-wrapped tenderloin and grilled vegetables

Grilled, Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin with Zucchini and Tomatoes

There’s some real nice South American tenderloin to be had at my local store here in Oslo this year, thanks to the Rema 1000 chain of food stores. This meat is of much better quality than what you normally can get here in Oslo for a decent price. So I plan to take advantage of that this summer. So, I went and bought myself a piece of tenderloin, cut it into some nice large steaks and gave it a quick sear on the grill. This is what chef/author Steven Raichlen likes to refer to as “millionaire grilling”. You’re really buying yourself success, because you have to be an idiot not to get tenderloin right on the grill, all it takes is quick sear, to serve this meat done anywhere over medium rare would be a crime to bovines everywhere.

Time: 60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: Direct
Grill temperature: About 250 degrees centigrade, or more  (480F)
Equipment: Hickory wood chips for smoke

Serve with:
Ember-roasted yams
Grilled zucchini and vine tomatoes

You’ll need to get hold of:
A piece of tenderloin, two pounds should easily serve 4
A squash
4-6 Vine tomatoes
Some strips of quality bacon
Some hickory wood chips for a quick smoke
Some yams, 1 for each person eating
Weber’s thin, double-pronged skewers, or some wooden skewers

How you do it:

  • Have a hot grill waiting, for this I use a two-zone setup
  • Chuck your yams on the coals as described here, and turn them every 10-15 minutes or so
  • While the yams are cooking, cut your tenderloin into nice tall steaks, wrap them in

    Griled tenderloin with Zucchini and Tomatoes


    good bacon, and put a skewer through the whole thing to keep the bacon in place during cooking
  • If you want your steaks rare, keep them in the fridge until grilling, if you want them medium-rare, you can take them out of the fridge 1-2 hours in advance
  • Slice tomatoes in half and zucchini in thick slices and skewer them. I use Weber’s double-pronged thing skewers for this, they’re great. If you don’t have those, use two wooden skewers soaked in water
  • Season the vegetables with salt, pepper and marjoram, and brush them lightly with canola or rapeseed oil. When they’re seared leave them in the indirect/resting area of the grill
  • Let your grate heat up until it gets that white-gray colour, so you can get a good sear
  • Season the steaks (I use salt and pepper only for this one), and sear the steaks about 2 minutes, then turn them 45 degrees to get nice grill marks, another 2 minutes, flip, and repeat
  • Take the steaks off the grill to a plate (not the one you kept raw meat on), and let them rest under foil for 10 minutes while the vegetables finish
  • Plate everything, and serve. I just slice my yams in two and serve them on a separate plate to not get yam coal on my food, with a herb butter

BBQ Viking Sliders with caramelized onions

Sliders, homemade chipotle mayo, shakey taters and caramelized onions

These sliders are tasty, juicy (even when you have to cook them through), and are real popular with the kids. They’re easy to make too, and require only a quick sear on the grill. You could always buy some slider buns, but I really suggets making your own, see my recipe for buns here. I realize some of you are going to find it extremely controversial that I put bread in my sliders. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I mean it. If you grind your own beef, and have a hot enough grill to get a sear on these while they’re still pink in the middle, you can skip the bread. But I often have to use storebought ground beef, and that means it has to be cooked all the way through. That’s where the bread comes in, by soaking up the juices and fat, it makes these sliders a real, juicy treat.

Time: 60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: Direct
Grill temperature: About 250 degrees centigrade  (480F)
Equipment: Hickory wood chips for smoke

Serve with:
Homemade chipotle mayo
Homemade slider buns
Shakey potatoes (recipe to come)

Sliders and Texas style BBQ sauce

You’ll need to get hold of:
Ground beef, about 500 grams makes about 15 sliders
2 slices of bread
4 tbsp of your favorite, preferrable homemade, BBQ sauce. I used Rocket Fuelled Bull BBQ Sauce
Some meltable cheese (I prefer orange cheddar)
2 large yellow onions
2 tbsp butter

How you do it:

  • Have a hot grill waiting, for this I just cover the whole grill grate in white hot coals
  • Slice your onions the way you want them, and caramelize them in a frying pan with the butter, some salt and pepper, and about a tbsp of sugar, on low heat for 30-45 minutes. You can do this the night before, store in the fridge and just reheat.
  • Cut away the crust from your two slices of bread, and let it soak in cold water for ten minutes. After soaking, squeeze all the water out of it
  • Mix the ground beef carefully with the BBQ sauce, the bread and liberal amounts of salt and pepper
  • Form the slider patties. Remember to make them flatter and larger-diameter than you want to be finished product to be, because they will change size when they’re being grilled. Each patty should be about 33 grams
  • Get a good hickory smoke going on the grill before starting grilling, I use water-soaked chips for this to maximize smoke, since they’re only on there a couple of minutes.
  • Put them on the grill. About 2-3 minutes should be enough, flip them, put the cheese on the finished side, and give them another 2-3 minutes. Serve!