We love that your new book, Pitmaster, has something for all levels: the BBQ geek experts with all of the gear,
and beginners who are just hooked on good BBQ.
Chris Hart (my buddy and co-author) and I are fanboys of BBQ for sure, for lots of reasons.
From regional to backyard, or competition, we love it all!
What is it about BBQ that’s so magnetic and so social?
I was at a family reunion BBQ literally yesterday, and it was great! I think everyone has memories and good feelings about BBQs; it goes hand in hand with family, friends, good times. It’s a celebration, and usually a cold beer or two is involved. What’s not to like? And when we talk about the act of BBQing, I think it connects with something primal in us…early humans gathered around the fire. And it’s a global thing - every culture has live-fire cooking.
What are some of your top tips for aspiring pitmasters?
#1, use real wood or charcoal, and leave the gas or electric behind. Now that we’re serious, BBQ is all about consistency in your fire. Fire is a living thing, with a beginning and an end, and your job is to keep it going steady as long as you need it. Practice is the best teacher, but there are tools that can help; Guru makes fans that automatically maintain your fire, and of course, there’s an app for that! Rubs and sauces are fun to make - and I have wicked good recipes in my books - but there are great ones already on the market that are great too.
What should BBQ’ers keep in mind when using grassfed beef?
Grassfed is literally a different animal - my advice is to get to know it before you BBQ it. Aussie grassfed beef is top notch and phenomenal in flavor, and it’s a whole lot leaner. With BBQ, some fat and marbling keeps meat moist during the long cooking process. I like to use the Aussie briskets - but instead of cooking for the typical hour per pound, I would focus on getting to an internal temp of 202-204F. It may take 30% less time! You can also use a spray bottle and mist it regularly with cider or cranberry juice, it helps develop your “bark” and keep the moistness.
What are some of your favorite dishes with Aussie grassfed beef?
Aussie beef has that amazing deep, beefy flavor, so any treatment that brings that out is a winner. I would take a top round, and cook it like a smoked roast beef. Or take a beef tenderloin - do it in reverse; smoke it first, then sear it at high heat to finish it. A little bit of a good salt like a Maldon sea salt for finishing is all you really need to let that natural flavor shine.