In Good Taste: ’Cue Summer
Your guide to dishing up winning barbecue from your backyard
There’s some debate about what barbecue is. A noun, a verb? A coveted Southern secret, an al fresco dinner invitation? We sought the answer to this and other queries by quizzing a trio of connoisseurs from Charleston’s veritable Who’s Who of experts on the subject: Aaron Siegel of Home Team BBQ, Billy Quinn of JB’s Smokeshack, and Jimmy Hagood of Food for the Southern Soul. As for what constitutes true ’cue? They agree. It’s all about the smoke—that’s what turns meat into barbecue. “Anything else is just, well… grilled,” says Billy.
Courtesy of Aaron Siegel 2 racks (6-8 lbs.) St. Louis-cut pork ribs 2 cups of your favorite dry rub Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon Barbecue Glaze
For the Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon Barbecue Glaze: Heat 4 cups (32 oz.) Firefly Bourbon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until it reduces by three-quarters (roughly one cup), or about 15 to 20 minutes. Add 4 cups tomato ketchup, 2 cups cider vinegar, 4 Tbs. brown sugar, 4 Tbs. molasses, 3 Tbs. black pepper, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce, and 2 Tbs. kosher salt. Cook on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. Rinse the meat. Pat dry and place on a large metal baking sheet or foil pan. With your hands, season the meat with the dry rub on all sides. Let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, light the grill. If using charcoal, bank the briquettes along the sides of the basin and leave only a few in the center. For propane grills, light half the burners to 250°F. Place a handful of wood chips in your grill’s chip tray or wrap into a foil ball, poke holes in it, and place directly over the flame. Place the ribs (bone side down) on the center of a charcoal grill, or over the unlit burners on a propane grill. Place cover on grill with ventilation holes open (the grill temp should range from 220 to 275°F). Add hot charcoal with shovel to maintain desired temperature. When the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190 to 195°F, remove from grill. Allow meat to rest 10 minutes. Flip racks so the meat faces down and slice between the bones. Turn meat side up and brush with Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon Glaze. Serve immediately.
Courtesy of Jimmy Hagood 7-9 lb. Boston butt Basic barbecue dry rub Lowcountry Vinegar Sauce
For the Lowcountry Vinegar Sauce: Combine 2 qts. each apple cider vinegar and white vinegar in a stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Add 1/3 cup paprika, 1/4 cup oregano, 1/4 cup chili powder, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup black pepper, 2 Tbs. granulated garlic, 1½ Tbs. white sugar, and 1 Tbs. cayenne pepper. Drop in slices from 2 lemons and continue to simmer until liquid reaches 185°F, or 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. With your hands, season the meat with the dry rub. Set aside at room temperature. Light half the coals in the grill. When the briquettes are covered with gray ash, push an even amount of the coals to two sides, leaving a small circle of coals in the center. Place two chunks of wood on each pile. Place the seasoned meat (fat side up) on the grate in the center of grill. Place cover on grill and open ventilation holes. Add additional hot charcoal with shovel when the temperature falls to 220°F. Add additional wood chunks for two hours. When the internal meat temperature reaches 165°F, wrap in aluminum foil and place back on the grill, or finish in the oven at 225°F. When the internal meat temperature reaches 190 to 195°F, remove from grill or oven. Allow meat to rest for 30 minutes, then pull meat from bone and remove remaining fat cap. Chop with a meat cleaver. Sauce to taste.
Courtesy of Billy Quinn 1 3 lb. whole chicken 1 gal. basic brine (recipe follows) 1/2 cup apple juice 1/2 cup cranberry juice 1 Tbs. spicy dry rub (recipe follows)
For the brine: In a large saucepan or stockpot, combine 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, and 1 gal. water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. For the dry rub: In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbs. black pepper, 1 Tbs. garlic powder, 1 Tbs. onion powder, 1 Tbs. chili powder, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Mix until well combined. Rinse chicken thoroughly inside and out under cold running water and remove fat. Pat dry with paper towels. Set aside and prepare brine. Submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate 2-24 hours. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. With your hands, rub meat with dry rub and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, light the grill. If using charcoal, bank the briquettes along the sides of the basin. For propane grills, light the burner furthest from the center to 225°F. Just before closing the grill, place a handful of wood chips in the chip tray or wrap into a foil ball, poke holes in it, and place directly over the flame. Poke four additional holes in top of the aluminum can. Fill the can half full with the apple and cranberry juices. Insert aluminum can into the cavity of the chicken so that the chicken stands on end, leg quarters facing down. Place in center of grill and cover for 2 ½-3 hours. When the meat’s internal temperature reaches 185°F, remove from grill. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ, 1205 Ashley River Dr., Charleston, (843) 225-7427; 2209 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island, (843) 883-3131, hometeambbq.com; Jimmy Hagood of Food for the Southern Soul, (843) 762-9200, foodforthesouthernsoul.com; Billy Quinn of J.B.’s Smokeshack, 3406 Maybank Hwy., Johns Island, (843) 557-0426, jbssmokeshack.com; bread from Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery, 32 Windermere Blvd., Charleston, (843) 769-6400; 3155 Maybank Hwy., Johns Island, (843) 737-4122; shot on location at the Cotton Dock at Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant, (843) 884-4371, boonehallplantation.com; various servingware from Snyder Rentals, 3875 Meeting St., North Charleston, (843) 766-3366, snydereventrentals.com