Barbecue Bible!

Our textbook
Season 2

Show 213: The Five Methods of Live Fire Cooking

It's like the one class you have to attend right before finals - Professor Raichlen clearly outlining the five methods of cooking that every barbecued food on the planet falls into. Beyond the educational aspect, this episode features recipes like Stoned Chicken and Peking Duck, both impressive (and easy) dishes that could steal the show at any dinner party. And the camera angles - watching Peking Duck render and crisp on a rotisserie or unpeeled onions and potatoes roast to succulent tenderness in the embers of a kettle grill - make this an episode not to be missed.

On the menu (page numbers indicate page in the Barbecue! Bible, unless otherwise noted):

  • Stoned chicken (Beer Can Chicken, page 178)
  • Chorizo or Jalapeno Brat Grilled Mushrooms (page 390)
  • Annatto Spiced Turkey (page 270)
  • Peking Duck on the Grill (page 280)
  • Onions and Potatoes Grilled in the Embers (page 395)

Each of the five methods - direct grilling, indirect grilling, smoking, rotisserie and cooking in the embers - has it's own tricks. But there are a few simple principles that apply no matter how you're cooking, which is why I call them:


1. Be organized. Have everything you need-the food, marinade, basting sauce, seasonings, and equipment--on hand and at grill side before you start grilling.

2. Gauge your fuel. There's nothing worse than running out of charcoal or gas in the middle of grilling.

3. Keep it hot. Direct grilling over a hot fire. Hold your hand about 4 inches above the grate. You should be able to keep it over a properly hot fire for 2 to 3 seconds.

4. Keep it clean. Use a long-handled, stiff wire brush to clean the hot grate before the food goes on. Brush again, when you've finished grilling.

5. Keep it lubricated. Oil the grate with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil before placing the food on it. A well-greased grate gives you killer grill marks.

6. Turn, don't stab. Turn steaks and chops with tongs, not a barbecue fork. The latter pokes holes in the meat and drains out the juices.

7. Know when to baste. Brush on sweet barbecue sauces the last few minutes of cooking, so the sugar won't burn.

8. Keep it covered. Indirect grill larger cuts of meat (ribs, briskets, whole chickens) with the grill lid lowered.

9. Give it a rest. Beef, steak, chicken--almost anything you grill--will taste better and be juicier if you let it stand on the cutting board for a few minutes before serving.

10. Never desert your post. Once you put something on the grill (especially when using the direct method), stay with it until it's cooked.

Sample Recipe:

printer-ready version

Method: direct grilling
Makes: 16 mushrooms, enough to serve 4 as an appetizer, 8 as a side dish

  • 16 large mushroom caps, wiped clean with a damp cloth
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cooked bratwurst or smoked sausage, cut into thin slivers
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced pepper jack cheese, cut into thin slivers
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded and cut into thin slivers
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
  • 16 tiny sprigs cilantro

1. Set up the grill for indirect cooking and preheat to high (400 degrees).

2. Using a spoon or melon baller, remove the stems from the mushroom caps, leaving the caps whole. (Save stems for soups or stock.) Generously brush the mushroom caps on all sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the mushroom caps place in a foil drip.

3. Place a few slivers of bratwurst, cheese, jalapeno, and garlic in each mushroom cap. Add a sprig of cilantro and drizzle each cap with a little more oil. The mushrooms can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

4. Place the pan with the mushrooms to the center of the grill away from the fire. Cover the grill. Indirect grill the mushrooms until browned and tender and until the filling is browned and sizzling. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter and stick a toothpick in each for serving.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort