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Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling Hardcover – May 10, 2016
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From the Publisher
Skinny Steaks from Meathead
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.
1. Prep. Trim the surface fat and silverskin from the steaks, if necessary sprinkle with salt and dry bring in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before cooking.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
- 2 steaks, each about ¾ inch thick
- Kosher salt (about ½ teaspoon per pound)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
Smoked Potato Salad from Meathead
Makes: 8 servings | Takes: 1 ½ hours
Yes, there are a bazillion ways to make potato salad, but this recipe ups the ante by smoking the potatoes. You can also use your favorite potato salad recipe and replace those plain-ol’ boring boiled potatoes with these smoked potatoes.
1. Prep. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add cold water to cover them by at least 1/2 inch. Add 2 pinches of salt. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set it nearby. Bring the water in the saucepan to a boil and cook the potatoes until they hit about 150°F in the center. You do not want to cook them all the way through. Test more than one chunk. Drain and cool them immediately in the ice water. Drain them again after they’ve cooled for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and coat them lightly with the oil.
2. 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. Place a grill topper in the indirect zone and lightly oil it.
3. Cook. Gently slide the potatoes onto the topper and space them out so they do not overlap. Close the lid and smoke the potatoes for about 45 minutes, then transfer them to a platter and let cool to room temperature.
4. In a serving bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients. Fold in the potatoes, trying not to smush them. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stash the salad in your fridge for a couple of hours before serving to let the flavors meld; overnight is even better.
5. Serve. Remove the salad from the fridge 30 minutes before serving to let it warm slightly.
- 10 small red potatoes, peel left on and chopped into bite-size pieces
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
“This is the book barbecue nerds have been waiting for. Myth and lore abounds in the world of cooking, and nowhere more so than in the primal arena that exists when humans put open fire and meat together in the great outdoors (or suburban backyard, as the case may be). That’s good news for anyone who, like me, longs to understand the science of grilling and barbecue; the thermodynamics of heat transfer under that kettle dome, the chemistry of the smoke ring, and what makes a char-grilled steak so g*&@%# delicious.
Meathead's gift lies not just in factual accuracy, but also in being able to distill complex subjects to their most essential, applicable core in a manner that is a genuine pleasure to read. You'll laugh out loud at his metaphors. A good technical writer will leave you feeling like you know more than when you started. A great one can leave you feeling like more than a passive bystander. It'll make you feel like an active participant, like you've been on a voyage of discovery for yourself. Flipping over each page to discover what lies on the next will remind you of the very first time you peeked under the cover of your grill and breathed in the alchemy that occurs between smoke and meat. You'll see conventions challenged, techniques elucidated, and myths busted, and you'll have a wildly fun time in the process.
With hundreds of pages on techniques, theory, equipment, and background science before you even get to the recipes, this is a book that is squarely aimed at cooks who don’t just want a single good rack of ribs coming off their grill, but who want to understand what makes them good and how to repeat it time after time. Soak in enough of the background technique and you won't even need a recipe. You have all the tools you need to develop your own. I love to grill but I'm not barbecue guru. After reading Meathead, I'm gonna be pretty darned good at faking it though.”
— J. Kenji López-Alt, Author of The Food Lab
“An amazing compendium of barbecue knowledge.”
— Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, Austin, and Author of Franklin Barbecue
“Barbecue nerds will delight in Meathead’s detail-oriented research. Busting myths and blinding us with science, Meathead is a must for the collection of any serious barbecue cook.”
— Mike Mills and Amy Mills, 17th Street Barbecue and authors of Peace, Love, & Barbecue
“Barbecuing is a subject that arouses strong opinions, and you won’t find many that are stronger than Meathead Goldwyn’s. The difference is that he has the evidence to back them up. Anyone from a backyard burger king to a competition smoker is likely to learn something from this book.”
— Russ Parsons, Author of How to Read a French Fry
“An indispensable barbecue book. It is at once comprehensive and engaging and will become a cornerstone reference book in my barbecue collection.”
— Jim Shahin, Washington Post barbecue columnist
“As a former scientist, I am thrilled to see a cookbook that is more than just a collection of recipes. Meathead has clearly and simply explained the science of live-fire cooking from understanding the role of fire and smoke to how marinades and brines work to flavor and enhance meat and lots more. Many old myths are debunked as well, using science, not heresy. I predict this book will be lovingly battered and greasy from years of serious use.”
— Bruce Aidells, Author of The Great Meat Cookbook
“I'm embarrassed to admit how many cooking myths I thought were true. Meathead and his team of scientists and food fanatics, backed by science, sever barbecue fact from fiction to make us better cooks. Learn what’s happening at every stage of cooking, from marinating to the last flame lick on the grill.”
— Jaden Hair, Publisher of SteamyKitchen.com and author of The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook and Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites
“Recipes can get you cooking; proper techniques can get you cooking well. But only understanding the underlying science can make you a smarter cook. And that’s what makes this book required reading.”
— Barry Sorkin, Owner and Pitmaster, Smoque BBQ, Chicago
“A wonderful book filled with years and years of trial and error with many meats and techniques. A compilation and study of everything that affects your meat’s taste and texture.”
— Charlie McKenna, Chef Owner of Lillie’s Q, LQ Chicken Shack, and Dixie in Chicago
“A game-changer reminiscent of the scientific wisdom of Harold McGee and the masterful techniques of Jacques Pépin.”
— Paul Virant, Executive Chef of Perennial Virant in Chicago and author of The Preservation Kitchen
“The ultimate compilation of the science of barbecue. One would be hard pressed to have a single question or curiosity that is not answered within the pages of this book.”
— Linda Orrison, President, National Barbecue Association, 2015–2016
"This is a go-to book in my cookbook library." — Rick Gresh, Executive Chef,Virgin Hotel Chicago
“By far the most comprehensive barbecue book I have seen.” — Dave Raymond, Creator of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce
“The bible against which all other barbecue cookbooks will be judged. His truths will set you free.” — Michael Sanson, Editor, Restaurant Hospitality Magazine
“When asked 'why,' never have to say 'just because' again. Meathead demystifies the science of great barbecue. When the smoke clears, you’ll taste the difference.”
— Chris Lilly, Pitmaster, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, Alabama
“Meathead chops years off your learning curve with this encyclopedia of barbecue knowledge.” — Chris Hart, author of Wicked Good Barbecue
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Top Customer Reviews
Over my 30 some years of BBQ cooking, I have changed types and styles of cookers from plain to fancy pellet rigs and now back to the fantastic Pit Barrel Cooker using just old fashioned charcoal. There are very few cookers that can cook the quality and quantity of meat that a Pit Barrel can turn out and taste so spectacularly good.
I own over 130 BBQ cook books and this one is the Bible and the ideas, suggestions and recipes are always dead on. Meathead has cooked them.
You will enjoy this book and it will make a grand gift to a new BBQ fan. Remember, BBQ is America's gift to the culinary world.
I finished this book cover-to-cover yesterday. I did not find any content in the book that I would consider to be 'wrong' in any way. There is, as with any book of this nature, some content that is open for interpretation. After all, this is a book about barbecue and grilling. Preferences vary.
After finishing this book cover-to-cover, it has become my number ONE recommendation for any barbecue and grilling enthusiast who wants to do more than follow a recipe. If you want to understand barbecue and grilling to the point where you become the master of your equipment AND your recipes, then this is the book for you. The recipes included in this book are adequate. Some of them look to be fantastic and others look OK to me. This book is not so much about the recipes. It's about helping you understand what is going on inside your grill and inside the food you put on it. Having that level of understanding will make you a great cook in your own rite.
This book should not be the ONLY book on your shelf, but it should be one that you have read cover-to-cover :)