The professor of barbecue schools us on fire and how to cook directly on burning embers with his favorite recipe.
Steven Raichlen’s The Barbecue! Bible includes more than 500 recipes; BBQ USA offers more than 400. In total, the professor of barbecue has written 30 cookbooks that contain somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 recipes, earning him five James Beard Awards. His latest cookbook, dedicated to smoking, will hit shelves in 2016.
So let’s get down to brass tacks — or porcelain-coated cast-iron grates. What kind of grill does the man who grills everything have at his Florida home? The answer, of course: He has all the grills.
“Let’s see ... looking out my office window, I see a Weber Ranch grill, Smoky Mountain, Summit 6-burner gas grill, a Big Green Egg, a Grillworks wood-burning grill, a Viking C4 Kamado, a Horizon offset barrel smoker, a cast-iron hibachi, a Bradley electric smoker, and a Grand Turbo gas grill. But we have limited space here. In my house up north, we have more.”
If Willy Wonka had been into grilling, this would be his backyard. A barbecue sauce river is the next logical step.
So, which recipe is his go-to, the never-fail people-pleaser? “The Caveman T-Bone,” Raichlen says. “It’s a T-bone steak grilled not on a grate but directly on a bed of blazing embers. A big manly steak with astonishingly bold flavors. Plus, it combines two steaks in one — New York strip and filet mignon on a single bone.” I think we can all agree, the only thing better than one steak? Two steaks. And, the recipe is below, courtesy Raichlen.
4 T-Bone steaks (each 12 – 14 ounces and 1¼ – 1½ inches thick)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and coarsely cracked black peppercorns
For the jalapeño pan-fry:
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 red jalapeños, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped
You’ll also need: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, a newspaper, and a natural bristle basting brush.
Build a charcoal fire—natural lump charcoal, please—and rake the coals into an even layer. (Leave the front third of your grill coal-free.) When the coals glow orange, fan them with a newspaper to blow off any loose ash.
Generously, and I mean generously, season the steaks on both sides with salt and cracked pepper. Place the steaks directly on the embers about 2 inches apart. Grill until cooked to taste, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning with tongs. Move the steaks after 2 minutes on each side so they cook evenly.
Using tongs, lift the steaks out of the fire, shaking each to dislodge any clinging embers. Using a basting brush, brush off any loose ash and arrange the steaks on a platter or plates. Let the steaks rest for 2 minutes while you make the jalapeño pan-fry.
Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet directly on the embers, on the side burner of a gas grill, or on the stove. When the oil is hot, add the jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro. Cook over high heat until the jalapeños and garlic are golden brown, 2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the steaks and serve.