Fire up your grill and cook up some summer memories with the help of a proven pitmaster
After a bit of an odd start to the 2020s, it’s high time we put the “roaring” back in the twenties. Let’s reclaim the social aspect from a year of social distancing and find some time to celebrate the joys of being in each other’s company. Anyone with a nose would agree, nothing brings people together more quickly than the waft of a sizzling steak or roasting ribs. Take some time this summer to celebrate all that it means to be human by indulging in a good ol’ fashioned barbecue. As you set out to take your backyard picnic by storm, take a page out of pitmaster Ed Randolph’s book (It’s no joke. He’s written two with his wife, Noelle). Owner of Handsome Devil BBQ in Newburgh, New York, Ed is jet-set and ready to bring his best barbecue flavors down to the Lowcountry in time to celebrate the end of the summer season. A featured pitmaster in this year’s Rock N’ Ribs Music & BBQ Fest (Oct. 15-16), Ed was willing to share some well-cured wisdom on how you might get the most out of your cookouts this summer.
1. If you’re looking, you ain’t cooking
The craft of barbecue is a scientific method of convection, fire, moisture, time and temperature. If you are constantly looking, you will alter the desired end product. A true pit master will take that scientific method and develop a “gut feel” to know when his product is done.
2. There are no secrets in barbecue
When you visit your local barbecue joint, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We want to share our craft, we want to see everyone succeed. On your next visit, find the chef/owner/pitmaster and ask him/her anything. There’s a good chance we’ve been cooking all night and look forward to having someone to talk to.
3. You don’t have to hate someone else’s barbecue to like mine
I heard my friend Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker say this one time, and it really has stuck with me. There is only love in the barbecue world, and I suggest that you embrace the difference in flavor profiles of each place.
4. If you’re just starting out using your barbecue or smoker, begin with something easy
Chicken wings or a pork butt are almost fail-proof. I hear too often how someone bought an XYZ smoker, and they hate it because they tried to make a brisket and it came out terrible. Gradually work your way up to the tougher-to-cook cuts of meat.
5. Learn where the hot spots are on your grill
For those cooking with gas or pellets, your cooker will most likely have hot spots or areas that cooker hotter than others. An easy way is to take a few pieces of white bread, put them on your grill and see if one piece toasts faster than another.
6. Apply your sauce at the end like a glaze
Most barbecue sauces have a lot of sugar. Sugar doesn’t like the high heat of the grill. There is no better way to ruin a beautiful cook than with burnt sauce at the end. I like to treat sauce like glaze. I will wait until my product is just about done, and with 10 minutes to go I will apply the sauce and reduce the heat. Let those sugars melt, not burn.
7. Treat yourself like royalty
To quote my friend, Carl Ruiz, treat yourself like royalty. Carl loved a hot dog better than anyone; however, he would never pass up the opportunity to throw a New York strip or lobster tail on the grill. Go ahead, treat yourself like royalty, you deserve it.
Save the date
Hosted by Coligny Plaza, the inaugural Rock N’ Ribs Music & BBQ Fest pairs the best barbecue with some Southern rock & roll. Take part in the Pit Master Beach Triathlon, fill up at the oyster roast reception, and jam out with The Artimus Pyle Band and Grammy-award-winning artist Angie Aparo. The celebration of barbecue, music, and the company of others takes place October 15-16. Tickets start at $95. rocknribshhi.com