For Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst, the grill is a great way to add slow-cooked flavor to meat. She brings Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson slow-smoked brisket, pork ribs with a rub created by her husband John Rudolph, her “best barbecue sauce” and Asian-style coleslaw.
Slow-Smoked Texas-Style Brisket With Best Barbecue Sauce
This is long, slow grilling at its best.
You place a simple dry rub on a beef brisket (look for second-cut brisket, which is fattier and makes a moister, better cut for grilling) and then cook it over an indirect fire set up with small packets of wood chips. The brisket cooks long and slow — two to three hours.
Serve with Best Barbecue Sauce, Asian slaw and corn on the cob. You can also slice the brisket and serve on rolls with the barbecue sauce. Serves 6.
- 1 beef brisket, preferably second cut (about 4 pounds, see note)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- About 2 cups mesquite or other wood chips
- About 2 cups Best Barbecue Sauce
Note: The second cut is a fattier cut of brisket than is usually sold in supermarkets. If you have trouble finding it, ask at the butcher counter.
- Dry the brisket thoroughly with paper towels.
- Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the cumin seeds, salt and peppercorns until coarse. Using a spoon, mix in the sugar and chili powder. Place the brisket on a shallow aluminum tray or a broiler pan and pat half of the spice rub on top. Flip the brisket over and pat the remaining spice rub on the other side. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Soak the wood chips in water. Just before you are ready to put the meat on the grill, remove the soaked wood chips from the water and wrap them in aluminum foil. Poke a few holes with a fork or knife in the aluminum foil packet and place it directly on top of the hot coals.
- Meanwhile, preheat the grill for low indirect heat, to about 300 degrees. Bank all the coals on one side of the grill or heat only one side of a gas grill. Open the vents in the grill lid and place them over the cool (unheated) side of the grill. This will pull the smoke across the meat, and help you regulate the temperature inside the grill; ideally, the inside temperature will hover between 275 and 325 degrees.
- Place the brisket, fat side up, in the aluminum tray or broiler pan on the side of the grill without direct heat. Cover and cook the brisket for two to three hours, or until it has a golden-brown color and the meat seems tender when prodded with a small, sharp knife. Be sure to baste the brisket with any juices that accumulate in the bottom of the pan. If using charcoal, you may need to add additional coals halfway through cooking to maintain the 325-degree temperature.
- Remove the brisket from the heat and let sit for about 15 minutes before carving across the grain. Serve with room-temperature or warm Best Barbecue Sauce.
Best Barbecue Sauce
This sauce is a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Spread it on brisket, ribs, grilled chicken, grilled sausages, steaks and more.
Make a double batch; it will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. Makes about 3 cups.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- About 1 teaspoon Chinese chile paste (see note)
- About 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce or hot pepper sauce (see note)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups ketchup
- 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Note: Chinese chile paste and Sriracha hot chili sauce are available at Asian food markets and in the specialty food section of many grocery stores. The chile paste is a thick, bright-red mixture of ground chile peppers.
- In a medium pot, heat the oil over low heat for one minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for three minutes.
- Add the chile paste and chili sauce and stir; let cook for one minute.
- Add the vinegar, soy sauce and Worcestershire and bring to a gentle simmer; cook for three minutes.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of the ketchup and the maple syrup and let simmer on low for 10 minutes, whisking to create a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning.
- If you want a sweeter, more tomato-flavored sauce, add the additional 1/2 cup ketchup. If you want a spicier sauce, add more chile paste and chili sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool; cover and refrigerate.
Dry-Rubbed Pork Ribs With Barbecue Sauce
Baby back ribs or St. Louis-style ribs are coated in a dry rub, smoked over low heat for a few hours and then placed in a paper bag to settle the juices. The result is nothing short of miraculous.
These ribs are so tender they almost fall off the bone, and they burst with flavor. Serve with Best Barbecue Sauce and Asian slaw. The ribs are best smoked over a charcoal fire, but you can also use a gas grill. Serves 6.
The Ribs And The Rub
- 4 1/2 pounds baby back or St. Louis-style pork ribs
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- You may also add the following to taste: ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper
The Charcoal And Basting Sauce
- Charcoal and 1/2 cup mesquite or fruitwood chips, soaked and drained (optional)
- About 1 cup apple cider or apple juice (cranberry juice or cherry juice work well, too)
- Aluminum foil
- Large brown paper bag (the kind you get at the grocery store)
- Best Barbecue Sauce
- Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and place them on a large roasting pan or platter. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, thyme, oregano, paprika, coriander and allspice until blended. Pat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub, taking care to cover all surfaces with the spice mixture (including the rib ends). Cover the ribs and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Soak the wood chips in water. Just before you are ready to put the ribs on the grill, remove the soaked wood chips from the water and wrap them in aluminum foil. Poke a few holes with a fork or knife in the aluminum foil packet and place it directly on top of the hot coals.
- Meanwhile, preheat the grill for low indirect heat, to about 300 degrees. Bank all the coals on one side of the grill or heat only one side of a gas grill. Open the vents in the grill lid and place them over the cool (unheated) side of the grill. This will pull the smoke across the ribs, and help you regulate the temperature inside the grill; ideally, the inside temperature will hover between 275 and 325 degrees.
- When the grill is at about 300 degrees, place the ribs bone-side up and fat-side down on the side of the grill opposite from where the coals are banked. Place the grill cover firmly on the grill and smoke the ribs for 45 minutes. Rotate the ribs occasionally to avoid burning. It should not be necessary to flip the ribs. If they start to burn it means your fire is too hot. Partially close the grill vents to lower the temperature. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the apple cider into the hollow of each rack of ribs after they have cooked for an hour or so. Continue to add cider as needed to keep the ribs moist.
- When you pierce the middle of the ribs with a small, sharp knife, the meat should feel tender. They generally take a total of around two to 2 1/2 hours cooking time.
- Transfer the ribs to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the ribs completely in foil. Place the package inside the paper bag, and fold the bag a few times to seal it. Allow the ribs to sit (at room temperature) for 30 minutes. Remove the ribs from the bag and the foil, and serve with the barbecue sauce at room temperature. To reheat, place the ribs (in the foil) on a baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also reheat them in the foil on a warm grill, but take care not to burn them, as the spices might become bitter.
This is a fresh slaw with crunchy textures and bright colors and flavors. Napa cabbage, peas, carrots, red pepper, scallions and peanuts are tossed in an Asian-flavored dressing made with soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and safflower oil.
The slaw should be dressed just about 15 minutes before serving so it doesn’t get limp and soft. But you can prepare all the slaw ingredients in a big bowl, and the dressing in a Mason jar, and cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before tossing and serving. Serves 4 to 6.
- 2 cups peas, snap or English, stringed and very thinly sliced
- 5 cups Napa cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced, from 1 medium head
- 1 sweet red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon safflower oil
- In a large salad bowl mix the peas, cabbage, red pepper, carrots and scallions. Keep the peanuts separate. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl or a Mason jar, mix all the ingredients and taste for seasoning. Add more soy sauce or vinegar if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve, add half the dressing to the slaw and toss. Sprinkle on the peanuts and taste. Add more dressing or serve the remaining dressing on the side.