Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

May 1 - Steve Raichlen

CookingWD-40 Company

To purchase a copy of the book:
The Barbecue! Bible

Entry forms and contest rules are available at:


Tune up your grill
Charcoal grill owners will want to scrape out any old ash and spray the vents with WD-40. Gas grill owners should make sure the burner tubes are free of cobwebs and spiders. Replace the igniter batteries if the grill won't light. If you smell gas, brush the hoses and couplings with a leak detection liquid (made of equal parts water and dish soap)-bubbles will show any leaks.

Buy a second grill
Gas grills are convenient, but when it comes to smoking, you can't beat charcoal. Join the more than 30 percent of Americans who own more than one grill. Use the gas grill on busy weeknights and fire up the charcoal grill on the weekends, when there is plenty of time to smoke low and slow.

Load up on fuel
Always keep an extra bag of charcoal or an extra tank of propane on hand. To take if up a notch, if you normally grill with charcoal briquettes, try natural lump charcoal because it burns cleaner. If you normally use natural lump charcoal, graduate up to wood (like oak or hickory) for a richer smoke flavor.

Ready your rubs
Prepare a few extra batches of Raichlen's Basic Barbecue "Four Four" Rub (equal parts salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar) at the start of the season, so you always have some on hand for an impromptu grill session.

Gather your tools
Make sure you have the three essential tools: a long-handled grill brush; spring-loaded tongs; and an instant-read meat thermometer.

Other more specialized cool tools that come in handy include a wood chip soaker, rib rack, cedar grilling planks, beer can chicken roaster, and a set of flat skewers for authentic shish kebabs.

Learn the lingo
- Grilling means to cook small, tender, and quick cooking foods directly over a hot fire.
- Barbecue is cooked next to, not directly over, the fire, at a low temperature for a long time in fragrant clouds of wood smoke.
- Indirect grilling is also done next to, not directly over, the fire, with or without wood smoke, at a higher temperature.
- Spit-roasting is what you do on the rotisserie.

Review the basics
- The surest way to burn or undercook food on the grill is to overcrowd the grate. Remember to leave 1 inch between each item and leave 1/3 of your grate [[or grilling space] open. That way, if flare-ups occur, there is a safety zone to move the food to and dodge the flames.
- Steaks, chops, chicken, pork shoulders, and briskets will taste best if they rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the meat to "relax," which makes it more tender and succulent. Loosely tent with foil to hold in the heat.

Caveman T-Bones with Hellfire Hot Sauce
Serves 4
How: Direct grilling

For the steaks:
4 T-bone steaks (10 to 12 ounces each), cut about 1 inch thick
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and cracked black pepper

For the hellfire hot sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced crosswise
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Grill the steaks: Build a charcoal fire and rake the coals into an even layer. When the coals glow orange, fan them with a newspaper or hair dryer 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, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning with tongs. Using tongs, lift the steaks out of the fire, shaking each to dislodge any embers. Using a basting brush, brush off any loose ash and arrange the steaks on a platter. Let the steaks rest loosely tented with aluminum foil, while you make the sauce. Make the hellfire hot sauce: 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 screaming hot, add the jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro. Cook over high heat until the sauce is aromatic and the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.

Spit-Roasted Pineapple with Cinnamon, Sugar and Cloves
Serves 4 to 8
How: Rotisserie grilling

1 ripe pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Vanilla or crème brulee ice cream
1 bunch fresh mint

Cut off the leafy top of the pineapple, then carefully cut off the rind. Using a sharp knife, make a series of spiral cuts to remove the eyes. Place the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, if using, in a bowl and stir to mix. Set up the grill for spit-roasting following the manufacturer's instructions and preheat the grill as hot as it will get. Thread the pineapple onto the rotisserie spit crosswise so the spit passes through the middle of the fruit and the ends will be closest to the fire. Working over a tray or sheet pan, sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on all sides and the ends of the pineapple, crusting it as thickly and as evenly as possible. You'll use about half of the cinnamon sugar. When ready to cook, attach the spit to the rotisserie mechanism and turn on the motor. Spit-roast the pineapple until it is darkly browned on the outside. This can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 20 depending on how hot your fire is. (I suggest doing this on a charcoal-burning rotisserie, which gets hotter than a gas one. Keep the grill covered, which will make it hotter, still.) Halfway through spit-roasting, brush the pineapple with the melted butter and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over it. Take the pineapple to the table on the spit on a cutting board. Remove the spit and slice the pineapple crosswise. Serve the hot pineapple with ice cream and a sprig of fresh mint.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun