If you are a carnivore like me, the very title of the book Ribs, Chops, Steaks & Wings might be enough to get this book off the shelf and in your hands. Because those four simple words conjure up delectible images. Juicy, dense and oh so smoky… at least they are to Serious Grill Dudes.
Now I may be a carnivore, but I am not a Serious Grill Dude. Which is why I feel that this book by Ray Lampe is just the sort of book I need to get my grill on. In case you did not know it, the author of this book is the very media savvy “Dr. BBQ”. He’s a regular guest on the Food Network. He also has his own web site by the same name, judges cook-offs, serves as spokesman for the National Pork Board, and has written six cookbooks. Which I suppose makes him a Serious Grill Dude.
I am not ashamed to admit that this book’s simple format and elementary style are perfect for this Aspiring Serious Grill Dude. There is a lot I don’t know about cooking meat, espcially on the grill. So before I learn to trot I need to learn to walk (I almost said gallop but I could not find a single horse recipe in this book)…
Which is why I liked this book best for the basic information it presents. The author starts at the beginning. He discusses the advantages of charcoal, and explains how and when to use gas flame. He gives a simple rundown on pairing meat with various types of smoke. He likes oak, hickory or mesquite with steak for example.
He also leads each chapter with a lot of general information concerning each of his 4 star attractions. He is quite definite in his opinion that ribs, chops, steaks and wings are “simply the most revered and tastiest parts of the cow, pig and chicken”. Which is backed up with the simple fact that that these cuts of meat are often from muscles that did not have to do a lot of the heavy work during the animal’s life. Therefore they are usually tender and nicely marbled with fat. These are also cuts that are near the bones, and even I can attest to the fact that meat from near the bones just tastes better, and cooking meat while still on the bone adds even more great flavor.
This is the first book I have ever owned that simply lists interior temperatures in farenheit for steak. It seems like a small thing but it’s nice to have the information presented so succinctly. I probably differ in my assesment of temperature and the proper cooking of steak by a couple of degrees because I believe in erring on the side of less done. Still its valuable information to have at your fingertips.
Rare 120 degrees, Medium-Rare 130 degrees, Medium 140 degrees, Medium-Well 150 degrees, Well-Done 160 degrees
All this information is great, but at heart I am a cook first and a grill dude second (or third…), so it’s the recipes that I tend to put most of my attention towards. This book has 44 different recipes. Few enough to keep the focus of this book squarely on the chargrilled prize. But they reach enough beyond the standard fare of backyard BBQs or weekend tailgate parties to be interesting. Still, they feel friendly and familiar at the same time. Serious Grill Dudes still emphasize the meat above all else, as it should be. But I am happy to report that there is nothing overtly boring on any of these pages.
I was excited by his use of fruit and other sweet ingredients to good effect in a lot of his sauces. I think that adds a level of sophistication missing from a lot of Serious Grill Dude cookbooks. His rib recipes feature an apricot glaze as well as a pineapple teriyaki. His Sweet and Sticky Baby Back Ribs are made so with a combination of honey, molasses and apple cider vinegar. Pork chops get fruity doused with maple syrup or peach salsa. Pork tenderloin gets a sweet apple glaze.
Even a few of his steaks are marinated in sweet flavors like citrus soy sauce. Of course the wings get equal treatment with raspberry-honey mustard, chili lime, and even an unusual peanut butter and jelly sauce. I have not tried it so I won’t comment, but I suspect that may be the media savvy aspect of “Dr. BBQ’s” personality standing up and taking its bow.
Of course dry rubs are well-represented too, because at heart he’s more than a Serious Grill Dude, he’s a Mega Q-Man. He likes his rubs bold and a bit spicy as in Memphis Dry-Rubbed Back Ribs, Coffee-Rubbed Pork Chops, Chili-Rubbed Rib Eyes, and his Dry-Rubbed Wings.
I chose to make a more classically styled steak. It’s a Filet Mignon Stuffed with Blue Cheese. Which may surprise you. Filet is rarely my first choice when it comes to steak. I am more of a bone-in Rib Eye kinda guy. But honestly I found this recipe interesting both in its simplicity and how well it addresses the main beef I have with filet. That is of course the fact that it lacks a lot of flavor. His bold spice rub and the addition of blue cheese takes care of that problem. Which leaves this filet free to flaunt its very best quality. It is the most tender of all steaks. It comes from the tenderloin, which doesn’t get much work in its life, thereby assuring it buttery texture in its afterlife!
My brother Sip! has a wine pairing for this recipe too. Beckmen “Cuvee Le Bec” Santa Ynez Valley Rhone Blend. It’s a new world example of my favorite style of red wine and a wonderful choice with this full flavored filet.
- 3 T salt
- 1 T onion powder
- 1 T finely ground black pepper
- 1 t smoked paprika
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1 t good-quality chili powder
- 1 t turbinado (raw) sugar
- 1⁄2 t dry mustard
- 4 usda choice or better filet mignon steaks, about 2 inches thick
- fried onions (optional)
To make the spice mixture stir together the salt, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, coriander, chili powder, sugar and dry mustard in an airtight container. Set aside until ready to use. There will be more than you need.
Cut a deep pocket on the side of each of the steaks, with as small an opening as possible. You might want to have the butcher do this for you. Stuff one-fourth of the blue cheese into the pocket of each steak. Work the cheese in as far as you can and squeeze the opening shut to seal it. Secure with toothpicks if necessary to keep the cheese inside. Season liberally on both sides with the spice mixture.
Prepare the grill for cooking over direct heat. Remove the toothpicks if using and place the steaks directly on the cooking grate. Cook for 3 minutes, rotate the steaks 1/4 turn to make nice crosshatch marks, and then cook another 2 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare, or to your degree of desired doneness. Remove to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with onions dredged in flour, salt and pepper and quickly deep fried (optional).
SERIOUS FUN FOOD