Grilling Tips: John Stage
"So just like it was for our ancient relatives, the main trick to cooking outdoors is learning how to build and maintain a fire."
This week's grilling tips come from John Stage, the mastermind and co-owner of the highly successful restaurants, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. In 1983, John and his buddy, Mike, sawed a 55-gallon drum in half for barbecuing and began offering a simple three sandwich menu to the hungry crowds at biker gigs across the country. During his time on the road, John tasted the world-class barbecue in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, picking the bones of barbecue greats. Getting bits and pieces of crucial information on successful grilling and barbecuing, John had developed a passion and love for smoking and grilling and meat that just wouldn't go away. After a lot of blood, sweat, tears, smoke, and meat, in 1988, John and his small but mighty team opened Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, New York, earning national acclaim for their high quality Dinosaur-style ribs, delicious beef brisket, and all the fixins'. We have gathered some of the essential basic grilling tips from John's cookbook, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (An American Roadhouse), to help you gear up for grilling season.
Back to Basics
"So just like it was for our ancient relatives, the main trick to cooking outdoors is learning how to build and maintain a fire. Here's what your gonna need to get started cooking outdoors:
Grill with a lid
Chimney starter if your working with charcoal
Charcoal briquettes with as few chemical additives as possible
Instant- read thermometer
Wire grill brush
Patience and plenty of cold beer"
Building and Maintaining a Fire using Charcoal
"First you open the grill up and pull out the grill rack. We like using a chimney starter rather than splashing the charcoal with lighter fluid, a method that can flavor your food with petrochemicals. Pour the charcoal into the top of the chimney starter and then stuff one large sheet of newspaper into the bottom. With a match, light the newspaper in several places through the small holes in the bottom of the starter, and that pretty much does it. After about five minutes, hold your hand over the chimney starter to make sure you feel heat. It will take 20 to 30 minutes for the coals to get hot. You'll know when the top coals look sort of half gray. At that point, dump the coals into the bottom of the grill and spread them all around."
Grilling Using Wood Chips
"We suggest using wood chips because they produce good results and are much more adaptable for gas or charcoal grills. We've found that by wrapping damp wood chips in foil and poking some holes in the packets, you can achieve a close approximation of the smoke penetration that we get in our pits. Often you'll notice that recipes in other books, or even on the packaging of the wood chips you buy, recommend scattering the chips on the fire dry. Ignore these recommendations. You'll just be wasting chips. Instead, pour the chips into a bowl—about a cup and a half of chips will make one packet and you'll need 4 to 6 packets for the average recipe. Cover them with water and soak them for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and divide them between 4 to 6 12-inch squares of aluminum foil. Fold the foil around the chips and then poke some holes in the foil on one side so the smoke can escape. Once you've spread out the coals in the bottom of the grill, put the packets right down on the hot coals, hole side up. Replace the grill rack, place an oven thermometer on the rack, cover the grill, and let it preheat for about 5 minutes."