Ray Lampe grew up in Chicago and after high school spent 25 years in the family trucking business. In 2000 the trucking business had run its course, and it was time for Ray to try something new. He has been participating in BBQ cook offs as a hobby since 1982, so he decided to take a leap and turn his hobby into a career. In 2000 Ray moved to Florida and began his career as an outdoor cooking expert.–Who Is Dr. BBQ
“Great barbecue: It’s as simple as meat, fire and smoke.”
It’s that quote on the back cover of Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe’s new book, Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue, that first caught my eye. As much as we’d like to have everyone think turning out great barbecue is something difficult and hard to do. Ray’s newest cookbook brings low and slow barbecue to the everyday backyard cook’
I’m sure there are a variety of “traditionalists” who may take an exception to some of the “shortcuts” mentioned in the recipes. But for people who are more interested in getting great results than they are in the perceived “right way” this book has some fantastic techniques and recipes that should appeal to both the beginning and advanced pitmaster.
The cookbook starts off with an entertaining Foreward by “Famous Dave” Anderson. I don’t always read forwards to books because I usually find them boring and somewhat grandiose. But when the first paragraph starts with “If you are a pork-aholic…” I’ve just had to find out what else Dave had to say. Dave’s introduction was an insightful look into both Ray and “Famous Dave.”
If you are ever looking for a great description of what barbecue is and what it’s all about you’ll want to take a look at Ray’s “The Art of Barbecue” that begins his cookbook. It’s a great explanation and he captures the look and feel of the BBQ world perfectly. “The Art of Barbecue” is followed by a few pages of explanation on cookers, charcoal, wood and tools. The section of wood is a good read on the most popular woods used for low and slow barbecue with descriptions of the flavor and what proteins they are best with.
The actual cooking part of the book is divided into seven chapters that covers everything from “Spices and Sauces” to “The Necessary Side Dishes.” With chapters on pork, beef and birds you get plenty of great recipes and techniques that should provide you with plenty of great tasting grub. There’s a chapter on “Anything But” includes recipes on “Jambalaya-Stuffed Bell Peppers” and the likes of “Barbecued Bologna” to name a few.
For me the highlight of this cookbook is Ray’s take on Ribs. According to Ray, “Ribs Rule The World,” and I’ve got to agree with him. Ray takes you a culinary rib field trip from Memphis to St. Louis to Korea and back. Whether it’s baby backs, beef short ribs or plain old spare ribs Ray provides the reader with some fantastic recipes that will impress friends and family.
There are a lot of great barbecue cookbooks on the market today, Ray Lampe’s Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue is one of the best. If you consider yourself a beginning backyard pitmaster who wants to learn how to turn out fantastic low and slow BBQ on your existing cooking hardware (except gassers) then this book will give the tools you need. If you’re a more advanced type cook you’ve got some great recipes that can be easily adapted to whatever cooking techniques you like to use.
One of my favorite recipes in Ray’s cookbook is for “Homemade Pastrami.” I love pastrami and as soon as I go to the store today to pick up some supplies there will be a brisket curing in my refrigerator. Ray’s recipe for “Homemade Pastrami” is reprinted with permission from “Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue,” published April, 2012 by Chronicle Books. Photo by Leigh Beisch. Used with permission.
Everybody loves pastrami and this homemade version may be the best you’ve ever tasted. The recipe avoids the long brine method and substitutes a more efficient combination of injection and dry-curing. It may seem like an intimidating project, but it’s really pretty simple as long as you remember to start the process four days before you plan to eat it. If you can’t find the Morton’s Tender Quick near the salt at your local grocery store, look for it online.
- 2 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup ice water
- 2 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons ground coriander
To make the brine injection: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of water, the Tender Quick, brown sugar, garlic powder, coriander and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and pour into a medium bowl. Add the ice water and mix well. Refrigerate until very cold.
To make the dry cure: In a small bowl, combine the Tender Quick, brown sugar, garlic powder, and coriander. Mix well and set aside.
Lay the brisket fat-side down on a sheet pan with sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. With a kitchen injector, inject the brine deeply into the brisket in a grid pattern at 1-inch intervals. Continue until all the brine has been used. Remove the plastic and dry the brisket and the pan. Flip the brisket over and season the fat side with half of the dry-cure mixture. Press the mixture into the fat. Flip the brisket and season the other side with the remaining dry cure and press it into the meat. Put the brisket in a heavy plastic bag. Push out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 3 1/2 days, flipping and massaging it through the bag twice a day.
Take the brisket out of the bag and rinse it well under cold running water. Place the brisket in a large pan of cold water to cover for 30 minutes. Dump the water and replace it with fresh water; soak for another 30 minutes. This will keep the pastrami from being too salty.
Prepare your cooker to cook indirectly at 235 degrees F using medium oak wood for smoke flavor.
To make the cooking rub: Combine the pepper and coriander in a small bowl and mix well.
Take the brisket out of the water and dry it well. Season the fat side with half of the cooking rub, pressing it into the meat. Flip the brisket and season the meaty side with the other half of the rub, pushing it into the meat. Put the brisket in the cooker, fat-side up. Cook for 4 hours and then flip the brisket to fat-side down. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F, another 1 or 2 hours.
Lay out a big double-thick piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Take the brisket out of the cooker, and lay it on the foil fat-side up. Wrap the foil up around the brisket, adding 1/2 cup water to the package. Close up the package tightly, pushing out as much air as possible. Return to the cooker until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches 200 degrees F, another 1 or 2 hours.
Take the package out of the cooker and open it to allow the steam to escape. Let rest for 15 minutes. Take the brisket out of the foil and discard the juices. Slice thinly across the grain to serve.
Want to win a copy of “Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide To Barbecue?” Here’s all you need to do to enter. Leave a comment below on why you think you should win. I’ll randomly pick one of the comments on May 1st and that person will get a copy of the book. You may leave a comment once a day until the contest ends. Simple? You bet…