Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ

Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ

by Elizabeth Karmel


$18.95 $24.95 Save 24% Current price is $18.95, Original price is $24.95. You Save 24%.

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Eligible for FREE SHIPPING


Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ by Elizabeth Karmel

"Having grown up in a barbecue restaurant family, I bond immediately with anyone who has a master's touch at the grill and barbecue pit. Elizabeth Karmel is the genuine article, understanding (and able to clearly articulate) that delicate interplay between food and fire, flavor and finesse."
—Rick Bayless, chef and owner of Frontera Grill/Topolobampo and host of Public Television's Mexico: One Plate at a Time

"Elizabeth Karmel was born in North Carolina, weaned on pulled pork, and has spice and smoke in her bones. This authoritative, opinionated, and just plain mouth-watering book will tell you everything you need to know about barbecue from someone who's spent a lifetime walking the walk and talking the talk."
—Steven Raichlen, author of How to Grill and BBQ USA and host of Barbecue University on PBS

"Finally, the woman who has taught me everything I know about grilling has come out with her own book. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned grillmeister, Taming the Flame is the book for you."
—Sara Moulton host, Food Network's Sara's Secrets, and executive chef, Gourmet magazine

"Just when you thought grilling could not get any more straightforward or delicious, Elizabeth Karmel shows you what you were missing: skillful techniques and remarkable flavors. Great grilling starts here!"
—Chef Charlie Trotter, Chicago

"Elizabeth Karmel is a breath of fresh air on the barbecue circuit. In Taming the Flame, she gives expert instruction and she tells all the barbecue secrets we boys tend to keep to ourselves."
—Mike Mills four-time World Champion,Memphis-in-May BBQ competition

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764568824
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/25/2005
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

North Carolina native Elizabeth Karmel was raised on barbecue—at roadside stands, neighborhood cookouts and county fairs—but it wasn’t until she moved away from home that the barbecue love affair began. When it wasn’t at her fingertips, she had to teach herself how to barbecue and grill and a pit-mistress was born.


Karmel, a.k.a. Grill Girl is a nationally respected authority on grilling, barbecue and Southern food. She is the Executive Chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market in NYC and Washington, DC, and NYC’s Hill Country Chicken. She developed the award-winning concept, menu and flavor profiles from the meats to the sides and desserts for all three restaurants. On July 4, 2012, The New York Times awarded Hill Country Barbecue Market NYC 2 stars and a glowing review that read like a love letter to barbecue and the Hill Country concept.


As a sought after media personality, Karmel writes for, and is frequently featured in an array of national magazines from Bon Appetit to Better Homes & Gardens, and was named one of the top 100 chefs by Saveur magazine. She appears regularly on all three network morning shows and is a guest judge on Chopped and Iron Chef America. She has appeared on a number of Food Network shows and hosted her own special on The Cooking Channel. She writes a bi-monthly column for the Associated Press called The American Table and is the author of three acclaimed cookbooks—Taming the Flame; Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned; and Pizza on the Grill. She designs an innovative line of outdoor cooking and kitchen tools, and is the founder of the decade-old, gender-breaking GirlsattheGrill.com. Follow her @GrillGirl and like her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/ElizabethKarmel/201250523244938.

Read an Excerpt

Taming the Flame

By Elizabeth Karmel

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-6882-5

Chapter One


Bone-In Chicken Pieces 101 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 101 Whole Turkey on the Grill 101 Tequila Sunrise Chicken Buffalo-Style Chicken Wings Chipotle Chicken Thighs Chicken Paillard with Greek Farmer's Salad and Tzatziki Rose's Tandoori Chicken Classic Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Salad with Purple Grapes Sliced Chicken with Five-Sprout Salad Thai Chicken Salad Chicken Tortilla Soup Rubbed and Sauced Barbecued Half Chickens Rosemary Chicken and Red Potatoes "French Chicken" with Dijon Mustard and Scallions Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and Shallots "Kosher" Chicken The Original Beer-Can Chicken Beer-Can Turkey Orange-Brined, Maple-Glazed Turkey Wild Rice-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens Salt-Cured Duck Breast with Fig Jam Crispy Duck Stuffed with Apples, Oranges, and Onions Duckling with Sweet Dried Plum Glaze Big Bob Gibson-Style White Barbecue Sauce

Poultry 101

Rapid-Fire Checklist

  • Preheat grill

  • Trim poultry of excess fat

  • Brush poultry all over with olive oil; season with kosher salt and pepper, if desired

  • Place poultry on cooking grate and cover grill

  • Grill all pieces except boneless skinless breasts using Indirect Heat

  • Wait until the final 5 to 15 minutes of grilling time to brush with any sweet barbecue sauce

  • Test for doneness with an instant-readthermometer: It should be 180°F in the thickest part of thigh

  • Let all poultry rest a minimum of 5 minutes before eating (whole turkeys should rest 20 minutes)

    Tools of the Trade

    12-inch locking chef tongs Instant-read thermometer Silicone or natural-bristle brush Heavy-duty oven mitt

    Common Problems

    Using the wrong cooking method

    Burned on the outside, raw on the inside

    Dry, overcooked poultry


    Cross-contamination of cooking and serving utensils (see page 33)

    Barbecued chicken is as all-American as baseball and apple pie. However, it is the food that gives backyard cooks the most trouble. It seems as if it would be easy to grill; but it often doesn't turn out the way the cook and the guests envisioned it. So what does a backyard cook need to know? First, start with the most basic seasoning: olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper (aka the Grilling Trilogy, page 19). Second, have patience.

    On the Fire: Direct or Indirect Heat

    A boneless skinless chicken breast takes just a few (five to seven) minutes on both sides over Direct Heat; but any piece of chicken with a bone in it (bone-in pieces) or a whole chicken will take longer. Anything that takes longer than 20 minutes to cook uses the Indirect Method. I sometimes refer to this method as grill-roasting, because you are essentially roasting a large piece of food on the grill. The Indirect Method is the most versatile, as it is how you "barbecue," "grill-roast," and "grill-bake." With Indirect Heat, the inside of the chicken will be done and still juicy at the same time as the outside turns a golden brown and the skin gets crispy. The added bonus is that you don't need to turn the chicken. Place the pieces bone-side down in the center of the cooking grate, and let the grill do the rest. This is what I call "walk-away" chicken because you put it on the grill and do other things while it cooks.

    This technique is basically the same for all whole poultry; but, remember, the larger the bird, the longer it will take to cook. Fattier birds like duck and goose need to be grill-roasted in a pan on almost every grill to prevent grease flare-ups. There are a few grills with advanced drip pan systems that can handle the excess drippings. But I love catching them in a foil pan because then I can use the drippings for sauteing and other recipes. Indirect Heat also reduces the incidence of flare-ups since there is no direct flame under the chicken. The juices and fats that are naturally rendered create a little smoke to flavor the food and then run into the drip pan system of the grill.

    Testing for Doneness

    Bone-in chicken pieces will take between 30 minutes for legs and 60 minutes for a large leg quarter or half a chicken over indirect heat. Depending on size, boneless chicken breasts should be done in 15 minutes over Direct Heat, and a whole chicken usually takes between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 hours to cook (Indirect Method). Because the timing depends on a set of variables including weight and size of poultry, heat of the grill, and weather (wind slows down the cooking time), I recommend using an instant-read thermometer. A thermometer will take the guesswork out of testing for doneness. Refer to the chart on page 35 for chicken or poultry end temperatures. For example, chicken is done when it registers 170°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh. However, since the heat varies from grill to grill, start checking for doneness ten minutes before a recipe says it should be done.

    Give Your Bird a Rest

    Ever since my years working with the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, I have been a big believer in letting meat rest before carving or cutting into it. I watched as an army of turkeys were carved too hot, too cold, and just right in the Turkey University test kitchens. The turkeys that were carved after resting 20 minutes were just right-tender, juicy, and still warm. Here's what happens: As the bird cooks and comes to the right temperature (180°F in the thigh) all the juices are propelled toward the exterior of the bird. When the meat is taken off the fire, it "rests" as it cools, and the meat fibers reabsorb the juices, making each piece juicy. If you don't wait, you'll have all those juices pooling around your plate or carving board, and the meat will be dry.

    What Is Cross-Contamination?

    You should be careful not to cross-contaminate your food no matter what you are preparing, but it is especially important with poultry because about 25 percent of both free-range and conventionally raised chickens test positive for salmonella bacteria. The good news is that cooking to the correct end temperature kills the bacteria. Cooked chicken rarely infects us with salmonella poisoning. What causes the problem is crosscontamination.

    Simply put, cross-contamination means mixing raw juices with cooked food or contaminating cooked food with the juices from raw foods. For example, this can happen when you take a platter of chicken to the grill, cook the chicken, then put the cooked chicken on that same platter. Although it may seem convenient to use one dish, don't risk cross-contamination and mix the cooked with the raw. Another way that the raw juices get into other foods is when rinsing the chicken. Water and raw juices often splatter, and if you have other ingredients for the meal, such as salad fixings on the counter, you run the risk of contaminating them. For this reason, I never wash poultry, or other meats or fish, I will be grilling. The heat of the grill will cook and "clean" the food. If you are used to washing poultry, just be careful not to splash and spray the juices around your kitchen.

    You can prevent cross-contamination by using two separate platters or washing your prep platter immediately with hot water and soap. I have a set of four melamine (heavy-duty plastic) platters that I use to transport food to and from the grill. They were very inexpensive (under $5 each), and are lightweight, virtually indestructible, and go right into the dishwasher after each use. If you want to be extra careful, you can wipe your counters, platters, etc., with a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water).

    Bone-In Chicken Pieces 101

    I recommend grilling chicken pieces over indirect heat so that they are cooked on the inside and golden brown on the outside at the same time. Cooking over direct heat can result in a raw interior and a burned exterior-especially if you put the barbecue sauce on too soon.

    Makes 4 servings

    Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat

    4 Chicken breasts or thighs, bone-in, or other chicken pieces Olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground pepper

    1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Remove and discard any excess fat from the chicken. Pat it dry with paper towels. Brush lightly with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, bone-side down, in the center of the cooking grate over indirect medium heat.

    2. Cover and grill until the breast meat near the bone registers 170°F and the thigh meat registers 180°F, 35 to 45 minutes, depending on size. You do not need to turn the chicken pieces. If you don't have a thermometer, cook it until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. If preparing barbecued chicken, season with your favorite barbecue rub and brush the sauce on the chicken during the last 15 minutes of cooking time to prevent burning.

    3. Remove and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

    Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 101

    The size of chicken breasts varies widely. Small chicken breasts will take six to eight minutes total. The larger and thicker the breasts, the longer they will take to cook-up to 20 minutes total cooking time.

    Makes 4 servings

    Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat

    4 Boneless skinless chicken breast halves Olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground pepper

    1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the center of the cooking grate over direct medium heat. Cover and grill for about 15 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Turn the chicken only once during cooking time.

    2. If using barbecue sauce, brush on the chicken during the last 5 minutes of cooking time to prevent burning. Remove and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

    Whole Turkey on the Grill 101

    Once you grill your first turkey, you'll never want to prepare it any other way. The convection action of the grill cooks the turkey faster than a conventional oven and browns the skin picture-perfect! The turkey takes on a slightly smoky grilled flavor, and it is a cinch to smoke with wood chips if you prefer a more intense turkey. The grill will give the turkey that distinctive pride-of-barbecuers' pink smoke ring next to the skin-so don't think the turkey is undercooked if you see a smoke ring, just congratulate yourself for a job expertly done! This method works well with a whole breast of turkey, too.

    Makes 12 to 15 servings

    Cooking Method: Indirect/Medium Heat

    1 whole turkey, 14 to 16 pounds, thawed Olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground pepper

    1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Remove the neck and giblets; reserve them for other uses or throw them away. Remove and discard any excess fat. If desired, rinse the bird and pat it dry with paper towels. Twist the wing tips under the back-this is called "wings akimbo."

    2. Brush the turkey with oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    3. Place the turkey breast-side up on the cooking grate on a charcoal grill or on a roasting rack in a disposable foil roasting pan on a gas grill. The grill should be set for indirect medium heat. There's no need to baste it; the thin coating of oil will promote browning and keep the juices inside the bird.

    4. Cover and cook 11 to 13 minutes per pound or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) registers 180°F and the juices run clear. Transfer the turkey to a platter and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

    TIP: Charcoal grillers will have to add about 12 briquettes to each side every hour; gas grillers don't need to do any tending; but about 30 minutes before the bird is done, remove the foil roasting pan and place the bird directly on the center of the cooking grate. This allows the bottom of the bird to brown. Use the drippings in the foil pan to make gravy. Make sure to bring the drippings to a boil before mixing them in with the rest of the gravy ingredients.

    Tequila Sunrise Chicken

    I never soak my food in anything I would not drink. Well, there is nothing like a tequila sunrise to make you smile, giggle, or fall down laughing-and this tequila sunrise marinade makes chicken sing with flavor, which is my way of saying that this is a very happy, snappy recipe. Make an extra pitcher of sunrises for yourself-just be careful to make sure only the chicken gets sauced!

    Makes 4 to 6 servings

    Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat Special Equipment: Vacu Vin Instant Marinater

    2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each 3 bunches green onions, trimmed 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice 1 cup tequila 1/2 cup grenadine 1 small white onion, roughly chopped 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground pepper Olive oil Lime wedges

    1. Use a large knife or poultry shears to split each chicken down the middle into 2 halves. Pat the chickens dry with paper towels. Place the chickens and green onions in a large bowl or 2 large resealable plastic bags.

    2. Whisk together the orange juice, tequila, grenadine, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Pour the marinade over the chickens and onions and turn several times to coat. Cover the container and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or, preferably, overnight), turning the chickens several times. Alternatively, use the Instant Marinater and marinate for 30 minutes.

    3. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Remove the chickens and green onions from the marinade and discard it. Lightly brush the chickens and green onions with oil and season with salt. Place them on the cooking grate, skin-side up over indirect medium heat. Cover and grill for 30 to 45 minutes or until the chickens register 180°F in the thickest part of the thighs and the juices run clear. Remove the chickens from the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes.

    4. While the chickens rest, grill the green onions over direct medium-heat for 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally until browned in spots and wilted.

    5. Serve the chicken hot, garnished with grilled green onions and lime wedges.

    TIP: You can also use a rib rack or roast holder to hold the half chickens upright during grilling.

    Buffalo-Style Chicken Wings

    This is the easiest chicken wing recipe you're bound to encounter, especially since the wings don't need to be marinated. All the flavor and the traditional sweet heat are added to the wings once they've crisped up on the grill. In memory of my favorite Buffalo, New York native, Harold Herman, I call for serving them with Buffalo's favorite sides-blue cheese dip and celery sticks-but they are equally good on their own.

    Makes 6 to 10 servings

    Grilling Method: Combo/Medium Heat

    4 to 5 pounds chicken wings or drummettes (24 pieces) Olive oil Kosher salt Freshly ground pepper 1 6-ounce bottle Louisiana hot sauce 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon honey Blue Cheese Lovers' Blue Cheese Dip (page 294) 6 celery stalks, cut into sticks

    1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Coat them all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the wings in the center of the cooking grate over indirect medium heat, cover, and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

    2. Meanwhile, combine the hot sauce, butter, and honey in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking occasionally, and reduce the heat to low. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the sauce, taking about 1/3 to the grill to brush on the wings, keeping the rest warm. Turn the wings over and grill for the final 10 minutes and remove them from the grill.

    3. Switch to medium direct heat. Pour the remaining sauce over the wings and toss to coat them evenly. Take the coated wings back to the grill and place them on the cooking grate. Cover and grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until very brown and caramelized. Remove from the grill onto a clean platter.

    4. Serve hot, with the blue cheese dip and celery stalks on the side.


    Excerpted from Taming the Flame by Elizabeth Karmel Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Table of Contents



    Telling Grilling Secrets.

    Flavoring the Fire.

    Tools of the Trade.






    Burgers and Ground Meat.



    Shrimp and Other Shellfish.

    Vegetables and Fruit.


    Low-and-Slow Barbecue.

    BBQ Ribs, Rubs, and Sauces.


    Nibbles and Bits.

    Salads and Sides.


    Sweet Endings.



    Grilling Dictionary.




    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See All Customer Reviews

    Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    BoloDH More than 1 year ago
    If you only buy ONE grilling/BBQ cookbook in your life, this one is IT! My sister gave this cookbook to me as a birthday present and after cooking two dishes, I was hooked. Got rid of all of my old BBQ cookbooks and this is the only one I use and recommend to others. 
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Wow, this book really got me psyched to start cooking outdoors. I always let my husband handle grilling & suffered through many lighter fluid infused burgers. I loved the recipes and creativity, who knew you could grill bananas? It is hard to believe that is could be so easy but my first attempt was a smash hit! My kids loved the Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and the grilled sweet potatoes.