Open Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook and you'll find a winning mix of barbecue and grilling recipes plus perfect summer sides for quick weekday dinners and relaxed weekend entertaining. Tapping the secrets of the best ‘cue from Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City and Memphis, Virgil's has tested and tasted it all until the ninety-eight recipes in this book are foolproof for home cooks and backyard grillmasters.
Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook has the instructions you need for anything you're in the mood for: get serious and do some smoking, in either a basic kettle grill or dedicated smoker, or stay casual and sample some rubs and marinades for succulent grilled meat, fish or vegetables.
--Beef: from True Texas Brisket to Chicken Fried Steak with Country Gravy to a Kansas City Burnt Ends Sandwich
--Pork: from Baby Back Ribs to Boston Butt (the Virgil's Way) to Slow-smoked Ham
--Poultry: from Classic Pulled Chicken to Kansas City Fried Chicken to Jerk Chicken
--Rubs, Marinades and Sauces: from Virgil's meal-making Universal Flour to Carolina Vinegar Sauce to Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
Surrounded by unstoppable sides and sweets, such as Southern Accent Cheddar Grits, Georgia Pecan Rice and Virgil's Perfect Banana Pudding, Virgil's barbecue is about to change the way you eat and entertain: this food will make you happy!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||9 MB|
About the Author
NEAL CORMAN is the Corporate Executive Chef of the Alicart Restaurant Group, where he's been since 2010. He is responsible for maintaining the quality of every piece of meat that comes out of Virgil's 1,400-pound Southern Pride smokers.
CHRIS PETERSON is a writer and editor based in Ashland, Oregon. He led cookbook development for three publishers over 20 years. Peterson is the author of twelve books, and has written books with Sabrina Soto, Carter Oosterhouse, and Brian Boitano.
NEAL CORMAN is the Corporate Executive Chef of the Alicart Restaurant Group, where he's been since 2010. He is the author of Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook. He is responsible for maintaining the quality of every piece of meat that comes out of Virgil’s 1,400-pound Southern Pride smokers.
Read an Excerpt
Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook
The Best Barbecue from Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard
By Neal Corman, Chris Peterson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Times Square Barbeque, Inc.
All rights reserved.
The Art (and a Little Bit of Science) of Barbecue
At Virgil's, we do most of our barbecuing in two fourteen-hundred-pound Southern Pride smokers. When we fill them up, you can smell the wood smoke and barbecued meat all over Times Square. These bad boys are ideal for maintaining the perfect temperature and conditions we need to produce our consistently world-class barbecue. If you're going to turn out hundreds of barbecued meals a night like we do, you absolutely need some heavy-duty equipment in the kitchen. We feed hickory and apple wood into the firebox and smoke fills a cooking chamber as big as a Buick. It's quite a sight to see. (If you're ever in New York's Times Square, stop on by and we'll be glad to show you!)
But all of us at Virgil's also have our own rigs at home, and we understand that most folks will be working with the grill that's already sitting in the backyard. Even if you're ready for an upgrade, chances are you'll want to cook with the fuel that you're used to, on a unit that is meant for home use. We may own the cookers to top all cookers, but that doesn't mean we don't understand how to cook up great barbecue on more modest gear. Truth is, in our many road trip travels, we've seen some awfully delicious barbecue come out of some amazing — and amazingly simple — pieces of equipment. That's just one of the many great things about barbecuing: the techniques remain the same, no matter what type of cooker you're using.
Our founder Artie Cutler used to tell one story in particular, about great cooking on humble equipment. He and a group of other Virgil's adventurers were driving the back roads of Tennessee, on the hunt for great barbecue, when they pulled into a gas station on some woodsy stretch of two-lane highway. While the rental cars were getting gassed up, he stretched his legs and caught sight of a little homemade barbecue stand off to the side of the station. It looked pretty much like a snow cone stand you might see on a seashore boardwalk, except that this particular establishment was manned by a single oversized fella wearing bib overalls and nothing else. This gentleman had built a pit from cinder blocks, grates, and corrugated tin sheets right there in the service station parking lot. Our fearless leader, being the brave wanderer that every Virgil's road tripper must be, ordered up the only thing on the menu — a pulled pork sandwich. That roadside chef removed the corrugated tin to reveal a whole pig lying there, just smoking over a bed of coals. He pulled some meat off that pig with his bare hands, slapped it on a bun, and put it on a plate with a little sauce. Wouldn't you know it? It turned out to be the best pulled pork the Virgil's crew tasted that whole darn trip. Cinder blocks and corrugated tin. Go figure.
So, no, you certainly don't need some fancy, superdeluxe rig with all the latest gizmos to whip up some fine barbecue. The unit you have in your backyard can probably be used to cook everything you would want to put on a fire. Of course, if that unit isn't the right size or is just a little too long in the tooth, then it might be time to look around for a cooker that better suits your cookout purposes.
Either way, you'll find the lowdown on the different types of barbecues you can choose from, along with a summary of the pros and cons of each type, in the next few pages. We wrap up this chapter with the basics of grilling and barbecuing, offering you some inside advice on how to get exactly the results you're after, whether you're searing up a nice rare steak or cooking a mouthwatering brisket low and slow.
When it comes to the equipment you use for backyard cookouts, size does matter. You have to consider the amount of cooking you're going to do before you can decide if your current cooker is up to the job. You may need a replacement if you intend to tackle large cuts of meat like a brisket or oversized, whole fish, or if you have lots of friends and will regularly need to cook a gigantic tableful of food for your get-togethers.
Regardless of size, you'll be a happier cook if you're working on a properly constructed grill. Certain indicators of quality are common to all grills. The best have adjustable grates that are removable for easy cleaning. The grates themselves can be stainless steel, bare cast iron, or porcelain-coated cast iron. We much prefer stainless steel grates because they are the easiest to clean, even though cast-iron grates have excellent heat-retention properties and work well for searing grilled foods (even if they are a bit heavy and cumbersome to handle and move around). Cast-iron grates also need to be re-seasoned regularly. Porcelain-coated cast-iron grates are easy to clean up and hold heat well, but the porcelain eventually chips — which is why we usually stay away from them. If your grates are two exits down the road from beat- up and grimy, get yourself new grates. They aren't going to set you back much, and the quality of your barbecue is at stake!
You'll also want to look for signs of solid construction. Keep an eye out for full welds, rather than spot welds, and smooth, even seams. If you regularly move your grill around, you'll want to make sure the wheels are solid rubber with thick solid metal axles. A lined hood is a big bonus, and handles should be wrapped with wood or a protective sleeve of some sort to prevent burns. The best grills, regardless of the type of fuel used, include a thermometer so you can quickly determine the temperature inside the cooking chamber (and you want a thermometer that reads actual numbers rather than zones). Looking past these basics, you'll be choosing a (or using your existing) grill from one of the following.
Gas Grills. Propane-powered grills are the most popular type of outdoor grills sold in America. That's because they're just about as easy as it gets. There's no fussing with the fuel source, you have total control over the heat and flame, and you can start grilling with just a short warm-up period. You'll find lots and lots of fancy gas grills with all kinds of extras, but always start your search with the basics: the burners. For real barbecuing — low-and-slow cooking, that is — you absolutely have to have a gas grill with three or more burners so that you can position the food off to the side or between lit burners. The best burners are stainless steel or brass — cast iron are common on lower-priced gas grills but aren't as efficient as brass. Whether you need extra burners depends on the amount of barbecuing you tend to do, and how many people you're looking to cook for.
The average griller/basic grill/small
Regular griller/big grill/large family 4
Super griller/super grill/big crowds 5 or
All gas grill burners are covered by material that protects the burners themselves from juices and food remnants. This is either a metal heat diffuser or faux briquettes crafted of clay or lava rock. If possible, go with the heat diffuser; the juices vaporize when they hit the metal, flavoring the food and giving you a bit more of that authentic barbecue flavor. (Find more on how to get a true smoky flavor, here.) Lava rocks will tend to break down and are darn near impossible to get clean.
Depending on how wide you're willing to open your wallet, you can choose from a whole lot of extras, but just be sure any add-ons make sense for the way you cook out.
Almost all gas grills these days include built-in thermometers (analog at low to mid range, digital at the high end). The best of these include a removable, instant-read thermometer so that you can test whatever you're barbecuing in addition to knowing how hot the cooking chamber is getting. Side shelves and warming plates can come in handy if you want to keep side dishes warm.
If you're a Virgil's type of avid griller — a cook that likes to use the grill more than the stove — you may want to upgrade to true side burners that allow you to do a full range of cooking right there at the grill. These let you heat up side dishes and keep them warm, or create specialty dishes like caramelized onions right alongside whatever it is you're barbecuing. Motorized, self-turning rotisseries are luxury features that can expand the way you barbecue. They are great ways to slow-cook large fish, or even the Thanksgiving turkey.
When it comes to gas grills, BTU ratings are often touted as a measure of how powerful and effective the grill will be. Sorry to say, it's not quite that clear cut. The BTUs of any given grill are actually a measure of how much fuel the grill uses. How effectively the grill heats up and stays hot is a reflection of how big the grates are and the number of burners in relation to the BTUs. BTUs will give you some idea of the relative power of the grill, but don't put too much weight on that particular number; beyond a certain point, the BTUs may not be relevant because cooking low and slow doesn't require a lot of extra power — just well-crafted, reliable burners and a well-sealed lid.
Any discussion about gas grill heat isn't complete without mentioning the relatively new technology of infrared burners. These heat up way quicker and get much hotter than traditional gas grill burners. If you want to see the Virgil's crew get in a real debate, just mention infrared burners. That's because traditionalists think they're unnecessary. If you plan on doing more grilling than barbecuing or smoking, infrared burners may serve you well and save some time in the process (they're great at searing small cuts of meat). But the fact is, infrared burners take some getting used to and some practice to master.
Keep in mind that propane isn't your only choice when it comes to gas grills. Natural gas grills are a less common option, but they allow you to plumb the grill right into the home's natural gas line — meaning you'll never have to refill a gas tank. The downside is that the grill can't be moved around once it's connected to the gas line and, of course, it's not an option if your house isn't serviced by natural gas.
Charcoal Grills. A charcoal grill is the unit of choice for traditionalist backyard barbecuers. Charcoal grilling is considered the best way to get that authentic smoky barbecue flavor, even if these types of grills take more work than a gas grill would. There's also a bit more cleanup with a charcoal grill because of the ash, and the fuel itself can be slightly more expensive than gas. But, oh, that unique taste! If that's what you're after and you want to do it like the pros do, consider the following features when you go shopping for your charcoal grill.
Look for easy access to the firebox or charcoal compartment. Your life will be a whole lot simpler and you'll be a happier camper if you can add charcoal without having to move the food and grates around. You should also look for an easy-to-empty ash collector. A slide-out removable ash drawer is preferable, although vents that allow the ash to fall into an ash pan are almost as good. Scooping ashes out of the bottom of a low-cost unit will leave you wishing you had plunked down a little more coin. For maximum cooking control, you're going to want simple-to-operate top and bottom vents that can be opened or closed by degrees.
The type of charcoal you use is going to have an effect on how your barbecue tastes. Not all charcoal is created equal. Back in the day, barbecuers would cook their food over large open pits fueled by burning hardwoods. They'd wait a good long time for the wood to burn down and then cook over the charred embers that were left smoldering. You can still do it this way by buying authentic "charwood" charcoal made from different hardwoods (it's also called "lump charcoal"). You can find lump charcoal in different hardwoods for different flavors of smoke.
A lot of people, on the other hand, prefer the ease and lower cost of charcoal "briquettes." These are uniform squares of pressed sawdust and other fillers. They're easy to work with and they can last twice as long as lump charcoal, but purists insist that you can't get the same smoky wood flavor from briquettes (although the technique here might take care of that objection).
No discussion about charcoal grills would be complete without mentioning the Kamado grill. This is a popular — and expensive — variation on the basic "clamshell" charcoal grill. The grill is shaped like an egg (the best known Kamado grill is actually called the Big Green Egg), with a ceramic shell encasing an inner liner. The design of the unit allows the grill to produce temperatures high enough for searing a grilled steak, while still being able to hold low temperatures steady for an extended period of time to smoke food. The Kamado grill has a lower firebox that can be refilled with charcoal through an access door, and top and bottom vents that draw smoke and heat up through the unit. Available in sizes from tiny to large enough to barbecue a twenty-pound turkey, Kamado grills are — owing to their complex design and construction — some of the priciest grills on the market.
Pellet Grills. This is the newest addition to the outdoor grill marketplace, and it's catching on. Pellet grills burn small, compressed wood pellets. The pellets are fed into a hopper, and then into a firebox at a preset rate. That rate determines the cooking heat, and gives you a lot of control over temperature — pellet grills are great for both direct-heat grilling and low-and-slow barbecuing. Because the pellets can be made from just about any wood, you can experiment with different flavors for your hot-smoked barbecue. The most widely available (and least expensive) pellets are a compressed combination of fruitwood and nonfruit hardwood such as oak. More expensive types are pure fruitwood, and you can use these sparingly to get whatever smoked flavor you're after.
The pellets themselves are easy to handle. Most pellet grills have a large hopper with an access door that makes refilling the pellets during cooking a breeze. Pellets are also clean burning. However, the selection of pellets may be limited depending on where you live, and pellets are usually more expensive than charcoal or propane. Pellet grills are also generally more expensive than other types of grills, and if the pellet-feed mechanism breaks down, you're looking at a costly repair or replacement (a good reason to go with a higher-end pellet grill if you choose this option).
The Rest of Your Gear
A few simple but well-made tools can make barbecuing a whole lot easier. Put together your own barbecuing toolbox and keep your gear in working order to make sure your cookouts are as enjoyable, easy, and successful as possible.
Grill brush: This utensil is essential no matter what grill you're using, but like all tools, it needs to be maintained. A lot of pros recommend buying a new one at the start of the season, but that depends on how often you grill, how sturdy the brush was to begin with, and what type of things you've cooked. One thing's for certain: you don't want bristles falling out of an overused brush and sticking to the grate — or finding their way into your food. We recommend replacing any brush that has loose bristles or other structural damage. In any case, you'll be using this every time you fire up the grill, so spend a little more for a quality grill brush with a nice wide head and a long handle that's comfortable to hold.
Thermometer: Make no mistake, you need a thermometer to properly barbecue. Actually, you need two (although depending on the thermometer, it might be able to do double duty). For any true low-and-slow cooking, you have to know and keep track of the temperature in your cooking chamber. Grill chamber temps that yo-yo up and down are sure to lead to bad barbecue. But you'll also need to measure the temperature of whatever it is your cooking — checking the internal temperature is really the only way you'll know if it's done (and if it's safe to eat). Buy yourself a good-quality instant read thermometer — either a probe type or a digital wireless. Then use it whenever you barbecue.
Utensils: Tools dedicated to outdoor cooking will go an awful long way to making your life easier. Buy and use utensils specifically meant for barbecuing and you won't be caught short with tongs that can't turn the brisket, or a spatula that bends under the weight of a turkey breast. The basic set consists of a large rigid spatula, strong fork, and sturdy tongs that can hold a large cut of meat. The handles for all of these should be long enough to keep your hand away from the heat of the coals or fire, with nonslip, easy-to-clean grips.
Chimney starter: An incredibly simple "must-have" if you're cooking with charcoal, the starter is a metal tube with a small lower chamber, a larger upper chamber, and a sturdy wooden handle. Fill the bottom with crumpled newspaper and the top with charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, and light it up. You'll have hot coals in minutes, and it works sure as shooting every time. No need for that nasty lighter fluid that adds chemical flavors to your food! If you're barbecuing big meals, it may pay to get two of these for when you need to fire up a large batch of coals.
Timer: Cooking times vary quite a bit, depending on what you're cooking, how consistent the heat is, and other factors. But having a timer near your grill is a good idea for cooking sensitive food like fish fillets or small pieces of chicken, and it can keep you aware of longer cooking times so you avoid that sin of sins: dried out, overcooked barbecue.
Barbecue lighter: Trigger-activated barbecue lighters are simple as can be, but useful as all get-out. Just click the trigger to light a flame at the end of the long barrel, and you can light anything that needs igniting with a lot less fuss than matches would require. These work with gas grills that don't have an electric igniter, and with charcoal grills of all kinds.
Excerpted from Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook by Neal Corman, Chris Peterson. Copyright © 2014 Times Square Barbeque, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
Table of Contents
1. The Art (and a Little Bit of Science) of Barbecue
5. Rubs, Marinades and Sauces
11. Suggested Menus
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Title: Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: The Best Barbecue From Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard Author: Neal Corman Publisher: St Martin's Press Published: 4-8-2014 ISBN: 9781250041098 E-Book: B00H6ETE1Y Pages: 352 Genre: Food And Wine Tags: Cooking Overall Rating: Great Reviewed For: NetGalley Reviewer: DelAnne If you did not grow up in the south you may not understand the importance of a good barbeque. Everyone's mind turns to barbeque when Summer comes, but in the south barbeque is to be enjoyed year round. Whether dead of Winter or the Dog Days o f Summer, we enjoy our barbeque and the fun times to be shared with family friends. Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: The Best Barbecue From Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard takes us through the recipes of Virgil's Restaurant in New York. Sweet, tart, spicy or exotic, what ever your taste you are bound to find more than a few recipes that will appeal and tempt you. From rubs to sauces; from starters to beverages add in sides to desserts and there is something for everyone to indulge in. In my home we all love to cook. Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: The Best Barbecue From Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard also tells of many different types fuels to use and equipment. I worked my way through a few recipes and found them to be so scrumptious. Yes, Virgil's may be located in New York, but whom ever developed the recipes has to be well versed in southern cuisine to come up with those authentic tasting deviled eggs, collard greens, pecan rice, the many creole dishes and a variety of desserts, including carrot cake and key lime pie. So many more to go but I have not found a bad one yet. Pick up a copy today and try them for yourself.
Yep. We love to cook and we love to eat. And we really love to grill and smoke and slow cook and barbecue. Virgil’s Road Trip Barbecue had my mouth watering. From the folks behind Virgil’s restaurants, including the flagship on Times Square, NYC, this is a collection of their best recipes. The book is a cookbook but so much more. It opens with an overview of barbecue and grilling basics and techniques. Then the recipes. It finishes up with suggested menus. Every single recipe sounds wonderful. They are divided into sections with drinks and sides not neglected. Chicken, beef, pork and seafood all get a generous portion. And each recipe is annotated about where and how the restaurant staff arrived at the combination of flavors and which barbecue region it best represents (the Carolinas, Memphis, Texas, or Kansas City). As I read about the special spice and rub and marinades, I expected the authors would be proprietary about them and recommend you order the spice blends from Virgil's online, but the full recipes were all included. I'm impressed. That's a company that's confident of two things: the tastiness of their goods and the willingness of the general eating public to continue to visit the restaurants even if (theoretically) they could replicate their favorite at home. I’m kicking myself that we didn’t visit Virgil’s when we were in New York a couple of years ago. We spent a good bit of time around Times Square. We made sure to have pizza and other NY favorites, but somehow, barbecue didn’t top the list of New York specialties. The recipes are easy to follow. The book is written in a folksy voice that makes the reader/cook feel like they’re just sittin’ around talking ‘cue and meats with someone with a bit o’ learnin’ about the subject. This is a “cookbook” that will be spattered and stained in no time. I can’t wait to try … well, all of the recipes. The Universal flour looks like it alone will make my deep-frying disasters a thing of the past. Bon appetit! -- I received a free electronic edition of this book in return for a fair review. I don’t know how fair it is that I now have to go buy the book since I can’t stand cooking from my Kindle or iPad. But that’s just me. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it!