Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue

Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue
Barbecue Your Way to Greatness 
With 575 Lip-Smackin' Recipes from the Baron of Barbecue
by Paul Kirk and Bob Lyon 
Harvard Common Press, 2004

A major figure in the world of competitive barbecue, Paul Kirk claims more than 400 cooking and barbecue awards to his credit, including seven world barbecue championships. If anyone is qualified to write about "championship" barbecue, this is the man.

This book explains how Kirk creates a blue-ribbon championship barbecue, whether it's for a major contest or for a backyard gathering of friends. Everything about barbecuing is included, from building a fire to making and choosing cuts of meat, poultry, and fish. It offers 575 recipes for marinades, mops and sops, seasoning and rubs, mustard slathers and more.

Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue includes a primer on how to get started in competition barbecue, with advice on choosing a contest, packing supplies, maintaining a fire, and making a good presentation.

"I've learned over the years to cook for myself, my team, and my family, not for the judges. You want the judges to like what you like, but if you try to second-guess what the judges will like, you could be wrong," Kirk explains. 

"Today, I try to enter contests where the judges are certified or trained, so that I know that people who know barbecue will be judging my stuff."

Kirk's professionalism may be more than the average backyard chef can emulate, but his enthusiasm is infectious and the recipes cover such a broad range of possibilities -- from Southern Barbecue Ribs and Jack Daniel's Apricot Sauce to Turkish-Style Salmon Steaks -- that almost any reader-chef will be inspired to fire up the grill. 

"There are more than 500 recipes to choose from, so you could grill or smoke something every day for a year and never have the same thing twice!" Kirk points out.

"What I really want you to do, however, is practice. After a while, you'll know just how long the fire in your rig can go before you have to add more hot coals or wood or both. You'll know the hotter and cooler spots on your pit. You'll know simply by the touch of a grill fork how done your steak is. You'll know by looking at your slab of ribs how much longer they need to smoke."

Improving the art of grilling and developing a greater consumer appreciation for barbecue seems to be what Kirk is really after with this book. Comprehensive and inspiring, it explains every aspect of barbecuing, from pits and sauces to tools and cuts and sides.

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Beef Cuts for Grilling and Slow Cooking
Excerpted from Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue, by Paul Kirk, Copyright
2004, with permission from Harvard Common Press

Filet mignon: These thick (2- to 3-inch), very tender steaks are cut from the long, cylindrical tenderloin. Thin ( 1/2-inch) slices of filet mignon are known as medallions. Whether thick or thin, season or marinate and grill.

Strip: This boneless steak is also known as Kansas City strip, New York strip, boneless club steak or shell steak. It has great flavor but is slightly chewy. Season or marinate and grill.

Club: This is a strip steak with the bone in. Like strip steak, it has great flavor but is slightly chewy. Season or marinate and grill.

Bone-in sirloin: Usually 1-inch-thick cuts of sirloin, this steak is best marinated, then grilled, as it is moderately chewy but very flavorful. Cut into thin slices to serve.

Double sirloin: This steak is usually 2 to 3 inches thick; one large steak serves a crowd. Season or marinate and grill.

Sirloin butt: This boneless top sirloin is called rump steak in England. It is moderately chewy and very flavorful. Season or marinate and grill.

Tri-tip: This large steak from the bottom cap of the sirloin butt is moderately chewy and very flavorful. Like double sirloin, tri-tip is generally sliced for serving. It can be grilled or slow smoked like brisket.

Chuck: Also known as patio steak, this is a thin, chewy slice of beef chuck (beef arm or shoulder) that is best marinated and then grilled medium-rare. Chuck is usually a thick cut of beef slowly braised for pot roast.

Porterhouse: This bone-in tender steak includes part of the tenderloin on one side of the bone and sirloin on the other. Season or marinate and grill.

T-bone: This bone-in tender steak (the bone creates a T) is similar to but not as large as the Porterhouse and contains less tenderloin. Season or marinate and grill.

Flatiron: Also called top blade, it's cut from the chuck and sold as steaks. It's remarkably tender and full-flavored.

Flank: A large, thin, flat steak that is flavorful and chewy, flank steak is great marinated, then quickly grilled and sliced across the grain.

Hangar: This is another large, thin, flat steak that is great marinated and is flavorful and chewy. Slice it thinly across the grain to serve.

Rib-eye: Cut from a standing rib roast or prime rib, rib-eye is boneless, mildly flavorful and tender. Season or marinate and grill.

Skirt: This cut, from the diaphragm muscle, is most often used in fajitas. It is nicely marbled and very flavorful, though chewy. Marinate, then grill to medium-rare or medium. Slice it thinly across the grain to serve.

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