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Barbecue Secrets

Mar 4, 2006

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Barbecue Secrets podcast, a show celebrating the many pleasures of outdoor cooking. E-mail questions, tips and suggestions to In this edition:

  • 2:45 An interview with Barbecue Queen Karen Adler
  • 18:03 Talking with Johan Olsen of Cobb Canada about a great charcoal-fueled portable cooker, the Cobb
  • 30:46 Competition Corner -- Tequilas at dawn


Visit the Barbecue Queens' website. Find more info about the Cobb in Canada, or internationally.

Podcast #4 Guest Recipe

This divinely delicious recipe for grilling flak steak is reprinted with permission from The BBQ Queens' Big Book of Barbecue by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (Harvard Common Press, 2005)

Grilled Flank, Skirt, Hangar, or Other Thin Steak

The whole steak scene had gotten a bit ho-hum. Very predictable. You knew what cuts were available: rib-eye, strip, sirloin, flank. You knew what to do with them. And then, all of a sudden, things changed. There were new cuts and names, such as beef bavette and skirt, hangar, flat iron, patio, and charcoal steak. Whassup? (as a hip-hop queen might ask).

The change is partly a result of consumer interest in ethnic foods, hence the loose-grained skirt steak (the diaphragm muscle on a steer and the first choice for making great fajitas) and the beef bavette (cut from the flank for the French bistro steak and frites combo). Both can be hard to find at the grocery store but are readily available at butcher shops and from online vendors such as Niman Ranch.

In addition, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, based in Colorado, has championed new �moderately priced� options such as the flat iron steak, cut from the beef chuck, and the western griller, cut from the bottom round. Cube steak, a.k.a. minute steak, has been around for a while. It is cut from the round and cubed twice to tenderize this tasty but tough piece of meat and make it great for grilling (a minute per side, not surprisingly). The hangar steak comes from the flank and is actually a thick muscle. It is much tougher than flank steak but is a bistro favorite and is also referred to as onglet.

All of these steaks have a chewy texture but great beef flavor. You need to tenderize them either by marinating them for at least an hour (preferably eight hours) or pounding them with a meat tenderizer or mallet. Then you grill them over a hot fire to medium-rare. The final crucial step is slicing them properly to serve. Before you marinate a steak, locate the direction of the grain in the meat, which is easy to do. The grain consists of the lines of muscle fiber, which usually go in one direction. File that information away, grill your steak, and cut the meat against the grain, on the diagonal, holding your knife at a 45-degree angle (so it's slanted, not straight up and down). Perfecto!

For the marinade, we suggest Garlic-Citrus Marinade and the Smoked Garlic Cilnatro Cream Sauce is an excellent serving sauce. They follow below.

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds beef bavette or flank, skirt, hangar, flat iron, or western griller steak

1. Place the marinade and steak in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

2. Prepare a hot fire in a grill.

3. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes, then cut against the grain, on the diagonal and at a 45-degree angle, into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Serve warm.

Garlic-Citrus Marinade

This is a delicious way to marinate skirt, sirloin, or flank steak, but it's also good with chicken, pork, lamb, fish, or vegetables. Guess we like this with everything! Makes about 3/4 cup

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

1/4 cup fresh orange juice (1 to 2 oranges)

2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Place all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake to blend. This marinade will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Smoked Garlic and Cilantro Cream Sauce

Delicious served with grilled or smoked meats. If you don't want to use smoked garlic, substitute two minced garlic cloves for a sharper but still delicious flavor. Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 6 cloves garlic, smoked (see page 000) and peeled

1. In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.

2. Transfer the puree to a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the sauce begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips & Tricks from a Barbecue Champion, published by Whitecap Books. Find him, and more recipes, at