Ray Lampe knows grilling. Ray (a.k.a. Dr. BBQ), among the winningest champions on the barbecue-competition circuit, gave up his truck-driving career years ago to focus on his craft. Today, he travels around the country competing and teaching, and he shares his expertise in his book, Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook.
Before we get to Dr. BBQ’s advanced lessons, a little review is in order. Barbecuing is different than direct grilling, or quickly cooking tender cuts of meat at high temperatures (400ºF or higher), with a heat source right under the food. Barbecuing, or “cool smoking,” is a method of cooking tougher cuts of meat very, very slowly at relatively low temperatures (215ºF to 250ºF), with the heat source away from the food. While the meat leisurely cooks, three things occur: The meat’s fat renders out; the meat becomes so tender that it practically falls off the bone; and the exterior caramelizes, producing a flavorful crust, or bark, as it’s known in barbecue circles. The final product is tender and juicy, pink in color and smoky in flavor. Sound good? Follow the doctor’s advice laid out for you in the accompanying pages.
Photographs by Formula z/s