My original magnum opus was going to be a 1,000-page epic poem about the Kansas City Royals' journey to the 2014 World Series, but I couldn't find enough good rhymes for Moustakas, so this barbecue season primer and recipe listicle will have to do.
Go to your grill. Put a little shoulder into your grill brush and get that grate looking good, but not too good. Your fingers should pick up some of last fall's grease which, smudged just right, will start to make your grilling jorts look credible for the season ahead. Light a little starter fire in your grill to wake up the magic hidden in all those bygone layers of carbonized animal fat. Look around and see if anyone is watching, then let a little smoke roll over and purify you. It's okay to cry. The majesty of smoked meat has reduced many grizzled grillhands before you to tears.
Crack open the book of barbecue commandments to refresh thy memory. Thou shalt never pretend that anything other than all natural hardwood lump charcoal and/or wood will suffice. Thou shalt openly question the credibility of any person or establishment that uses "fall-off-the-bone" as their selling point. Thou shalt buy the highest quality meat or veg that can be afforded, and thou shalt think of smoke as a seasoning, rather than a curtain to hide it behind. Thou shalt never light a fire without opening a cold beer immediately thereafter. Thou shalt quickly switch to American whiskey when the fire evens out. Thy grilling playlist shall include at least a few tracks by Steve Earle, Ricky Skaggs and Sturgill Simpson.
Take a moment to remember special moments of barbecues past (or wander vicariously through my recollections). For me, there are the many unforgettable visits to Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City with Grampa Walt. Dad's wood-grilled chicken livers at the holidays. That all-night whole cow roast with Lou Lambert, Larry McGuire and Emmett Fox at Bridges Ranch in Wimberley, Texas. The boucherie that Wes Morton, a true son of Cajun country, invited me to share. That afternoon when Victor Albisu nearly destroyed me with asado (pictured above). The realest gai yang at SP Chicken in Chiang Mai. And yes, the brisket at Franklin Barbecue. With such reference points in mind, we can all plot greater greatness in the future.
Having put in that work, internalized those lessons and consumed that much charred flesh, I feel like I have a fat leg to stand on as I offer you The 10 Most Tremendous Barbecue Recipes of Cyberspace. Take a look. Make something happen. Report back @samsgoodfeed.
Steven Raichlen's Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Aleppo Pepper (photo by Hans Gissinger)
Julia Moskin's Jerk Chicken (photo by Jennifer May)
Andy Ricker's Gai Yahng (photo by Austin Bush)
Amazing Ribs Pork Spare Ribs
The Kitchn's Bulgogi (photo by Nick Evans)
Peter Kaminsky's Whole Fish
Diane Kochilas' Ouzo and Nutmeg Lamb Chops (photo by Frances Janisch)
Fred Thompson's Williams Sonoma Romaine Salad
Kenji Lopez-Alt's Tofu
Chad Robertson's Flat Bread (photo by Chris Gentile)