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Ask a pitt master and you'll discover barbecue is both regional and personal, from the meat to the base used for sauce. But whatever the style, barbecue is hot in DC right now, along with smoked foods of every kind--from mussels to cocktails (yes, a "Smokjito" exists). Whether you turn out basic backyard burgers or get serious with 12-hour brisket and pork shoulder, our local grill masters have tips for your next barbecue.
Fire and Smoke Gazpacho
By Jim Shahin for The Washington Post
-6 large (about 3 pounds) tomatoes, cored and the bottoms trimmed flat
-1 cup peeled, seeded and finely diced cucumber
-1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (1/2 cup)
-1 small serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil or cilantro leaves
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or to taste
-Freshly ground black pepper
-1 cup cold water (optional)
Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.
When the fire is ready, set the tomatoes over direct heat for about 3 minutes. When they become a little charred, turn them over and grill for about 3 minutes.
Use a spatula to move the tomatoes to the cooler (indirect) side of the grate. Drain the water from the wood chips and scatter the chips on the charcoal fire. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips into a smoker box or a foil pouch punctured with a few fork holes to release the smoke; set the pouch or box in the grill. Close the grill lid and allow the tomatoes to smoke for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the cucumber, bell pepper, serrano pepper and garlic in a large bowl.
Transfer the grilled, smoked tomatoes to a bowl or platter to capture any released juices. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. Dice the tomato flesh; add half of it to the bowl with the cucumber-pepper mixture, along with any juices.
Puree the remaining tomatoes with the oil in a food processor for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Add the puree to the mixture in the bowl. Add the basil or cilantro and the vinegar, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a thin gazpacho, add cold water until you reach the desired consistency.
Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Taste and adjust vinegar or seasonings as needed.
Grilled Peach Smokjitos
From Pork Barrel BBQ
Makes: 10 cups
Prep & Cook Time: 40 minutes
Heath Hall says: "This grilled peach mojito uses the freshest of summer ingredients and the grill to turn a good drink into a great drink. The caramelization of the sugars in the peaches pair great with the freshness of the mint and leave you with a refreshing summer cocktail. Leave the rum out for a great non-alcoholic summer drink."
•8 ripe Peaches, grilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
•1 tablespoon grated Lime Peel
•1 cup fresh Lime Juice (about 4 large limes)
•¾ cup Sugar
•½ cup packed Mint Leaves
•4 cups Lemon-Lime Soda, chilled
•2 cups White Rum
1.Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high). Cut 8 peaches in half and grill cut side down with the grill lid on for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove peaches from the grill and cool for 10 minutes.
2.Remove the skin from 7 of the peaches and cut into 1-inch pieces and place in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour peach puree through a strainer into a bowl and throw away solids. Cut remaining peach into wedges.
3.In a large pitcher combine the lime peel, lime juice, sugar and mint leaves and crush well with a muddler. Add the peach puree, lemon-lime soda, and rum. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
4.Fill glasses with crushed ice and pour peach mojito mixture over ice. Garnish with mint sprigs and grilled peach wedges.
Pork Barrel BBQ Ribs
Makes: 4-6 Servings
Prep & Cook Time: 5 hours
Heath Hall says "BBQ ribs are about as classic of a barbecue dish you can get. These ribs are guaranteed to leave BBQ Sauce on your guest’s faces as well as smiles!"
•2 (2-3 pound) slabs St. Louis Cut Pork Spare Rib
•¼ bottle Pork Barrel BBQ Mustard BBQ Sauce
•¼ cup Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub
•1 bottle of Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce (Original or Sweet)
1.Trim any loose pieces of fat or meat from the edges of the slab of rib and flip the slab over so the rib side is up. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs by using a butter knife to pry up the edge of the membrane. Once you have an edge of the membrane pried up take a paper towel and pull the membrane off. Wipe dry with a paper towel.
2.Preheat your smoker to 275° with charcoal, pellets or wood (a combination of hickory, oak and cherry).
3.Pour Pork Barrel BBQ Mustard BBQ Sauce on the bone side of the ribs and rub into the meat. Generously season with Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub and let rest for 15 minutes. Flip the ribs over and pour Pork Barrel BBQ Mustard BBQ Sauce on the meat side of the ribs and rub into the meat. Generously season with Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub and let rest for 30 minutes.
4.Fill a disposable aluminum pan halfway with water and place in the smoker to the side near the fire box or above the fire box on the grate below where the ribs will sit.
5.Place the ribs, bone side down, on the smoker away from the fire, using indirect heat to cook. Cook for 2 hours, spraying with apple juice every 30 minutes.
6.After 2 hours wrap the ribs in aluminum foil. Place a sheet of foil on a table and sprinkle a ¼ cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of honey on the foil. Place ribs meat side down on the brown sugar and honey and sprinkle another ¼ cup of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of honey on the bone side of the ribs. Wrap ribs tightly and return to smoker over indirect heat placing the ribs meat side down. Cook for 1 ½ hours wrapped.
7. Unwrap the ribs and brush Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce on the ribs and return to the smoker and cook for an additional 30 minutes.