If you're planning a big outdoor soiree for Memorial Day weekend, you might want to consider putting it on hold until you can polish up your barbecue skills.
Barbecue champion Troy Black, left, is coming to Lexington, and he's going to teach Central Kentuckians a thing or two about grilling and barbecuing. Black and about 30 competition barbecue teams will participate in the Sam's Club National BBQ Tour on June 15.
Black, who is host of the tour, has won 13 state barbecue championships and more than 300 Top 10 awards. He will demonstrate the best backyard techniques for barbecuing pork and beef at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Sam's Club, 1063 East New Circle Road.
Before joining the BBQ tour, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, Black was a contributing editor for Southern Living. Garden design was his specialty until he filled in for a travel writer and covered his first barbecue competition. "I was hooked," he said.
In case you don't know, the Kansas City Barbeque Society is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue. It's the world's largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts, with more than 15,000 members worldwide.
The group sanctions more than 400 barbecue contests throughout America. From volunteering to actual event production, members also offer assistance to civic and charitable organizations who organize events.
Black began to devise ways to make a living working around barbecue after covering the barbecue competition. He developed a program for Southern Living, "BBQ on Tour," and represented the magazine at competitions across the country. In 2010, Black and the editors of Southern Living published The Big Book of BBQ.
"It sold so well, they asked me to do another one," he said during a telephone interview.
All Fired Up: Smokin' Hot BBQ Secrets From the South's Best Pitmasters (Oxford House, $24.95) is for the backyard griller who wants to do more than cook burgers. The book covers equipment and tools needed for successful grilling and barbecuing; how to prepare a charcoal grill; and recipes for dry rubs, marinades, sauces, side dishes and desserts.
Sprinkled throughout are tips, anecdotes and wisdom from the South's top pitmasters, and Black includes profiles of the South's favorite barbecue joints, including Puckett's Grocery in Black's hometown, Franklin, Tenn.
Although competition cooking is different from grilling, Black teaches people skills "to do amazing things in the backyard."
Anyone can read a recipe, but Black helps cooks "understand temperature and how that affects the tenderness of meat, and how the layers of flavors, from rub to the smoke, make things come together."
Representatives from American Grill Masters also will be at the Sam's Club event, sharing recipes and offering samples of grilled foods.
Here are two recipes from All Fired Up!
Marinated chicken quarters
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 whole chicken (2½ pounds), quartered
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Whisk together first 7 ingredients; reserve ½ cup butter mixture for basting, and chill. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Place chicken in shallow dish or zip-top plastic freezer bag; pour remaining butter mixture over chicken. Cover or seal, and chill 8 hours.
Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high). Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 45 minutes or until done, basting often with reserved butter mixture and turning once. Makes 4 servings.
Texas smoked brisket
1 flat-cut brisket (61/2 pounds)
For dry rub:
3/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons ground chipotle chile pepper
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
11/2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
For red sauce:
11/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons onion powder
11/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
Soak wood chips in water 30 minutes. Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's directions, bringing internal temperature to 225 to 250 degrees; maintain temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle dry rub on brisket, patting to adhere the rub. Let brisket stand 10 minutes. Drain wood chips and place them on the coals. Place brisket on upper food rack; cover with smoker lid.
Smoke brisket, maintaining temperature inside smoker at 225 to 250 degrees, for 51/2 to 6 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of brisket registers 195 to 205 degrees. Add charcoal and wood chips as needed. Remove brisket from smoker, and let stand 10 minutes. Cut brisket across grain into thin slices, and serve with red sauce. Makes 12 to 14 servings.
To make dry rub: Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Makes 2 cups.
To make red sauce: Whisk together all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; serve warm. Makes 31/4 cups.
New books on grilling, BBQ
Barbecue and grilling are hot topics in the spring line of cookbooks. Here's a look at several other new ones. If you love barbecue, you'll want to buy them all.
■ Fabulicious! On the Grill: Teresa's Smoking Hot Backyard Recipes by Teresa Giudice (Running Press, $20). Giudice is a star of Bravo's reality show The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Her cookbook is filled with authentic Italian recipes prepared on the grill, including corn on the cob grilled butter, garlic, smoked paprika and Parmesan cheese.
Parmesan and paprika corn on the cob
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed through a press
6 ears corn, husked
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as needed
Preheat grill for direct cooking over medium heat (400 degrees). Brush the cooking grates clean.
Tear 6 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Mix butter, paprika and garlic in a small bowl. Spread each corn ear with an equal amount of garlic butter, place on piece of foil and roll it up tightly. (The corn may be stored at room temperature for up to 8 hours.)
Place foil-wrapped corn on cooking grate and cover with the grill lid. Cook, turning occasionally, until corn is heated through with some toasted browned spots (open the foil to check), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the foil-wrapped corn to a platter.
Unwrap corn and return to the platter. Serve hot, allowing each person to sprinkle the corn with Parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Makes 6 servings.
■ America's Best BBQ Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards by Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk (Andrew McMeel, $19.99). The contributors who have won many barbecue awards aren't sharing competition secrets; they're sharing stories about backyard cooking disasters and how you can learn from their mistakes.
Davis and Kirk have been involved in competition barbecue for more than 30 years each. Several years ago, Kirk taught barbecue classes at the former Good Ol' Days BBQ Farm in Woodford County.
■ BBQ Joints: Stories and Secret Recipes From the Barbeque Belt by David Gelin (Gibbs Smith, $15.95). Some of the best places to eat barbecue are tucked away in small towns on country roads. When you're traveling some of the back roads looking for great pulled pork or smoked brisket, the word "barbecue, or some derivation thereof, should appear in the name of the joint," Gelin said.
Get out fast if a place drenches its ribs and 'cue in sauce. There is probably a very good reason, he said. It's a good bet if the joint is given a person's name, first or last (though nicknames are a plus), Gelin said.
■ The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide From Bon Appetit (Andrews McMeel, $45) has illustrated step-by-step instructions for everything from preparing the grill to cooking a leg of lamb. Editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport said the book isn't just for telling you what to grill, but how to grill.
"You'll learn about equipment (gas versus charcoal), cedar planks, the best techniques for working with different meats, fish, and vegetables. So whether you've got porterhouse or a rib-eye, a rack of lamb or a couple of chops, a side of salmon or a whole striped bass, you'll know how to prep and grill it the right way, every time," he said.
■ Everyday Barbecue by Myron Mixon (Ballantine Books, $24). Mixon, from Unadilla, Ga., makes his living winning barbecue cooking competitions across the country. He has his own line of barbecue smokers for professionals and his own brand of rubs and sauces. He's also a judge on BBQ Pitmasters on Discovery Communications' Destination America, and is chef/owner of Pride and Joy Bar B Que restaurants in Miami and New York City.
■ Good Housekeeping Grilling (Hearst Books, $5 at Kohls) is a great bargain, and the proceeds go to Kohl's Cares, which supports kids' health and education. It has a helpful explanation of how to judge a good steak and grill it to perfection.
Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.