America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full¬time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.
The secret to great barbecue in your own backyard isn’t necessarily going out and buying all sorts of special equipment. You don’t require a smoker, and you don’t need the huge barbecue pits the pitmasters use in the South. All you need is a grill, some wood chips, and a disposable roasting pan filled with water to convert a charcoal kettle into a makeshift smoker.
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
We Americans, we do like our beef. The average citizen of the US of A eats somewhere around 70 pounds of beef per year. And we eat more of it on Memorial Day than any other day of the year—not all 70 pounds in one go, necessarily, but still. Evidently we, as a people, cannot resist the urge to slap round patties of ground cow flesh onto hot metal and then devour the results.
There are, however, some suspicious characters floating around—veggie refuseniks, fifth-column lamb lovers, turkey-burger saboteurs, whatnot—who reject the classic burger in all its beefy, juicy wonder. Well, it’s a democracy, at least last I heard, and everyone’s entitled to their own viewpoint. (And, you know, a good lamb burger is mighty hard to resist, I do have to admit.)
So, in the spirit of diversity, brotherhood and universal burger tolerance, here are some wine recommendations for a whole variety of grilled-things-between-buns.
Why wait for Memorial Day? Grilling season is effectively here—the weather’s warm, the charcoal is available, and with any luck you’ve delegated some nearby child to scrub off all of last year’s grilled-on gunk with a handy wire brush. One hitch: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for beef and pork are up a good notch over last year.
Faced with this, I have the following advice: Buy affordable wine. More specifically, buy good affordable wine. And buy it in bulk, or at least by the case (most wine stores give a discount on case purchases, usually 10 to 15 percent). You won’t have to worry about running out the next time you have a picnic, and the extra dollars you save can be rerouted toward an additional sparerib or two.
Here, in a bargain-hunting spirit, are five great bottles, all well-suited for big, charred chunks of meat:
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.
In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I'm examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.
This week, I’m finishing up with a recipe for a barbecued pork butt, sharing a bit of history and a practical recipe for those who want to go low and slow, but don’t have the time or patience for a professional Memphis-in-May competition pace.
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