features at starchefs.com
Fourth of July, 2006
True Blue Barbecue

By Heather Sperling

The intoxicating smells of meat, spices and smoke took over the streets of New York at the city’s fourth annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party the weekend of June 10-11. This Fourth of July, StarChefs pays homage to the men and women of the craft with recipes from the Block Party’s pitmasters who have been featured in BBQ champion Mike Mills’ cookbook Peace, Love and Barbecue. As champion pitmaster of 17th Street Bar & Grill in Southern Illinois and Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas, Mills will tell you that great barbecue comes from passion, dedication and care…and its addictive flavor comes from a little something he calls “Magic Dust.” Celebrate the nation’s birthday by bringing one of America’s favorite oral fixations into your restaurant; the crowds are sure to follow.
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From Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe

» Apple City Barbecue Grand World Champion Ribs
» Elizabeth Karmel's Black-Tie Coleslaw
» Judy Mill's From-Scratch Baked Beans
» Fred Thompson's Southern-Style Ice Tea
» Blue Smoke Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler


Traditionally used with fish
Mild, sweet, and fruity
Use with pork, poultry, and beef
Distinct, sweet, and fruity
Use with pork and poultry
Rich, strong, and hearty
Use with pork, beef and poultry
Smooth, mild, and sweet
Use with poultry, seafood, and pork
Distinct, robust, and smoky
Use with beef
Strong and distinct
Use with beef, poultry, and seafood
Light and fruity
Use with pork and poultry
Earthy and not overly pungent
Use with pork, poultry, and beef
From Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills
and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe (Rodale, 2005)

“Barbecue” refers to tender and juicy meat that has been smoked over charcoal and wood for an extended period of time. Pork, beef and poultry are sprayed or mopped with an acidic basting sauce while cooking for hours at low temperatures in a smoker, a covered grill or a traditional in-ground pit. In his recipe for Grand World Champion Ribs, Mills recommends using all-natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes and lighter fluid, which leave the meat with a noticeable chemical taste. While the charcoal provides the heat, the wood produces the distinctive smoke flavor, which varies according to the type used. Mills likes apple, cherry, hickory, peach and pecan woods for pork, oak and mesquite woods for beef. He wets the wood before adding it to the charcoal to create smoke rather than add to the heat.

Use the Fourth as an opportunity to showcase classic side dishes and creative beverage pairings. Complement the ribs with hearty sides like Judy Mill’s From-Scratch Baked Beans and Elizabeth Karmel’s coleslaw. Supplement the requisite Sweet Tea with local microbrews, crisp, effervescent whites and sparkling rosés that cut through the full-flavored sauces and sides. Pair Jen Giblen’s cobbler with an American wine high in residual sugars, like a Pinot Gris Vin-Glacé from Oregon’s King Estate.

Admittedly, the Fourth of July is not a holiday traditionally spent in restaurants. Try capitalizing on the day by embracing alternate service options. Barbecue centers on durable, low-cost cuts of meat that are easily prepared ahead of time in large quantities and can be enjoyed at room temperature with no detriment to the quality and flavor. These five recipes are prime picnic-basket material; offer them as take-out or catering to increase holiday revenue.

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   Published: June 2006