Where there was once smoke, there is now fire. Author and television host Steven Raichlen has a new show and book that share a name: Project Fire. Raichlen was in town for a live event at Smoke ‘N’ Fire last week and Flatland sat down with him to talk about his current project and what’s next for the barbecue maven.
“I remember my first book, “The Barbecue! Bible,” and so much has changed in the last 20 years with grilling,” Raichlen said. “There are foods that I would have never thought to grill and techniques that I never knew about.”
With “Project Fire: Cutting Edge Techniques and Sizzling Recipes From The Caveman Porterhouse to Salt Slab Brownie S’Mores,” Raichlen experiments with salt slabs and grilled sangria (placing citrus fruit and a cinnamon stick on the grill). He dives into breakfast (grilled eggs, candied bacon, breakfast burgers) and wraps bacon around an onion ring before putting the extreme side dish over a live fire.
Raichlen also has a new project in the works, a book on brisket. It’s a natural evolution of a philosophy that’s guided his career, trying to understand how different cultures and people approach the same cut of meat.
“It’s about brisket indoors and outdoors,” Raichlen said. “I dive into boiling, curing, braising and smoking this piece of meat that’s tough and yet everybody seems to love.”
Bacon-Grilled Onion Rings
Yield: Serves 4
Method: Indirect grilling
Prep time: 15 minutes
Grilling time: 20 to 30 minutes
Grill/Gear: Can be grilled over charcoal or gas. You also need toothpicks.
Bacon-grilled onion rings rocked the blogosphere a few years ago—it was love at first sight and first bite. They’re based on the simple premise that bacon makes everything taste better (it does), and, yes, the salty-smoky bacon really seems to make the onions taste sweeter. The bacon serves another purpose—giving you some of the crunch associated with batter-fried onion rings. The hot sauce brings it all into focus.
2 large sweet onions such as Vidalias, Walla Wallas, or Texas Sweets
1/2 cup of your favorite hot sauce, such as sriracha or Frank’s RedHot
1 1/2 pounds thin-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
To Make the Onion Rings:
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-high.
Trim the ends off the onions and peel off the thin papery skins. Slice each onion crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices. Carefully pop the centers out of each slice, keeping the two outermost layers together. (Two layers make a sturdier foundation for the bacon.) Set aside the largest onion rings. You should have 8. Save the remaining onion pieces for another use.
Pour the hot sauce into a mixing bowl or shallow dish. Brush each onion ring with the sauce.
Spiral each onion ring with bacon, slightly overlapping each strip, until the ring is covered. (You’ll need 2 to 3 bacon strips for each onion ring.) Use toothpicks to secure the ends of the bacon.
Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.
Arrange the onion rings on the grill grate, away from the fire, and close the lid. Cook until the bacon is golden brown and sizzling, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the onion rings on a wire rack spread with paper towels. Remove the toothpicks and dig in.
Instead of hot sauce or barbecue sauce, brush the onion rings with melted butter and season them with your favorite barbecue rub. Or brush them with warm maple syrup and dredge the onion rings in brown sugar before wrapping them with bacon.
Excerpted from “Project Fire: Cutting-Edge Techniques and Sizzling Recipes From The Caveman Porterhouse to Salt Slab Brownie S’Mores” by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright 2018.
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