Ultimate Grilling Guide: Recipes, Tips & Product Picks

We share the best barbecue recipes and tips, plus how to buy a gas or charcoal grill, which accessories matter, and the top pitmasters.

IN THIS ARTICLE:

  • Grilling vs Barbecuing vs Smoking
  • Gas vs Charcoal Grilling
  • Grilling Tips & Techniques
  • How to Clean Your Grill
  • Best Barbecue/Grilling Recipes
  • BBQ Legends: Top Pitmasters

Before we explain everything you need to know about barbecue and grilling (and share the best videos about those topics), we need to define a few terms. 

What happens if we don’t do this? Someone will point at you at the next outdoor food event and laugh when you claim you know to barbecue —because what you really mean is that you know how to grill… unless you really do know how to cook low and slow. As alfresco cooking experts frequently note: The two types of cooking (and the resulting flavors) are not the same. But they are often invoked as if interchangeable. So it’s now mandatory to begin any discussion with this kind of disclaimer.

To save you valuable time, and show you only useful videos, we scoured the Internet — Youtube, Instagram and TikTok included — to find the best buying tips, discussions of charcoal and gas, cleaning demonstrations, and a who’s who of legendary pitmasters. Plus, of course, the best barbecue and grilling recipes.

No longer do you need to watch several dozen videos tagged #bbqporn (1,262,279 posts), #smokedmeat (865,293 posts) or #grillinfools (137,692 posts) —  though this is a fun rabbit hole to fall down. Just watch the ones below. We embed all videos with full attribution, and we are always updating our stories to make them better.

Stop Motion Cooking GIF by PES - Find & Share on GIPHY

Grilling vs Barbecuing vs Smoking

Technically, grilling is the act of cooking food over a fire, quite hot (250°F – 450°F), and quickly — using gas or charcoal. Barbecue, on the other hand, is most often cooking “low and slow” (between 190°F and 300°F for several hours). Smoking, bear with me here, requires smoke, and is an even lower and slower kind of cooking; it’s not uncommon to smoke meat for over 24 hours (68°F – 176°F).

 

Gas vs Charcoal Grilling

Grills generally come in two styles: propane gas-powered with knobs to adjust flames vs charcoal. The variables with both include size (how much space to cook on), the portability (wheels, handles, weight), special features (like a smoker or a dedicated searing flame) and the price.

 

Pros of gas grill:

  • Easy to use
  • Starts quickly, no waiting for embers
  • Easy to adjust temperature
  • No lighter fluid or firestarter needed
  • Doesn’t leave a pile of ash
  • Doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and soot.

 

Cons of gas grill:

  • You have to employ wood chips and a smoker box to get smoke flavor
  • More expensive than most charcoal grills
  • Requires gas either from a portable cylinder or natural gas delivered via underground pipes from your home’s gas supply to the grill.
  • The butt of jokes among some hardcore bbq folks

 

Pros of charcoal grill:

  • Smoky flavor comes naturally
  • Can get really really hot (1200F+)
  • Less expensive than gas grills in most cases
  • Portable in most cases
  • Repairs are generally inexpensive

 

Cons of charcoal grill:

  • Requires newspaper and/or other flammable materials (charcoal chimney, fire starters) to get the flames going (serious cooks don’t use lighter fluid because it affects the flavor)
  • Not always easy to control the temperature
  • Leaves a pile of ash that you must dispose
  • More likely to start a fire

https://www.canva.com/design/DAFDurJvUw4/view

 

What to Look for in a Gas Grill

Consumer Reports gets right to the point in this 44-second overview (below the photos). They even share a few of the most recommended grills:

Top Pick: Weber Genesis II E-310 $780

Best Value: Nexgrill 720-1046 $450

Great for Small Spaces: Permasteel PG-40301-BK $380

 

@consumerreports

It’s grillingseason! In our lab, we wire the surface of each gas grill with thermocouples and perform four temperature tests. See ratings and reviews at cr.org/grills. #grilling #outdoorcooking #foodtiktok

♬ original sound – Consumer Reports

 

Which Grill to Buy?

Lowe’s “How to Choose the Right Grill” covers the basics in 2:37, includes electric grills as well, and, equally important, they show how to use the grills, charcoal, and chimney.

 

Charcoal Grill Tips & Techniques

 

How to Light a Charcoal Grill (No Lighter Fluid or Chimney)

No science here. Just a regular guy sharing tips that get the job done. What you need: wadded up newspaper, long lighter, tongs, 20 minutes or so.

 

How to Light a Charcoal Grill Using a Chimney Starter (No Lighter Fluid)

After watching a few dozen videos on how to use a chimney starter, we finally found a video that shows you where to put the newspaper at the bottom, how to dump the hot coals out of the contraption, why you need two cooking zones, and everything else you need to know in under a minute… set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Winner.

@barbequesgaloreusa

Healthiest way to fire up your smoker. Grill tip by @Uncle Dibbz #fyp #foryoupage #grilltip #tipsgalore #grillhack #charcoal #fireupyourgrill #recipegalore

♬ Back In Black – AC/DC

 

Lump Charcoal vs Briquette Charcoal

So you’re passionate about the flavor that only charcoal grills can achieve, but are you equally headstrong about what kind of charcoal to use? Cookout Coach gets to the point fairly quickly and doesn’t meander. At 1:23 in the video, he compares lump charcoal to briquette. Briquettes are basically lumps that have been broken up and reconstituted — and have grooves to allow airflow. The result? More consistent pieces, more even cook times, more uniform heat. 

The flipside? Some companies add chemicals that you can taste (or that affect the smoke). Lump burns hotter and adds wood flavor. Briquettes are better for low and slow cooking. Bonus tip: You want thin, white smoke — not thick clouds. Be patient and wait for the damn thing to hit optimum temperature. 

 

How about other forms of charcoal-like Japanese Binchotan and the various types of woods to cook with?

Watch BBQ Hall of Famer Meathead compare the various forms of charcoal. Binchotan, for example, burns more evenly and hotter than wood. He also demonstrates how to work with wood logs, chunks, untreated oak flooring, wood chips (which cook quickly), compressed sawdust bricks, and compressed sawdust pellets (no glues or binders). Shape and size matter most.

 

Best unintentionally funny line at 4:26: “Let’s start with a little lesson about thermodynamics.” Then he explains radiation, convection, and conduction as if they were interactions with a lover.

 

Hot vs Cold Smoking

There are two smoking techniques: cold smoking and hot smoking. While it’s all about temperature, sure, the techniques actually represent two ways of cooking — and one is best for immediate eating while the other is more of a preservation method.

Hot smoking is basically cooking with smoke. Cold (or warm smoking) changes the exterior of the product but it’s not cooked. Hot smoking — which can get hotter than 200F to 250F — breaks down collagen in the meat to tenderize it, and also fully cooks it. During hot smoking, the smoker keeps the temperature from 126F to 176F. Cold smoking cooks meat at temperatures between 68F and 86F for 12 to 24 hours or more, but meats smoked this way first have to be cured; coat them in salt or soak them in brine before smoking and then cook afterward to be safe.

Brandon, of Farmstead Meatsmith, explains with ample detail his experience with smoking in this rather personal and passionate five-minute clip.

 

How to Make… 

 

How to Make Brisket

Here’s how to shop for brisket, trim it, and what’s in chef Aaron Franklin’s “secret” rub.

 

How to Inject a Pork Shoulder

World-champion pitmaster Danielle Bennett (Diva Q) offers five minutes of detail-oriented pig shoulder tips while wielding a huge injector that looks (and works) like a caulk gun and carries “straight-up peach nectar.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNzcN8fFwiS/

 

How to Grill Ribs

The “winningest” man in barbecue shows us how to grill ribs (below).

 

How to Cook on a Cedar Plank

Watch this guy at Weber Grills explain how to use a cedar plank to get the most flavor out of your seafood. Note: You have to soak the plank in water for at least an hour before using it.

How to Create Heat “Zones” for Grilling Different Foods

Simply put: Some foods need more heat than others and you want to be able to cook more than one type of food at a time on a grill. Use direct heat when you want to cook a steak, burger, kebab or seafood that you will be eating within the hour. Indirect heating is used for slow-roasting dishes and pizzas.

 

Brisket Best-Kept Secret Ingredient

What’s the secret ingredient that some pitmasters use for brisket, especially in Texas? Answer: Lawry’s seasoning. That, plus the requisite kosher salt and fresh pepper, as well as garlic, mustard, and pickle juice. In what proportions? Aha! That’s a matter of taste and may require a few viewings. But we’ve seen something like this:

  • 8 parts fresh ground pepper
  • 3 parts Lawry’s seasoning
  • 3 parts kosher salt 
  • 1 part granulated garlic 

 

Vegan BBQ: Yes That’s a Thing

Burgers, steaks, and ribs are not the only options. Nathalie.Vegan shares an infographic that reminds us of all the other options — grill-friendly vegetables, vegan sausage, and various types of tofu, seitan and plant-based products.  

https://www.instagram.com/p/CeRO0AVr5NF/

 

 

8 Key Grilling Tips

  1. Meat with bones takes longer to cook (but often tastes richer)
  2. Steaks charred on a charcoal grill are generally going to taste better than steaks on a gas grill (it’s a high heat thing).
  3. Trim fat off steaks before cooking. Avoids burning.
  4. Season steak with salt and pepper to get a nice caramelized crust.
  5. Chicken should get salt and pepper too, but also generally needs a marinade, brine or sauce.
  6. Seafood tastes even better when grilled on a cedar plank.
  7. Steaks must rest after being removed from the grill. If you cut into one too soon, you’ll lose lots of juice.
  8. Know your temperatures: Rare = 120 degrees. Medium = 140 degrees. Well-done =160 degrees.
  9. Vegetables usually don’t need seasoning before grilling

 

How Not to Grill: BBQ Fails 

The clips in this video demonstrate everything you should not do. Don’t pour lighter fluid on a flame. Don’t put off cleaning your grill (fails are mostly flareups). If you watch one of these “fails” compilations, you’ll have seen about 75% of what’s online — enjoy, sure, but learn from other people’s mistakes too.  

 

10 Great Grilling Accessories

In addition to a grill (and plates), you should own at least some of the following gear:

  1. a digital instant-read thermometer
  2. a pair of tongs
  3. a big spatula
  4. a big fork
  5.  cheap kitchen towels
  6. washable oven mitts also come in handy.
  7. a side table
  8. a wire brush
  9. a cedar plank for cooking seafood
  10. a pizza stone (you guessed it; for cooking pizza)

 

Cleaning Your Grill

 

How to Clean a Gas Grill

You might expect Home Depot’s video to shamelessly sell cleaning products — soaps, scrubbing pads, towels. But no. This video, at 3:10, quickly details how to clean every part of your grill (ceramic, stainless steel, and porcelain), not just the grates where food cooks. 

 

The 12-Step Gas Grill Cleaning Program

We’ve abbreviated the steps below: 

  1. Pre-heat grill for 15 minutes on high heat; this makes it easy to remove leftover food and grease 
  2. Turn the gas off and clean the grates. Dip a stiff wire brush in water before brushing grates.
  3. Add dish soap to the water to dissolve grease or use a dedicated grill cleaner with clinging foam that penetrates baked-on grease, food and carbon deposits. 
  4. Let the grates cool, but while still warm, wipe them down with a damp cloth.
  5. Lightly coat the grates with a spray cooking oil or vegetable oil (pour on a folded paper towel) to make it easier next time.
  6. Remove the heat deflectors located over the burners and clean with dish soap. Dry with a towel. No more flare-ups.
  7. Over time, the burners rust, food and debris can block some of  the burner’s gas ports, which creates uneven burning.
  8. Remove gunk using a stiff wire brush. Brush across the ports (lengthwise may push debris into the burner holes). 
  9. Use soapy water to clean the burner valve; run water through the inside to remove any debris. Now’s your chance to clean the cook box with a brush and warm soapy water as well as the underside of the lid. 
  10. Remove the propane tank below and place a bucket under the cook box to catch the dirty water. Rinse with a garden hose. Use paper towels to dry the burners and reinstall them.
  11. Use a specially formulated stainless steel cleaner to wash the outside of a stainless steel grill. A micro fiber cloth is best for cleaning the outside of the grills.
  12. Cover your grill in between uses.

 

How to Clean Any Grill with Tin (Aluminum) Foil

Ok, it shouldn’t take 2:41 to demonstrate this very simple “hack” but you don’t have to watch the whole thing. You can stop at 1:23. The gist of it: Ball up a sheet of aluminum foil, hold in one hand, scrape lengthwise up and down the grill grates, knocking food bits off, knowing that this kind of cleanup is cheap, easy, chemical-free and won’t leave brush bristles potentially in your mouth.

 

How to Clean a Grill with an Onion

Why an onion?: MexicanXConnection claims that it removes whatever food was leftover from previous users (especially if you grill at public parks and beaches), it also seasons the grates, and it smell freaking amazing. Good to know: Place half an onion at the end of a large fork or other sharp instrument, turn gas grill to 400 degrees (charcoal grillers can just wait until grill is clearly hot), and scrub in any direction you want. Savor the needless burp at 4:54.

 

Best Barbecue/Grilling Recipes

Michael Jordan’s Favorite Delmonico Steak With Ginger Jus

Michael Jordan's favorite Delmonico Steak from his namesake restaurant. Boneless rib bye, dry aged 45 days, then sauced with a ginger balsamic vinegar.
Delmonico Steak with Ginger Jus. Photo: Michael Jordan’s Steak House.

BBQ Chicken Grilled Pizza

Chicken BBQ Pizza
BBQ Chicken Grilled Pizza//Photo by Lance Mellenbruch

BBQ Shrimp New Orleans Style

This BBQ Shrimp New Orleans Style is a winner and so representative of a New Orleans’ favorite made better for you.Be sure to make angel hair pasta and get a loaf of French bread to dip in the sauce. Did you know shrimp is rich in magnesium and magnesium has been found to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, giving you a calm sleepy feeling?
BBQ Shrimp New Orleans Style. Photo: Holly Clegg.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Fennel

If you're not familiar with lamb, Lamb Loin Chops are a great place to start! This simple and quick weeknight meal is made in less than 20 minutes, has tons of flavor, and looks beautiful when plated.
Grilled American Lamb Loin Chops with Fennel provided by the American Lamb Board

Skewered Swedish Meatballs

Skewered Swedish Meatballs. Photo: Elegant Affairs.

Grilled Onion Salsa

Grilled Onion Salsa. Photo: National Onion Association.

Barbecued Maitake Steaks

This recipe for Barbecued Maitake Steaks is from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018), written by chefs Chad and Derek Sarno and David Joachim. The book shares special ways for making killer plant-based meals.
Barbecued Maitake Steaks. Photo: Eva Kosmas Flores.

Beef Churrasco with Chimichurri

Churrasco is a Portuguese term for grilled meat that, when grilled properly, is full of flavor and so tender. The chimichurri is made with parsley, garlic, citrus juice and olive oil, perfectly complementing the seasoned striploin!
Beef Churrasco with Chimichurri by Collins Cuisine.

Yankee Wet Ribs 

Want ribs? Want simple to prepare ribs? Want some good ol' tasty, simple to prepare ribs? This is your recipe. With great flavor and you most likely have everything in your fridge or pantry already! Get to grillin'!
Yankee Wet Ribs. Photo: The Yankee Chef.

Crispy Barbecue Onions

These crispy onion rings are made with a homemade seasoned flour made with brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and more. Deep fry these Crispy Barbecue Onions and serve them with a steak and some barbecue beans for a great weeknight meal.

Brazilian Feijoada

Feijoada is traditionally known as a stew with beef and pork, of Portuguese origin. Filled with a smoky, garlicky, flavor this Brazilian dish is a barbecued crowd-pleaser.
Brazilian Feijoada by Collins Cuisine.

Thai-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

Thai-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with Mango Salsa. Photo: Butler’s Pantry.

See more grilled and barbecued recipes.

 

BBQ Legends: Top Pitmasters and Best Restaurants

 

The Best BBQ Pitmasters of the South 

Southern Living profiles seven barbecue legends of the South offering inspiration for anyone cooking on a grill or smoker.

The video features:

  1. Sam Jones NC
  2. Avery Payne Lexington, NC
  3. Chris Lilly – Decatur AL
  4. Aaron Franklin – Austin, TX
  5. Will Fleischman – Dallas, TX
  6. Ed Mitchell – Eastern NC
  7. Rodney Scott – Multiple locations in GA, AL, and SC

 

Margarita Recipes: Controversial Variations on the Classic Original

We examine all of the variations on the classic Margarita recipe, explain the issues, and include cocktail-making videos for each point.

The Margarita is arguably the most popular cocktail in the USA. It’s the obvious summer go-to drink, and you’ll find it everywhere: on the menu at dive bars, haute cocktail destinations, Mexican and non-Mexican restaurants. According to Vinepair, it has ranked as the No. 1 most ordered tequila cocktail in the world since 2015 and as the fifth most popular drink worldwide. 

But not everyone agrees on the Margarita recipe. Sure, there’s always tequila (except if you use mezcal), lime juice (unless you use lemon and/or other fruits like this guy), and a sweetener (simple syrup, agave nectar, Cointreau, all of the above?).

Below, we identify every controversial ingredient and show you the videos that demonstrate each approach. Armed with this comprehensive background, you will not only know how to make a killer drink this summer, you’ll have a cocktail conversation starter — or ender — anywhere you go.

 

History and Basic Recipe

First, let’s define terms. We know the margarita was created sometime in the 1930s or 1940s. Unfortunately, there are a half dozen origin stories. Read Difford’s Guide for a thorough analysis of all the claims.

Second, if you believe that a Margarita must always include mango, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, pineapple, cucumber, or watermelon, you are not describing the drink as it is known around the world. Variations are variations.

 

How Much Sweetness?

The classic 3-2-1 ratio assumes there will be ​​3 parts tequila, 2 parts orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau), and 1 part lime juice. Some folks insist you use triple sec like Cointreau, others suggest you add more sweetness with two teaspoons of superfine sugar or ½ ounce of simple syrup or agave nectar.

Malcolm Reed, of HowtoBBQright, adds less tequila (a shot or 1.25 ounces) and more sweetener (half shot of Cointreau and a half shot of simple syrup) — plus a splash of beer just because.

@howtobbqright

How to Make a Malcom Margarita #topshelflifestyle #patron #margarita #tequilatiktok #itsaparty #cointreau #howtobbqright #foryou #fyp

♬ Mas Tequila – Sammy Hagar

Ming Tsai uses a 2-1-1 ratio (and no orange liqueur):

  • 2 part tequila
  • 1 part lime juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
@chefmingtsai

Fact: the best margarita in the world is 2-1-1. #cincodemayo #cocktailtok #foodtok #tipsandtricks #margarita #margaritarecipe

♬ SALSA SUAVE – Abaco

 

Grand Marnier vs Triple Sec vs Cointreau vs Curaçao

Most people agree you need “orange liqueur” in this cocktail. But there are four types of the stuff: 

  • Curaçao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the bitter orange laraha, a citrus fruit grown on the Dutch island of Curaçao.
  • Triple sec is pretty much the same thing but usually made by many companies of French origin.
  • Cointreau is just one type of triple sec.
  • Grand Marnier is one type of Cognac (brandy).

According to Bevvy: “Curaçao is more frequently pot-distilled with brandy, cognac, or sugar cane spirit and has a sweeter quality and a darker coloring. Triple sec is more frequently column-distilled with neutral grain spirit and has a drier quality and a clear appearance.”

If you want a deeper dive, read this article. Grand Marnier will taste sweetest of them all. In the video below, Rob’s Home Bar test drives multiple variations on the margarita using all of the orange-oriented ingredients above.

 

No Orange Liqueur at All?

In the early 1990s, a bartender named Julio Bermejo invented this version of a margarita at Tommy’s in San Francisco. According to Liquor.com, “Tommy’s version is characterized by its lack of orange liqueur. (Some bartenders argue that eliminating the orange liqueur makes this version not a Margarita. But that is a story for another time.) Rather than using the sweetener to balance the tequila and lime, Bermejo relies solely on agave nectar, made from the same plant that produces tequila. This simple swap creates a cocktail that tastes similar to the original and saves the drinker a few calories. It became emblematic of the lighter, fresher style of eating and drinking that was taking place in California around the end of the twentieth century and still drives much of the culinary and bar scene today.”

Is it ok to omit orange liqueur? Yes, but call it a Tommy’s Margarita.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CG-dYOflQNr/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Blanco vs Reposado Tequila

The vast majority of bartenders will use a blanco AKA silver AKA white tequila when making a Margarita. They rely on a spirit bottled directly after being distilled — rarely aged. Some purists believe there is a vegetal quality in silver terquila that needs to shine through in the cocktail. Cocktail maven Eben Freeman, on the other hand, described the perfect margarita in a video he made for Epicurious, using reposado tequila that has “mellowed out” just enough to warrant being in his drink. 

 

Mezcal Instead of Tequila?

If you like smokiness as a flavor, you’ll like a mezcal margarita. It adds another layer or two; some people say there’s a funkiness as well. This recipe also adopts the “Tommy’s Margarita” approach: no orange liqueur.

 

Fresh Lime Juice vs Rose’s Lime Juice?

The concept is simple: Use fresh lime instead of the bottled alternative, Rose’s Lime Juice (patented in 1867). This concentrate includes a sweetener, which some people like, but there are many other (better) ways to add sugar (see sweetener conversation). That said, if you don’t have fresh citrus or need to cut corners (or save time), Rose’s will work.

In the Preppy Kitchen recipe, John Kanell says “Never use the bottled stuff, that’s sacrilegious.” 

For the Rim: Table Salt vs Kosher Salt vs Sea Salt

Before you mix the ingredients, you’ll need to prep your area. This includes a plate of salt destined for the rim of the glass — to contrast the lime and sweetness. A few things to note:

  • Don’t use table salt if possible. It’s too fine, it will mix with the drink too quickly. It will taste too salty. 
  • Do use kosher or sea salt. Bigger flakes, less absorption, better balance.
  • One last detail: When preparing the glass, moisten around the edges with lime juice. But DO NOT simply press the whole mouth of the glass into a mound of salt because then you will have salt both inside and outside on the rim. Too much salt. Instead, roll the outer edge of the glass in the salt and you will have the proper proportions — outside salt only. And if you’re not sure how the drinker you’re making a margaritafor likes it, add salt only to half the glass.

Watch how Eben does it:

 

See more beverages.

Watch “The Restaurant Operator” From 1946 — a 10-Minute Time Capsule

“Everybody likes to eat!” exclaims the narrator of this educational film from 1946. “Whether it’s a hot dog at the county fair or a full-course dinner at the Ritz, there’s no denying that people like to eat.” That’s hardly a revelation, but the …

“Everybody likes to eat!” exclaims the narrator of this educational film from 1946. “Whether it’s a hot dog at the county fair or a full-course dinner at the Ritz, there’s no denying that people like to eat.” That’s hardly a revelation, but the point was to show that there’s a thriving industry — restaurants — “doing over $2 billion of business annually” ($864 billion in 2019).

“The Restaurant Operator” is part of a series called “Your Life’s Work” from Vocational Guidance Films, Inc. It’s fascinating on its own as a time capsule (the clothes, the restaurant signs, the interiors) but also shows how far the industry’s come (and sometimes how similar it is to today).

It starts with familiar-sounding retro-schmaltzy infomercial music and a deathly serious male narrator setting the scene. Over ten minutes, he explains that there are many types of restaurants these days and (here’s the crucial thing) that operating a business requires more than just great cooking skills. Aunt Martha’s eatery does not succeed despite her prowess in the kitchen; her business didn’t get the foot traffic needed (sound familiar?).

Below are some highlights with timestamps.

Types of Restaurants

1:34 Table service includes coffee shops and tea rooms

2:20 Self-service includes cafeterias and buffets

2:43 Counter service includes the corner drugstore, an “outgrowth from the serving of ice cream” and luncheonette

3:15 Drive-in or curb service is like a “restaurant, soda fountain and picnic all rolled into one.”

4:20 Emphasis on handwashing and strict sanitary conditions

4:48 Nearly all the women wear hats when seated at the restaurant.

6:10 Meet Aunt Martha and see her delicious pies, puddings, and muffins (“mmm-hmm”)

7:30 Newspaper shows headline with “50% Restaurants Fail First Year”

More credits:
Manuscripts by Arthur P. Twogood
Professor Vocational Education Iowa State College
From the Prelinger Archives

The Best Beef Bourguignon Recipe: Julia Child’s vs Everyone Else’s

Julia Child demonstrates how to cook Boeuf Bourguignon on The French Chef, a TV show produced by WGBH, and shot in Boston from 1963 to 1973.

• Julia Child’s debut, on “The French Chef” (WGBH in Boston) aired as a pilot on July 26, 1962.

• She would continue to teach on camera, and in seminal cookbooks, for three more decades.

• In this video, she demonstrates how to cook a seminal dish, Beef (Boeuf) Bourguignon; we compare her recipe to what’s on TikTok and Youtube. 

 

Culinary icon Julia Child is famous for many things: her cookbooks, her TV shows, her height (6’2″), and her unusual voice. Her crowning achievement, however, was the skill with which she explained French recipes; it turned on generations of home cooks. Though she is famous for cooking many seminal dishes — like Coq au Vin and French Onion Soup — her signature dish is Beef (Boeuf) Bourguignon.

In this video, she demonstrates how to cook Boeuf Bourguignon on “The French Chef” — which aired on February 11, 1963, on WGBH in Boston — as well as how to brown and braise meat, what it takes to make a great brown sauce, how to braise onions, and how to cut and sauté mushrooms.

We’ve highlighted some key moments with timestamps so you don’t have to watch the whole thing through.

 

Key Moments

0:30 Theme song plays

1:12 Child rattles off all of the skills she will demo: how to brown and braise meat, what it takes to make a great brown sauce, how to braise onions, and how to cut and sauté mushrooms.

3:00 Shocking use of paper towels to soak up the moisture of the meat—something you can be sure did not exist in previous recipes of this dish (which dates back to the Middles Ages).

15:11 Here she dries off the mushrooms with cloth towels (so they brown properly) and basically says no one should fret about the soiling of the towels as long as they have “electric washing machines.”

 

Background of Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child was not the first chef to appear on TV, but she was by far the most influential one. She starred in The French Chef, which debuted on February 11, 1963, on WGBH (in Boston) and ran nationally for ten years. It won a Peabody Award and the first Emmy for an educational program.

This now-classic french bistro recipe is essentially a beef stew, slow-cooked and braised in red wine with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, onions and a bouquet garni (bundle of thyme, parsley, and bay leaves). Child includes lardons as well; not everyone does.

Other variations include adding a pig’s trotter, using beef cheek, marinating the meat in advance, and caramelizing the onions. You would be wise to pair this with wine from Burgundy (Bourguignon being the provenance of the dish).

One of the earliest written versions of beef bourguignon was penned by legendary chef Auguste Escoffier, who described it in 1903.

 

The Popularity of #boeufbourgignon

On TikTok, there are tk recipes tagged with #boeufbourgignon. Some of the most popular ones have already been viewed more than 1,000,000 times. This video, like many, edits the recipe down to 59 seconds, in an evocative, albeit wordless, visual montage.

@theemoodyfoody

Beef Bourguignon, Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon✨ #food #cooking #asmr #ramsayreacts #movie #film #recipe #chef #fyp #calm #relaxing #music

♬ UNDERWATER WONDERSCAPES (MASTER) – Frederic Bernard

Best Beef Bourguignon Recipe for People in a Hurry

Yes, you can learn how to cook this rather time-consuming dish in under a minute. On TikTok, @robbiebell8 talks a quick clip while the video plays at warp speed. Everything runs perfectly well until 49 seconds in when he admits — shocker — he uses Rosemary (“I would normally use Thyme but I didn’t have any.”).

@robbiebell8

Beef Bourguignon!Slow cooker on summer for 6hrs. Try and get the best beef you can afford. #beef #slowcook #cooking #recipe #tiktokchef

♬ original sound – 🔪 Robbie Bell 🥘

Best Beef Bourguignon Recipe for Vegans

The entire video is just over a minute long and in this one, and the chef doesn’t even speak. Instead, you see the names of the ingredients flash onscreen (sadly, sans measurements). Note: The beef substitute is tempeh.

 

Jamie Oliver’s Beef Bourguignon Recipe

Jamie’s variations:

0:26 He uses beef cheeks.
5:35 He uses parchment paper instead of a proper lid (“to slowly concentrate and get thick and thicker”).
7:23 – Jamie’s idea of hell (peeling those tiny silver-skinned onions)

 

Modern Boeuf (Beef) Bourguignon Videos

Binging with Babish tackles Julia Child’s recipe in three minutes and 44 seconds. At the end, he says “Julia Child’s version completely blew my pants off.”

See: All Recipes

Knife Skills: How to Slice, Dice, Chop and Sharpen Blades

We explain what types of knives you should use, how to grip and sharpen your knife, and how to dice, mince and julienne almost everything.

While everyone agrees that knife skills are essential for chefs at any level, there’s no consensus on what the two-word phrase really means. Sure, you need to know how to slice fruit, veggies, herbs and meat, but does that also require expertise in the kinds of metal blades available around the world? How about dicing and mincing — are those fundamental to knife skills or is that level of knowledge for obsessives only?

We watched dozens of videos on food sites and across all social media — and identified the ones that are worth watching. So now, in addition to not slicing off your thumb, you’ll learn how to sharpen a knife, stabilize a cutting board, and even contribute to a conversation about the cult of Japanese knives.

 

Which Knives Do You Need?

If you can only have one nice knife, it should be a “chef’s knife” — the silhouette is iconic and it can do more than any other type of blade: It can “slice and dice most vegetables, chop a mound of herbs, and handle simple meat cuts like cubing beef or slicing chicken into strips,” according to Wirecutter, which recommends a few knives that cost between $48 and $200.

Japanese-Chefs-Knife

The fairly comprehensive list of knives below comes from Kitchen Ambition, where you can learn more about each one.

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Santoku Knife
  • Utility Knife
  • Bread Knife
  • Butter Knife
  • Cleaver
  • Carving Knife
  • Slicing Knife
  • Boning Knife
  • Filet Knife
  • Nakiri
  • Mezzaluna
  • Steak Knife
  • Cheese Knives
  • Kitchen Shears

 

Kitchen Knives 101

To narrow down the list of possible knives, we like how chef Billy Parisi walks us through the five staples he thinks you need to consider — and he includes lengths, costs and brands.

Carbon vs Stainless Steel

At Epicurious, knifemaker Will Griffin of W.A. Griffin Bladeworks demonstrates how to choose the best chef’s knife for your culinary needs — starting with the fundamental difference between carbon and stainless steel knives.

Key points:

Carbon steel: The blade reacts with the environment (it can and will rust) but the patina is considered desirable by some. It’s also easy to re-sharpen.
Stainless steel: Never rusts.

Harder metals: Keeps a cutting edge longer but is brittle.
Softer metals: Don’t retain an edge as long but won’t chip.

 

Why Some Japanese Knives Cost $900 to $7,000

For a quick look at how some legendary Japanese knives are made (and why they can cost more than a good used car), watch this short video from Insider. There’s an incredible display of craftsmanship and you will not want to miss seeing how thin a tomato slice can get.

@insider

Why does a Japanese chef’s knife cost anywhere from $900 to $7,000 per knife? #LearnOnTikTok #TikTokPartner #Insider #Japan #chefknife

♬ Stargazing – Official Sound Studio

 

How to Hold a Chef’s Knife

Once you see how Jon-Paul Hutchins, a chef at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, explains how to hold a chef’s knife, you’ll never use your pointer finger again (that’s the one way you should never hold a knife, apparently).

Chopping vs Dicing vs Mincing vs Julienne

Jessica Pulliam, at A Culinary Reaction, offers many no-nonsense tips while demonstrating how to cut vegetables (onions, peppers, carrots), herbs and garlic. 

Standout tip: Place two wet paper towels under the cutting board to prevent it from moving while you chop. Who knew?

How to Chop Garlic and Onions

While Jamie Oliver offers a slick minute-long tutorial on slicing garlic, he doesn’t tell the whole story. We like how Copper Colander culinary instructor chef Cynthia Ware starts from the real beginning (a round thing you have to cut) and includes sly tips along the way, including the fact that sliding a knife sideways across a cutting board will dull the knife quickly.

 

How to Chop Herbs Like Basil, Cilantro and Parsely

Rachael Ray tackles a ton of tips in this three-minute video. Not just chopping but when to tear an herb (to avoid bruising), what to do with stems, and how you can even avoid knives altogether by bundling a bunch of herbs and throwing that in the pan. “Invest in kitchen twine,” she opines.

 

How to Chop Carrots and Celery

There’s an appealing combination of logic and safety coursing through this video by Dave Beaulieu. Carrots and celery are long and roundish; start by making them flat and slicing them in half. You’ll cut your time down immensely thereafter.

 

How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives Like a Pro

For a ridiculously in-depth look at hardcore knife sharpening, Joshua Weissman visited Josh Donald at Bernal Cutlery in San Francisco to get expert advice on Japanese wet stones (coarse, medium and fine grit), the ideal angle created when the blade touches the stone (two quarters high), and how to sharpen with a strop. If you like the 12-minute-long video, Donald has a book too. If you want more minutiae, watch Adam Ragusea’s magnum opus on the subject (24 minutes!).

For a more accessible demonstration of knife sharpening, consider watching Justine Schofield (from @everydaygourmettv) and her three-minute-long video; she is one of the rare chefs to cover whetstone, steel, and 3-stage water sharpeners.

Cleaning Hacks for Kitchens, Bathrooms and More

This video shows you how to clean chrome surfaces, stovetops, screens, showerheads, chrome surfaces, shower glass doors & oven racks.

There’s a reason @creative_explained (Instagram) has a million followers. This guy packs lots of info into short-and-sweet video bursts. Not to mention that @jennifergarner shared one of his earlier kitchen hack videos.

In this episode, Armen Adamjan races through seven easy, organic ways to clean chrome surfaces, stovetops, screens, showerheads, chrome surfaces, shower glass doors, and oven racks. Honestly, we needed to re-play the video several times to really absorb the advice.

Materials You’ll Need
No dicey chemicals in these tips. All you need are household staples like vinegar, coffee filters, tea bags, damp cloths, baking soda, lemon juice, an iron, a ziplock bag, paper towels,  and salt.

Below we indicate where each section starts so you don’t waste even one precious second of your time.

Water rings on wood furniture
0:03

Stovetops
0:09

Screens
0:16

Descaling showerheads/sink faucets
0:23

Stains on chrome surfaces
0:33

Shower glass doors
0:40

Oven racks
0:52

https://www.instagram.com/p/CZxA220lGSZ/

 

Cooking in a COVID-19 Crisis: Day Four

Photo by Benjamin Ashton on Unsplash Cooking in a COVID-19 Crisis: Day Four This is No. Four of this somewhat unusual recipe series, but we recognize it’s been weeks of #stayhome for many people. It’s time for a break. It’s also likely time for a …

Photo by Benjamin Ashton on Unsplash

Cooking in a COVID-19 Crisis: Day Four

This  is No. Four of this somewhat unusual recipe series, but we recognize it’s been weeks of #stayhome for many people. It’s time for a break. It’s also likely time for a trip to the grocery store, assuming you haven’t been for a week or more. The good news is your local grocery stores are probably still operating their meat or deli counters, with even more attention to safety and health than ever before.

This is the time to take advantage of the skills of those behind the counter. One of my  favorite things to pick up to bake at home is stuffed pork chops. My store has a bountiful selection of stuffings, already bound up inside a nicely butterflied  chop. Raisin and apple, mushroom and sage, wild rice, even plain—something for just about any taste buds. Choose yours, take it home and bake it, and you are good to go!

Pork Chops

This is a deli-ready dish that will make you feel like you spent hours in prep. Serve it with a side of pork gravy if desired, and something out of the everyday like canned cranberry sauce.

Step 1: Pick up stuffed pork chops from your grocer’s deli counter.

Step 2: Put the chops in a casserole dish, cover it with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes—taking the  foil off for the final 15. You can dress it up by adding canned cherries if you  want.

Step 3: Prepare your  sides—something like cranberry sauce, applesauce, and a green veggie.

Step 5: Serve, add a drink and dessert, and put up your feet while you watch whatever is in your queue.

Ingredients needed from your pantry (or the grocery store):

  • Stuffed porkchops from the deli/butcher counter
  • Packaged mix or canned gravy mix if desired
  • Canned cherries (usually found with the pie ingredients, but look for the non-jellied kind)
  • Side dishes such as vegetable and fruit

The price point on these is cheaper than you’d think, and they know just how to do it without the pork chops falling apart—trust them. Of course, you can always do the alternative of buying butterfly chops and stuffing them with your own creation (or packaged, such as StoveTop).

Be sure to plan ahead so you can limit your trips to the grocery store, and be safe out there!

 

Cooking in a COVID-19 Crisis: Day Three

Shortcut cooking at its best!

We don’t live on baked goods alone, but apparently baking has a new fascination. People who have never made bread before are trying it, putting packaged yeast in the endangered column. Cinnamon rolls, banana bread, even hot cross buns have all crossed my feed from everyday cooks.

Perhaps it’s a primordial need for carbs, and bread feels more virtuous than baking cookies. However, not everyone has the baking gene, and the desire for something comforting and yeasty doesn’t necessarily have to be fulfilled with hours spent waiting for something to rise before  baking.

Enter biscuits and gravy. My grandmother can be credited (or blamed) with my love for this  dish. She’d roll out fresh biscuits, fry up the sausage, and use the remaining grease to make the most delectable gravy my childhood heart could imagine. She’d bring it all to the table with flour smudged up her forearms and, often, in her hair. The smell throughout the house was tantalizing, and just the memory makes me salivate just a little.

Last year we had a big family event where 16 of us ended up in one house, sharing the cooking and clean up and having a wonderful time, with other family members nearby. At one point I suggested biscuits and gravy, and the next thing I knew we had 26 coming for breakfast. I took the shortcut of open-and-bake biscuits, but did the quick gravy from scratch—and the method below shortens it even more. In our theme of supporting local restaurants while still cooking, try this out on your carb-craving family.

Shortcut Biscuits & Gravy

Sure, you can make biscuits from scratch, or pop open a can (which is my usual go-to shortcut). However, times like these call for a quick drive through your favorite biscuit breakfast place. The easiest thing to do is drive-thru a Brahm’s, if you have one in your  area. Trust me, we’ve tested a huge sample of biscuits and gravy, and while Another Broken Egg Café has the best, Brahm’s is a good back up  found in more places.

For biscuits alone, though we tend to favor Hardee’s biscuits, but you may have other great choices in your  town. If you aren’t going to take the easiest road  and just pick up the full meal, the following is  about as easy as we can make it!

Step 1: Send someone to pick up the hot biscuits, as many as you need (and don’t fear the leftovers). If they don’t sell the biscuits by themselves, ask for them deconstructed. OR, pop open and bake a tube of Grands.

Step 2: Meanwhile, fry up one tube of Jimmy Dean regular/mild sausage in a frying pan.

Step 3: Add ¼ cup flour to the cooked sausage.

Step 4: Add 2 ½ cups whole milk and stir quickly.

Step 5: Add a little salt and a LOT of black pepper.

Step 6: Serve with coffee and juice. Leftovers, if any, microwave just fine.

Ingredients needed from your pantry (or the grocery store):

  • Grands Homestyle biscuits (if baking at home)
  • Jimmy Dean sausage
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coffee
  • Choice of juice

As always, be sure to plan ahead and limit your trips to the grocery store, and be safe out there!

 

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash