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Grilling with ‘Smoke & Spice’

Revised cookbook by Cheryl and Bill Jamison offers new recipes and techniques for barbecue fans. Check out some of their recipes.

If you haven’t fired up your grill yet for Memorial Day, hold off. Outdoor cooking experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison say cooking with smoke is the real way to barbecue. They are the authors of “Smoke and Spice,” and they share some of their secrets on “Today.” Check out some their recipes here:


Kansas City folks love to make a mess with ribs, layering them with so much sweet, hot sauce that you’re licking your fingers as often as you’re licking your chops. Oh, mercy!

KC Rib Rub

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup paprika

2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder

1 to 2 teaspoons ground cayenne

3 full slabs of pork spareribs, “St. Louis cut” (trimmed of the chine bone and brisket flap), preferably 3 pounds each or less

Your favorite sweet, tomato-based barbecue sauce

Serves 6

The night before you plan to barbecue, combine the rub ingredients in a bowl. Apply about one-third of the rub evenly to the ribs, reserving the rest of the spice mixture. Place the slabs in a plastic bag and refrigerate them overnight.

Before you begin to barbecue, take the ribs from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the ribs lightly but thoroughly with rub, reserving the rest of the mixture. Let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes.

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 F to 220 F.

Transfer the meat to the smoker. Cook the ribs for about 4 hours, turning and sprinkling them with more dry rub about halfway through the time. In the last 45 minutes of cooking, slather the ribs once or twice with your favorite sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce.

When ready, the meat will bend easily between the ribs, and the sauce will be gooey and sticky. Allow the slabs to sit for 10 minutes before slicing them into individual ribs. Serve with more sauce on top or on the side and plenty of napkins.


The medieval alchemists, who sought to turn base metals into gold, should have tried barbecuing a brisket on a wood-burning pit. The transformation of the meat is on the same magnitude of magic and much more successful.

Wild Willy’s Number One-derful Rub

3/4 cup paprika

1/4 cup ground black pepper

1/4 cup coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons ground cayenne

8-pound to 12-pound packer-trimmed beef brisket

Basic Beer Mop

12 ounces beer

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Wild Willy’s number One-derful Rub

Tomato-based barbecue sauce (optional)

Serves 12 to 18

The night before you plan to barbecue, combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the rub evenly to the brisket, massaging it into every little pore, reserving at least 1 tablespoon of the rub. Place the brisket in a plastic bag and refrigerate it overnight.

Before you begin to barbecue, remove the brisket from the refrigerator. Let the brisket sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 F to 220 F.

In a saucepan, mix together the mop ingredients with 1/2 cup water and warm over low heat.

Transfer the brisket to the coolest part of the smoker, fat side up, so the juices will help baste the meat. Cook the brisket until well-done and tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours per pound. Every hour or so, baste the blackening hunk with the mop.

When the meat is cooked, remove it from the smoker and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then cut the fatty top section away from the leaner bottom portion. An easily identifiable layer of fat separates the two areas. Trim the excess fat from both pieces and slice them thinly against the grain. Watch what you’re doing because the grain changes direction. If you wish, serve tomato-based barbecue sauce on the side.


The pride of El Paso, Texas, and the adjoining town of Juarez, Mexico, a salpicón typically combines a mélange of colorful vegetables with baked or boiled brisket in a lively vinaigrette. Ours pairs the mixture instead with smoked meat. The hearty salad can serve as a main dish or, when accompanied by tortilla chips for dipping, as an appetizer. It makes a fast-food taco salad look as appetizing as cold gravy.

We’d like to dedicate this recipe to the memory of our friend and fellow cookbook author, Michael McLaughlin who loved smoked brisket and spicy dishes as much as we do. Vaya con dios.

Salpicón Dressing

7-ounce can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and coarse-ground black pepper to taste

Salpicón Salad

3 1/2 pounds shredded smoked beef brisket, such as Braggin’-Rights Brisket

4 small red-ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma or Italian plum, diced

2 ripe avocados, preferably Hass, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 medium red onion, diced

6 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated

2/3 cup chopped cilantro

6 medium radishes, grated

1 head romaine, shredded

Serves 12 to 14

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined.

In a large bowl, combine the brisket with half to three-quarters of the salad dressing. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the brisket and toss well. Drizzle on more dressing as you wish, keeping in mind it will increase the salad’s heat level. Serve immediately.


This salad resembles a summer garden, with its bright bits of herbs, tomato, onion, and peppers.

Confetti Paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon brine from a jar of pepperoncini peppers

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin


2/3 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives

1 small red-ripe tomato, chopped

1/3 cup minced red onion

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini peppers

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of salt

At least 2 hours and up to the night before you plan to barbecue, combine the paste ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the paste thoroughly over the chicken, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the chicken marinates, make the salad topping. Combine the ingredients in a bowl, cover the mixture, and refrigerate.

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 F to 220 F.

Transfer the chicken to the smoker and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Slice the cooked chicken breasts and fan each one across a plate. Top with equal portions of the salad topping. Serve warm or lightly chilled.


The barbecue belt never needed iceberg lettuce. When most of the country started down the road to radicchio in the 1950s, ‘Q’ lovers remained faithful to America’s original crunchy green salad, coleslaw. This is a classic version of the dish, updated for contemporary tastes but still similar to the old cool sla that many early settlers ate with meat.

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1 medium head cabbage, grated

2 to 3 carrots, grated

Serves 6 to 8

In a lidded jar, shake together the half-and-half, sugar, vinegar, mayonnaise, garlic, and salt until well blended. Place the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl, pour the dressing over the vegetables, and toss together. Chill the slaw for at least 1 hour. It keeps well for several days.


An old Southern favorite, cracklings are crunchy slivers of pork skin or other bits of meat left after fat has been rendered. Using bacon will be easier for most home cooks and will result in a similar flavor. If you’re feeling virtuous about fat, or having a vegetarian boss to dinner, eliminate the bacon and substitute a tablespoon of vegetable oil for the rendered fat.

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 1/2 cups cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Serves 6 to 8

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a cast-iron skillet, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until very crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon, and drain it. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat. Keep the skillet warm.

In a medium-size bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Pour in the buttermilk and eggs and mix by hand until lightly but thoroughly blended. Stir in the corn, bacon, and melted butter.

Pour the batter into the warm skillet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cornbread’s edges are brown and the top has lightly browned. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Serve warm.


A refreshingly light cooler, this is good as a nonalcoholic beverage, too. Just replace the wine with more club soda or carbonated mineral water.

1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut in chunks

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup club soda or carbonated mineral water

Lime slices, for garnish

Serves 2

Combine the mango and lime juice in a blender and purée. Add the wine and club soda and blend thoroughly. Pour the mixture through a strainer into 2 tall glasses. Add ice, garnish with the limes, and serve.

Recipes from “Smoke & Spice,” Revised Edition by Cheryl & Bill Jamison. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of The Harvard Common Press.