This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Steven Raichlen

To purchase a copy of the book:

Project Smoke: Seven Steps to Smoked Food Nirvana, Plus 100 Irresistible Recipes from Classic (Slam-Dunk Brisket) to Adventurous (Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp)

Book Signing:
Tonight, June 28
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s Culinary Center
810 W. Washington Blvd.

Cherry-Smoked Strip Steak
Yield: Makes 1 really thick steak, enough to serve 2 or 3
Method: Reverse searing
Prep time: 5 minutes
Smoking time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Grilling time: 4 to 6 minutes

Fuel: I like cherry for smoking this steak, but any hardwood will do. You’ll need enough hardwood chunks or chips (soaked and drained if using the latter) for 1 hour of smoking.
Gear: A remote digital thermometer or instant-read thermometer so you can monitor the internal temperature during smoking and grilling
Shop: Reverse searing works best with really thick steaks: 2- to 3-inch-thick strip steak, porterhouse, rib steak, and sirloin steak
What else: This steak works best on a charcoal-burning grill or smoker, like a kettle grill or offset barrel smoker with a grill grate over the firebox. That enables you to smoke low and slow, then sear over a hot fire. Otherwise, you’ll need to start the steak in a smoker and finish it on a grill.

Steak is one cut of beef you don’t normally smoke. It requires a hot fire to sear the exterior while keeping the inside sanguine and juicy. But there is a way to smoke a steak low and slow, and if you’re fortunate enough to start with a monster-thick strip or rib eye, this is one of the best methods I know for bringing its interior to a luscious 135F medium-rare while achieving a sizzling dark crust. You guessed it—reverse searing (you slow-smoke the steak first to cook it through, then rest it, then finally sizzle it over a hot fire to sear the crust).

1 thick (2- to 3-inch) boneless strip steak, rib steak, or sirloin (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds)
Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and cracked or freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

If using a charcoal kettle grill, light 10 to 12 pieces of charcoal (preferably natural lump charcoal) in a chimney starter. When ready, place the charcoal in one side basket or on one side of the bottom grate. Adjust the top and bottom vents to heat your grill to 225 to 250F. Meanwhile, very generously season the steak on the top, bottom, and sides with salt and pepper. Insert the thermometer probe through the side of the steak, deep into the center. Add the wood to the coals. Place the steak on the grate as far away from the fire as possible. Cover the grill and smoke the steak until the internal temperature reaches 110F. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the steak from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 10 to 15 fresh coals to the bed of embers and build a hot fire in your grill, readjusting the vents as needed. Lightly brush or drizzle the steak on both sides with olive oil. Place it on the grate over the fire and direct grill until the top and bottom are sizzling and darkly crusted and the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer reaches 120 to 125F for rare to 130 to 135F for medium-rare (2 to 3 minutes per side, 4 to 6 minutes in all), turning with tongs. If you like, give the steak a quarter turn on each side halfway through searing to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. For really thick steaks, grill the edges, too. Serve hot off the grill. I like to cut the steak on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices. I wouldn’t say no to an additional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken

Yield: Makes 1 chicken enough to serve 2-4
Method: Spit-roasting
Prep time: 15 minutes
Smoking time: 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours

Fuel: With poultry, I like fruitwood, such as apple or cherry wood chips – enough for 1 ½ hours of smoking
Gear: When smoking on a gas grill, you’ll want a mesh or tube smoker, a smoker box, or a cast-iron skillet filled with wood chips and lit charcoal; butcher’s string; an instant-read thermometer
Shop: As always, buy organic or local farm-raised chicken when possible. Use your favorite commercial rub or for a Chinese accent, try the 5-4-3-2-1 Rub

The best way I know to cook a whole chicken is spit-roasting. Or is it smoking? This dish delivers the best of both methods – the self-basting, moisture-retaining, skin-crisping benefits of the rotisserie coupled with the flavor-boosting powers of wood smoke. The easiest way to do it is on a charcoal-burning kettle grill with a rotisserie ring. Alternatively, use a straight wood-burning rotisserie or a gas grill rotisserie, plus a smoking device.

1 whole chicken (3 ½ to 4 pounds)
3 Tablespoons barbecue rub, or to taste
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Set up your grill for spit-roasting following the manufacturer’s instructions, and preheat to medium-high (375F). Yes, I know this is higher than the traditional low-and-slow smoking temperature, but the higher temperature crisps the skin. Remove any giblets and large lumps of fat from inside the chicken. Place 1 tablespoon of the rub in the neck and main cavities. Tie the legs together with butcher’s string or pin them together with a bamboo skewer. Fold the wing tips back and under the body of the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining rub over the outside of the chicken. Drizzle the bird with olive oil, rubbing it over the skin on all sides. Run the rotisserie spit through the chicken from side to side so the bird will spin head over tail evenly. (Why head over tail? You’ll get a juicier bird with crisper skin. I can’t explain the physics, but most of the world’s grill cultures spit-roast chickens this way, and it works.) Tighten the nuts on the rotisserie forks. Affix the spit with the chicken on the rotisserie. Place an aluminum foil drip pan under the bird. Toss the wood chips on the coals or otherwise add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Turn on the motor.  Smoke-roast the chicken until the skin is dark brown and crisp and the meat in the thigh reaches 165F on an instant-read thermometer. (Insert it into the deepest part of the thigh but not touching the bone.) This will take 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then carve and dig in.