Award-winning author Steven Raichlen offers Barbecue University for those hungry for grilling tips.
A panoramic view of Colorado awaits attendees of Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue University.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – Barbecuers find their way to the historic Broadmoor Hotel each June for a special event: Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue University.
Raichlen, the award-winning author of The Barbecue! Bible and Barbecue USA, has gained a following who hungrily watch his PBS television programs, buy his DVDs and his grilling gadgets, and then faithfully try his creative recipes.
As one of 50 people making a pilgrimage to Colorado Springs for the intensive three-day grilling event, I was in the company of other backyard barbecuers, chefs and restaurant owners; Olympic gold medalist Peggy Fleming and her husband, vitner Greg Jenkins; an Australian pilot with Emirates Airlines; and an Army food and beverage director.
As each day begins, Steven Raichlen calls for volunteers: “If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do or had trouble with, that’s the dish to volunteer for.” Volunteers prepare for grilling during Raichlen’s talk. Later, outside, they grill, plate the dish and tidy up.
Raichlen demonstrates eight recipes a day while students sit riveted, taking notes on the printed recipes provided.
As Raichlen explains it, barbecue is when food is exposed to fire. The class covers all five methods of fire cooking:
An entire meal, Raichlen says, can be cooked – appetizer to dessert – on the grill; thus he offers his Caesar Salad with Grilled Romaine Lettuce and Smoke-Roasted Pears for dessert.
Full of sage advice, Raichlen provides clear and thorough explanations:
In addition to acquiring seasoning techniques and sauce-making tips, participants learn how to light a gas grill safely, light a chimney starter, and do basic butchering.
Although Raichlen uses different recipes in each session, a perennial favorite is Beer Can Chicken, a recipe that uses a can of beer (or soda) to keep the bird moist. The can sits on the grill, with the opening of the chicken carcass placed over the open can, holding the chicken upright.
Outside on the deck, amidst a panoramic view of mountains and valley, Raichlen stands surrounded by 24 grills and says, “I’m going to show you how to use all major categories of grills, everything from smokers to charcoal grills to wood burning grills, hibachis and ranches. We’re actually even going to spit-roast a whole hog on a rotisserie.”
Later, staff members bring out a large butchered hog plus a military-size rotisserie skewer. Raichlen pulls a willing volunteer from the crowd to sew the hog onto the skewer.
By the time we finished grilling, the enticing aroma from 24 grills has all of us hungry. Inside, The Broadmoor kitchen prepares a barbecue lover’s feast from recipes introduced that day.
Back home, I’m experimenting with what we learned. And I’ve heard from the Australian pilot, Grant Robertson, who says he’s tried many of Raichlen’s recipes: He reads the recipes, starts the grill and, then watches one of Raichlen’s DVDs to see if he’s forgotten anything!
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