Hardwood charcoal grilling back in style

It won’t replace gas fire grilling, but cooking over hardwood charcoal is experiencing a huge resurgence, says a champion barbecuer and cookbook author.

It won’t replace gas fire grilling, but cooking over hardwood charcoal is experiencing a huge resurgence, says a champion barbecuer and cookbook author.

“Five years ago everyone was grilling on a gas grill. Now hardware stores are stocking bags of hardwood lump charcoal,” says Ronnie Shewchuck.

“And it signals a trend towards the spirit of the slow food movement and the ritual of barbecue cooking.”

Shewchuck’s new book, Barbecue Secrets Deluxe! (Whitecap), is a compendium of barbecue history, his stories of competing in championship matches with his team, the Butt Shredders, in Canada and south of the border and a section entitled Barbecue 101 for the novice who is just getting started.

To keep it in the family, his wife Kate Zimmerman, who writes a column for City Palate magazine in Vancouver, puts a humourous spin on male barbecuers in two pithy articles.

Shewchuck says he has “something for everyone who grills” in his book.

“I’ve included a few complex recipes, but mostly it’s designed for the backyard cook.”

Many of the recipes use less expensive cuts of meat which can be slow cooked on the barbecue.

“I believe we are going from where convenience was everything to a time in which quality is more important.”

Shewchuck includes a play list of favourite music to barbecue by, including classic blues, country and western, jazz, rock and roll and world music.

To mark the release of his book, he is holding a contest to challenge Canadian barbecue fans to come up with Twitter messages about outdoor cooking. To learn more go to www.whitecap.ca/blog/barbecue-secrets-deluxe-bbq-tweet-contest.

In the spirit of inexpensive grilling, here is the author’s recipe choice:

Spice Crusted Pork Blade Steaks


30 ml (2 tbsp) ancho chili powder or any other chili powder

15 ml (1 tbsp) granulated garlic

15 ml (1 tbsp) granulated onion

5 ml (1 tsp) freshly ground black pepper

5 ml (1 tsp) chipotle chili powder or cayenne

5 ml (1 tsp) dried oregano

5 ml (1 tsp) dried parsley


15 ml (1 tbsp) cumin seeds

6 pork blade steaks (each 250 to 285 g/8 to 10 oz)

Kosher salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) Dijon mustard or regular prepared mustard

Extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, combine rub ingredients and set aside.

In a dry saute pan over medium heat, toast cumin seeds until fragrant and just starting to turn a light brown. Remove cumin from pan and set it aside.

Generously season blade steaks with salt. Using the back of a spoon or a basting brush, coat steaks with a thin layer of mustard. Sprinkle cumin seeds on both sides of the steaks and pat them in so they stick to mustard.

Sprinkle a generous coating of rub on the steaks and drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil.

Prepare grill for direct high heat. Place steaks on the cooking grate, close grill and immediately reduce heat to medium.

Cook steaks for 8 to 10 minutes, turning them once or twice, or until they are springy to the touch.

Remove steaks from grill, tent them with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Warning: These steaks have a lot of juice and fat in them, so be on the alert for flare-ups.

Makes 6 servings.

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