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Singapore Pork Saté

Photo by Matthew Benson

Anyone can grill a steak or smoke a brisket. But cooking great barbecue—the term I use for any sort of food cooked with live fire—involves not just an intimate knowledge of fuels and fire control but also considerable expertise in using rubs, marinades, bastes, glazes, and sauces.

See the recipe for Singapore pork saté

Grilled Striped Bass with Melon-Mint Relish

Photo by Matthew Benson

In a way, the process is similar to building a house. The contractor has to know how to select a site, dig a foundation, build a frame, do the finishing work, paint and landscape, using the proper tools and construction methods. Building great barbecue also requires the right tools (smokers and grills), the proper methods (smoke and heat control), a solid foundation (the rubs and marinades), good finish work (the bastes and glazes), attractive paint (the barbecue sauce), and pleasing landscaping (the salsas, relishes, chutneys, mustards, ketchups, and other condiments that are served as accompaniments). Get these elements right, and your barbecue will be very much at home on the plate and on your tongue.

See the recipe for grilled striped bass with melon-mint relish

The Barbecue Burger

Photo by Matthew Benson

The recipes showcase some of the flavor-enhancing components of great barbecue. Follow them to the letter, or use them as springboards for your imagination and customize them to make them your own. Remember, barbecue isn’t brain surgery—have fun!

See the recipe for the barbecue burger

EXCERPTED FROM Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades—Bastes, Butters, and Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Matthew Benson.