Grilling is high and fast, barbecuing is low and slow, or so the old saw goes about the differences between these two outdoor cooking styles. But grilling can also mean low temperatures and slow cooking times if you plan and grill-roast accordingly.
"You should think about grill-roasting because you can. The greatest invention in grilling is the lid," says David Joachim, co-author of "Fire It Up! More than 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything" published by Chronicle, with Andrew Schloss, a fellow Pennsylvanian, food writer and cookbook author.
Joachim is right. Grilling gives terrific flavor and can speedily cook small items of food. Big items, however, are problematic without a lid to trap the heat.
The grill essentially becomes an oven, he notes, allowing you to use indirect heat -- cooking away from hot coals or gas jets -- to cook the food slowly to a perfect doneness.
When it comes to big cuts, like beef brisket, pork shoulder or leg of lamb, you have to let them cook until they're fork-tender, Joachim says.
Little or no special equipment is needed: disposable aluminum pans to capture juices released while cooking (boil down to make a sauce) and a brush or baster with which to apply a flavorful mop (or grilling sauce) while the meat cooks. That's it.
In the recipe here, coffee is the surprising flavor agent for beef brisket. "It's such a powerful combination," says Joachim.
While you can get a great coffee and beef flavor with almost any meat cut, Joachim thinks the pairing works particularly well with brisket, because the cut boasts so much meaty, beefy flavor. Coffee bolsters that flavor at each crucial step: a rub before grilling, a mop while cooking and a sauce for serving.
Gas or charcoal grill? Depends on you.
"Charcoal is not more difficult; it just takes a different kind of person," Joachim says. "If you drive a stick shift car, you probably will like charcoal more. If you're someone who just wants to turn a knob, gas is more convenient."
> Espresso-Powered Barbecue Brisket
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cups strong brewed coffee, preferably espresso roast
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 cup espresso rub, see recipe
1 flat or center-cut beef brisket (3-4 pounds), trimmed, with 1/4 -inch fat on one side
1 cup espresso grilling sauce, see recipe below
Mix lemon juice, coffee, molasses, balsamic vinegar, salt and 1 tablespoon espresso rub in a small bowl. Set this espresso mop aside. Rub the remaining espresso rub all over the brisket. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Rest the meat at room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour. Prepare grill for indirect medium-low heat, about 250 degrees. Coat grate with oil.
Put the brisket, fatty-side up, on the grill away from the heat; cover the grill. Cook until severely browned and blackened in spots or very well-done (about 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer), 4 to 6 hours total. Mop or drizzle the brisket with the espresso mop on both sides whenever the surface looks dry, every 45 minutes during the entire cooking time.
After 2 hours of cooking, put the brisket in an aluminum foil pan, fatty side up; return brisket to the grill away from the heat. Cover the grill; continue cooking. You only need to mop the top, fatty side of the brisket once the meat is in the pan. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay about 250 degrees during the entire cooking time. If using charcoal, add fresh coals about once an hour.
Remove the pan from the heat; let rest 20 minutes. Trim any excess fat; slice brisket across the grain. Serve with the grilling sauce.
Espresso rub: In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons each finely ground dark-roast coffee, smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, coarse salt and ground black pepper; 1 tablespoon each ground ancho chili and finely grated lemon zest. Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes 3/4 cup.
Espresso grilling sauce: In a saucepan, mix together 1 cup each brewed dark-roast coffee and ketchup; 1/4 cup dark brown mustard; 1/3 cup honey; 2 tablespoons citrus juice (lemon, orange or lime); 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce; 2 teaspoons each ground black pepper and coarse salt. Heat to a boil. Lower heat; simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate in a tightly closed container up to 1 month. Makes 2 1/3 cups.
(Adapted from "Fire It Up!" by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim.)
Per serving: 368 calories, 25 percent of calories from fat, 10g fat, 4g saturated fat, 97mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrates, 47g protein, 1,467mg sodium, 1g fiber.
> Cuban Grilled Pork
1 1/3 cups lime juice, about 14 limes
2/3 cup orange juice, about 2 oranges
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried oregano
1 head garlic, cloves divided, peeled, left whole
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 pork loin, about 3 pounds
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, sliced into rings
Mix all the ingredients except the pork, onion and salt in a bowl. Let sit 10 minutes. If using a flavor injector, strain half the marinade into a bowl; add the strained garlic to the remaining half of the marinade. Use the injector to take in some strained marinade. Pierce the pork with the needle; inject marinade into the flesh. Do this all over the meat until the strained marinade has been used up, or the meat can't hold more liquid. (If you are not using a flavor injector, use a long thin knife to create deep gashes all over the flesh. Pour marinade over the pork.)
Place pork in a deep bowl or container. Generously season the outside of the pork with salt; pour the remaining marinade all over the meat, spreading the onion rings over the top. Cover well with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Remove the pork from the marinade; place meat on a platter. Transfer the marinade to a saucepan; add the onions. Heat to a boil; cook, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; allow to cool. Puree in a blender until smooth. The marinade is ready to be used as a basting liquid.
Allow pork to come to room temperature. Heat gas grill to high (550 degrees); close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the heat to 400 degrees. Oil the grill grates. Grill the pork, 60 minutes; turn the meat over after 15 minutes, again at 30 minutes and at 45 minutes. Baste each time you turn the meat. The pork is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Remove from grill; allow to rest before carving, 15 minutes. (The meat temperature will rise another 10 degrees while it rests.)
Note: Lourdes Castro offers a detailed grilling chart for Cuban-style pork in her new book, "Latin Grilling." From a piece of tenderloin to a whole pig, she tells you how to marinate the pork and how long to cook it. For the pork loin in this recipe, Castro likes to use a syringelike flavor injector to work the marinade into the meat. If you don't have one, cut deep slashes into the meat so the marinade will penetrate. If you can find bitter Seville oranges, use 2 cups of their juice instead of the combination of lime and sweet orange juices.
Per serving: 367 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 20g fat, 7g saturated fat, 120mg cholesterol, 9g carbohydrates, 37g protein, 505mg sodium, 1g fiber.