Our new Chef Fred Maurer has an extensive background in making cured meats and charcuterie, so we thought it’d be fun to pick his brain about BBQing. Here’s some of his best BBQ tips and tricks so you can barbeque with confidence all summer long!
1.) Hi Fred! Tell us: what's your background and how did you get into the food industry?
I grew up in the Midwest and was a theatre kid growing up. I graduated from college (barely) and went straight to culinary school. After working in restaurants in the city, I went to Paris to stage in a charcuterie. Since I’ve been back in New York, I’ve been mostly in the meat world, making a lot of sausages and smoking a lot of meat.
2.) Since you’re practically a meat master, we’d love to know: what are your BBQ must haves- from meat to condiments?
Growing up in Ohio meant over cooked burgers and burnt hot dogs and plenty of ketchup. But I lived in Texas for a spell, so brisket is king. I love cole slaw- top five favorite foods- heavy meats paired with cold crispy slaw is fantastic. And don’t forget white bread, pickles and sliced onion.
3.) What are your best, basic BBQ tips for the beginner?
If you interpret BBQ as slow smoked meats or as a cookout, keep things simple. Prepare a menu ahead of time. A couple sides (cole slaw, of course) along with a few proteins to keep everyone happy. If you’re doing a slow smoke on a brisket but worried about time and control, try the Texas crutch- smoke it hard for an hour, then wrap in foil and throw it in a 250F oven until tender.
4.) Tips on selecting the best cut for BBQ?
Cheap cuts are great for low and slow. Brisket, chuck and beef ribs; whole tri tip is fantastic. Look for marbling and fat content. Even if you don’t want to eat the fat on the brisket, cook it with it on, and remove it after. As for sausage, if you’re buying fresh, try poaching them beforehand. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, turn off the fire and gently place the sausages in the pot and cover for 15 minutes until internal is 160F. Remove and let cool (do a day ahead if possible). Just throw them on a medium heat grill to warm through and crisp the casing. You’ll end up with a fully cooked, perfectly browned sausage.
5.) What's your favorite BBQ seasoning or marinade?
Salt and Pepper. Smoke. Large cuts should be seasoned the night before. I love a BBQed sausage with a good balance of vinegar, sweet tomato and black pepper.
6.) What's an unexpected BBQ ingredient that's an absolute must-have?
Time. It might sound silly, but if you are smoking meats you need about 8-18 hours. If you’re doing a cookout on your Weber, the coals take time to die down. Write a prep list. I really enjoy the process of deciding the menu and organizing the timing of how dishes will come out. While you’re waiting, have a beer.
7.) Finally, what does your dream BBQ look like? What kind of dishes and drinks would you have? Where would it be? With whom?
I’ve always joked (hoped?) that my dream wedding will be in hill country in Texas, with long picnic tables outside, covered in paper. Beef brisket and ribs, plenty of coleslaw, potato salad, greens, beans, the whole deal spread out on the table. Plenty of champagne and cold beer. Willie Nelson playing live. And I’d be at the barbecue pit, drinking a Lone Star, watching everyone enjoy themselves as the sun sets over the hills.