We interviewed competitive barbecue chef Stephen Perrin about how to get the best results when cooking barbecue this summer.
How did you end up becoming so interested in BBQ, was there one defining moment that made you fall in love with BBQ?
During a trip to Whistler, I visited a local barbecue restaurant called Dusty’s and was fascinated by their smoking and grilling techniques and the overall concept of a BBQ joint. I was excited by the challenge to try out a whole new style of cooking since I was coming from a fine dining, classical style and decided to open up my own spot.
When we opened Rusty’s at Blue, Bar and Barbecue, it was a totally different concept then what I was used to. I soon learned that barbecue wasn’t something I was good at, but it’s in my nature to become good at it. Barbecue re-sparked my passion for cooking, as it was a new style of cooking that I hadn’t mastered yet and I was determined to master it.
What is the most popular menu item at your restaurant (Rusty’s) and why do people love it so much?
The brisket is the most popular item at Rusty’s. Not a lot of people can do it well. Our brisket is smoked slow n’ low for 14-18 hours with hickory and Apple wood. We find that a lot of people hear about it, try it and fall in love with it.
Do you adhere to a specific style of BBQ – Louisiana style say or North Carolina style – or do you mix and match?
Definitely a hybrid of both. Our BBQ style is bold, sweet and medium smoked. At Rusty’s we do a combination of hardwood, such as hickory and apple wood. Instead of Texas style which would be mesquite and hickory or Eastern which is generally sweet with apple, cherry or chestnut and not as smokey, we combine the two together. However when competing, I adhere to the region where I’m cooking and to the judge’s palate.
See Stephen’s BBQ tips below…
Stephen Perrin BBQ Tips:
Marinate your meat a day in advance. Marinades, like red wine, usually contain acidic properties, which will dry your meat out.
Use a dry rub or fresh herbs on your meat minutes before cooking it on the barbeque.
Scarborough Fair Rub Recipe:
50% sage, rosemary and thyme.
Mix herbs well with olive oil, just enough to make them moist, along with a little bit of salt.
Move your meat around the BBQ too much. Moving the meat manipulates the product and causes loss of the juices in the meat. Also, the fat and juice that are released when moving/touching your meat on the barbeque drips down into the barbeque flame, causing flare up.
Move your meat on the BBQ exactly 4 times. Start your meat off at a really high temperature (500 degree or higher) placed at a 90-degree angle towards the grate. Leave it there for about a minute and a half/two minutes until you can hear the meat sizzle. Then flip your meat so that the opposite side of the meat is facing the grate at a 90-degree angle. Again, after about a minute and a half/two minutes, flip your meat back onto its original side at a 45-degree angle to the grate in order to get that criss-cross effect on your meat. Flip your meat into the opposite side one last time, placing it at a 45-degree angle to the grate.
Rest your meat for about 10 minutes between when it comes off the barbeque and when you serve it. When meat is cooked, juices are forced to the centre of the meat. Once it has a chance to rest a bit, the blood will be redistributed throughout the meat, making it more tender. Remember, meat is a muscle that tightens up when cooked, and relaxes and expands once off the barbeque.
Use salt. Contrary to popular belief, salt will not dry out your meat; it actually brings the flavour up, while spices bring the flavour out.
When cooking chicken, to avoid flaring up your barbeque, put chicken down on the BBQ flesh/bone side first, not skin side first (as the skin turns to fat and will cause your barbeque to flare up). Also, salt the skin side minutes before putting your chicken on the barbeque in order to slightly dry out the fat.