He may have a rather annoying stage name but DJ BBQ, aka Christian Stevenson, knows how you can get the best from your fire this summer.
No longer about half cooked chicken designed to send guests straight to A&E, or burgers singed to the size and consistency of beer mats, BBQ is mostly about low and slow, keeping the lid on, using smoke and grilling to thrill.
Mr BBQ is a regular on the festival circuit and knows a fair bit about what makes fire really hot and this book is packed full of crowd pleasers and’bangers’ of the’that’s amaaaayzing’ kind. He also says things like’get in my belly!’ and’kick it up a level!”, which suggests he spends too much time on social media for a man of his age.
Let us skip over the page that suggests’ultimate tunes for your cookout’, although he is almost as big a fan as I am of Dinosaur Jr – even if he likes the wrong album – and let’s get down to the important stuff.
Pages of advice on charcoal are very useful – there really is no point in just buying any old charcoal as he points out. Single wood species charcoal can add great flavours and if it’s single wood it will burn with more predictable consistency, depending on what wood it is.
And that kind of wood is usually from a sustainable source, unlike most shop bought charcoal. The latter may also contain noxious chemicals that will taint your flavours. Mr BBQ recommends the Oxford Charcoal Company and so do we.
BBQ types? Well in his, and my opinion, a Kettle type such as a Weber is the best all-rounder – good for grilling, BBQing and it can also be used for cold-smoking.
He then lists the ways of setting up your charcoal to burn – direct heat, indirect heat, dirty, slab etc. This is vital knowledge to get the best out of your fire. Despite what many think, grilling on direct heat is rarely the best way, a bit of direct and a lot of indirect and slow is best.
So that’s the method what about the recipes? Well he doesn’t go in for subtle flavours, that’s for sure. He knows what millennials like, layers and layers of powerful flavours if possible sandwiched in a bun. He reckons his team cook 8000 burgers every year,
Each recipe clearly states the kind of cooking needed with fifty recipes including of course guaranteed crowd-pleasers such’ultimate’ burgers, pulled pork and chicken wings.
He does also cook more interesting food such as seafood tacos, poutine with bourbon- and maple syrup-spiked gravy.BBQ spaghetti bolognese, beer clams, grilled chicken hearts and coal-roasted oysters.
And he covers’dirty food’ the craze of cooking in amongst the coals, dirty carrots and onions and those oysters and yes there are vegetarian dishes like mac & cheese pancakes, smoked potato salad and, bonus points from me here, he does not call them’plant based dishes’, as seems the current vogue.
He may come across as a bit like mutton dressed as lamb, and so do I, but DJ BBQ is a true master of the meat with some excellent recipes across the board.