Author: Erik Smilda

Flat iron steak marinated in olive tapenade

We are not opposed to a small experiment, and this was another successful one. We saw the ingredients of a ready-made olive tapenade and immediately saw a marinade in it. The only thing that was missing was some acidity to break down the surface texture, so the marinade absorbs better into the meat. We found that in a dash of balsamic vinegar.

By the way, you don’t see all our experiments end up on the website. Sometimes it’s just good but not memorable enough, and sometimes it’s not even good.

This is a Wagyu flat iron steak. Do you want to try Wagyu, but don’t put so little on the table that you can take one bite each, then go for the cheaper cuts like the flat iron. You could also try inside skirt. These cuts are delicious in their own right, but you serve something special because it’s Wagyu.

Before we get some comments from the purists among you, of course, a nice steak is delicious with just salt and pepper. But we have no problem making something delicious even better.

The marinated steak goes on the smoker, and we cook it low and slow to a core temperature of 48ºC (118F). Because a flat iron steak is a large and thin cut of meat, you can be sure that it will not be at the same core temperature from front to back.

That has several causes. The meat is not equally thick everywhere, but you also always have a hotter part in the smoker where the meat cooks faster. You also should not assume that the probe you have in your meat is in precisely the right place. This thermometer is only there for the first warning.

After that, you will always have to check in several places with the Thermapen to know how far the meat is. So it’s not that our Smoke thermometer gave the wrong temperature, but that we had the probe in the wrong place.

When the steak is resting, we convert the smoker for direct heat. We set the temperature to 250ºC (482F) and placed the cast iron grill plate. We then let it get hot. Of course, you could heat the grill even hotter, but that is not necessary with the grill plate.

When the grill plate is hot, you can put the steak on it. You leave it sit until it comes loose from the grill plate on its own. That is when the crust is formed. Do not pull or scrape. All that happens is you destroy the crust, and you’re back to square one.

If you don’t have a grill plate with your grill, you can also use a large cast-iron skillet. Or a smaller one where you grill the steak in half.

This is our flat iron steak marinated in olive tapenade. If you will try this too, let us know in a comment below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 700 grams Flat iron steak
  • 100 grams olive tapenade
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt


  1. Remove hard pieces of fat and silver skin if it is on the steak.
  2. Place the meat in a large ziplock bag. Mix the tapenade with the balsamic vinegar and pour it into the bag.
  3. Knead the marinade well into the steak and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Prepare your barbecue with an indirect temperature of about 140ºC (284F). Place the steak on the grates and cook it to a core temperature of 48ºC (118F).
  5. Remove the steak from the grates and convert the grill for direct preparation with a grill plate.
  6. When the plate is hot, grill the meat alternately until a nice crust has formed and the core temperature is 55ºC (131F).
  7. Sprinkle the grilled steak with sea salt and cut it into nice slices against the grain.

How do you get a smoke ring in your meat?

If you spend a whole day cooking a nice piece of meat on your grill and cut into it after many hours, you will be happy or surprised when you see a smoke ring. You see a pink edge on the outside of the meat that ranges from a few millimetres to sometimes 1 centimetre wide. Thinner pieces of meat such as spare ribs can sometimes turn completely pink due to a smoke ring.

That pink ring is not raw meat. It is physically quite difficult to heat meat from the outside, causing the inside and outside to cook while the meat remains raw only below the surface.

On Instagram, a smoke ring shows that whoever was behind the barbecue is a BBQ Hero. We will explain to you what a smoke ring is and how you can ensure that you get one too and that a smoke ring is not important at all.

What is a smoke ring

The simple explanation is that smoke hits the meat and then makes a smoke ring. But that is not always the case, so something more is going on.

Myoglobin is a red-coloured ferrous protein in animal muscles that retains oxygen from the lungs and transports it to the cells. The more oxygen an animal needs, the higher the myoglobin content in the meat and the redder the meat is. An adult cow needs much more energy than, for example, a calf so that the meat contains a larger amount of myoglobin and is more red.

This colour difference can also be seen in different limbs of the same beast. In a chicken, you see that the legs need more oxygen than the wings or the chest and are therefore darker in colour. Thus, the smoke ring will be more apparent in chicken legs than in chicken breast, where you will hardly see it.

The colour of myoglobin is naturally purple and changes under the influence of oxygen. Then it also gets a different composition. When fresh meat comes into contact with a high concentration of oxygen, purple myoglobin turns bright red. If there is little oxygen, it will turn brown again afterwards. With prolonged exposure of fresh meat to oxygen, the myoglobin will oxidize and also turn brown. Within this triangle, the colour change is reversible.

Another way to make myoglobin change colour is by heating it. If you keep beef below a core temperature of 60ºC (140F), the meat will remain pink. But at a core temperature between 60 and 75ºC (140 to 167F), myoglobin breaks down so that it also turns brown. At a temperature higher than 75ºC (167F), it is over, and the myoglobin will no longer be able to change colour.

You can keep myoglobin red by letting it come into contact with nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. These are gases that are created when wood is burned and gets in contact with oxygen. These gases, especially nitric oxide, will bind to the myoglobin, preventing it from oxidizing.

If these compounds are formed at a temperature when the myoglobin is still pink, the meat will remain pink during cooking. Because gases cannot get far into the meat, the rest of the meat will discolour further, creating a pink ring on the outer edges of the meat.

If you want to know more about these chemical compounds, we recommend that you visit the website of Dr Greg Blonder. He explains everything very clearly. If you want to dive even deeper into the matter, here’s another page from the Texas A&M University.

Which fuel gives you the best chance of a smoke ring

Wood is the best fuel to produce the right smoke. Burning wood produces a high concentration of nitrogen dioxide, which is converted into nitrogen monoxide when it comes in contact with oxygen. After that, briquettes are a good candidate because they mix carbon and residual wood that secretes the same nitrogen dioxide.

Charcoal is a less good fuel for a smoke ring because it consists mainly of pure carbon and produces the least amount of nitrogen dioxide of the three.

It is difficult to create a smoke ring on a gas barbecue without using extra smoke wood. Little carbon is released during gas combustion, but virtually no nitrogen dioxide, so the chance of a smoke ring is minimal.

Neither will be released on an electric grill, or the heating elements must not be very clean. Also, no oxygen supply is required to generate heat on an electric grill so that any carbon released will hardly be converted into the required carbon monoxide.

What can you do to get a good smoke ring

Remove the hard fat layer on the outside of the meat

Remove the outer layers of hard fat from the meat. That fat is a barrier to the gases. Fat will only soften and let the gases through from a temperature of about 60ºC (140F). That is the same temperature when myoglobin begins to break down and lose its ability to change colour.

Use salt

Salt draws moisture from the outer layer of the meat. In that moisture, the salt will dissolve and become small enough to penetrate deeply into the meat cells. That salt carries the nitric oxide from the smoke, which is also small enough. The deeper the salt can penetrate, the wider the smoke ring will become.

Start with cold meat

Toss the meat directly from the refrigerator onto the smoker. The longer the meat stays below 75ºC (167F), the longer it can absorb smoke. It also helps if you occasionally spray the outside of the meat to keep the surface cool for longer.

Keep the meat moist

A moist surface also causes the necessary gases to condense on the surface so they can penetrate the meat with the salt. A wet surface also ensures that the bark or crust does not form. The bark also stops the smoke from reaching the meat.

Put water in the smoker

To increase the humidity in the kettle, you can place a pan with water in the barbecue. Add little or no acidic liquids such as lemon juice or vinegar to the water because acids stop the formation of nitric oxide. What does help are sweet liquids such as apple juice. The sugars will stick to the meat, and gases will stick better to a sticky surface.

Enough oxygen

Ensure a good flow of oxygen in the kettle of the barbecue. Without oxygen, the nitrogen dioxide in the smoke will not be converted into nitrogen monoxide. What does happen is that only the heavy carbon in the smoke settles on your meat which gives the wrong smoke taste.

low and slow

Smoke the meat low and slow so that the core temperature of the meat remains below 60ºC (140F) for a long time. Above 60ºC, the myoglobin will break down and become browner. It will then no longer be able to turn red.

When you’re looking, you’re not cooking

Keep the lid closed (but never entirely closed) for a stable flow of oxygen and therefore fresh smoke. When the lid is opened, extra oxygen enters the kettle, which can cause the wood to ignite and produce less nitrogen dioxide.

Use the right smoke wood

All wood produces smoke, but different types of smoking wood produce different flavours of smoke. Cherry wood in particular, creates a beautiful dark red smoke ring. In addition, you get a slightly sweet, smoky taste that fits perfectly with barbecue.

What do we not recommend for a better smoking ring

Wet wood

Burning wet wood creates a slightly higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide that comes into contact with oxygen and is converted to nitrogen monoxide in the smoke. But wet wood also causes incomplete combustion, creating PAHs that can cause cancer.

Wood dust

Burning sawdust or wood dust does give a lot of smoke and smoke flavour, but it produces too little nitrogen monoxide to create the smoke ring. So it is better to use thicker chunks of smoke wood.

A lot of smoke

More smoke does not immediately lead to a wider smoke ring. A cloud of light smoke is sufficient to get a nice smoke ring because you mainly need the gases in the smoke that create the smoke ring. The smoke itself is too thick to penetrate far into the meat and only creates a darker surface because of the carbon. But nitric oxide is thin enough to do that.

Can you get a smoke ring without smoke

There is a possibility to guarantee a smoke ring without the meat being in contact with smoke. You can sprinkle a small amount of curing salt over the meat. Curing or nitrite salt is used to preserve meat for longer and gives the meat a pink colour. It is used in making sausage and bacon.

The nitric oxide in the nitrite salt binds to the myoglobin and magically creates a “smoke ring”. The use of nitrite salt is why a smoke ring is no longer assessed separately during barbecue competitions.

If you prefer not to use nitrite salt, you can also use celery seed in your dry rub. Celery contains natural nitrates that also bind with myoglobin. This reaction is less violent than with nitrate salt, but it does help.

In this way, you no longer need smoke to still get an impressive smoke ring. Impressive but not worthy of bragging about. If you have to take the neighbours into account and if you prefer not to smoke in the backyard or if you have nothing but a gas or electric barbecue, there is a possibility to get a smoke ring.

Is a smoking ring really important

Although a smoke ring is a pretty good indication that the meat has been smoked, you do not need to see a smoke ring to still have a smoke flavour in the meat. The red colour only refers to the appearance of certain chemicals in the meat and not to taste.

The reverse is true. To get a smoke ring, you have to make concessions to the taste of the meat. If you like a nice layer of fat on your meat, you have to settle for a thinner or no smoking ring. You also have to find a good balance between creating a smoke ring and shaping the bark.

As far as we are concerned, a smoke ring is a nice bonus, but not crucial for good barbecue. A smoke ring in meat does not guarantee a tasty piece of meat. In fact, meat with a beautiful smoke ring can be bone dry, tasteless, or even inedible.

So first, learn how to barbecue properly, and with a bit of luck, you will see a smoke ring every now and then. If you still want great meat that also looks good on Instagram, then the above tips are enough to ensure a smoke ring in your meat.

Picanha with fresh herb crust

Picanha itself is a beautiful piece of meat. It has a good beef flavour and is deliciously tender. It comes from the top of the cow’s rump and has a triangular shape. It is also called rump cover or rump cap. My children call it the cow’s ass, so now you know where you can find it. A whole picanha is somewhere between one and one and a half kilos.

We have provided this picanha with a thick layer of fresh herbs that have formed a nice crust with the soft fat. If you put this on the table, you can be sure that there will be an enthusiastic response.

Fat on meat is not scary or gross. Fat protects the meat from cold and heat when the cow is still alive. So you can use that characteristic when you cook the meat. A thick layer of fat protects the meat from direct heat so that it can cook slowly. This way, the meat does not dry out, and it cooks more evenly so that the meat gets the same doneness from edge to edge.

This picanha came with a very nice fat cap that we partially removed. You want a layer of fat that is about the same thickness. In this case, we go for a thickness of about 1 cm.

Then we carve the fat in a diamond pattern. This gives the fat the chance to soften faster to become edible. Fat contains the most flavour, and if you cut the meat so that you have a nice piece of meat with a bit of fat on your fork, you get the most beef flavour in your mouth.

What we want is for the fat to become soft and for the breadcrumbs to soak up that fat. Then the breadcrumbs with the herbs will eventually form a crust. To make the breadcrumbs stick to the now still hard fat, we spread a layer of mustard on the fat layer.

We set the smoker to a temperature off 150ºC (302F) and put the picanha on a rack with an oven tray with small potatoes underneath. The melting fat of the picanha drips into the tray and on the potatoes so that they roast in beef fat. We close the lid and wait for the core temperature to reach 52ºC (126F).

Then we set the smoker to 250ºC (482F) to get the herbed crust a bit drier for the last few minutes.

With a core temperature of 55ºC (131F), we remove the picanha from the smoker to rest. This is very important because all the moisture in the meat is forced out during cooking. If you cut into the meat immediately, the excess moisture will end up on your cutting board.

If you let the meat rest for a while so that the tension in the meat decreases again, the moisture will distribute back into the middle part of the meat.

When the picanha has rested, we let the potatoes roast for a while longer. You can see how much fat has come off the picanha. You can almost fry the potatoes in that fat.

This is our herb-crusted picanha. Are you also going to make this beautiful piece of meat? Let us know in a comment below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • Picanha with a nice fat cap
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mustard

For the herb crust

  • 1 handful chopped fresh basil
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 handfuls of fresh chopped parsley
  • 50 grams breadcrumbs


  1. Cut the fat cap to an even thickness of half a centimetre. Then you carve the fat into a checkered pattern.
  2. Season the meat and fat with salt and pepper. Spread the mustard on the incised fat side.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the herb crust and press this into the mustard.
  4. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of about 150ºC (302F).
  5. Carefully place the picanha on the grates, insert a thermometer into the meat and close the lid.
  6. Cook the picanha to a core temperature of 53ºC (129F) and then remove it from the grates.
  7. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes until you cut it into nice slices perpendicular to the grain of the beef.

Pork belly brined in ginger syrup

We always have a jar of stem ginger in the fridge. It is a good substitute for fresh ginger but a lot sweeter. That’s because of the syrup they keep it in. You can buy this syrup separately, and it tastes great over ice or in your tea.

We’ve known for years that pork and sweet go well together, so we brined a nice piece of pork belly in ginger syrup. When we smoked it afterwards with a spicy dry rub, we were left with a great piece of meat with an Asian twist.

If you buy a piece of pork belly, you should pay close attention to the ratio of meat and fat. Fat is good, but you can overdo it. We like to have a ratio of 65 to 70% meat against 35 to 30% fat.

The brine is very simple. You just throw together a quarter bottle of ginger syrup and 2 tbsp salt. The salt in the brine will soak into the meat while the ginger syrup leaves a flavorful coating of sugar on the meat.

Before the pork belly goes into the brine, we cut deep into the bacon layer and a piece of the meat. This allows the brine to penetrate deep into the meat, and the bacon will become soft sooner during smoking.

After brining, we sprinkle the meat with a spicy dry rub that also contains ginger. There is also turmeric in the mix. You don’t add turmeric for taste. It has a slightly bitter taste in itself but works better as a colourant. It gives the meat a nice yellow colour. Be careful with your clothes and the kitchen cabinets. Turmeric turns everything yellow for a long time.

This pork belly is wonderfully tender after 4 hours on the barbecue. The meat is deliciously sweet with a bit of heat. If you are going to make this pork belly, let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • Pork belly
  • 50 ml ginger syrup
  • 2 tbsp salt

For the dry rub

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 50 ml ginger syrup
  • 2 tbsp coarse mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • A little salt


  1. Mix the ginger syrup and the salt.
  2. Cut in the fat from the pork belly as if you want to cut it into cubes, but not so far that you actually get cubes.
  3. Place the pork belly in a ziplock bag and pour in the ginger syrup. Leave this for at least 4 hours to overnight.
  4. Rinse the salt from the pork belly and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
  5. Mix the ingredients for the dry rub and spread an even layer over all sides of the meat.
  6. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of about 160ºC (320F). Place the meat on the cool side with the fat side up and close the lid.
  7. Meanwhile, make the sauce by finely chopping the onion and garlic. Put the olive oil in a pan and gently heat the oil with garlic and onion.
  8. When the onion has become a bit translucent, the rest of the ingredients can be added. Let it boil briefly, and then remove the pan from the heat.
  9. Cook the pork belly to a core temperature of 80ºC (176F). Spread the sauce over the pork belly and let it caramelize. Then you can remove the meat from the grill.

Grilled pineapple with spicy orange sauce

We love fresh pineapple, especially when it’s grilled. You know what’s even tastier. Grilled pineapple with a sauce made of orange juice. We had been given a mountain of fruit, including a basket of oranges and a beautiful pineapple.

We made a sweet and spicy sauce from the oranges with chilli flakes. That flavour combination worked surprisingly well.

For this recipe, you use a ripe pineapple. You can recognize them by the yellow glow of the peel. If the pineapple turns dark yellow or orange, it is too far. If it’s green, it’s sour. A ripe pineapple is nice and sweet, and you can smell it from afar.

If you have a pineapple that is not yet ripe, you can leave it for a while or make it sweeter by slathering it with sugar and letting it soak overnight.

We’re going to grill the pineapple on the Joetisserie. We placed the divider in the coal basket so that the sauce that drips from the pineapple does not end up on the coals. Not only will that stink, but the glowing coals will also cool down.

Once you’ve lit the coals, you can make the sauce. It’s just a matter of throwing everything in a pan and letting it simmer until the sauce has thickened. When the sauce can cover the back of a spoon, it is thick enough. If you wait longer, the sauce will be too thick. You will only notice this when the sauce has cooled down, and you can no longer get it out of the pan.

Thread the pineapple onto the skewer of the rotisserie. The core of a pineapple is still quite hard, so it helps if you start with a thin knife first. Then it is still a bit tough to do, but not impossible.

After the first 30 minutes, brush the pineapple with the sauce. Then wait for the sauce to caramelize and then apply another layer. Do this as often as you want or until the pineapple turned soft and is ready to take off.

Serve this grilled pineapple as a dessert with ice cream and an extra scoop of the sauce. Are you also going to make this grilled pineapple? Let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 1 ripe pineapple
    50 grams unsalted butter
    60 grams of caster sugar
    150 ml orange juice
    1 teaspoon chilli flakes
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    Juice of half a lemon


  1. Make the sauce by melting the butter. Add the sugar and orange juice and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
    Then stir in the chilli flakes, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Let it cook until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon.
    Peel the pineapple by removing the head and butt. Then cut off the skin and check whether all the dark spots have been removed.
    Prick a hole in the core with a thin knife and then thread the pineapple on a spit.
    Grill the pineapple for 30 minutes at a temperature of about 160ºC (320F). A lower temperature is allowed but not go much higher.
    After half an hour, brush the pineapple thickly with the sauce. Then whenever the sauce starts to stick.
    When the pineapple has become nice and soft, remove the spit from the barbecue and let the pineapple cool.
    Cut the pineapple into thick chunks and serve with ice and an extra scoop of the sauce.

Black garlic dry rub

We’ve received a nice box with black garlic and various products containing black garlic. There was also a bag of black garlic granulate with which we made a simple dry rub. You can use the dry rub on spare ribs like we did here or on chicken or a thick steak.

Black garlic originates from Korea, where garlic in clay pots was placed in the sun for weeks. This is how the garlic was fried until it was completely black. The garlic became soft, and the sharp garlic taste gets a raisin-like taste.

As expected, the spare ribs were very dark from the black garlic, and they had an almost balsamic taste without the sourness. If you try this dry rub, let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp black garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion granulate
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 2 tsp smoked sea salt
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder


  1. Mix everything and use this dry rub as you would any other dry rub.

The 3-2-1 method for spareribs – how does it work

You have bought an excellent grill and will start cooking spare ribs for the first time. That is definitely a good choice. You have probably eaten delicious spare ribs for years and want to master cooking them yourself. So you start Googling and find the 3-2-1 method for the perfect spare ribs. You follow everything step by step and end up with incredibly soft meat where the bones fall out of the meat by themselves.

That is, of course, a great start to your barbecue adventure. You have turned tough pork ribs into wonderfully tender meat that is also very tasty. But you still didn’t quite understand the 3-2-1 method. The 3-2-1 method is only a guideline and not a prescription.

What is the 3-2-1 method

The 3-2-1 method was invented to prepare spare ribs during BBQ championships. Using this method, the end results were pretty much the same every time. And during the competition, which lasted all summer, the pitmaster was able to tweak his recipe in small steps to achieve the perfect result.

  • 3-2-1 stands for 3 hours of smoking, during which the spare ribs pick up all the heat and smoke so that you build up the taste you expect from barbecue.
  • The meat is then wrapped in aluminium foil for 2 hours. In this part, the meat becomes more tender due to the build-up of steam in the package. The connective tissue in the ribs breaks down, causing the meat to detach from the bone and become more tender.
  • The spare ribs are unpacked again and brushed with barbecue sauce as a final step. This last step is there to form the so-called bark and add extra flavour.

The most important part of the above method is often not understood, and that is the word spare ribs. In America, spare ribs are the belly ribs of the pig. And during BBQ championships, the so-called St. Louis Style spare ribs are preferably used, which are almost rectangular in shape and have a thick layer of meat on top of the ribs.

The meat between and on the belly ribs is often tougher than the meat from the spare ribs that we know. If you order spare ribs at a Dutch butcher, you will usually get the smaller loin ribs. They are easy to recognize because the ribs are more curved than those of the belly ribs. In America, they call these ribs baby back ribs. They are the ribs that are left when the butcher cut boneless pork chops. This meat is already a lot more tender than the meat of belly pork ribs.

After that, you have the difference between thin and thicker cut pork ribs. You see the smaller thin-cut baby back ribs on the left. These are the pork ribs you usually see at your local butcher. You sometimes see them cut even thinner, and then you see the ribs through the meat. We call those shiners. There’s so little meat on them that it’s really not worth the effort to cook them. You see American baby back ribs on the right that are obviously bigger because the pig was bigger and had a much thicker layer of meat.

Why does the 3-2-1 method for spareribs not work

With all these differences in pork ribs, you may be beginning to understand that you can’t just stick to the exact same times every time you want to cook spare ribs. Although the result is always tender meat, there is a difference between tender fall of the bone ribs and pork purée.

We generally think 3 hours smoking, 2 hours wrapped, and 1 hour back on the barbecue is too long for all types of pork ribs. We love tender meat but still have our own teeth and want to use them when we eat. As far as we’re concerned, the perfect spare ribs have tender meat that you can bite off the bone in one bite without having to pull.

That is why you really have to see the 3-2-1 method as a method and not as a step-by-step plan that you have to follow blindly. We will show you that the perfect spare ribs are deliciously tender, taste great and are cooked faster than six hours.

The 3-2-1 method is not a recipe

As mentioned, the 3-2-1 method is a guideline and not a recipe where you must strictly adhere to the indicated times. The 3-2-1 method isn’t about taste either. You can make the spareribs as sweet, sour or salty as you want. Nevertheless, we have a basic recipe for you to start with. From this recipe, you can get started to discover your own taste.

We start with American baby back ribs. These pork ribs are a lot longer and thicker than the ones you find at the Dutch butcher. After that, we assume that everyone wants to make sweet, sticky spareribs for his first cook. If you feed these to friends and family, you immediately score points.

Dry rub for spare ribs

We start with a dry rub. A dry rub is a mixture of herbs and spices to flavour meat. In this case, we made a dry rub that is an excellent base for all your spare ribs preparations. The mix is ​​easy to adjust to your own taste to become sweeter, saltier or spicier.

  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp chipotle pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion granulate
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

First, we remove the membrane from the ribs. The membrane keeps the smoke and dry rub from entering the meat.

This membrane is very easy to remove by sticking a dull breakfast knife between a bone and the membrane. Then you lift the blade until you can get a finger underneath. You can now pull the entire membrane off. If the membrane breaks and comes off in pieces, you can pull off the loose remains with a bit of kitchen towel.

We sprinkle the dry rub with an even layer over both sides of the meat. If you let the spare ribs sit for 45 minutes to an hour, the salt in the rub will remove moisture from the meat. That moisture will act as an adhesive so that the dry rub sticks to the meat. This way, the dry rub can form a so-called bark with the fat from the meat and the smoke from the barbecue.

You can create a thicker bark by first brushing the spare ribs with mustard before sprinkling the dry rub over it. Then you can sprinkle on a thicker layer of dry rub where the amount of salt in the recipe may need to be reduced a bit. But of course, you have to know that yourself.

At what temperature does the 3-2-1 method work

The method works at the magic temperature of 107ºC. If your barbecue can only be set to 105 or 110ºC, then you have a problem. This is nonsense, of course. When we all scoured the American websites for recipes 15 years ago, we saw that in the states, they all set the smoker to 225ºF.

If you convert this to Celsius, you get 107ºC. This temperature took on almost a mythical meaning, and you could distinguish yourself from the average backyard barbecuer who, of course, knew nothing about authentic barbecue like you.

Fortunately, at the moment, we know better, and we learned from Myron Mixon that you could even make excellent barbecue at much higher temperatures. But for this example, we’re going to set our Masterbuilt smoker to 107ºC. The Masterbuilt is very stable, making low and slow preparation very easy.

In principle, it does not matter much at what temperature you prepare the spareribs as long as you stay somewhere between 100 and 150ºC. Above 100ºC because otherwise the meat will not cook far enough to become tender and below 150ºC because otherwise, the sugar in the dry rub and the bbq sauce will burn. You have to consider different preparation times at different cooking temperatures.

We will prepare the two prepared American baby back ribs at different times. The ribs on the left we cook for six hours, the 3-2-1 method prescribes. We start cooking the other one an hour and a half later to show the difference between the two preparation times.

We have the very thin spareribs on the top rack. We’ll leave them until they’re to our liking. That is still a perfect way to prepare good quality spare ribs. You just have to be sure that the meat contains enough intramuscular fat to not dry out during the long low and slow cooking.

After 3 hours of smoking, we will wrap the left ribs. We do this agave syrup, raw cane sugar and butter on a sheet of aluminium foil. We place the ribs flesh side down. We do the same with the ribs on the right side and then wrap the spareribs tightly.

The sugar, syrup and butter give the meat an extra layer of sweetness while the moisture in the package increases and creates more steam, so the meat cooks faster.

We use thicker aluminium foil, but take two layers of foil if you can’t find it. The bones can sometimes be sharp and pierce through the foil, allowing the steam to escape. Your entire barbecue can also get dirty because of the sweet sauce that flows out of the package. It is even worse if the sauce falls on hot parts of the barbecue and burns. Then you get dirty smoke that the whole neighbourhood can enjoy.

Now you put the wrapped spare ribs back on the grates with the meat side down so that the meat is in the sauce and has time to stick and create an extra layer. After an hour, we also wrap the right sparerib. You know when to wrap spare ribs when the meat almost tears when you put some stress on it.

We grab the strand halfway with our tongs and hold the spareribs in front of us. You will see the meat tear if you now move the meat up and down a bit. This is the moment the ribs are ready to wrap. The right ribs have then been smoked for two and a half hours. That time is different for each type of spare rib.

When the left spare ribs have been wrapped for 2 hours and the right spare ribs for an hour, you can unwrap them. On the right, we check with the thermometer’s probe how soft the meat is. If the probe goes in and out with little resistance, they are tender enough. If the probe falls through like the ribs on the left, the meat will be “fall of the bone tender”.

When unwrapping, keep in mind that there is a lot of steam coming out of the foil, and there is hot liquid at the bottom of the package. It will be a shame if you burn yourself.

After unwrapping, you have the choice to add extra sauce to the spareribs or not. We go for the “traditional” sweet American spare ribs, so a thick layer of bbq sauce is applied over the meat.

We always have a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s in the cupboard, but grab the sauce you like or make your own bbq sauce that you can make as tasty as you want. We spread the sauce on it nice and thick and then put it back on the smoker for another hour.

If you’re afraid that the spareribs still don’t have enough flavour, you brush them with the sauce once more time halfway through, so that the sauce has a chance to caramelize for another half hour.

We didn’t wrap the thinly sliced ​​spareribs on the top rack, and they have also become very tender. We did use a thinner layer of dry rub and only coated them once with the sauce.

As expected, the left spare ribs are so tender that you can pull the ribs out without resistance. In fact, the meat is so tender it’s actually pulled pork. Pulled pork is, of course, delicious, but then you would have been better off getting a piece of pork neck to make pulled pork.

The ribs on the right are also very tender but still so firm that you can cut the meat per rib. You can easily pull the meat clean from the bone if you take a bite, but you can still chew. That’s how we like to have our spareribs. To be honest, we didn’t hear anyone complaining when we put the different pork ribs on the table. But we have our own preference when it comes to cooking spareribs.

There were even people, who preferred the fall of the bone spareribs. Of course, they also ate the other two kinds of spare ribs with taste, but if they had to choose, they went for the spare ribs that were the softest. Bunch of barbarians.

So this is the difference between the 3-2-1 spare ribs that were cooked 6 hours and the spare ribs that we have prepared by feel and ultimately come out at 2.5-1-1.

Those times will, of course, be different for every different quality of spare ribs or the temperature at which you cook them. After cooking spare ribs dozens of times, you will eventually have enough experience to see how long they approximately need to be in the grill.

For the novice barbecuer, the result of the spareribs on the left that we cooked for six hours is absolutely fantastic, and you are assured of admiring looks and praise from friends and family.

But if you want to try to become a real BBQ hero eventually, you should really try cooking the spareribs on the right. You get a lot more feeling for the meat, and ultimately, you can cook many more types of meat this way.

Are you going to try the 3-2-1 method for spare ribs? Let us know in a comment below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.

Sugar and salt steak seasoning

If you have bought yourself a really great steak, you want to make it taste like a great steak. That makes sense because what else should a steak taste like. Still, you have to season a good piece of beef. Often with salt. Salt brings out the natural flavour of the fat in the meat.

This time we also used sugar and came to a great conclusion. sugar gives the beef a subtle sweet taste and helps get the Maillard reaction going faster.

We had an excellent dry-aged T-bone in the freezer. The steak has been aged for 21 days and therefore gets a more intense beef taste. You have to taste such a steak as it is intended. And we’re going to do that with salt and sugar.

Using sugar to season a steak sounds strange, but it isn’t. We mix salt and sugar in a ratio of 3 to 4. We use smoked sea salt and ordinary white sugar that we sprinkle on the steak until we see a grey haze.

We then leave the steak uncovered in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight. The salt draws the surface moisture from the steak, in which the salt and sugar crystals dissolve. The meat will then absorb the salty fluid, and the sugar will coat the outside of the meat.

You don’t have to worry about the steak becoming very sweet. The salt will have the upper hand because it penetrates far into the meat. The sugar only remains on the surface, and that is only a small part in relation to the rest of this thick steak.

We grill the steak over direct heat at a relatively low temperature of around 200ºC (392F). We have lowered the grates one notch in the divide and conquer system of our Kamado Joe. This way, you can control the grill temperature a bit without adding or perhaps removing more charcoal.

When the steak is on the grill, we sprinkle a little extra dry rub over the steak and close the lid. We do this to prevent flames caused by the melting fat.

This way, you leave the steak for at least 15 to 20 minutes. What happens now is that the steak is slowly heated up, and you like that with a thick steak of 2 fingers thick. This technique we use is called the reversed sear, and we recommend that you use that for a steak thicker than 2.5 centimetres, where you first let the steak indirectly heat up and then grill it.

The potatoes had been in the barbecue for an hour while the t-bone steak was in the fridge. A baked potato takes about an hour. We put the tomatoes on the grill simultaneously as the steak.

The sugar will make the T-bone brown faster on the surface and form a crust. This crust is due to the Maillard reaction, which gives the meat a more complex taste. This is why everyone is preying on the crusted sides when a piece of meat is cut.

There is a clear difference between brown and black. That’s why you don’t want flames or too high a temperature in the barbecue. Then the sugar would burn and become bitter. That is why we keep the lid closed as much as possible.

The surface browns faster because of the extra sugar; it’s because of this that you don’t even have to grill the steak at the end. It is essential that you pay close attention and turn and flip the steak in search of cooler places if necessary. Grill stripes are lovely but not crucial for the taste.

After about half an hour, we have a T-bone with an internal temperature of about 52-53ºC (126 to 127F). If you let it rest, the temperature will rise slightly to the perfect core temperature of 55ºC (131F). It is therefore essential that you regularly check the core temperature.

This is our T-bone that we seasoned with salt and sugar. When grilling, the sugar caramelizes and gives a beautiful dark brown crust. The salt has flavoured the dry-aged steak from the inside out, bringing out the concentrated flavour of dry-aged beef even better.

If you try this dry rub on your next steak, let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • A good quality steak
  • 4 parts granulated sugar
  • 3 parts coarse salt


  1. Mix the sugar and salt and sprinkle this over the meat until you see a light haze.
  2. Leave the dry rub on for 2 hours to overnight.
  3. Prepare the steak as described above.

Hot smoked salmon with dill lemon sauce

We like to light the barbecue for a nice piece of salmon. In this case, we serve hot smoked salmon with a sauce of butter, lemon and fresh dill. This sauce is nice and sour and perfectly fits this salmon which is full of flavour.

The salmon takes some time to prepare, but virtually no work is involved. It all happens in the fridge.

If you got a whole salmon, first check whether it fits the grill. If not, just cut it to size. You can cook the leftovers separately. We do have an excellent recipe with grilled pesto salmon.

Feel with the flat of your hand whether there are any bones hidden in the salmon. If you press gently, you will feel whether there is still something hard left in the salmon. You can easily remove these with sturdy tweezers or special bone pliers.

You need to go low and slow on your grill to smoke salmon. That’s why we start with a small amount of charcoal in our kamado. We light this in the middle with one firestarter, and around it, we place chunks of smoke wood at strategic points, in this case beech.

We place the first chunk just above the glowing embers and the other two just a little further from the core. This way, we have a light smoke for at least the first 2 hours. You smoke salmon warm with a kettle temperature no higher than 75ºC (167F). At higher temperatures, the proteins are released in the salmon, solidifying as white droplets on the salmon. That won’t change the taste, but it’s not pretty.

We use different techniques to maintain a stable, low temperature with light but constant smoke around the salmon. First of all, we use the SloRoller. This device comes standard with the Kamado Joe Classic III and Big Joe and ensures that the rising air is better distributed in the kettle.

The temperature will also remain more stable with the SloRoller if you occasionally open the lid to check. And that is important because we do not want to let the temperature in the kettle shoot too high.

We placed the salmon on a cooling rack to dry. After drying, we put the rack in its entirety on the grates of the kamado. This way, you don’t have to worry that the salmon will stick to the grates, and you don’t have to use a spatula to loosen it. This also makes it easier to add some more smoke wood halfway through if necessary.

Serve this hot smoked salmon with a few pieces of bread and the butter dill sauce. It also tastes perfectly with some pasta. Are you going to make this hot smoked salmon? Let us know in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • Whole salmon with skin
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • Ground black pepper

For the sauce

  • 50 grams of butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 60 ml dry white wine
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives


  1. Sprinkle the salmon with the salt and sugar and place the salmon in a vacuum bag or ziplock bag. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  2. Remove the salmon from the bag and rinse well. Pat the salmon dry with some kitchen towel and place it uncovered in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours to dry.
  3. Prepare a grill with an indirect temperature between 65 and 70ºC (149 to 158F). Place a few chunks of smoke wood and place the salmon on the grates.
  4. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the salmon, sprinkle some more black pepper over the salmon and close the lid.
  5. Meanwhile, you can make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan. Chop the shallots very finely and add them to the melted butter along with the wine and lemon juice.
  6. When the shallots have become soft and translucent, remove the pan from the heat and add the dill and chives.
  7. Remove the salmon from the grates when it has reached a core temperature of 55ºC (131F). This will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.
  8. Warm up the dille butter sauce and serve it with the salmon.

Pizza quiche from the skillet

It’s entertaining to convert existing recipes into a pizza. You may already know the pizza burger or the pizza muffin. We made a pizza quiche. A quiche from the skillet with lots of cheese, tomato and salami. This is a basic recipe that you can use in many ways.

This is a one-pan or one-skillet recipe, which saves you a lot of washing up at the end. This is a skillet with a diameter of 30 cm. If you want to make a larger or smaller quiche, you should use a larger or smaller skillet.

We throw the tomatoes into the skillet first until they get a bit darker, and then we add the cubes of salami. We bake everything until the tomatoes burst and the salami cubes have become a bit drier.

In the fat from the salami, we make scrambled eggs. The trick to a good scrambled egg is mixing the egg with milk. Let it sit over low heat until you can flip it in large pieces. Then you let it solidify again until you can do it again. You stop when you no longer see liquid egg wash, but you don’t let it cook dry. Good scrambled eggs are fluffy and a bit moist. Keep in mind that the cast iron skillet is still hot for a while so that the egg continues to bake.

When the skillet has cooled enough to handle, you can wipe the last bit of egg out of the pan with a cloth. That only works if your pan is well coated and nice and smooth. If this is not the case, here are some handy tips on how to make your skillet non-stick.

We use ready-made quiche dough for this quiche that you buy as a roll. We had made our own quiche dough before, which was doable, but it took much longer to make. Try to place the dough in the skillet without air bubbles. If you accidentally press a hole in the dough, tape it up with the leftovers.

In the list of ingredients, we mention dry mozzarella. That is different mozzarella than the bags at the supermarket. But it is certainly not pre-grated mozzarella because that is certainly dry. It is the mozzarella you buy as a block before it is grated. Your cheesemonger can help you with this.

This is the setup in our kamado that we use to bake pies, pizzas, and a quiche. We place the accessory rack in the highest position in the divide and conquer system, and on top of that, our plate setter with three corner pieces. Then we put a pizza stone on it. This way, we have an indirect preparation without worrying that the bottom of the quiche will get too hot and burn.

Because the quiche is now placed high in the lid, the reflected heat from the lid will ensure that the quiche is well cooked from above.

After half an hour, the quiche is ready, and you can see that the Parmesan cheese has also become nicely crispy brown. Before you try to remove the quiche from the skillet, you will have to let it cool down completely. The content of cheese and egg is still soft, and the quiche would break apart if there is no longer any support from the skillet.

This is our pizza quiche. Let us know if you will make it in the comments below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 5 eggs
  • 60 ml whole milk
  • Black pepper
  • 150 grams salami sausage
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 250 grams dry mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 230 grams ready-made quiche dough
  • 100 grams Parmesan cheese


  1. Place a pan on the stove and fry the tomatoes until they are soft but just not bursting. Cut the salami into small cubes and stir-fry them briefly until they are a little crispier.
  2. Beat the eggs together with the milk and a little black pepper until smooth. Wipe the pan clean and melt a little butter in it.
  3. Stir-fry the egg until just solidified but still soft and moist.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and scoop the egg into a bowl with the salami and tomatoes. Grate the mozzarella and mix it in as well.
  5. Clean the pan again and grease it with butter. Spread the quiche dough in the pan and cut off the leftovers around the skillet. Poke holes in the bottom with a fork.
  6. Spoon everything on the quiche form and grate over the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of about 200ºC (392F) and bake the quiche for about half an hour until the dough is brown.
  8. Let the quiche cool down before you remove it from the skillet.

Pig wings with mustard sauce

Pig wings are a great piece of meat to smoke. The meat is delicious due to a large amount of collagen that is converted into gelatin during the low and slow preparation. This makes the meat tender and juicy. A nice side effect is that a pig wing is affordable. And that’s good to know now that meat prices are rising.

We smoke these fantastic pieces of meat in three and a half hours until the meat is butter tender and then smear it with a delicious mustard sauce so that they become nice and sticky.

Pig wings are cut from the lower part of the shank. They call them pig wings in America because they resemble a giant chicken wing.

Silverskin must be removed on one side of the pig wing before you start smoking it. That silverskin is a barrier between the meat and the herbs and smoke. You can easily remove it with a flexible filleting knife. You pierce it under the skin and then lift it. Now you can pull the knife parallel to the meat along the silverskin. The straighter you can hold the knife, the more meat you leave on.

We smear the pig wings with mustard first. We do this to let dry rub stick to get a nice crust on the meat. The dry rub combines sweet, salty, and a little kick from the chipotle pepper that goes great with pork.

If we make a tasty dry rub, we make sure we make enough. We keep these in a preserving jar so that we can grab it when we make spareribs. This mix is ​​suitable for everything pork.

When we smoke the pig wings, we watch the core temperature with a digital thermometer. We insert the probes into the left and right pieces of meat. Every smoker has hot spots that are warmer than other locations. So by measuring left and right, we know whether we should switch the pig wings to cook evenly.

We used two cubes of cherry wood for smoking. This gives the meat a subtle smoke flavour and a very nice dark red colour. When the dry rub has formed a nice crust together with the mustard and the smoke, we smear the meat with the mustard sauce. We do that again just before reaching the desired core temperature of 96ºC (205F). They are super tender with a thick crust and packed with flavour precisely as they should be.

Are you going to make these pig wings with mustard sauce? Let us know in a comment below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 4 pig wings

For the dry rub

  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic granulates
  • 1 tsp onion granulates
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle pepper

For the sauce

  • 150 ml mustard
  • 150 ml honey
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco


  1. Remove the membrane from the pig wings and brush them with a bit of mustard.
  2. Mix the ingredients for the dry rub and sprinkle it evenly over all sides of the meat.
  3. Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of 140ºC (284F).
  4. Place the pig wings on the grates, insert a core thermometer and close the lid.
  5. When the pig wings are smoking, make the mustard sauce by mixing all the ingredients. That’s all.
  6. After an hour or two, if the dry rub is firmly attached to the meat, brush the meat with the mustard sauce. Then close the lid until the meat has a core temperature of 96ºC (205F).
  7. Brush the pig wings once more with the mustard sauce and let them sit for 10 minutes so that the sauce can heat up and caramelize.

Smoked meatballs in beer-cheese sauce

Are you tired of the average meatball? Then here we have the smoked meatball. The ingredients alone make this a delicious ball, but the smoke tops it off. If that’s not enough, we serve them with a spicy beer-cheese sauce.

For this recipe, we use ground beef with a fat/meat ratio of 20/80. You can also use half and half ground beef and pork, as long as it’s not lean meat. To smoke meat, you need fat, and besides that, fat just tastes good.

You can make about eight thick meatballs from a kilo of minced meat. Of course, you can also make smaller balls to serve as a snack. As long as they don’t get too small. Otherwise, they fall through the grates.

We place the meatballs on the top grates of our smoker. The smoke stays the longest in the lid, and that’s where the meat will catch the most smoke. We insert a thermometer into the left and right meatballs. Every smoker has a hotspot where the temperature is slightly warmer. This way, we can watch whether the meatballs have the same doneness. You could swap them halfway through if you see that the left or right balls go a little faster.

After an hour or two, the balls are a beautiful reddish-brown due to the smoke from the cherry wood. You can see that the balls are certainly not dry. This is why we need fatty meat. At around 60ºC (140F), fat and moisture will be pushed from the meat, and the longer this takes, the drier the balls will become. The little bit of fat in lean ground beef will quickly disappear, resulting in dry balls.

You can make the cheese sauce on the lower grates when the balls are ready. We set the smoker to 250ºC (482F) and let a cast iron skillet heat up. We first make a roux that will become the base of our beer-cheese sauce. This is one of those dishes where you can really taste the beer. We used Belgian blond beer that makes the sauce a lot less heavy.

We use a mix of 3 different types of cheese. We used grated Gruyere with a sweet, nutty taste, aged Gouda that is a bit sharper and Cheddar. We let the cheese melt before placing the meatballs in the sauce.

If you are ready too early, you can keep the meatballs nice and warm in the sauce. We set the smoker to 100ºC (212F) and closed the lid. If you don’t do this, the cheese in the sauce will cool down and thicken again.

These are our smoked meatballs in beer-cheese sauce. They taste great on a white bun or with a plate of pasta. If you are going to make these balls, let us know in a comment below. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes so we can see what you made.


  • 1 kilo of minced beef
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 25 grams breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp chipotle pepper

For the cheese sauce

  • 100 grams of butter
  • 40 grams of flour
  • 400 ml whole milk
  • 250 ml beer
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • 300 grams grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix well. Then make the meatballs into balls.
  2. Prepare a barbecue or smoker with an indirect temperature of 120ºC (248F) and some smoke wood.
  3. Place the balls on the grates and smoke them to a core temperature of 70ºC (158F).
  4. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce by making a roux. Place a pan on the stove and melt the butter in it. Sprinkle in the flour while you beat it with a whisk, so you don’t get lumps. Let the roux brown slightly before adding the beer and milk.
  5. Let the sauce thicken, and then add the grated cheese. Let the cheese melt completely, then stir in the mustard, chopped chilli pepper and garlic.
  6. Toss the meatballs in the sauce to keep them warm.