Barbecue season began for me yesterday. I opened Tender Grassfed Barbecue to the recipe for Roast Pork with Mediterranean Myrtle, in the Style of Sardinia. I marinated a pastured pork loin with traditional ingredients. I took the barbecue out of the garage, set it up, arranged the coals, lit the fire. I watched the first coals catch, and spread the fire to the others. I watched the flames as the hardwood charcoal burned down, filling the air with the fragrance of wood smoke.
When the coals were ready, I placed the pork loin in front of the fire, added some Mediterranean myrtle leaves to the coals, put the cover on, and inhaled the fragrant smell, feeling great satisfaction.
I adjusted the vents to control the temperature, added coals when called for, and enjoyed my mastery of the fire. The smell of the burning coals, fragrant leaves, and roasting meat made me so hungry.
I was enjoying one of humankind’s oldest experiences, cooking real meat in front of a real fire.
It got even better when the meat was finally ready, and I cut thin slices of fragrant pork, and tasted the flavors of the meat, the herbs, and the wood. So good. So satisfying. So old, yet so new. And utterly delicious.
The Goodness of Barbecue
Barbecuing meat has been associated with health risks, based on various studies. Yet our ancestors, and the peoples studied by Dr. Weston A. Price, cooked most of their meat in front of a fire, without developing the diseases indicated by the studies.
A review of the studies on the subject led me to realize something important. The risk factors were always associated with cooking the meat over direct high heat. While most Americans associate barbecue with cooking directly over a hot fire, whether charcoal or gas, our ancestors rarely did this.
By cooking their meat in front of, but never directly over, the fire, they avoided scorching their meat, and avoided the risk factors identified by various studies.
Concern has also been expressed about some chemicals that are released from burning wood, such as creosote. Our ancestors had this one covered as well, as they invariably burned their wood down to coals before placing the meat in front of it. By the time the wood burned down to coals, the chemicals had burned off. Our ancestors often cooked with natural charcoal, which was and is made by partly burning wood. This process also burns off the toxic chemicals.
It is just about certain that most of our ancestors cooked their meat in front of the fire, and that this is the oldest human way of cooking meat. Our bodies have no doubt adapted to the combination of meat cooked with wood coals. I cook grassfed meat in many delicious ways, and enjoy all of them, but real barbecue has always been my favorite. Grassfed meat is humankind’s oldest food, and wood coal fires are humankind’s oldest way to cook it. The meat and the method go together in delicious perfection.
The Taste of Barbecue
Cooking with fire gives grassfed meat a flavor, texture, and tenderness that cannot be matched in any other way. I usually cook with charcoal, as it is much easier than burning wood logs down coals, and is the oldest cooking fuel after wood itself. I only use lump charcoal, or briquettes made from 100 percent hardwood charcoal with a starch binder. This helps recreate the traditional flavors, and makes for a fire that is very easy to control.
I barbecue grassfed beef, grassfed lamb, grassfed bison, pastured pork, and sometimes chicken or even wild fish. No matter what I make, I love it.
Barbecuing can be very difficult, or very easy. I prefer easy, and have perfected a simple method to cook meat in front of the fire, not over, control the temperature, and produce absolutely delicious barbecue meats. This method is detailed in Tender Grassfed Barbecue, along with more than a hundred delicious traditional recipes for many kinds of barbecued meats. I am getting hungry now.
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