Two Celtic girls, working in London, travel the USA in search of the best BBQs. It sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not.
Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn ditched their high-flying London careers and embarked on a 6-month road trip to discover the secrets of American barbecue in the southern United States. From Texas to Tallahassee, they learned the insider secrets of what makes barbeque great, were captivated by the thrill of smoke and fire.
While in the process of planning my own trip across the United States via Route 66, I was super excited to discover that many of the places I am planning on visiting were also visited by Samantha and Shauna while on their foodie adventures. After reading this book, I will be changing my route plans and adding a few more destinations.
To follow the girls road trip you will start in California, head to San Francisco, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Georgia, Missouri and Texas before heading back to Franklin Tennessee. Many of these cities are on route 66, but the main difference is that Samantha and Shauna travelled in search of the best BBQ joints, picking up hints, tricks and recipes along the way.
After arriving Back home in the UK, they knew they had to share what they had discovered and set about putting together The Hang Fire Cookbook.
This exciting hard cover book tells you everything you could possible want to know about an American style BBQ from the essentials tools to building your own smoker.
They describe and discuss the benefits of direct and indirect heat when cooking, what fuel to add to the fire and how to get extra smoke flavour into your food.
There is a section in the book dedicated to rubs, seasonings, butters and sauces and recipes and full instructions on how to make your own Andouille or Chaurice Sausages and how to cure and smoke your own meats resulting in bacon and Louisiana Style Tasso Ham.
Of course no American BBQ would be complete without ribs in one form or another and this book has recipes for St Louis-style spare ribs, baby back ribs and country style pork ribs.
As well as recipes and cooking instructions, Samantha and Shauna talk about their travels and what each of the cities they visited have brought to American BBQ history – did y you know that Kansas has over 100 barbecue restaurants and has the reputation as ‘Barbecue Capital of the World’? They also attended their first tailgate party in Denver, CO and learnt how to make Cola Hot Wings from an off-duty chef and die-hard Bronco fan.
In Georgia they learnt the history of Hush Puppies and have been making variations of these tasty, savoury donuts as a side dish ever since.
Samantha and Shauna say that Austin is the jewel in the Texan crown as it had everything they were looking for: a thriving street food scene, world-class barbecue and live music. Doing their homework well, they knew that they would have to be in line by 7.45am if they were to get to taste food at the revered Franklin Barbecue and after waiting in line for 5 hours (YES, 5 HOURS) firmly believe that it was worth the wait and was hands down, the most perfect plate of barbecue they have ever eaten.
Don’t for one minute think that American barbecue is all about the meat, sure, it’s a huge part of the meal, but this book also gives us recipes for fresh and crispy slaws that will cut through the richness of the meats.
And of course, not to be forgotten, dessert! Apple & Blueberry Southern Fried pies and Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake are just a couple of the American style desserts you will find in The Hang Fire Cookbook.
I have always had a love of America and anything American, and this wonderful book has excited my senses and taste buds. I will be cooking up the following Hang Fire recipes (and many, many more) until I can follow the girl’s travels on my next USA adventure.
Smoked Chicken Lollipops
COOKING METHODS: Indirect Grilling/Smoking or Oven
WOOD: Apple, Pear, Beech, Birch
12 chicken drumsticks
4 tbsp groundnut oil
50g Hang Fire’s Almost All purpose Rub
100g Hang Fire Smokehouse Barbecue Sauce
100g unsalted butter
To turn regular chicken legs into lollipops you’ll need a sharp knife and a pair of poultry shears. Make a cut around the width of the higher part of the chicken leg just below the knuckle bone at the top, and cut through the skin and tendons. Push the meat down to the large end, makng a lollipop shape. Be careful and use your fingers, or poultry shears, to remove the tiny, sharp bone nestled in the meat. Trim away the tendons as much as possible. Continue pushing the meat firmly down the bone. You’re looking to make a neat little ball of meat at the end of the bone, and it should stand up on its end.
Rub a little oil on the meaty part of the lollipop and season the legs with a dusting of our Almost All-purpose Rub. Wrap the exposed bones with a little foil (this will prevent the bones from turning black during cooking and will look great for presentation). Set the chicken aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, set up your grill for indirect heat. You’ll want the temperature a little higher than our usual ‘slow and low’ temperatures, just so the chicken skin can crisp up. Maintain a consistent temperature of 150°C/300°F.
Next, place the butter in a disposable foil roasting tin. Set the tin inside the smoker to melt the butter. When the smoker is up to temperature, place the lollipops in the tin with the butter, bones sticking up. Close the lid and cook for 2 hours. Check the internal temperature is around about 75°C/165°F. Dip each lollipop in barbecue sauce and allow the glaze to set for 30 minutes in the smoker. Carefully remove the chicken lollipops and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Liberally brush more barbecue sauce on the lollipops and tuck in.
Hang Fire Almost All Purpose Rub
4 tbsp fine sea salt
4 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp garlic granules
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp chipotle chilli powder
1 tbsp celery salt
2 tbsp ground allspice
2 tbsp toasted cumin seeds, ground
2 tbsp toasted fennel seeds, ground
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. Optionally, put through a blender for an extra fine powder. Transfer the rub to a jar, or shaker if using immediately.
Hang Fire Smokehouse Barbecue Sauce
150ml cider vinegar
100ml Worcestershire sauce
100g dark brown molasses sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
Put all the ingredients in a pan and use a whisk or electric stick blender to blend. Put the pan over medium-low heat and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced. Transfer to a sterilised jar with a lid and allow to cool. When the sauce has cooled to room temperature, pop on the lid and refrigerate to allow the ingredients to bind together for 24 hours before using. It will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
These are edited extracts from The Hang Fire Cookbook by Samantha Evans & Shauna Guinn published by Quadrille RRP $39.99 available in stores nationally.