Chef Phillip Bryant's Ten Tips For a Perfect Backyard Barbecue

Courtesy of Phillip Bryant
The fruits -- and meats -- of your labor.
In every part of the United States people are rejoicing at the end of a long, tough winter and the start of the best season of all -- grilling season. Granted, a harsh winter for us means we had to break out a sweatshirt from time to time, but Miamians still love to grill their hearts out. With Father's Day coming, we figured a lot of dads would be gifted with a brand new grill, so we asked chef Phillip Bryant to give us some advice.

Chef Bryant's the go-to man on all things grill-related. The talented toque was the executive chef at Swine Southern Table & Bar until recently, where he grilled all manner of proteins for a carnivorous Coral Gables crowd. From what grill to buy (hint: you don't need that schmancy thousand-dollar job), to how to season your meat, Bryant's tips will make sure your next barbecue is a successful one.

See also: Seven Vegan Grilling Options for Memorial Day

10. Don't Waste Your Money on an Expensive Grill
I know a lot of people love to get those large propane grills that come with burners and an oven. Why? I already have a kitchen in my house.

For me, the best kind of grill to get is a simple Weber that holds charcoal. I know some guys that pull off the best barbecue I've had on a small, simple grill. I like something simple that goes in the backyard that I don't have to worry too much about.

9. Charcoal All the Way
It's true that propane is easier to control, but you get that chemical taste.The flavor of your food is better with charcoal because it's a natural heat source, plus you get that smokiness with charcoal. I prefer hardwood chunks or the kind of charcoal briquettes that come from wood.

8. Fat is Your Friend
The main thing to keep in mind when grilling is that fat is your friend. You don't want to put a filet mignon on a grill -- the fat will go right through. Instead, choose rib eyes and skirt steaks. That outer fat cap will caramelize and protect the meat, keeping it juicy.

7. I'm a Huge Fan of Pork
I'm a big grilling freak and I like almost anything on the grill, but pork works exceptionally well. I am a huge fan of pork, especially fatty cuts. That's why ribs work so well. I actually prefer spare ribs rather than baby backs because they have more fat and flavor. Plus, they're cheaper.

Location Info

Swine Southern Table & Bar

2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Restaurant

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My mom is a native of Coral Gables and she and my Dad went to University of Miami, and I spent a lot of summers there with the grandparents, so Miami is a spiritual home for me, but I'm native Texan and pretty skilled at barbecue, so I thought I'd share my thoughts. If you're using a simple Weber and charcoal, you are grilling, not barbecuing. Out here we use barrel smokers with offset fireboxes. You can use them for indirect smoking as well as direct heat grilling. I highly recommend one. If they don't sell them in Miami, I am sure you can order one, they cost about $250 for decent quality. Some tips I have for backyard smoking and grilling:

1. For fall-off-the-bone tender pork spare ribs, smoke them with hickory, oak, or pecan logs at 225-250 for about 2 and a half hours, mopping (basting) them every 30 minutes with a mixture of vegetable oil and apple juice. Then put them in a clean, empty ice chest for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving. The time in the ice chest will make them steam themselves tender.

2. I partially disagree with Chef Bryant about fish. I live on the Texas coast and do a lot of saltwater fishing, and grill or smoke most of my catches. Out here we grill fish, especially redfish (red drum) "on the halfshell." Fillet your fish, but leave the skin on, scales and all. Apply some kind of fat and acid (Italian dressing is common) and grill directly over a lump charcoal fire, skin side down, never flipping, until the fish flakes and is not translucent anymore. The fish will then easily slide right out of the skin. I have also used this technique for red snapper and mangrove snapper. For the fat/acid, I make a compound butter with ginger, lime juice, lime zest, and salt, and put pats of this butter all over the meat of the fish while it is grilling. For pompano, I skin the fish and place it on greased heavy duty foil.

Lots of other smaller fish like sand trout and smaller croakers are great grilled whole. Just slash the sides, squirt lemon on, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt. Flip halfway through.

I often smoke redfish as well. I brine a scaled skin-on fillet for a few hours in a mixture of pickling salt (not pink curing salt), brown sugar, and water, and smoke it with pecan mini logs at 200-225 for about an hour-hour and a half. Then I put it in a freezer a few hours until it is not quite frozen solid, and slice it thin with a flexible filet knife. King and spanish mackerel are also really good smoked.

And who can turn their nose up at some grilled jumbo shrimp? Just shell and slather them in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and fresh garlic, and grill over white hot mesquite chunk coals just a few minutes on each side.

I also have a caja china, have done mojo-marinated pork shoulders in it. Not grilling or barbecue, but still fun outdoor cooking Miami style, even here in Texas.


nice piece.   i like the lawn chair and cold beer tip the best!!!  Cant wait to try that.. 

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