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BBQ tips from NY State champ Phil Rizzardi

Long Island barbecue champ Phil Rizzardi is also

Long Island barbecue champ Phil Rizzardi is also the founder of BBQ Brethren. Photo Credit: Newsday, 2005 / Tony Jerome

Phil Rizzardi, barbecue champion and founder of BBQ Brethren, joined us at noon Thursday for a live chat. Here's what happened. 

Moderator: The chat will start at noon. Please start submitting questions.
Phil Rizzardi, barbecue champion and founder of BBQ Brethren, will join chat along with food writer Erica Marcus at noon.

Do you use injection in your pork shoulder?

Phil: Yes in competition, No for home use.

Westex BBQ: Some folks say putting salt on your steak prior to grilling will just dry it out, others state to season the meat AFTER grilling. What is your take on this procedure?

PR: True, If u leave it on too long it draws the moisture to the surface. For grilling, seasoning it immediately before is ok.

BigBarry: Can you explain the difference between smoking and grilling?

PR: Smoking is actually curing the meat as in a smoke chamber at low temps... if your asking the difference between BBQ and Grilling, Grilling is cooking over direct heat at temps in excess of 400 degrees. BBQ is cooking @ lower temps 200-350 indirect, where the food never comes in contact with the flame and cooks with heat and smoke.

Michael: Opposing viewpoints re whether searing a steak seals in flavor: your thoughts?

Hi -- I'm Peter Gianotti, restaurant critic and drinks columnist.

Do you use bluse hog? and do you kick it up a notch?

Hi, I'm Joan Reminick, restaurant critic. If you have any questions or comments to make about Long Island BBQ restaurants, I'm standing by.

Erica: Michael, searing gets nice browned flavor into what you are cooking, but it does not make an impermeable seal either in or out.

When is RUB East Meadow opening?

BLUES HOG is a 'top shelf' bbq sauce not widly available in the northeast.. I use it alot as an ingredient in other sauces.

Erica: We are told that RUB will be opening next week but we don't know for sure.

Westex BBQ:
What is the ratio of mixing a sweet sauce with a vinegar based sauce for pulled pork?

Erica: For more information on this weekend's Battle of the BBQ Brethren, go to

Phil: Thats personal preference

Steve: What is your favorite pork injection

Phil: Cant tell u my favorite pork injection.. Its a trade secret. :)

Guest: Are you particular about charcoal? What's the best kind to use?

Phil: But you can buy injections from "the Butchers"

SmokeInDaEye: I'm interested to know the panel's favorite cut of steak when grilling

Phil: For charcoal, I use Royal Oak Lump most of the time. I dont like using briquettes as they contain fillers. Lump Charcoal is preburned wood, with no impurities.

Erica: For me, the most dependable cut is a rib steak. Even a bad rib steak is a pretty good steak.

BDevine: At what temperature are ribs done at?

BDevine: I like to eat BBQ, but I don't know too much about cooking it. Is there a good place or recommended book for beginners to start at?

Erica: Books by Paul Kirk or Steve Raichlen are good places for a BBQ beginner to begin with.

PC: My wife always me wants to bbq chicken on the grill. How to prevent the numerous flare ups?

Phil I dont temp Ribs: I gGo by feel. Lift up one end, and when they flex beyond 45 degrees, they are starting to finish. the more they flex, the more tender they are. Get to where they flex, but dont break apart. then they are overcooked.

Erica: To prevent chicken flare-ups, don't put the BBQ sauce on until the very end. It's the sauce that drips and burns.

What's an easy, inexpensive fish to grill that tastes great?

Westex BBQ:
Dr. BBQ (Ray Lampe) has some good books out as well.

Where do you buy your meats? Do you just go to the supermarket or do you go to butchers?

Erica: We did a great story with Phil last year about buying meat at the price clubs:

Phil: Chicken flareups is from the grease and fat rendering out and hittign ther hot coals. Cook with a lower flame, and have a section of the grills set aside that is off, or has "safe' zone.. A trick I use it so have a small pizza stone wrapped in foil in a spot on the grill. As the meat(any type) cooks, if things get to hot an excited(the fire, not you)you can shuttle it onto the stone to take it away from the direct heat for a little while. then when the fire calms down, bring the meat back.

Erica: Fish is tricky on the grill. You'll need a basket or a perforated grate for thin fillets in which case catfish or tilapia or flounder or fluke would be fine. I'm partial to swordfish kebabs; a firm fish like swordfish or tuna holds up pretty well.

Michael: Phil, ever consider opening a restaurant?

Michael: I love planking my fish or wrapping it in foil and create a steam bath.

Phil: NO restaurant for me! then it becomes work.

BDevine: How many BBQ cookoffs are there in our area?

Steve: Fair enough How is the best way to keep brisket moist?

Erica: On Long Island, the cookoffs are Battle of the BBQ Brethren (this weekend, and WilliePalooza was back in April. There are others around NY State as well.

Phil: To keep a brisket moist. I cover it in A1 steak sauce. Its a trick I learned form a dear friend.

Erica: Phil is currently composing a real answer to the moist-brisket question. He is a real card!

Will there be things for the family to do at this weekend's contest?

Which is your favorite cut of steak?
porter house
( 33% )
new york strip
( 0% )
rib eye
( 46% )
Filet mignon
( 8% )
something else
( 13% )

Erica: Your family hopefully likes BBQ, but there's also live music, a car show and even some non-bbq food items like sausage / peppers, corn on the cob, etc.

BDevine: Can anyone go to these cook-offs and talk to the cooks? Do they talk to the public?

Erica: Most cooks are eager to talk about what they are doing except during the hour or so before they have to turn in their food for judging.

My family eats too much BBQ! :)

Phil: Kidding. Brisket is a challenging cut. Takes some practice. Cook it slow, baty attention once it breaks 180degrees. There is a small window between moist brisket and dry crumbly brisket. When a probe enters the thin part of a brisket with just a little resistance, its done. remove it from heat, foil it loosly and let it rest for a wlittle while. then slice it and cover it with A1.

Erica: Too much barbecue; what is that?

Pauliecuedaddy: Have you ever cooked with pellets, and can i use them on a gas grill

Phil: Ok OK.. skip the A1.

Phil: I cook with pellets often. You can use them on a grill by wrapping them in a foil pouch and putting some holes in it to let smoke escape.
Thursday August 4, 2011 12:23

The Smoke N Barrel: Can the judges use utensils such as forks or spoons when judging the grilling contest? If a team were to put a sauce on the side, would the judges be allowed to use a spoon to add the sauce to the item?

The Smoke N Barrel:
Cedar plank salmon on a charcoal grill is excellent

Grim Reaper Smokers:
As a competitor we are always uyp to talking to anyone, most of the time, just not all of the time.

Phil: The judges wont have utensils. You can include a spoon in the box.. or pool the sauce(pooling is allowed in the grilling contest).

BDevine: What's the best BBQ food for a newbie to start with? Ribs?

Phil: Most forgiving BBQ food to start with would be a Pork butt, or chicken.

Michael: Phil, do you ever use a gas grill?

Phil: I have 2 gas grills. I use them for storage.

Phil: Get a kettle, A bag of lump, and a weed burner. Your charcoal grill be hotter faster than your gasser. :)

Grim Reaper Smokers:
Hey Phil, what is your favorite fruit for grilling? My family goes crazy when I grill up some peaches with butter and brown sugar and serve with some freshly whiped cream.

Erica: Phil will get to to, but here's an article Lauren Chattman did a few weeks ago about grilling fruit and other unexpected items:

Phil: I like Pineapples, dredged in coco lopez and meyers dark rum, dipped in brown sugar, and grilled quickly to caramelize the sugar.

Erica: That sounds fantastic.

SmokeInDaEye: What's your favorite type of grill/smoker if you had to pick one?

BDevine: Newsday's food writers should enter a cook-off. That would be fun!

Pauliecuedaddy: Will there be brethren stuff for sale at the event. Shirts or the sort. Both t-shirts or sleeveless?

Erica: There will be some apparel for sale.

Phil: I have invited the food writers to cook with my team. They are chicken. :)

Erica: I am happy to see that my favorite steak, rib eye, is leading the polls. Take that, porterhouse!

Westex BBQ:
Any clues as to who the Celebrity Griller is going to be??

Erica: It is not Kate Middleton.

Phil. My favorite smoker is a high quality horizontal offset. (The Klose comes to Mind) For a grill its a Big Green Egg.

Do you have help at competitions or do u compete by yourself?

My team consisted of my son and a close friend for many years. Now that my son has discovered girls, Its just myself and my teamate.

As a BBQ expert, do you ever go to BBQ restaurants? How do they stack up to your food?

Peter: I enjoyed the pulled pork and beef brisket at Mara's in Syosset.

Phil: Honestly, I dont even eat my own BBQ anymore, so I dont go to BBQ restaurants. But if I do, I go to RUB in NYC, and Daisy Mays.

The Smoke N Barrel: Do these competitions still go on even during the rain?
BDevine: What is 'lump'?

Erica: The show goes on in rain, snow--just like the postal workers.

BDevine: Do any of the writers like to BBQ in their backyard?

Joan: I really liked the ribs at Swingbellys in Long Beach. That said, I'd have to add that LI BBQ is so variable - the quality depends upon the batch of 'cue. So much is reheated - and not very well, at that.

Peter: Lots of grilling this month. But haven't become a pit boss yet.

Phil: "Lump" is Lump Charcoal. Its preburned wood, with no impurities. Available in alot of supermarkets. Look for Royal Oak.

Erica: I haven't got a backyard but I love to grill in other people's backyards. I have to confess now that I understand the distinction between bbq and grilling...I don't bbq at all.

Pauliecuedaddy: Do you teach a class for people who would want to get into bbq?

Joan: I'm spoiled; I have a friend who slow-smokes ribs and chicken all the time, so I take shameless advantage.

Phil: I BBQ in my yard year round. Kitchen Stoves are for wimps.

Erica: It may be heresy to mention it here, but this is a very helpful article on grilling vegetables:

BDevine: What's the best BBQ sauce you can get at a supermarket? Is it better to make your own?

Peter: Dinosaur and Stubbs.

Dave: Phil if ones wife knows how much a green egg costs what other model would you suggest for grilling? Can a person grill on the smoky mountain?

Phil: Favorite Supermarket BBQ sauce available locally is Sweet Baby Rays or Cattlemans. But I doctor them up with honey, jack daniels, and some spices.

BDevine: If someone got into BBQ now, would they be ready to get into a cook-off next summer?

Erica: Events like Battle of the BBQ Brethren are open to anyone who wants to compete; no experience necessary. (That said, the deadline for this weekend's competition is passed.)

Phil: You CAN grill on a smokey mountain, but if you dont want to tell your wife the $800 Green egg was on sale for 50 bucks, you can get a Weber Kettle for around $100. Then tell her about the mistake you made because it was more than the $50 Green Egg. And remember one thing in BBQ.. Easier to beg for forgiveness, than ask for permission.

Westex BBQ: If rib-eyes or porterhouse steaks are too expensive that week, a good shell steak can be a good alternative.

Phil: And a Sirloin is even cheaper than strips, and has a richer flavor. Strips can run as much as ribeyes at times.

K bbq: How do you get rid of the hot spots on the bbq ? better cleaning ?

Peter: Skirt steak works, but keep an eye on it. Hanger steak, too, but not always available.

BDevine: Is the Weber Kettle charcoal or electric? Can you cook ribs or pork on it?

The Weber kettle is the classic American charcoal grill.

Phil: K BBQ---- Hot Spots on BBQ? Do you mean gas, or charcoal grills?

Erica: I meant to say, The Weber kettle is the classic American charcoal grill and you can cook anything on it. For barbecue you'll need to use indirect heat.

K bbq: propane.. sorry

Gas grills have hotspots from pressure differences in the burners: burner holes rusting closed, or some type of mechanical issue in the burners is usually the culprit. Take out your buners and make sure all the holes are clear and even. use a pipe cleaner to clean the tubes and a wire brush to clear the holes. S small drill bit can be used to even out the sizes, but is time consuming. May be time to buy a new burner. Also, HUGE grease build up in the body of the grill sucks the heat up and stops it from coming up to temp.

Erica: Phil is typing furiously about cleaning your grill. Hang on a sec...

Also, a trick to clean the grates(dont use this on cheap grates). Light the grill, Cover the ENTIRE GRILL grate area end to end corner to corner with 3 layers of aluiminum foil, shiney side down and close the cover. Turn heat to high. Give it 15 minutes. Shut it down and let it cool down 10 minutes.. When you open it the grates will be covered with white ash that can be sponged off.. works like a self cleaning oven. But you need heavy grates to do this. then cheap thin ones cant take it.

Peter: And while you're doing all this, keep some red zinfandel or Barbera handy. Maybe some pale ale and lemonade, too.

What's the best wood for barbecue?

My preference: oak, hickory, and cherry.

fattyfan: Phil -- How much of a difference does a smoker make?

danny: can u help with brisket?

Erica: Phil answered this at the beginning of the chat:

Brisket is a challenging cut. Takes some practice. Cook it slow, pay attention once it breaks 180 degrees. There is a small window between moist brisket and dry crumbly brisket. When a probe enters the thin part of a brisket with just a little resistance, its done. remove it from heat, foil it loosly and let it rest for a little while.

Phil: A smoker makes a very different product than a grill. Apples and oranges.

tom: How do you prevent flare ups that char burgers etc?? Would using aluminum under it help?

Moderator: Please note that we will be wrapping up shortly everyone.

Erica:Phil spoke earlier about flare-ups, which are from the grease and fat rendering out and hitting the hot coals. Cook with a lower flame, and have a section of the grills set aside that is off, or has "safe' zone.. A trick I use it so have a small pizza stone wrapped in foil in a spot on the grill. As the meat(any type) cooks, if things get to hot an excited(the fire, not you)you can shuttle it onto the stone to take it away from the direct heat for a little while. then when the fire calms down, bring the meat back.

BDevine: Do you use a mix of meat for your burgers? What fat to meat ratio do you use?

Grim Reaper Smokers: Phil, A BIG THANK YOU for all that you do for the BBQ community, and the knowledge and experience that you share so freely.

Phil: For plain store bought burgers, I know its not as healthy, but i go for 70% or 80%. Fat is flavor. I also keep the trimmings from brisket, ground that up and and mix that in with 90% lean ground beef. roughly 60% Lean ground and 40% brisket... thats a great burger.

Joan: All this talk has made me ravenous. A shame Phil hasn’t smoked up some ribs and brisket for a staff lunch.
Thursday August 4, 2011 1:16

Erica: Yes that is a real shame.

Thanks to everyone for chatting. Sorry we haven’t had time to get to everyone’s questions, but the conversation is ongoing at BBQ Brethren. Here’s a link to the website:

For more information on this weekend’s Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Manorville, go to:

if it wasnt a contest week, I probably would have.

great day all.. See You at the maples!

Peter: Enjoy your next meal ...

Thank you everyone for joining.

Mod:erator This chat is now over. Thanks for participating!


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