It’s almost the start of summer, which means you’ll soon be firing up the grill and outdoor soirées for the season. Whether you’re planning a Memorial Day party or other gathering, take full advantage of your first hurrah with a top chef conquest: slow-cooked meat. We went to grill masters Eric Miller, executive chef and partner of Madison & Main in Sag Harbor, and the experts at Food Network Kitchens on to provide the secrets to success in this department. Now get fired up! 

Prep Time

Large pork butts, briskets, and St. Louis-style spare ribs are all ideal for slow cooking on a grill, says Miller. To prepare your meat, let it sit out for about an hour and apply your favorite dry rub. “You can also add additional flavor by making small cuts and sliding garlic cloves into the meat,” recommends Miller.

The Wood Way

One of the main differences between grilling with wood chips instead of charcoal is that wood tends to smoke more and add more flavor to the meal. The experts at Food Network Kitchens prefer the stronger flavor that hickory or mesquite gives for a brisket; fruitwoods, such as apple and cherry, work well for milder meats, like pork, poultry, or fish.

Tackle the Temperature

Miller advises that the most important thing when slow-cooking meat on a grill is to keep the temperature consistent by using a meat thermometer. Also, be sure to push your coals or wood to one corner of the grill. “Slow cooking requires an ambient temperature of about 200 degrees,” he says. The temperature differs slightly from meat to meat, so follow your recipe.

Let It Rest

It’s important to allow the meat to stand a few minutes before you slice and serve. “During the cooking process, the muscle cells contract; during the cooling process, the meat’s juices will redistribute…While it cooks, the outside is hotter than the inside. Letting the meat cool before serving will even out the temperature,” Miller explains.


 From Food Network Kitchens on

Step 1: Texas BBQ Rub

  • 1/4 c. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together all ingredients.

Step 2: Texas BBQ Braising Sauce

  • 1 (28-oz.) can tomato purée
  • 12 oz. lager or amber beer
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1/2 c. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. yellow mustard
  • 5 thick slices bacon, coarsely chopped (about 6 oz.)
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Mix together all ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste, in a large disposable aluminum pan. 

Step 3: Brisket 

  • 1 (5- to 6-lb.) piece beef brisket, preferably point-cut, fat trimmed
  • 6 c. wood chips, preferably hickory or mesquite
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Dry rub
  • Braising sauce
  • 4 c. water

Apply dry rub all over brisket. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Prepare an outdoor grill with a medium to medium-low fire for indirect grilling. Put brisket in the aluminum pan filled with sauce. Throw a handful of drained wood chips on the hot coals, put the pan over the cooler side of the grill, and cover so the vent holes are directly over the brisket. Baste meat with braising sauce every 30 minutes, turning occasionally and adding water to the pan as necessary to keep meat partially submerged, until the meat is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 200°; about 3 3/4 hours. Replenish the chips as needed to maintain a medium to medium-low fire. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. Skim the fat from the braising sauce and stir in the ¼-cup cider vinegar and salt to taste. Reheat if necessary. Thinly slice brisket across the grain and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon some sauce over the meat and pass the rest out at the table.


Fire it Up – Memphis Elite wood fire grill, $4,200,

The Slice is Right – Horn-handled Laguiole knives, $315,

Clean Cooking – Outset leather grill apron, $49.99,

BBQ Station – J.K. Adams cherry barbecue cart, $685,

Image Credits: Food Network Kitchens.