Every Cut of Meat Tells a Story Generations of Meat and Smoke With Danny McTurnan
’ve been grilling and smokingmeat most of my life. I grew up on a farm and I learned a lot firsthand frommy father and grandfather. They grilled and smokedmeat and passed the tradition down tome, just Some of my earliest memories are of hauling wood to the smokehouse for my grandfather or father. The older I got, the more responsible I got, but they were sure to start me off with some of the heavy lifting. Today, grilling and smokingmeat has become more than just a hobby. It’s a way a life. As much as I love tomake the food, the real love comes from sharing that food. I know that when I grill up some meat and folks leave with a smile, I’ve done what I set out to do. as I pass the tradition down tomy own son. And, as a lot of grillers know, it takes a lot of work to get to that point. It’s more than throwingmeat on the grill and turning it. There’s a process. Youmight even call it an art. I put a lot of thought intomy spices. I even grow a lot of my own spices right at home! Putting that much thought into your spices and rubs canmake a huge difference. Of course, the spices are nothing without the meat. Even though I’ve been aroundmeat my whole life, there is something to say about every cut of meat. Each cut tells a story. It has a personality. Think about the age of the cow when it was butchered, or how the butcher processed that meat, or how the meat was aged.
By the time that meat gets to your smoker or grill, it may be as fresh as can be, but it still has a lot to say. It’s a story that really comes alive when it hits the heat. Every one of your senses gets to“hear”that story. You watch as it sizzles and the juices bubble up. You smell the aromas of the meat, the fire, the charcoal, the wood, the smoke, and the seasoning, and then your mouth begins to water. It goes on and on. One of the great things about grilling and smokingmeat is that you are in charge. You get to experiment and find the flavors you like the best. Sure, certain seasonings work better with certainmeats—and some work really well —but there is no denying individual taste, because, as I always like to say, to each his own. When it comes to experimenting and developing your flavors and techniques, something that I do is keep a logbook. It’s something I learned frommy grandfather. Every time I grill or smoke, I log it. And thanks to bothmy grandfather and father, our family has logbooks dating back to the 1930s. Whenever they did a cook, they logged it —and it wasn’t just the time and date, but temperatures, seasonings, wood, and weather conditions. If there was a detail that influenced the meat, they wrote it down. And I can tell you, the more detail, the better. When you grill the perfect steak, you are going to want to be able to recreate that.
Some of his entries were written on whatever he could find, frompaper bags to scraps of cardboard. A lot of those old recipes have faded with time—or we couldn’t figure out what he meant! I’ve gotten together with family and we’ve sat down with his old recipes to try to interpret what he meant. It can be a big puzzle, but it’s a puzzle worth completing. Together, my grandfather and father left us with around 30 logbooks. I startedmy first logbook in the mid-’70s. Today, I’mwell onmy way to 30. That’s a lot of meat and a lot of stories, many of which I’ve shared and continue to share in our private Facebook group forum.
If you’re not in the FB forum yet, go to gsa.life/June2018 to learnmore!
I sure hope to see you in the group soon and hope you’ll joinme on a few of my Facebook live Q&A sessions coming up soon.
When it comes to recreating some of my grandfather’s recipes, it can be a challenge.
–Danny McTurnan 1 grillingandsmokingassociation.org
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