Author, Where There is Smoke(2013)
Recently named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the United States Culinary Ambassador Corp.
Director of the Healthy & Sustainable Food Program at Harvard’s Center for Health & Global Environment
National Geographic Fellow
Named “Chef of the Year” in 2009 by Esquire Magazine
Featured in: Cooking Light, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Fortune, and Vanity Fair
Regular guest on the radio show National Geographic Weekend;
Regular contributor to the National Geographic blog Ocean Views.
Grillin' Up Some Good Eats
The 700 Club
Barton says family, community, and food is his inheritance passed on from his parents. Early on, he was taught to recognize the value of food. The meals were never complicated and his family “knew how to eat.” The kids got to participate in every part of the meal – they helped shop for it, prepare it, and cook it.
In addition to his love of seafood, Barton grew up with a love of family grilling because of how special his dad and mom made mealtimes. His dad was a genius with grilled lamb, chicken legs, corn on the cob, and more. Barton says grilling also meant vacation time for the family. He has several fond memories of catching or buying fresh seafood and grilling it. Many of Barton's favorite memories involve family, food...and cooking with fire. Grilling was always a special event with special aromas and flavors.
When Barton had a place of his own, one of the first things he bought was an 18-inch Weber grill, which is still with him. He continues to use it. Also, the grill brings back happy childhood memories and flavors that still inspire him. To Barton, grilling is a creative way to have delicious, healthy food and a great time with your family and friends. He also says grilling is inherently seasonal, celebratory, and social.
Though Barton can appreciate both gas and charcoal grilling, he prefers cooking with charcoal because of the flavor. If you are using a gas grill, Barton suggests creating a smoke station to put a handful of smoke chips in aluminum foil where they can slowly heat and smolder. This offers the convenience of gas cooking while adding the smoke aroma.
Barton's method of grilling is indirect grilling, or not cooking directly over your fire. He says putting all the coals to one side of your grill will help best manage the varying levels of heat by moving your ingredients closer or farther from the coals. This creates a more efficient fire by concentrating the heat. A closed grill generates slow, even cooking – similar to the low and slow method of barbecuing. This is Barton's preferred method of cooking delicate seafood, large steak, and whole birds that require long cooking. He says the slower burn and lower temperatures allow for greater penetration of smoke flavor, but you will not get the deep crust that you get from a high-heat sear. Most of his recipes require the food to be set adjacent to the coals or as far away from the coals as possible.
Barton says the heat, flavor, and duration of your fire all depend on the amount of air it gets during the burn. His grill has an adjustable airflow underneath the fire that allows the ashes to be removed. The fire is burning at full capacity when the intake is wide open. Barton says when you first light the fire you want to enable the charcoal to burn down to embers as fast as possible. At this stage, it is not the best use of charcoal. Barton rarely recommends cooking over high heat, therefore a fire of this strength is not necessary. Closing down the intake halfway slows the burn rate down, which provides a more even heat and a longer burn time. If the intake is closed by a sliver, the fire begins to cool down and gives a very mellow, controlled heat. Barton will be sharing Flank Steak with Radicchio and Plum Salad, Crispy Grilled Kale (will make), Grilled Corn with Sweet Peppers (will make), Ember Roasted Squash Hummus (serve with baguette slices), and Shaved Zucchini Salad.
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