Paula: After a 3-hour drive to the lake, the best quick meal is skirt steak, rubbed with warm Mexican spices, marinated long enough to shuck corn and build a fire, and charred over a hot grill (ideally barefoot), right?

Scott: Of course. With the possible addition that allowing your steak to continue to brine for the extra few minutes that it takes to saber some ice chunks into a glass and pour yourself a whiskey drink can be a real difference maker.

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Paula: Do you have a spirit animal? Or, more to the point, do you have a Rib Spirit Animal? Mine would be a Memphis-style dry rub made with peppery red spices and a kiss of brown sugar. My go-to technique, two hours over a wood-infused fire followed by two hours in a low oven, works perfectly every time.

Scott: Are you implying that one can have a multitude of spirit animals classified by bone type? Because I am intrigued by that possibility.

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Paula: This morning while navigating Austin traffic, I used the classical station to calm nerves and heard “Impromptu in Two Keys” by George Gershwin. It occurred to me that the title describes my approach to this recipe. That may be a high brow approach to chicken wings but bear with me. 

Scott: That’s weird because I was listening to “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty during my commute and that song is also clearly about a plaintive longing for the comfort of chicken wings.

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Paula: Confession: when I was a kid I hated sweet potatoes, because they were usually prepared with other sweet ingredients (brown sugar, marshmallows, etc.). The memory of those cloying, mostly mushy dishes still give me a vague sense of panic. Later in life, when I tasted sweet potatoes roasted with savory ingredients (olive oil, salt, herbs, warm spices), I fell in love.

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Fire & Smoke Society products are now available at Walmart stores and better independent hardware and outdoor stores.

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