The Meathead Method: Barbecue Science Meets Art

"Greatness begins where your comfort zone ends."Meathead

Coming in 2020

Meathead taught us the science behind the world’s most popular backyard sport and shared failproof recipes in his groundbreaking New York Times Best Seller, Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, written in collaboration with food scientist Prof. Greg Blonder.

Now, in his forthcoming book, The Meathead Method: Barbecue Science Meets Art, he teaches more of his innovative methods and uses his master’s degree in art to help you elevate your cooking with fire and smoke to culinary art by exploring the intersections between art, craft, and science.

The Meathead Method, available in 2020, has special appeal to the culturally adventurous as well as professional chefs, because he continues busting myths, shares scores of hot tips, and introduces new methods, tasty crazy wonderful global ingredients, and novel combinations.

The recipes, created in collaboration with Brigit Binns, a prolific cookbook author and owner of a popular cooking school, are designed to inspire readers to break out of the traditional barbecue box and to experiment. The book even has a cocktail section that teaches readers how to use smoked and grilled ingredients and infusions, developed with mixologist Casey Biggs.

page layouts

As part of the art theme, Meathead did most of the recipe photography using a difficult procedure called lightpainting where he turns out all the lights and illuminates the food with a tiny penlight during exposures that last from 10 to 30 seconds. Not many people can write, explain science, innovate cooking methods, develop recipes, and create such beautiful photographs with techniques never before used for food.

His last book was called “One of the 100 Best Cookbooks of All Time” by Southern Living Magazine, “One of 22 Essential Cookbooks” by, and “One of the 25 Favorite Cookbooks of All Time” by readers of Christopher Kimball's Milkstreet. In addition, his website,, is by far the most popular barbecue and grilling website in the world.

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This is from the introduction to the book


This is not your typical barbecue book. As with my last book, Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, it goes where barbecue has never gone before. Like “Science”, this book, The Meathead Method, Barbecue Science Meets Art begins in a comfy chair, moves to the back yard, and ends on your dining table.

It starts by exploring the nature of culinary art, then it teaches a suite of modern concepts based on science, takes a deep dive into ingredients rarely seen in barbecue and grilling recipes, and ends with 120 all new innovative recipes sure to wow your friends and family, recipes that go beyond the realm of science and into the world art.

I am honored that the last book made a lot of best cookbook lists including “The 100 Best Cookbooks of All Time” by Southern Living (alas, I still have to take out the trash at night and shovel snow). The reason for the accolades is simple, for years I have been questioning conventional wisdom and testing what I call Old Husbands’ Tales. When the lessons I have learned are woven together they comprise a philosophy and approach to culinary arts that have become known as The Meathead Method and I am gratified to see that they have percolated out through the community and have been adopted by many pros and authors.

So with this book I have woven them all into one place for the first time, in a coherent flow that encapsulates the craft of outdoor cooking. To be an artist of any kind, one must first master one’s craft, and in the culinary arts, that means understanding the science of cooking because every time you start to cook you put in motion a series of chemistry and physics phenomena. With the counsel of my science advisor, Prof. Greg Blonder of Boston University, we will explore what food is made of, how it reacts to heat and smoke, and how our senses react to your creations.

You will not find the traditional checkered tablecloth recipes from the Southern barbecue canon in this book. I covered them pretty well in Science and on In this book I have enlisted the aid of Brigit Binns, author of more than 30 cookbooks and owner of Refugio, a wonderful cooking school and B&B in Paso Robles, CA. Together we spent months in some of the most exhilarating conversations of my life concocting recipe concepts that you might find in a white tablecloth restaurant.

The criteria in creating a recipe for this book was that it must be delicious, cooking it outdoors must make it better than cooking it indoors, it must be creative, and fun to cook. We also wanted to have good examples of each of the cooking methods and we wanted to encourage you to try new ingredients. We challenged ourselves, and we challenge you, to elevate your cooking to artistry. We have gone outside the box because we want you to see just how capable you are.

pork porterhouse

Tentative Table Of Contents

Note: This is a work in progress and the TOC will change)

1) Welcome

2) Culinary Art In Your Backyard
What Is Art?
What Is Good Art?
How Can We Make Culinary Art?

3) Culinary Science In Your Backyard
Carbohydrates And Sugars
Salt, Minerals, And Vitamins

4) Using our Senses
Elements Of Art
Principles Of Design
The Art Of Plating And Presentation
Symmetry vs Asymmetry
Balance And Harmony In Food

5) The Meathead Method: Blending Art & Science
Beware Of The Marketers
Some Thoughts On GMO Use and Sustainability
Some Thoughts About Organic Food
Some Thoughts On Food And Health
The Problem With Dietary And Nutrition Science
Eating Meat
A Final Thought On Shopping
Conduction Energy
Indirect Convection Energy
Direct Radiation Energy
Why We Love Combustion
Calibrate Your Cooker
Cook With A Thermometer Not A Clock
Food Temperature Guide
Why You Need A Digital Scale
Cleanliness Is Next To Chefiness
Salt: The Magic Rock
Dry Brining
Wet Brining
Salt Blanching
Spice Is Life
No Salt In Rubs
Marinades And Brinerades
Meat Tenderizers
No Bones About It
Take The Fat Cap Off
Size Matters
2-Zone Setup For Everything
The Genius Of The Reverse Sear
How To Fire Up
Dial It Down
Broiling On A Grill
Keeping Meat Juicy
Crispy Skin
Oil The Food Not The Grill
Don’t Cook Whole Animals
Direct Radiant Heat Cooking
Indirect Convection Heat Cooking
Cooking With Hardwood
Cooking With Charcoal
Cooking With Gas
The Vigneron Method
The Caveman Method
Using Grill Toppers
Cooking On A Bed Of Herbs
Smoking Outdoors
Smoke Cold Wet Meats
Beware Of The Stall
Smoking With Tea, Herbs, Spices, And Hay Smoking
Smoking Indoors
Smoking Nuts
Put A Hat On It
Cold Smoking
Cast-Iron Cooking
Here’s What You Need To Get Started
Seasoning Bare Cast-Iron
Restoring Rusted Cast Iron
Cooking With Bare Cast-Iron
Cleaning Cast-Iron
Griddle Me This
Campfire Cooking
Hobo Packs
Fireplace And Hearthside
Hang It Up
Smoking With Pellets And Sawdust
Wood Oven
Grill Frying
Frying Turkey
Faux Frying
The Afterburner
Woking On The Chimney
Here’s what you need:
How to use it
Dry Aging Beef
Resting Meat Vs. Holding Meat
Cut Across The Grain
Safe Shopping
Kitchen And Food Safety
Grill And smoker safety
Taste Taste Taste
My Tools

6) Ingredients: The Artist’s Palette
Sugars And Sweeteners
Vegetable Oils
Animal Fats
Dairy Products
Washing Mushrooms
Making Pepper Flakes And Powders
Wine, Beer, And Spirits
Asian Flavors
Other Fun Ingredients In Our Recipes


7) Building Blocks: Spices, Herbs, And Rubs

8) Building Blocks: Sauces And Dressings

9) Red Meats

10) Lamb

11) Pork

12) Birds

13) Ground And Chopped: Burgers, Sausages, And More (12 recipes)

14) Seafood

15) Potatoes

16) Vegetables

17) Fruits

18) Pizza And Baking

19) Cocktails

20) Index

About lightpainting and scanned images

Most of the photographs of the recipes were shot using a technique called lightpainting. For a book with art in the name I wanted to do something unusual and creative with the images and I wanted to challenge myself in the same manner I am challenging barbecue cooks with these recipes.

To achieve the chiaroscuro look reminiscent of Rembrandt still life paintings, I wanted I first had to black out my studio. The lens of my Nikon DSLR was opened for 20 to 30 seconds and the light came from a penlight flashlight that I moved across the set, pushing the light in close to brighten an object, pulling it back for other objects, changing the angles, swooping in low for long shadows, from behind for halo effects, all in the same image. Lighting the food was 20 second dance, stepping around it, moving my hands in and out. I made several exposures of each image and then stacked them in Photoshop to get a double, triple, even a quintuple exposure. I am told that this method has never been used for food.

Click here to see is a gallery of the recipes we have tested and shot so far.

Here is a video showing how I shot the recipes. Turn on the sound to hear the narration.

The Meathead Method cover

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