Ray Lampe (aka Dr. BBQ) joins Homemade host Martie Duncan to dish on easy grilling.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Barbeque season is officially here, and what better way to kick off summer than with plank grilled salmon from pitmaster Ray Lampe, better known as Dr. BBQ. Dr. BBQ joins Homemade host Martie Duncan to share his expert tips on grilling salmon using cedar planks, Dizzy Pig's Raging River Rub, and a maple glaze. Meanwhile, Martie makes an easy grilled asparagus dish to go alongside the salmon.

Before getting together to grill, Martie and Dr. BBQ recorded a show for an upcoming episode of Homemade, the Allrecipes podcast. On the episode, Dr. BBQ answers the most burning barbeque and grilling questions from the Allrecipes community, including how to grill fish. Listen to Dr. BBQ's Homemade episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPlayerFM, and everywhere podcasts are available beginning June 23.

About Dr. BBQ

Pitmaster, author, and television personality Ray Lampe, better known as Dr. BBQ, hails from Chicago. Inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame in 2014, Lampe owns the restaurant Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he's known for smoke-basted meats and new American barbeque. He has appeared on Food Network's "Chopped" as a contestant and judge as well asa the "World Food Championships," "Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri," and "American Grilled" as a judge.

headshots of Martie Duncan and Ray Lampe with photos of salmon and asparagus
Credit: Allrecipes Illustration

Dr. BBQ's Dizzy Salmon

By Ray Lampe, Dr. BBQ

This is a simple plank grilled salmon recipe that's sure to please. If you only have small planks, use one for each piece of salmon but always remember to soak them.

Servings: 4


  • 4 (6-ounce) pieces salmon fillet
  • olive oil spray
  • Dizzy Pig's Raging River Salmon Rub (or your favorite semi-sweet barbecue rub)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 wood cooking planks (alder or cedar planks are best)


Step 1
Soak wooden planks in cold water for at least 1 hour prior to cooking, making sure to fully submerge the planks. This will prevent them from burning while cooking.

Step 2
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Remove the planks and dry them off. Spray the top side of the planks with olive oil spray. Lay 2 pieces of salmon on each plank, skin side down. Spray the top of the salmon fillets generously with olive oil spray and season liberally with Dizzy Pig Raging River Salmon Rub.

Step 3
Place the planks on the hot grill and cook for 10 minutes. Drizzle maple syrup over salmon and continue cooking until salmon is firm to the touch and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 more minutes.

Step 4
Remove salmon fillets from the grill and drizzle with additional maple syrup if desired. Serve right from the planks.

Episode Transcript

MARTIE DUNCAN: Welcome to Homemade, I'm Martie Duncan. You know there are two kinds of people, the ones who are great at grilling and those who are terrified to even try. But even those backyard barbeque champions would love the opportunity to up their game a little bit. Who doesn't have questions about technique, sauce, what kind of wood or charcoal to buy, and most of all what kind of cuts of meat are best for grilling. As we dive into grilling season and backyard cookouts with friends and family, I've got the answers to all your burning questions with the one and only Dr. BBQ himself - pitmaster Ray Lampe.

Ray's approach to barbeque has won him hundreds of awards and he's considered the go to barbeque expert by Food Network and many other media outlets. If you're near St. Petersburg, Florida, be sure to stop in to his namesake restaurant Dr BBQ. Ray has been a good friend of mine for a long time, so I couldn't think of anybody better to help tackle those barbeque and grilling questions from all of you. So let's get right to it and welcome my buddy Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ to Homemade. Hey Ray!

RAY LAMPE: Hey, Martie, it's great to see you, hear you. This is a great way to, like, get started to get back to stuff, to hang out with you a little bit. And I'm thrilled to be here. Let's get some questions. I will answer them all. Pretty sure I've answered them before, but I'm ready to do it again.

MARTIE: You know, the thing is, we kinda put the grills away for the most part, not everybody does, but, you know, kind of put them away at the end of the season. And then when the season comes back around, you get the grill out, polish it up, clean it up good, and you're like, "OK, what do I make?" You know? You kind of, like, forget everything you learned the year before. Or like, "oh my gosh, where did I get that great cut of meat?" Or "what was that that was so good?" 

MARTIE: So let's help everybody get started. Whether or not you grill, on a regular basis, you can be a pro if you follow a few simple tips. So, Dr. BBQ , here's the first burning question that I have for you. So many people don't know the difference between barbecuing and grilling. Before we talk about what kind of grill we should buy if we're getting a new grill, tell us the difference between barbecuing and grilling. 

RAY: Oh, what a great way to start, Martie. So as you probably know, as a person who lives in real BBQ country, we've come a long way with that messaging. It's not that long ago - I come from Chicago and nobody knew 25 years ago. Grilling, in my mind, is cooking direct and hot and fast. Now we can cook BBQ direct too, but in general, the meat over the fire, pretty hot. We're going to grill it and eat it. That's grilling. Burgers, steaks, dogs, sausage, maybe some quick pieces of chicken. BBQ is the long and slow, low and slow, indirect.

RAY: Now we talk about indirect. There's lots of ways to do that. You can cook this far over the fire like they all do in the Carolinas. That's indirect, if you're far enough away from the fire. Or you can have the fire over on one side and the meat over on the other side, like our Texan friends initiated, that's offset cooking. That's indirect cooking, too. I cook on the ceramic cookers a lot. We put a big plate in between a big piece of ceramic, in between the fire and the meat. That's indirect. Historically, the temperature is down for barbeque. 225 degrees was always the magic temperature. Maybe we'd bump it up to 250. Nowadays - oh, you know, the Internet has spawned all kinds of hybrids of everything. So there's guys cooking BBQ at four hundred degrees. I'm not sure that's barbeque. That's a whole other discussion. But, but typically low and slow, big fatty cuts of meat that take forever to hang out. That's barbeque. Other pieces that we cook pretty quick, that's grilling.

MARTIE: Well, when I was a kid, my daddy built a BBQ tower in our backyard and on the grilling holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July, we had the whole neighborhood in our backyard. All the men would come and they would put Boston butts on the smoker and it had three tiers. So I learned about cooking BBQ when I was seven, eight years old and I would sit in my window and I'd listen to 'em. My daddy would catch me and send me to bed.

MARTIE: But I would listen and watch and learn. And they mopped, you know, they had an actual mop and that big bucket of sauce. They would start with like a vinegar based mop. And then they would progress later to an actual brown sugar based sauce. And they kind of did it the right way. And I think that to me is the barbeque, right?

RAY: Well, one of the things you said there, so when we think about BBQ 50 years ago, mopping is something you talk about that we really - it's pretty much out of fashion now. And the reason is because we have these really well controlled BBQ pits. The mop was to keep it from drying out and trying to cool it down a little bit as you went. And, you needed that. And people ask about mopping a lot. And if you're cooking on an old school pit like that, where you have to kind of keep it moist, and keep it calmed down, mopping is a good thing to do.

RAY: Most of the time, though, nowadays with our modern BBQ pits where there's steam in there and everything's under control. It's an excuse to open and peek. And so I generally ask guys not to do it because they have this system. They're going to mop every 20 minutes. And it's really just an excuse to open the lid and take a look. Now your dad, well, he was out there hanging out all night and he needed to mop that stuff. Yeah, I'm sure once in a while he spilled his beer on there, too. That was part of the tradition.

MARTIE: One hundred percent. That Budweiser...I saw it. And if nothing else, like you said, cooled down the fire a little bit. So, Ray, tell me, you come from a BBQ family. How did you become Dr. BBQ?

RAY: No, I really didn't. Like, every year, my mom would cook ribs, throw a big party I'm sure she pre-cooked 'em, either in the oven or she boiled them or something. That's definitely what-

MARTIE: That's cause everybody in Chicago did that.

RAY: Right. Exactly.

MARTIE: I don't want to burst anybody's bubble. But when I moved up there, I was shocked that everybody par cooked their ribs. Everybody.

RAY: Anyway, she would make this - her secret sauce was Open Pit, which was the BBQ sauce we all used up in Chicago, and molasses and crushed pineapple. That was her secret topping for her ribs.


RAY: And I kind of adapted it too. One of my cookbooks has got a recipe kind of like that, but so BBQ in Chicago, which is where I grew up, it was not a thing. In the 60s, 70s, there was real BBQ there in the Black neighborhoods. The white neighborhoods, they were doing what you're talking about. I call them like steakhouse ribs. And it's real simple to figure out. At that time, the Black guys had all come from the South. They'd come from Mississippi and Alabama and stuff. The white people had come from Ellis Island, you know, from Europe. They didn't know about barbeque. It's now all, you know, like so much of our lives is all mushed together. But back then, that's truly what it was. And growing up, I thought BBQ was a Black thing. And where I lived, the Black people just happen to be from the South. 

RAY: I did not grow up with it at all. My dad would cook steaks once a year and my mom would cook ribs once a year. And it probably wasn't very good - but I got suckered into it. I learned how to cook in high school and just was cooking at home like normal family type stuff. And a friend of mine, we were twenty five. A friend of mine signed us up for a BBQ rib cooking contest in downtown Chicago, and I didn't really know much about barbeque. I literally had to borrow a Weber kettle from a friend of mine.

RAY: And I went and bought some ribs and we went down there and I found a BBQ sauce recipe that actually evolved into what I still make to this day. It was a thirty year evolution. But we went down there and we didn't win anything. But I really liked to cook. I was a twenty-five-year-old guy. I also liked to drink beer and build stuff and have fire and big pieces of meat. I was like, oh my God, these are my people and it's been my life's obsession. Coming up on thirty-nine years, now. 

MARTIE: Isn't that remarkable, it started way back then and on a Weber, too. That's appropriate for Chicago, Weber being made up that way.

MARTIE: So when it's your turn to cook for the friends and the family and you got everybody coming over, what's your go to cut, Ray? 10, 15 people coming around, what are you going to make?

RAY: Well, if it's my call, it's whatever I'm in the mood for that day. But in general, I'm going to go ribs because people just care about ribs. It's funny, we have all these regions of BBQ and it's way more complicated than people might want to make it to be. There's actually way more of 'em. The general consensus is as soon as you cross the line into Alabama, you put white BBQ sauce on everything. Well, that's clearly not true. Right? But, people that don't travel much think that. But ribs seem to show up everywhere in Texas and Carolina, in, you know, Georgia, in California. I always joke people would tell you where they ate the best slab of ribs they ever had in their life. Everybody-

RAY: It's true.

RAY: So where is your place, Martie? 

MARTIE: The one that just popped in there first, and that's not really fair because, you know, I'm right up the road from Chris Lilly, Big Bob Gibson, I'm right here in the middle of Jim N' Nick's country. I have Saw's BBQ right behind me. I got a lot of great BBQ by me. But what popped in my mind when you said that was Michael Symon's...

RAY: Really? 

MARTIE: At Mabel's. I don't know why, but I love those ribs and I love that mustardy BBQ sauce, too, that he serves.

RAY: Yeah, Mabel's is a really a unique place. I mean, it's real BBQ and it's got a little bit of Cleveland spin on it. I really enjoyed Mabel's and I'll tell you mine. There's two. In Tuscaloosa, Dreamland. 

MARTIE: Oh! Come on, Dreamland. Yeah. I mean I don't even know why they didn't come to mind first. Dreamland, give me a slab of Dreamland and white bread and I'm a happy girl.

RAY: And some beer. Last time I went actually - even the original one had a couple other options. They had sausage and they had potato salad, which was so unusual for that place. And the other one was Neely's in Memphis. It's a, it's a crazy place. But boy, I'll never forget either one of those slabs of ribs. And I ate them both, ironically, driving on the highway. I was leaving Memphis and I was driving across when I went through Tuscaloosa and I stopped and got them, ate them on the highway, throwing the bones out the window. So ribs is always my go to. I just think people care about ribs so much that-

MARTIE: You're just going to wait a minute because I'm going to drive to somewhere to get some ribs. OK, sauce wise though, I don't think, like, great ribs have much to do with the sauce, do you? 

RAY: No, I sure don't. Someone said to me a long time ago, BBQ sauce is a condiment, and that's really how I see it. It's something to serve on the side. A little dip is fine. 

MARTIE: All right, so if you're not going ribs and let's just say it's two people, because ribs is a lot to do for two people, unless it's like a weekend or whatever. What do you make? You going to do a burger? You're gonna do brats? Steak? Dogs? What's your second go to?

RAY: Oh, probably a steak. You can't go wrong with a steak. I've been ordering these dry-aged steaks from a place in New York that nobody ever heard of. Somebody turned me on to it. It's not one of the big name places, so they're not too expensive. What folks don't understand is the bulk of the meat we eat is all USDA choice, pretty darn good kind of meat. And it's nothing special. It's just all in that very consistent grade. But then every now and then you buy something really special and you forget that, you know, we are eating pretty much regular old middle of the road meat all the time. And you might add extra good stuff. It's something else.

MARTIE: So you mentioned dry-aging and I was going to talk to you about that. Tell us what dry age is, first of all. And second of all, tell me if you think that's better or if it's important or if we can just go to the Winn-Dixie or the Piggly Wiggly and get any old cut. 

RAY: Well, dry aging is just this decadent process. Typically, we take the short loin, which is the porterhouses and t-bones or strip steaks and filets and we age that whole thing. You can't just keep it in your fridge. You've got to give a moisture control thing. And, the mold that grows on it is not, not bad. There's a lot of guys doing at home now. There's all - like everything else, there's all kinds of info online. What it does, the drip loss - it drips, drips, drips, drips. And that creates a - kind of like when you're cooking down a sauce or a gravy, the more you get rid of the water, the richer it tastes, the more intense it is. So that happens. And then it just gets this natural funk because it starts to deteriorate. And if they do it in a controlled situation, it just gets that really intense flavor and a little bit of funk. Now, when it loses all that drip loss, what used to be 15, 20 pounds goes down to 12 pounds. So, of course, it costs a whole lot more than that. And it cooks up a little differently. I like it. If I'm in a fancy steakhouse, I'll go for it because I do like that funky flavor. Not everybody does. 

MARTIE: So if I'm going to cook a steak lately because I need a new BBQ grill and I don't have one. I'm going to use my cast iron skillet. Now, I know that some people think that's like sacrilege. Tell me why that's so different when I get the char on my cast iron skillet rather than getting a char on the grill. Tell me the difference in that. Like, is there any real difference in terms of chemistry or flavor? 

RAY: I wouldn't think so. I'm a fan of that, as well. I just - for me, the thing you'd be missing is that charcoal/wood flavor. My grandma fried steaks, my whole life growing up, in olio. 

RAY: In olio, Imperial Margarine. Add the Imperial Margarine - I, occasionally, will still buy a pound of it just for old time's sake. Sandy thinks I'm crazy when she sees it in the house. But... 

MARTIE: No. It's those old school things that lock in - you have these - just like music, food takes you back to a place and time and you have these ingrained memories from food. Like for me, watching my dad make those BBQ butts on his big three tier-

RAY: Yeah. 

MARTIE: All right, so let's talk grills very quickly. So there's just so many on the market now. You just kind of almost don't know what to get. My favorite that I had for years and years and I've just gotten rid of it after twenty years because it just kind of gave up on me was a Weber rancher, like a giant Weber. You know, because I use it for big parties and things like that. And that thing moved around with me for a long time and I like charcoal. I actually like wood. Like in Argentina they cook everything over wood. Then they break the coals to the exterior, and they cook on a grate low to the ground like a parilla... 

RAY: But they're making some now for home use that are pretty similar where they've got the deal over here, where you put the log and it kind of falls down into coals. You go to all the hipster BBQ restaurants, they have those, it just looks like too much trouble for me. I'm not that interested. But if you really like doing that, get one of those. But it's a lot of trouble for home. I mean, lump charcoal is essentially that. It's charred down wood already, you know? So that's- 

MARTIE: Right. 

RAY: Sort of my favorite thing to cook with and start there. Briquettes are OK, but it's a little different situation and you certainly don't want to use lighter fluid. Gas to me, you might as well cook in that skillet because you're not getting any kind of wood or charcoal flavor.

MARTIE: That's what I feel too, really. I mean, I like the convenience of gas, but boy, it sure doesn't really add much to it and for like a hot dog or something, awesome. Because really, you just want to grill marks anyway.

MARTIE: But for anything more than that. Yeah, I would agree. Like you really want that little bit of wood charcoal, you know, feel to it. And so lump charcoal is really just-

RAY: Charred wood. It's all it is.

MARTIE: What's your favorite way to start the fire? 

RAY: I just use those little paraffin and sawdust little squares like fire starter squares.

MARTIE: Really?

MARTIE: I use a chimney most of the time. 

RAY: Well, for briquettes, you need that. But for lump charcoal, you end up like wasting a bunch of charcoal. 

MARTIE: Right. 

RAY: A lot of my tendencies, you know, I worked for Big Green Egg for 17 years. 

RAY: I don't anymore. But, but it still has a lot of the tendencies that I did so with, with a Kamado style grill like that, you put all the lump you're going to need for the whole day in there and you light it and you close the lid and you control it by how much oxygen you let it have. It'll run for a whole day if you put enough in and you control the fire.

MARTIE: You're listening to Homemade. When we return, Dr. BBQ diagnoses some common grilling dilemmas from burgers to Boston butts. We'll be right back, after the break.

MARTIE: I'm Martie Duncan and I'm talking with pitmaster, author and TV personality - Dr. BBQ himself - Ray Lampe.

MARTIE: All right. So I would like to get to the phones and take some call-in questions from some of our listeners. Our first caller is Allessio from Ohio and he has a question about BBQ sauce.

CALLER: Hey, this is Allessio from Ohio. I like to make my own BBQ sauce, but when I do, I don't really like using the ketchup recipes. I like using tomato paste ones. And I noticed that when I use a tomato paste recipe, I use a lot of dry spices. So I was wondering what is the way to make your BBQ sauce smoother and silkier? Because I noticed that when I use spices and I blend it, it'll come out and you can kind of feel the spices. It's not as smooth. 

RAY: Well, to me, ketchup is like the magic ingredient for making BBQ sauce. It's kind of like your head start. So I'm not against it. I don't mind using it at all. Now, if you happen to have a bunch of fresh tomatoes or something, go for it. But essentially, you've got to make something like ketchup. So like you said, a bunch of dried spices in there is your friend. You could buy ground spices. I don't know where you're buying your spices, but there's a place that I buy from almost everything called Penderys, P-E-N-D-E-R-Y-S.com. 

RAY: It's an old 100-year plus place in Fort Worth and they got pretty much any version of anything you want. If you want oregano ground, really fine. They got it. So that's going to help you from having the flakes and the chunks in there. Same with garlic. They've got like granulated garlic, which is a little bigger grain versus a powdered garlic and onion and, and that kind of stuff. So that's going to help you with your texture. And you can also steep it, steep all that stuff in there and then run it through a strainer. That's going to help you get it smooth. It just seems like a lot of work to me. Personally, I just use ketchup.

MARTIE: I can see what he's saying, he doesn't want the little flecks of the spices or the herbs or whatever in there, even if he uses the dried spices. So you can take a coffee grinder and you can put your spices in there and you can whir it up and they're really good. And they will become super fine. And then what you can do is just dissolve them into a little bit of water and then add that to your ketchup, if you want to. Or you can just add them straight to the ketchup. You don't have to do any dissolving. And sometimes I would dissolve them in worchestire sauce because that's another secret ingredient in my BBQ sauce and also pickle juice. I shouldn't tell that one because that's my big secret weapon, but sometimes I'll just dissolve it in pickle juice and then put it in. 

RAY: There's people using pickle juice for everything nowadays. 

MARTIE: I know. Yeah, it's good. And it does get rid of those cramps in your legs in the middle of the night. It does.  

RAY: So, the other issue you're going to have with using tomato product instead of ketchup is texture, you know, the ketchup's already got sort of a nice thickness to it when you're making BBQ sauce. You end up with a real thin BBQ sauce and nobody likes that. So, it's tough. You're going to have to do a lot of work to use tomato products to get to that ketchup base. 

MARTIE: All right. So let's tell our secrets for our BBQ sauce. You tell yours first. 

RAY: Celery seed.

MARTIE: Celery seed. I don't know if it's really a secret so much, but I love that Coleman's dried mustard. So I use that a lot with the pickle juice and not too much brown sugar, but enough, you know? I don't want it to be too sweet. And of course, vinegar. Got to have a little bit.

RAY: Well, that's - I never was a very good BBQ sauce maker. I wrote a couple of cookbooks. I still didn't think I was a very good BBQ sauce maker. And I just - I don't know what triggered me, but I started putting more vinegar in my sauces. And the more vinegar you add, the more it tastes like BBQ sauce. So you really need it in there. You can offset it with some sugar if you want, but you got to have the vinegar in there to make it BBQ sauce.

MARTIE: So Dr. BBQ , I hope that helped Alessio. Let's go to the next caller.

CALLER: Hi this is Rachel and I'm calling from Brooklyn, NY, and I have an outdoor space for the first time in my adult life. I have a patio and I'm going to be grilling this summer, but I don't have a lot of experience. However, one of my favorite things to do is to have a bunch of people over for a big dinner party while still being casual. I don't necessarily mean sit down, but the thing that I find difficult with grilling and BBQ is that you really have to tend to it and be watching it. So my question is, do I need to be babysitting it or designate someone to babysit it? Or are the recipes or styles of cooking that you would recommend that are better for when you're also entertaining a larger crowd so that you don't have to do as much babysitting. Maybe cooking something low and slow. I don't know. You're the expert. That's why I'm calling.

RAY: Yeah, I think you're on it. there's all kinds of cool, like stacked up electric or propane smokers now. And you put a couple of pork butts in there and you don't have to do anything till they're done. So I think that would be the perfect solution for you. And trust me, if you've got a smoker - I'm thinking about, they got some cool ones now that are low budget with a window in them. If you got that thing brewing on your deck while your friends are partying, trust me, they are going to be so excited when you finally open the door and take those out. The journey is going to be, you know, timing it right. And, and just leaving it alone, frankly. But I think a smoker is your solution to what you just said. Now, you also might need a grill to go along with it, if you want to cook burgers during the week. But, I think look for a smoker and cook some pork butts. 

RAY: We all start with something simple. That way you learn and as you get more into it, then you - now you're willing to commit to it. You know, now you, you learn how to manage that whole fire and the meal while you're still partying with your guests. 

MARTIE: And this is something just a seasoned host knows. Do whatever you can up front. That way you can enjoy your guests and you're not stressed and struggling, trying to get the food on the table. You're actually able to enjoy your friends. All right, let's go to the next question, Dr. BBQ. 

CALLER: I'm from Gadsden, Alabama. My question is, what is the best hamburger recipe for the grill? I cook on a green egg and I cook on charcoal. Let me know, sir. Thanks again. Pleasure talking to you. 

RAY: For me, just plain old ground beef 80-20. You got to have some fat in it. I like it if you can get it a little coarser than most. Uh, here's a tip. In Publix - you've got Publix by you, right? 

MARTIE: Yes.  

RAY: If you look for market ground beef, that's the stuff that they're grinding there at the store. It's a dirty secret. But when you see ground chuck and ground sirloin and all that, it's coming in those big tubes to the store and it's fine. I'm not saying they're doing anything wrong, but I like the fact that the guy trimmed a bunch of stuff off of a rib eye and a chuck roast and whatever else in the back, like the old ways of doing it. The thing is, they can't keep up. They don't cut enough meat in the store to keep up with the ground beef they need. So they bring it in from outside. If you're looking for the market ground beef, you will find the stuff they're grinding in the store. And I always find that to be really good. 

MARTIE: That is a great tip. I never knew that secret. 

RAY: Yeah, and it's right there. And you don't even know it honestly, unless you pay attention to it. But that's what it is. And for me it's about a six-ounce burger. So you get a pound, you're going to get about three burgers out of it. Some people try to pack them real loose. I don't much care about that. Make the burger and then push it down in the middle. That's a real good trick. That works good. Otherwise, you end up with this big meatball in the middle inside that doesn't get cooked right. And I use like something plain. BBQ rub is OK, but I like just like plain seasoned salt on them.

RAY: Get your grill pretty hot and you've got a six ounce burger that you smashed down pretty good, by the time you get a good brown on both sides, it's probably done in the middle. You got to get those burgers to 155. That's a real thing. And 155 is done. Get it off and eat it. I'm pretty simple with my burgers. Make sure you toast the buns. Always toast the buns. But I'm pretty simple with my burger. Martie, you got something funkier?

MARTIE: No, but when I was a kid I used to make hamburgers for all my friends all the time and because I was broke I would have to stretch them. So I'd make - I mean, really, it'd be meat loaf is what it would be. It'd be grilled meat loaf because I would put an egg and bread crumbs and I would get that Lipton onion soup mix and ketchup and mustard and put all of it together with a little bit, you know, maybe grated onion that I would put in it. And then I would grill those. People thought those are the greatest hamburgers in the world. But it was really meatloaf, wasn't it? All right, let's get the next caller on the line.

CALLER: I have two questions. One, how can I make fall off the bone delicious ribs at home without a smoker? And when do I put BBQ sauce on my food because I have a problem with burning it when I put it on my food too soon.

RAY: So the first thing I want to talk to you about is "fall off the bone" ribs. A BBQ aficionado thinks that's overcooked. The way they say it for the BBQ contest, I think is really good. They say when you bite a rib, it should come clean from the bone right there where you bit it, but the rest of it should stay intact. So it's like that perfect degree of doneness where it's just short of "falling off the bone." And that's what most BBQ freaks would like. Now, if you like them falling off the bone, go for it. It's not that hard to do.

RAY: So the basic recipe for cooking ribs for most competition guys and home cooks. We're going to peel the membrane off. We're going to put some rub on them and we're going to cook them either on the smoker or the slow grill or even the oven until they're nice and brown. So a couple hours maybe, nice and slow in the oven, say at 300 for a couple hours. And they get nice and caramelized. You get that what we call bark.

RAY: So think of a bark like a roux. It's not just a seared browning. It takes a while to develop. So a couple hours in the oven at 300 and once they look really good - they're still going to be tough. They're not done yet, no matter what kind of rib you got. And then you want to wrap them up in foil. And this is what one hundred percent of the competition guys do. Restaurants don't do it much. For one, we have different smokers. We have a smoker full, that's all dripping on each other. And it just would be a whole lot of labor.

RAY: But wrap those up in foil or throw in a pan, a little bit of apple juice, maybe drizzle some honey on them and cover it with foil. And now you can cook it to whatever doneness you want. So for me, the trick is to catch it right when it gets to that tenderness of not falling off the bone. And just squeeze the meat and you'll learn eventually to feel the texture or take a toothpick and, and just poke it down into the meat and you'll feel when it starts to get tender. So get it to the doneness that you want. Now, I may be done at an hour and a half in the pan. If you like them falling off the bone, truly, cook them for two hours, two and a half hours. Cook them for as long as you want, you're going to end up with the bones all laying in the bottom of the pan. And, a lot of people do, I'm telling you, it's not like a thing that people don't like. So it's not that hard to keep getting them to get them done that much. 

RAY: Now, I would take them out right at the perfect doneness and then I would put them back on the grill or just on a sheet pan in the oven and then put the BBQ sauce on. And literally 15 minutes or so that the BBQ sauce is on there and they're ready to go. But you want them fully done before the BBQ sauce goes on and if you want to falling off the bone, wrap up and just keep cooking them.

MARTIE: Can we talk quickly while we're on the subject of ribs about styles of ribs like St. Louis style versus baby backs so what do you typically cook? 

RAY: Typically, St. Louis cut ribs. Once in a while, I'll get a taste for baby back. So the way ribs are on a hog up on - if we're looking at the sides of the hog. Up on top are the baby back ribs. Now, these are up there with the pork chops, kind of like the white meat of the hog. And now if you get down on the sides, that's the St. Louis ribs. And then on the bottom is the cartilage. 

RAY: So when you get a whole spare rib, you've got the St. Louis rib that's on the side and then the cartilage that's on the bottom. Now for St. Louis, we cut that cartilage off. So, it's a side rib. And then when I talk about the other one being the white meat, the St. Louis ribs are - I would call them dark meat because they're hanging out right outside of that is where the bacon is. 

RAY: So I tend to like those. There's just a fattier, you know, most chefs are going to eat dark meat. We tend to head more toward the stuff that's fatty. So I'm a big fan of the St. Louis ribs. The baby backs are good. They give him a good name. You know? It's just really not a baby. It's a loin back rib. It's the same hog that all the other stuff comes off of. But they named it really well in the beginning. And a lot of people still think it comes from a special hog. 

MARTIE: And they can get a little bit more money because of that, too, for that cut. Because a St. Louis style - or especially spareribs are going to probably be a few dollars less per pound. 

RAY: Yeah, for sure. And I mean, they're all good, though. Make sure they get done properly. I don't mind a whole spare rib either. The problem with the whole spare rib is you leave all that cartilage on and there's some parts that don't get cooked the same as others. And you might have to do a little gnawing, but I'm certainly not against that.

MARTIE: All right, let's go on to the next question. 

CALLER: Yes, my name is Susan, and I would like to know how to grill fish and for it to not fall through the grill. Is there a way to keep it getting that nice charcoal flavor or smoke flavor at the same time while keeping it so that it doesn't fall through the grill? 

RAY: Yes, I live in Florida these days. I really do. And I do cook a lot of fish. So some fish do better than others. you know - I don't know that I'd be putting my crappie fillets on the grill. It's just probably not worth the trouble. But salmon, of course, is one that we like to grill and it stays together pretty nice. Plank is a great way to cook salmon. I like cooking on them planks. It's fun. And it makes it look good when I cook on them, I'll put that plank over to fire and it might be smoldering underneath that plank. And that's a good thing, you know, get some of that flavor. 

RAY: So I think planks are fun, but I don't use those all the time. I more often use a perforated grid. They've got them in all different shapes. It's a steel ceramic coated grid that goes on the grill and it's got a bunch of little holes in it. And I find that to be a great way to cook fish because you spray it down good with, you know, Pam or something like that, and then put the fish right on there and it won't stick, but it's got holes in it so you can still get smoke coming up through it. And, and then it's a way to handle the fish. You don't even have to flip it. If you do, just give it a simple flip right there on that grate. And I use those all the time for cooking fish. And I think it's perfect.

MARTIE: Yeah, you have to make sure if you're going directly on the grill grates, too, you want to make sure those are oiled really well. You want a dense fish. You know, something that's not going to just fall apart anyway. And then make sure you have a thick enough cut. Sometimes I'll see people send me a picture like what did I do wrong? I have this fish and it just fell apart on my grill. It's because they got the tiniest little fillet ever. So get a nice - you know, don't get the tail of it where it's thinner, get the middle part where it's thicker and then oil it up really good and, and then don't fuss with it too much. 

MARTIE: What about leaving the skin on versus removing the skin when you're grilling?

RAY: I always leave the skin on. Depending on the fish, you may want to eat it but you also may use it to - it's your friend. Like on salmon, I don't - I cook some for my neighbor all the time because whatever I'm cooking, I feed the family across the street. But she doesn't like anything except salmon and turkey. And so I rarely cook turkey for her when I'm cooking something else. Um, so I leave the skin on and I know she doesn't eat it, but it's a way to hold it together. Helps you handle it a lot. 

CALLER: Hello Allrecipes and hello Dr. BBQ. A question I have is about searing and reverse searing. I've heard both sides of that argument and I've tried it on the little Weber kettle that I have, as well as in the oven with mixed results. But I've seen professional chefs claim that it seals in the flavor and juices and keeps everything tender. If you do the reverse sear and sear it first, or I guess after would be reverse sear. What is best for red meats like steak and a standing rib roast in the oven? Do you sear it first or do you sear it last? Martin from St. Pete, I'm local to you, Ray. Love your restaurant. Thanks. 

RAY: Reverse searing. All the rage. And it's okay, I honestly don't do it. I've been cooking steaks my whole life, just searing them and then kind of pushing them over to the side till they get to the right degree of doneness. And that's how I like to cook them. I know reverse searing is all the rage. So let's talk about it. If you're going to do it. You need a big fat steak. Don't be coming with a regular old steak. You better have like an inch and a half size - two inches, even. Basically a two person steak. And then you want to smoke it and kind of slow roast it till it's like - for me, a done steak is about 120 degrees and then let it rest. So I guess I would always be worried about overcooking it. I think they pull them about 110 when they do that first cook. Let it sit and then get your fire blazing hot and just sear it. 

RAY: Seems like a lot of trouble to me. So I'm just a guy who will cook them like I always have. So I have a hard time with some of this new stuff like that. I just don't see any point in that. I just know how to cook a steak. And they've come up pretty good most of time. What they want though, these guys cooking on the Internet these days and I can't fault them for this. I call them technicians. They want the steak to be perfectly done from edge to edge, like no little bit of gray up by the surface. They want the you know, the whole steak to be that perfect, medium rare. And even a prime rib, you mentioned rib roast, same thing. 

RAY: I don't know. I have eaten prime rib my whole life with the outside, the Spinellis getting a little more cooked than the inside. I like it that way, so I'm not that bothered by it. And, and trying to get a crispy edge on a prime rib? Well, if you're going to let it rest like you should, it doesn't really end up crispy anyway. The problem is I get to cook a lot. I cook a lot of stuff. I cook whatever I feel like cooking that day. And I could try it again tomorrow if I feel like it.

RAY: A lot of guys, they have a regular job and they get the one day a week and they want it - they really want stuff to be perfect and they want it to be something fun to do. And, and God bless you. I'm not against that at all. But if you have a great big fat steak, I guess it - you know, it's all the rage. These Tomahawks, it's probably a great way to cook those.

MARTIE: I do want to ask you about one thing you just mentioned, which is resting. I thought that was an important thing to address because I have a lot of people ask me, like, why do I have to let it rest? So can you explain that very quickly. And then just tell people why they really should invest a few minutes in resting the meat when it comes off the grill? 

RAY: Yeah, well, and unfortunately, it's when you lose that nice crispy edge on stuff because you do need to rest it. I mean, conventional thinking now, again, there's all these food scientists out there now that are shooting holes in a lot of stuff we've always known. I don't know what to tell you about that. But resting a piece of meat to me has always proven to me that the juices don't all end up on the board. When you cook something and it comes off the grill hot. In theory, all the juices go to the outside to help protect the piece of meat and then as it rests, they settle back in and they redistribute. And I've always thought that makes complete sense. And I find that if I slice something too early off the grill, the juice ends up all over the board. If I let it rest like I should, it doesn't. So I believe that it works in some fashion. I don't know the science. I think it works. So how long are you resting? Depends what it is. A steak, a normal size steak. Five minutes is fine. A prime rib. I'll let the prime rib rest a half hour. A turkey? That turkey will rest most of an hour and it works. The joints all get cooked properly. The juice doesn't all come flying out of it. And it stays hot. If it's a whole hot turkey coming off the grill. It'll stay plenty hot. The other thing you've got to think about is carryover and how hot you were cooking. 

RAY: If you're blazing a steak, the carry over cooking, which means the cooking is going to happen once you've taken it off, it's going to be a lot more than if you take a brisket off that you were cooking at 225. So resting is important but that's part of the process. What happens is it gets finished up.

MARTIE: And so my other question for you that a lot of people ask me is, Martie, should I invest in a thermometer for grilling? And I always say 100 percent because it is very hard to judge the doneness sometimes by looking at the exterior. And we don't want to do that old school method of cutting into the steak, looking at it like my daddy used to do. Right? 

RAY: That's right.

MARTIE: Tell me why a meat thermometer is essential. 

RAY: Yeah, I would say buy a cheaper grill and make sure you buy a good meat thermometer. It's about 100 bucks for a good one, but man, take care of it and you'll have it forever. So with big cuts, you never learn to know exactly what the temp is inside. Steaks, pork chops, stuff like that, fish - you know, you and I can tell. I can tell by feeling it, by looking at it. All that experience. 

RAY: But you know how you get that experience? By mis-cooking them. 

MARTIE: That's right. 

RAY:  So if you take your thermometer and you get it right every time using that thermometer, eventually you're going to know what it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like when it's done perfectly. And eventually, you won't have to use it as much as you do now. But it's a great way to learn. Teach yourself with the, you know, it's like the baseline of a perfectly cooked anything. And I still use it all the time when I'm cooking, again, turkeys and rib roast and stuff like that. There's no way to know what's going on on the inside without a good thermometer. 

MARTIE: All right, I want to go to the last question from a friend of mine who's a great BBQ cook. I mean, he is a grill master himself and he's a big fan of yours. And he wanted to ask you a question. It's from Keith. Keith, what you got? 

CALLER: This is Keith from Birmingham, Alabama. I was wanting to smoke a ten-pound bone-in Boston butt to a slice consistency or a pull apart consistency. And I was wondering how long do you leave it on the smoker at, say, 250, 275 before you wrap it? And then how long do you leave it wrapped before it starts just falling apart, which is not what I want it to do. So my question is, how long should it smoke? And then how long should it be wrapped in order to come out perfectly and have the perfect caramel color?

RAY: A lot of questions in there, Keith, that we have to discuss. You keep talking about the time. So the first thing everybody - a BBQ cook is gonna tell you, you can't judge it by time. You're going to have to use your thermometer and that's going to be important. Here's the problem with slicing a Boston butt. There's like nine or so muscles within it. It's not one muscle. So there's nine muscles or something like that and they're all different. So getting it to slice perfectly is just an almost impossible task. 

RAY: The better choice is to have the meat cutter take the bone out of it, roll it up and tie it. And it's the same cut. It's just then sort of in a boneless log, kind of a fashion. And then it's going to be a whole lot easier to cook. So the general thinking is that cooking a pork butt to falling apart shredding it happens right around 200 degrees internal temp. So obviously we have to go short of that if you want to slice it. Now, some of those muscles are going to be a little chewier than others. So about 180 degrees, internal temp is the general thinking for that.

RAY: But it's, it's tricky to slice a pork butt because, you know, if you've cooked any, you know, the shape of it, it's not exactly something that you're going to slice. And of course, there's that big wedged bone in the middle. The supermarket by me, regularly has sort of the one half of the pork butt tied up real nice, like a roast. And I would just buy that if I was looking to slice it. I think that's the way to go and cook it to 180.

MARTIE: Yeah, you know, here in Birmingham, there was for a long time - and I don't really ever hear anybody ask anymore, but there was a time where they would say, do you want sliced or chopped?

RAY: Yup.  

MARTIE: So maybe that's where that comes from because I very rarely hear anybody, any say, do you want sliced? Because now it's just pulled pork. But back in the day they did say, do you want - it's just like sweet or unsweet. They would say sliced or chopped.

RAY: Well, in Carolina you'll get that, too. So think about what we're saying is that guy's got a whole big pork shoulder in front of him in Birmingham. And I want a half pound to slice. Well, he's going to find a hunk, one of those muscles, and that's going to work out pretty good for slicing. He probably knows which part he goes to. And he's going to slice some and it's going to be perfect. The rest of it's not - it's all coming apart and everything. So he'll just chop that part. So, you know, it's different than trying to say I'm going to slice this whole pork butt. Now, if you cook one to about 180 degrees, 190, you're going to find some parts in there that'll slice real good and others that won't. They're also talking about chopped versus pulled. You know, chop, we can chop anything. You could chop it at 160 degrees, if you really want to.  

MARTIE: What is your number one question that people ask you about barbeque? The number one thing that people ask you the most.

RAY: How long does it take to cook stuff? Especially brisket. Everybody wants to cook the perfect brisket. And it's hard. I mean, my answer to that question for cooking brisket is go home and cook 20 of them and call me. And then we'll start talking about it because it's just one of those things. It's a lifelong project to learn how to get good at it, you know? And it's really - the thermometer is one thing.

RAY: It's so much about feel when we're cooking big pieces of meat like that for a long, slow time. It's more like cooking a pot roast than it is cooking a streak.

MARTIE: It is.  

RAY: Brisket isn't magically done at 203 degrees. That's not how it works. At our restaurant, we cook them overnight in a big giant smoker at 200 degrees and they never get the 200 internal temperature. It's impossible. They never could, but it doesn't matter. It's much like what we use now, sous vide cooking and even braising. Eventually, at that lower temp, it's going to get tender. Meat will break down over the course of time. Think about that sous vide cooking. We'll cook stuff up at 160 degrees for a day and a half and it's tender as it could be. But it never got to 200 degrees. So it's a lot more complicated than people realize. And they all want those simple answers. 

MARTIE: Well, that's true. And nobody really has the patience to wait once you start smelling it and it's still so good, you can hardly stand to wait all the time that you have to pay for those bigger cuts. 

RAY: I've done that in my life. Taking stuff off before it was done because I was hungry. 

MARTIE: I have so loved talking to you and I feel like our listeners have gotten a great education from the professor, himself, Dr. BBQ , about what to do and how to grill this summer season. I think everybody is going to have their burning BBQ questions answered if they listen to this podcast. So I'm really excited that we got a chance to do it. Thank you so much for being a guest here on Homemade.

RAY: Well, it's a pleasure, Martie. Always nice to talk to you. This was extra fun. 

MARTIE: You can find out more information on Ray Lampe at DrBBQs.com - that's BBQs with an S. You can also follow along with Ray on Instagram at RealDrBBQ to see what he's grilling up!

Next week on Homemade, fresh from her huge win on Guy Fieri's new Food Network culinary game show Tournament of Champions 2, I'll be joined by chef, author and restaurateur Maneet Chauhan.

MANEET: One of the biggest reasons of me falling in love with Nashville was that there was a lot of commonality between the South and India, be it like the soul of the people or the fact that the food has soul down to even ingredients, like Black-Eyed Peas or okra. Like I mean, these are things that we've grown up with as a part of our daily diet. The amazing part, like especially Nashville, the hot chicken is a religion over here. Right? So people are used to flavor. They're used to spices. And that's what Indian cuisine is about. The foundation is spices. 

MARTIE: Maneet's gonna tell me all about winning TOC and battling the randomizer and she's going to tell me how she puts distinctly Indian flair on Southern comfort food. You won't wanna miss it.

You'll find Homemade on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please, we'd love your feedback. If you could rate this podcast and leave us a review, I'd really appreciate it. 

And don't forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-to's from the world's largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com. 

This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and produced by AllRecipes with Digital Content Director Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Matt Sav, Danielle Roth, Jim Hanke, Maya Kroth, and Erica Wong.

I'm Martie Duncan … and this is Homemade.