As the days get warmer, do you gloomily reminisce about summer nights spent gobbling up juicy hamburgers and tender ribs fresh off the grill? No more! It’s easy to replicate the flavors and textures of grilled and smoked meats in your apartment—all you need are a few key ingredients and tricks that will turn your kitchen into an authentic backyard barbecue.
To impart a warm, smoky flavor: Use liquid smoke.
The unmistakable smokiness of a rack of barbecue ribs is synonymous with alfresco eating, but it’s surprisingly easy to achieve in your apartment kitchen as well. The secret: Liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is made when the smoke from a smoker is fed into a condenser, in which it is transformed into liquid and bottled for your convenience. To lend some smokiness to your meat, you can add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke to your marinade, rub it over a steak or chicken breast before cooking or even kneed it into ground meat before forming burgers. Look for it at the grocery store in the same aisle as the barbecue sauce.
To get crispy charred edges: Blast the temperature.
The oven is known for producing tender, juicy, evenly-cooked meats, but when it comes to giving these meats a charred, mouthwatering crust, the oven tends to fall flat. The easy fix: Once your steaks or ribs are cooked through, increase the oven’s heat to 450°F or 500°F and leave them in for 5 to 10 minutes more. The higher heat will quickly crisp up the outside, while the short cooking time won’t overcook or dry out the meat. If you’re using barbecue sauce, slather it on before these last few minutes; the sugars in the sauce will caramelize for an even sweeter, crispier crust.
To achieve even crust without flipping: Preheat the pan.
The defining characteristic of a perfectly grilled chicken breast is the dark, distinct grill marks on both sides, achieved by flipping the piece halfway through cooking. One of the low-maintenance perks of cooking in the oven is the ability to pop food in, set a timer and then forget about it, but that would typically result in a crust on top of the chicken and not on the bottom. The genius cooking hack: Pop your pan in the oven while it’s preheating. Then when you place your chicken on the pan it will be just like placing it on the hot racks of a grill, ensuring an even crust on both sides.
Ready to host your own indoor barbecue? Start with one of these recipes for cookout classics:
Juicy Oven-Grilled Chicken
½ cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp, Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried rosemary
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except chicken. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag, pour in marinade and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
- Preheat broiler. Place broiler pan in oven during heating.
- Carefully place chicken on hot pan. Cook 12 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken breasts. Serve hot.
Perfect Oven-Roasted Pork Ribs
1/3 cup paprika
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup salt
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 racks St Louis-style pork ribs
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 bottle store-bought barbecue sauce
- In a bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Sprinkle ribs with spice rub and liquid smoke and use your hands to rub it in. Wrap ribs in plastic and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Remove plastic and wrap ribs in foil. Set on a baking sheet and bake 2 hours. Discard foil and cook, meat side up, until tender, about 1½ hours more.
- Remove ribs and increase temperature to 500°F. Brush ribs with barbecue sauce and return to oven for 5 minutes more. Serve with additional sauce for dipping.
Do you have a favorite indoor barbecue recipe, or are you eager to try one of these? Snap a photo and tag Power for Life Fitness and your apartment building on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.