Grilling: the great American past time. Or so we like to think. But come on — we can claim baseball, but food over a fire is a global phenomenon. Grilling knows no boundaries; its flames are stoked with cross-cultural kindling. Fuel yours with inspiring eats from Kenya to Korea, the New England hills to the Jamaican beach. We grill therefore we are. And so this month we present a crate that celebrates the society of the smoker, the brotherhood of barbecue, the far-flung family of food and fire. Light up, and dig in.
Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce // Hak’s // Los Angeles, CA
Hak’s sauce has been field-tested in America’s toughest barbecue battlegrounds, from reality TV (Sharone Hakman cut his teeth on Master Chef) to, well, a real damn battleground, fed to 500 hungry Camp Pendleton Marines, so we think it can hold its own in your backyard. Thick, chunky, and rib-coating rich, the mix of molasses, vinegar, tomatoes, and spices starts tangy sweet then kicks with bourbon smoke. Complex enough to make a simple sparerib (salt-and-peppered, baked low until just tender, then finished on the grill) a prize worth fighting over.
Ashley’s Wild Maine Blueberry Vinaigrette // Well-Fed Farm // Searsmont, ME
Balsamic isn’t balsamic unless it’s from Modena, and while blueberries can’t boast the same governmental protections (yet), everyone knows the best — the truest — are Maine-grown. And so while Ashley went to Italy for this dressing’s oil and vinegar, everything else, from the tangy kick of mustard to the sweet kiss of honey, is local. Even the sea salt comes from Maine’s rocky coast. And while big-batch vins are boiled, this one’s sweetened, spiced, and gently blended. Drizzle on watermelon, mint, and a hunk of grilled halloumi for the perfect fresh, fruity side.
Korean BBQ Jerky // True Gentlemen’s Jerky // San Diego, CA
The ultimate low-brow meat snack trades its trucker hat for a stovepipe, and its mysterious, gas-station munchie-rack provenance for real-deal butcher-counter cuts from local SoCal cows. Spiced with sesame, chile, ginger, and a bit of smoke, then sliced into finger-friendly pieces so you don’t feel like a leather-gnawing caveman — but packaged with a spool of floss, just in case you can’t resist. Even gentlemen go wild sometimes.
Bodacious Bacon Beer Brittle // Stacey’s Sweet Spot // Moneta, VA
Her bona fides are fine and French — a professional chocolatier degree from the Ecolé Chocolat — but Stacey’s brittle is anything but. Fine Dominican cocoa nibs take a down-home southern turn with smoky local bacon, crunchy North Carolina pecans, hot habaneros, and a splash of roasty porter from the Sweet Spot’s neighbors at Parkway Brewing. For the lazy pitmaster’s dessert: An entire grilled-up meal, meat-to-nuts, covered in chocolate.
Steel Drum Plantains // Miss Marjorie’s // Seattle, WA
Barbecue was born on the beach — the word’s Caribbean, in fact — and it makes sense: with weather like that, why hover all night over an indoor stove? Island grillers are some of the best, especially when it comes to the accoutrements, from jerk sauces and rum cocktails to simple snacks like these, the signature appetizer from Seattle’s best Jamaican restaurant, just right to nibble while the fire warms, the meat cooks, the coals die, or — hell — all barbecue long.
Piri Piri Salt // The Chili Lab // Brooklyn, NY
Proper peppers should pack more than just heat — and no one knows that better than the Chili Lab, an iron-tongued group of adventurers who scour the Scoville scale for the world’s best, boldest sauces and salts. Swahili for pepper, piri piris have an herbacious, citrussy bite — thirty times as hot as jalapeños, but infinitely brighter and more nuanced. Give your grill some jungle vibes by tossing on a few salted pineapple slices, and serve diced with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.