Every Day with Rachael Ray: You're from New York, which isn't exactly barbecue central. What made you fall so hard for the grill?
Adam Perry Lang: It was a reaction to many years of calculated, manicured food. It was a desire to cook something so elemental simply by controlling a flame. Burning wood makes for incredibly flavorful food.
EDWRR: Your book, BBQ 25, is packed with tips on coaxing flavor from foods, even chicken. How do you keep lean meats moist?
APL: Brining. I use 3 tablespoons each of sugar and salt in a quart of water. Any more salt, and the meat will turn rubbery. I baste constantly. I'll even make a dressing to coat my cutting board: oil and lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar -- or agrodolce (an Italian sweet-and-sour sauce) -- and spices or herbs.
EDWRR: What kinds of sauces do you like?
APL: I'm always looking to make flavors somewhat freaky, so for apple flavor, I use grated raw apple, apple juice, apple jelly. All these different layers together make the dish pop. I change the tired ingredients and find nicer sugars or splurge on better-quality molasses. But remember that people don't like to be surprised. You don't want to do teriyaki flavors when they're expecting South Carolina barbecue.
EDWRR: What are some other good side dishes that complement barbecue?
APL: Baked beans. Prepare them in a cast-iron skillet on the grill, and they'll pick up a lot of indirect flavors. Coleslaws are great palate cleansers; I also like to vary the texture of the spices, like coarsely chopping caraway seeds -- when you bite into them, they release flavor bombs like firecrackers.