Mark McMillian was cooking up big plays as a defensive back for the Eagles from 1992-95 before later joining the Kansas City Chiefs for two years from 1997-98. Now, he's smoking the competition as "Grill'n McMillian" with his own signature line of cooking products due to hit the market soon. He barbecues five days a week living in Las Vegas.
McMillian fondly remembers family cookouts with his mother, Gloria; his grandparents, Albert and Clara Jones; and his uncle, Albert, Jr., nicknamed "T-Bone." McMillian wants to inspire families to spend more time together through grilling. Kansas City is known for its barbecue. It's a culinary staple that has defined the region since the early 1900s. As someone who spent time there, McMillian offers an interesting perspective on the savory delight.
How would you define Kansas City barbecue?
"Kansas City is more of a smoky, wood-flavored barbecue."
What is your go-to sauce?
"If your barbecue is really good, you don't need sauce. I'm a no-sauce kind of guy."
No sauce? What makes a good dry rub?
"If you like a sweet rub, I use brown sugar. I like paprika, it gives it that red tone. I use onion powder. I use a little Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper. I like a little kick to it, so I add some fresh red pepper flakes. If you don't like red pepper flakes, you can use cayenne pepper depending on your heat level."
Which types of wood do you use?
"Mesquite gives it a good flavor. You can use pecan wood, that's another good flavor, but I will say people like to use mesquite."
Where do you stand on gas vs. charcoal?
"I'm all wood. I'm really not a charcoal guy, unless I want to do something real quick. But if you're going to smoke barbecue and you're serious about barbecue, you're going to find that the top restaurants use wood."
Do you even mess with gas grills?
"I own six grills and none of them are gas."
Favorite type of meat to smoke on the grill?
"I'm from California, and if you know anybody from California, we love tri-tip. I love to smoke ribs. I love to smoke brisket. I've been doing a lot of short ribs as of late, smoking those for about seven to eight hours until they're just falling off the bone.
"I've gotten into smoking beef ribs as well. I'm kind of favoring beef ribs more than pork ribs. It takes a while because you got to let that fat render down, but if you cook it right, you wrap it in parchment paper at the right time, it's like butter."
What are two rookie mistakes that people can avoid?
1. "One of the rookie mistakes you could make is not checking the temperature of your meat because the last thing you want to do is take a steak or your ribs off and you think you're done, then you cut them open and it's raw."
2. "If you're going to use lighter fluid on the grill, remove the grill grates. Most people just spray the lighter fluid through the grill grates onto the coals and then you're actually eating that gasoline."
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