Sunday, October 3, 2010

BBQ 101: Grilling vs. BBQ-ing

What defines BBQ? Some believe BBQ is the communal act of eating food outside while others believe BBQ is placing food on a grill. A true Texan knows that BBQ is none of the above.

Grilling meat does not make it BBQ. Let me explain this in greater detail: Grilling meat does not make it BBQ. There are 3 main types of grills:



and electric....

Grilling is best used when cooking meat on a high direct heat. Thin cuts of meat work best for this form of cooking such as chicken breasts, steaks, and burgers. Grilling is not BBQing, it's called grilling. When is comes to your source of heat when grilling your meat...that's a personal decision and you will will be judged on that decision.

Electric = Lame. No picture necessary.

<=== Gas/Propane - Great for a quick meal. If you like the convenience of TV dinners and tevo-ing football games, then a gas/propane grill is right up your ally. As opposed to the bbq slogan "low and slow", this form of heat can often leave you "high and dry".

<===Charcoal - For you Al Gore fans out there, this is the environmentally friendly option when compared to cooking with gas, as long as you don't make common yankee mistakes like using lighter fluid and not using lump charcoal. Lump charcoal has no fillers or additives and burns hotter. When using a chimney to get your coals going, it will take you the same amount of time to get your gas grill going. Charcoal also adds that flavor that everybody loves.

Now for the part we've been waiting for. BBQing is the process of cooking your meat on an indirect heat low and slow (generally a more tough/thick piece of meat). The best source (and IMO only source) of indirect heat is smoking the meat using wood. You can use almost any wood to smoke but the most popular are Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, Pecan, Apple, Alder and Maple. All of these different types of wood have a unique flavor to them. Some pitmasters like to mix woods to mix flavors.

<=== Some people like to smoke by putting a low heat charcoal and wood chips on one side of a kettle grill while the meat stays on the other side. This creates limitations such as space. (side note: water pan is used to help retain moisture)

<===There are also those that smoke meat using what is called a "smoker". This creates an even heat and plenty of room for storage through different racks/layers.

<===Then there is the off set fire box contraption. You can control your heat with out disrupting the meat in the smaller box.

In the end, smoke is king. Smoking meats is what defines BBQ. It's the smell of charcoal/wood that cries BBQ, not a sweet molasses based sauce you throw on top of some dry flavorless meat. Don't get me wrong, grilling is legit for steaks, burgers, and chicken breasts. Lets not confuse grilled food with BBQ.