According to Hearth, Grill and Barbeque Association (HGBA) almost 60% of Americans grill or Barbeque year round. Regardless of whether you grill year round or just fire up the pit a few times a year May is the month when the grilling season really gets going! If you own a grill or a pit you will probably be cooking on it come Memorial Day. Over the next few weeks I am going to be doing several blogs on BBQ, grilling, and some different products and accessories. Since man created fire he has been cooking meat over it. Barbeque is something different as it is really a technique that turned into a cooking genre. We will also be talking about the “Roots and Regionality” of Barbeque in an upcoming blog as well.
You grill on a grill. One of the most common mistakes is people grill and say they are barbeque’ing. Grilling is cooking over direct high heat (most of the time) to achieve your results. Typically hamburgers, steaks, chicken, fish fall into the category. Whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill you build a fire and cook whatever you are grilling directly above it. Below is the famous Weber kettle with a Craycort cast iron grate. It’s a tried and true grilling machine. Weber has been making kettle grills since mid 50’s.
You barbeque on a pit. When you barbeque you are cooking bigger, tougher cuts of meat over indirect heat at low temperatures for long periods of time. It takes a long time to break down the collagen in a brisket or pork shoulder to make the meat tender. You will need an offset smoker to achieve this. Offset because the fire is created in a firebox away from the cooking surface. Below is a 14 lbs. brisket I smoked for about 15 hours in my offset smoker. The result is an incredibly tough piece of meat like a brisket is rendered tender and will melt in your mouth!
Here are a few tips to help you this coming weekend!
1) Get a plan! Write down an attack plan. Will it be chicken, steaks, hamburgers or all of the the above? Different items will cook faster or slower or you will need different temps. I always write down my items and what my cooking times will be .
2) Use real wood! I know this seems kinda silly but I know people that buy a bag of charcoal or just turn on the gas and never think twice about using real wood. You can always mix in a stick of hickory, oak or whatever your favorite smoking wood is. It will totally change your flavor profile from just charcoal. If you have a gas grill get a wood chip box and add some real wood. It will make a huge difference in you results.
3) Use a quality thermometer. Don’t miss on cooking temperatures. Buy a Thermapen or another high speed quality thermometer so you won’t miss temperatures. It’s tough and only very experienced grillers can judge steaks, hamburgers, chicken, etc. without the aid of thermometer.
4) Use premium ingredients. Get to a gourmet spice shop and spend some money on some fresh quarter inch cracked black pepper to rub on your steaks or some smoked sea salt. Lawry’s seasoned salt is good if your in a pinch but you can do much better. Premium spices will make a huge difference!