BBQ & Grilling Tips
When you BBQ or grill, do you enjoy the smell of smoke and burning
fat more than what you are going to eat? With our simple
instruction and some tolerance you could become the grill
master in your neighborhood. Soon you will enjoy the smell
of great BBQ that tastes great. Even though most people
will accept black, dry and crisp as normal for their grilled
goodies it is not the best it can be. BBQ is low and slow cooking and grilling is cooking over an open flame. If you did not know this, you just learned something new. Below are more tips and trick to cooking up great food with your grill be it grilled or barbecued.
Follow a couple simple rules, keep your food preparation
safe and have a great meal right from your yard.
Get what you give!
You get what you give so give it your best shot. Use fresh nice looking meat. If you can try not to use meat that has
been frozen. If you have to use meat that is previously
frozen make sure it is thawed completely. Partially thawed
meat will cook unevenly and not be as perfect as it could
be. Nobody wants this with the cost of meat these days. Use good quality seasoning and oil. Do not use vegetable oil or margarine. We would go on a long rant about vegetable oil but this is not the place but trust us, use a nice olive oil or even a nut oil, anything that actually has oil to give. Butter is really nice to use and has a sweet flavor to it. We use butter when oil is required for our barbecued or grilled meats. When oiling the grill we will use an olive oil or when we have it, a piece of pork fat.
Season and marinate meat prior to cooking
Marinate and or season meat with a dry rub, BBQ seasoning or marinate before cooking. Marinating
and or seasoning meat and vegetables will add flavor and will aid in retaining moisture. If you let the seasonings set for a while the flavor will be more intense. Below is a recipe for one of our favorite marinades
that is simple and tasty. Excellent on pork but just as tasty on chicken.
If you are using salt and pepper, or any salt based seasoning, make sure you do this at least 45 minutes before you cook the meat. This allows the salt time to extract moisture and then be reabsorbed back into the meat. If you salt meat and toss it on the grill you could cook off the moisture the salt is pulling from the meat.
Cuban Pork Marinade Recipe
Mix together in a bowl and marinade
pork for at least
an hour before grilling. Excellent on chicken as well.
Allow the coals to get hot and use a thermometer.
Once your coals are lit you need to allow them to become
hot and even more importantly, create a nice even heat.
It will take about 30 minutes for the coals to reach their
prime. Move them around if they are not evenly hot if you need to. The use of a grill thermometer is suggested. Some
grills have them built in and this is a good thing as well. When grilling make sure the grill grate is freshly oiled and is hot before placing anything on them. This will sear the items you are cooking and they will not stick to the grate.
NOT waiting will create hot spots and cool spots in your
grill and the desired effect will be lost. So be patient
and create a nice hot, even bed of coals. It would be a
shame to spend your hard earned money on meat and vegetables
and ruin it because you did not prepare your grill properly. Be calm and cook on.
TIP: If you have a fairly large cooking surface you can place uncooked biscuits on the grates at equal intervals and wait 15 minutes or so to see where the hot and cool spots are inside your grill.
Be patient. Your Mom told you this and she is right.
If you saw smoke, fire, and a guy with a long fork you
would think your day had turned for the worst and it would
have. This is an image of how NOT to grill. Fire that is
high will scorch and ruin your grilled food and will be
cooked on the outside before it is done on the inside. Barbecued
food should be properly cooked and just as nice on the inside
as it is on the outside. Unless you are searing a steak
you need to cook at a lower temperature for a longer time.
Hotter temperatures for less time makes for unattractive
and poorly cooked food. Using lower temperatures and longer times for most grill cooking allows the meat to cook
evenly and be tender. Always consult a time and temperature chart pertaining to the cut of meat you are cooking. Click here for our meat cut and temperature chart to use as a guideline.
Spend a minute and look up some cooking times and know
the internal temperatures
required for the amount of doneness you like and so you
are eating safe food. The FDA as well as many cooking sites and cookbooks supply a guideline for cooking
temperature so you can quickly see what the internal temperature
Remember the cut of meat and if it is required to be fully cooked will effect the cooking time.
A more specific chart can be found at What's Cooking America's
Cut the fat? WHAT!
Trimming the fat will reduce the grill from flaring up
and we would suggest trimming excessive fat from meat. We
would also suggest buying meat that is nicely marbled as
fat adds flavor to the meat.
No prodding, pressing or generally taunting meat.
Have you ever noticed an Uncle or whoever was grilling
pressing the burgers on the grill? This became common practice
for most people. NEVER DO THIS. It causes flare ups in the grill and pushes the flavor right out of your food.
Let your food cook and do not press it, poke it or scoot
it around. Pressing it will squeeze out the succulent juices
that make it wonderful. Poking it will basically do the
same thing and scooting it around just bothers us. Once
you become comfortable grilling these tips will make you
the master in the eyes of individuals who do not know any better.
Helpful Hamburger Hint: When hamburger cooks they become
thicker in the center. Why? Who knows. This may make you want to press it flat
and squeeze all the wonderfulness out of it. NO NO NO! To
fix this and guide you down the road to perfect burgers,
form your hamburgers so they are a bit thinner towards the center.
When they cook they will become nice and flat. You will
be the master. You are welcome.
Also ALWAYS allow meats to rest before cutting or biting
into it. Resting allows meat to redistribute the liquids
you have worked so hard to retain. 5 - 8 minutes will do
the trick for most thinner cuts of meat.
Tin foil NOT for grilling, tin foil is for leftovers
Grills are made to place food on and we have never seen
a restaurant or grill master use tin foil on the grill. Some people use it wrap ribs at a certain point in the rib cooking process. But low and slow ribs ribs have been made long before the invention of tin foil and can be prepared without it if you pay attention to the temperature. If you are using
tin foil to reduce clean up you are doing it by sacrificing
your food. Not a fair trade. Tin foil is for leftovers.
Tin foil will reduce the airflow. If it sticks to the food,
and if you bite it, you will not soon forget it.
Natural fire for the BBQ
Using lighter fluid or as we have seen, gasoline, is a
bad idea. With a little preparation you can build a nice
even fire in your grill using paper and a Chimney Style
Charcoal Starter. Look up Chimney Charcoal Starter in a search engine, they are not uncommon. Charcoal lighter fluid
will change the flavor you will get from the foods cooked
on your grill.
Also we believe the glue used in briquets also makes food taste strange especially the self lighting variety. Use only natural lump charcoal if you can.
To create your own Chimney Style Charcoal Starter you can
use a coffee can with holes poked in it and a pair of pliers.
Mops and Sauces - The right way.
If you use sauces or mops, apply them near the end of the
cooking time. The last 10 minutes or so as the sugars in
the sauces and mops may burn and turn black in color and
acquire a bitter taste.
CLOSE THE DOOR!
Remember standing in front of the refrigerator or at the
front door and hearing your Mom yell "Close the door!"
Once again, Mom is correct and this absolutely applies to
your grill. Keeping the lid down will reduce flair ups and
keep the temperature constant. Every time you check to make
sure it is still there you can be lowing the temperature
by 25 degrees or more.
Safety tips for your BBQ food.
Barbecued food is the original cooked food but there are
a couple of considerations to make when preparing and handling
your food to assure that you are safe from nasty bacteria.
Use a new clean platter to take the grilled food off the
grill. Never use the same platter you brought the food out
on. This prevents bacteria from surviving the cooking process
by waiting on the platter. At the very least wash the platter after having raw meat on it before using it again. You can never be to safe.
If you want perfect chicken you can boil it first. This
makes poultry succulent and ready for the grill with no
fear of under cooking it because it is already cooked. We suggest this technique if serving a lot of people.
Make sure you light your grill 30 minutes in advance to
make sure the coals are hot and even. They should have an
even gray layer of ash and be glowing orange.
If the food you are going to cook is frozen, make sure it
is thoroughly defrosted before cooking or grilling. Defrost
in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. This also
applies to marinating meat. Keep it cool right up to the
time when you want to cook it. Again a little preparation
will save you a lot of grief.
Use a new batch of marinade to baste your BBQ food
with. DO NOT use the marinade that you initially used to
marinate the raw meat.
Keep hot food hot as new contamination could begin to manifest
in as little as 20 minutes.
Keep your BBQ grill clean. This is most easily done
just after you are done cooking and the grill is still hot.
Use a wire brush and scrub off the grease and bits of food
that have stuck to it while cooking.
BBQ Food in the United States
When defining BBQ and who does what, the line are blurry,
especially in the south.
Eastern North Carolina Style
Eastern North Carolina BBQ involves pork shoulder or a whole
pig cooked and flavored with hickory smoke. When done it
is chopped or pulled into strands and blended with a vinegar
based BBQ sauce. The finished pork is usually referred
to as "Pulled
Pork" and is served on a bun with cole slaw and
maybe a pickle.
Western North Carolina Style
Western North Carolina BBQ is almost specifically pork
"butt". It is seasoned with a tomato based BBQ sauce. If visiting this region
of the U.S. you will notice a bit of a rivalry between these
two schools of thought on BBQ and have found that the lines
are blurry. Some will tell you the difference in these two
schools is location and the location is North Carolina and
South Carolina but we find that the two different types
of BBQ are equally as delicious. We have soaked pulled pork
in vinegar based BBQ sauce and then topped it with tomato
Texas BBQ is generally beef brisket and smoked with
mesquite or oak. This type of BBQ has a German influence
from the area (as well as the music believe it not) where
they would cook tough meat portions until they became tender
Kansas City (Missouri) Style
Kansas City style BBQ is all about great sauce generally
served on ribs or brisket that have been rubbed with a dry
rub. You will find many Kansan City style dry rubs with
the flavor that Kansas City calls their own.
Memphis, Tennessee Style
Memphis style BBQ has no prejudice and could be ribs
or pulled pork and the ribs could be served wet or dry or
both. Wet would be ribs heavily sauced and dry is with a
dry rub. Using both a sauce and a dry
rub is excellent as well. The BBQ sauces of Memphis
are sweet and tangy and most excellent on fries as well.
Grilling is grilling, BBQ is BBQ. One is hot and fast, one is low and slow.
Below is our basic outline for BBQ. BBQ is cooking low and slow to allow the tougher cuts of meat to become tender and wonderful. It has a long history and is done in a variety ways, as long as the temperature is 'low and slow'. The below outline is for Pork Butt (pork Shoulder) but can be used as a rule of thumb for any large cuts.
• 6-8 lb. bone-in pork butt, shoulder or Boston butt. They are all t he same cut of meat. NOTE: Buy a dual digital thermometer, the Maverick ET-73 is excellent and they have newer models you can purchase. This will take all the guess work out of making perfect BBQ.
• Buy nice lump charcoal, we like mesquite but they will all work nicely.
• Buy hickory chunk or chips soaked in water or bourbon. Use cheap bourbon if you use bourbon as using good bourbon makes us sad. You will only need a couple hand full's of chips or 6 or 7 chunks of hickory to get the flavor nice and smoky.
• Place a pan full of water for inside the cooker. This will add moisture to the heat as it cooks and make a nice pink layer under the crust. The pink layer is commonly known as a smoke ring.
Wash and dry the pork butt and slather with mustard, any kind you like, and then season it with whatever you like. Could be salt and pepper or any blend you like. We suggest Knox's Chipotle BBQ dry rub seasoning. Start a fire in the side smoker box and soak some hickory chips.
Set up your thermometer on the grill grate where you are cooking the butt and get the pan of water in there. I place it directly under the meat. When you are in the 230 - 250 range you are good to go.
Place the seasoned butt on the grate with a thermometer in a thick part of it, off the bone and monitor the heat. Add a hand full of chips in the beginning and do this a couple more times through out. It does not take much smoke to get a rich flavor. You want to keep the temp in the cooker down under 250 to about 225 range. It should take 10 to 15 hours to cook it to an internal temp of about 200-225. Note: it is actually done at 145 but 200+ internal temperature will make it melt.
THE IMPORTANT PART: Once it is done carefully take it out and wrap it in foil and place it in a cooler filled with balled up newspaper. Allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes or more. Remove and pull it apart. Be careful it will still be hot.
We like to use a vinegar based sauce on the pulled pork and a tomato based sauce on the actual pulled pork sandwich. Serve on a large bun topped with cole slaw and sweet pickles.