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BBQ and grilling tips - Barbecue and barbecue are the same thing
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Grilling and BBQ Tips
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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 should be.

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 (http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/MeatTemperatureChart.htm) web site.

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.

dry rub seasoning fro chicken, beef and pork

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 based sauce.

Texas Style
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 and edible.

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.

Enjoy!

 

 
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