Are you a barbecue noob, about to step into the world of grills, tongs, and smoke? Do you want to be the cool dude who’s flipping delicious meat pieces and throwing barbecue parties in the summer?
Then you’ve come to the right place! The art of barbecuing takes a lot of patience and practice. So beginning the journey can be a little overwhelming.
But don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide that will explain all the basics, so you too can barbecue your dream meal!
Barbecuing is Not the Same as Grilling
People often assume barbecuing and grilling are the same thing. But they’re actually two different processes.
Grilling involves cooking at high temperatures for short amounts of time. It involves direct heat that’s ideal for the quick cooking that burgers and hot dogs require.
Barbecuing is a slower process that requires a lot of attention. The heat should be indirect and kept consistently low. This makes it perfect for cooking larger pieces of meat and fish.
The low temperature and slow cooking let the tougher pieces become tender on the inside before cooking on the outside.
Thus, if we were to grill something like a pork shoulder instead of barbecuing it, it would just burn and taste really chewy.
Invest in Decent Equipment
Be it indoors or outdoors, the first thing you need for a finger-licking barbecue is an efficient grill. Luckily, there are several types to choose from, starting from portable to electric options. In fact, a cooker or smoker will do the job as well.
All of these options cater to your needs and cooking technique. However, it’s always best to choose one that’s convenient and easy for you to handle. Also, don’t forget that you’ll need to invest in some good quality tools as well.
Of course, you’ll need a durable pair of tongs or a spatula for placing your vegetable and meat pieces on the grill. Other than that, you should get some mitts, aluminium pans, and cleaning materials too.
Charcoal vs. Gas
Gas grills come with small portable tanks of gas. For a charcoal grill, the heat comes from pellets that need to be lit up.
So, which method is better for barbecuing? It honestly depends on what you prefer!
Gas grills are the easiest to clean and use. And although they’re the most expensive, they also heat up the fastest. Gas grills also let you control the intensity of the fire and the temperature.
Charcoal grills, on the other hand, are slower. They need about 20 minutes to heat up before you can start cooking. This grill is also more difficult to clean and its temperature needs close monitoring.
However, since it heats to very high temperatures, the charcoal grill is well known for adding that distinct natural, smoky flavor that we all love.
Set Up Your Grill Station
When setting up the grill, keep your oven heated to a temperature of 200 to 300 F.
If you have a gas grill with two burners, one side should be off. If you have three burners, just keep the middle one off while the other two are on.
As for charcoal grills, you’ll need to place your coal on one or both sides of the grill. Whichever grill you use, always make sure to keep your food on the cool parts.
You should also place some water in an aluminium pan beneath the cool part of the grill grate. This will make sure your meat retains moisture while it’s cooking. It also keeps the temperature low.
Also, try to keep the grill lid closed when cooking. This way the heat is trapped and cooks the meat better.
Following all these minor instructions will actually get you the perfect consistent low heat to make the perfect barbecue.
Add Some Flavor
What’s the point of stressing out over the cooking if you haven’t got the flavor down? Hence, take your time to pick and prepare, because this is what will make your taste buds happy.
Always marinate the meat beforehand. It really does make a difference. Mix a good rub that has all the spices and herbs you want. Then, 24 hours before the barbecue, coat all the meat pieces with it.
You’ll need to coat the meat with the rub once more before you start cooking. And don’t forget to add the sauce later. The sauce is a far-reaching game changer, so be careful what you choose.
An ideal barbecue sauce would be a bit sweet, salty and acidic. But it really depends on what you prefer. Just make sure it meshes well with the flavors of your rub and barbecue.
Cleaning Your BBQ Equipment
Cleaning really isn’t that much of a hassle. The more systematic you are, the easier it gets!
For charcoal grills, you’ll definitely have to get rid of the old ashes every time you use it.
Cleaning a warm grill is much easier than a cool one. Consequently, heat it up before you start. Usually, a brass wire brush is used to get rid of the grime.
You could also cut up a lemon and rub it on the surface to truly get all the gunk off. Then, put some oil on a paper towel and lightly wipe it over the surface. Do this when your grill is fully clean and cooled off.
The oil prevents your food from sticking to the grill, making it easier for the next cleanup. Don’t forget about the tongs and pans either. Make sure to give them a good wash before your next cooking session.
The Dos and Don’ts of BBQ Cooking
Barbecuing is all about technique. Start off with the basics like pieces of meat. Then, when you’re confident enough, you can move on to more complex cooking.
Never flip the meat or vegetable with a fork: use a spatula or tongs. Also, keep the flips to a minimum. One flip should be enough. This helps prevent the loss of all those delicious juices.
Also, don’t press down on the patties or meat with a spatula when they’re cooking. This adds no value and actually gets rid of the juices. So, learn to step away and let the grill do its thing.
Try adding herbs directly to the charcoal while cooking. If you’re using a gas grill, soak the herbs in the pan of water you place beneath the grill grate.
This really adds a wonderful flavor and aroma that will leave you wanting more.
Barbecuing is fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t follow the rules.
Don’t keep combustible things near your grill like decorations. Also, clean your grill frequently. If grease and fat build up, there’s more likely to be a flare up.
Always check for gas leaks. And never turn on the gas with the grill lid closed. This leads to gas up build up and potential explosions.
If you’re not completely sure about the gas, here’s a tip. Make a solution of equal parts liquid dish soap and water. Then, rub it onto the hoses and connections. If you turn on the gas and see bubbles, there’s undoubtedly a hole or some sort of leak.
Finally, always make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy. Keep a spray bottle of water around as well. This will help to calm down those minor flare-ups.
Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to barbecue.
Don’t expect perfection on the first try. However, if you follow our tips properly, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
Remember, confidence is key! Being afraid of the fire won’t do. Take the necessary precautions and relax.
Other than getting a taste of heavenly deliciousness, the fun of barbecuing is what makes the whole process so special.
So get your grill going and start cooking!
Angie Grey, an expert author from Faveable.com brings you all you need to know about fashion and grooming. She loves the outdoors and travels the world like a nomad.