Along with the warm scented breezes of a summer day, no one can resist the temptations of eating barbeque food. Whether you are a seasoned meat eater, a vegetarian, or just love the taste of the smoky flavors, grilling food over a slow flame is irresistible. And the great thing about barbequed food is that it tastes all the better when you eat it outside!
Barbequing is great for all types of meats—chicken, beef, lamb, pork or seafood and you can even use your barbeque to cook vegetables and desserts. Barbequing can be done in summer to relieve the heat of cooking indoors, or can be done in winter to bring the flavors of summer to you in the coldest months. It can even be done indoors on a stove-top or electric grill. Barbequing is also considered to be a very healthful way of cooking.
But, how did barbeque get its start anyways? Of course, the first people to ‘barbeque’ there food were the hunter-gathers from prehistoric times. Barbequing (or cooking food over a fire) was a means of self-preservation and satisfied their basic need for food.
There are many different spellings of barbeque around the world—barbeque, BBQ, barb-a-que Bar-B-Que, (among others spellings). The origin of the word barbeque however (no matter how you spell it) is often disputed. The most widely accepted story suggests that “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian term “barbacoa,” which refers to a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals. If you look in The Oxford English Dictionary, the word back is tracked back to Haiti. Others claim that “barbeque” actually comes from a French expression “barbe a queue”, which means “from head to tail” while another theory proposes that “barbecue” comes from a 19th century advertisement for a combination whiskey bar, beer hall, pool establishment and roast pig vendor which was known as the BAR-BEER-CUE-PIG.
The traditional Southern barbeque grew out of the celebration of slaughtering time where the entire community would be invited to share in the event. Barbequing the tough stringy meat (typically pork) prevalent in the old South helped to tenderize the meat. In fact, in the 19th century, barbecue was a highlight at private parties, church picnics and political rallies. These popular gatherings offered an easy way for the classes to intermix because everyone could eat barbeque; it was not a class- specific food. Church barbecues became popular where roast pig supplemented the other dishes prepared by the ladies of the congregation. This was the evolution of the traditional church picnic in many Southern communities. Moving forward into the 20th century, barbecue pits and roadside stands where travelers could buy a cheap barbeque meal were established.
Although the barbeque in the South reflects its varied history and has become an emblem for Southern cooking, for the past seventy-five years, barbecue joints around the world have flourished. Barbeque offers a juicy, luscious taste that few can resist. With delicious sauces and that great smoky flavor barbeque is a favorite the world over.
In today’s world, barbeque is not just simply roasting meat over hot coals. Barbequing has become an art. The true barbeque chef would consider that merely grilling the food. Barbeque should be done in particular way with the meat slowly cooking over low heat. That is what really creates the succulence and enhances the smokiness. Barbeque sauce can be considered to create a different taste in some instances, it is not always necessary to enhance the flavor of the meat.
Different methods of cooking on the barbeque consist of using wood, charcoal or propane. The type of wood being burned results in different flavors infusing the meat being cooked. Typical and popular wood types used on barbeques include mesquite, hickory, maple, pecan, apple and oak. Coniferous woods should never be used for barbequing because they contain tar and resins which can create undesirable flavors and unwanted chemicals can permeate into the food.
Charcoal barbequing usually consists of setting fire to a commercially bought bag of charcoal briquettes, or alternatively lump charcoal. Charcoal barbequing is often thought to be preferable the gas or propane method because it creates a more authentic smoky flavor.
In recent years, gas or propane barbequing has become the more popular method for barbeque cooking. Using a gas or propane barbeque is believed to be easier to light, the heat easier to control and the outcome more predictable than with the wood or charcoal methods. In short, it is more convenient for today’s average backyard barbequer. The smoky wood flavor can be added to food cooked on gas barbeques with the use of a ‘smoker box’ or by a simple perforated foil pouch in which soaked wood chips grill alongside the meat on the barbeque. Sometimes the sauce can provide the smoky flavor.
You can also get a taste of barbeque flavor by using the relatively new method of the indoor grill. The invention of grills like the George Foreman Grill (although there are other brands available) makes obtaining that real barbeque meat flavor easy for indoor cooks. The meat is still seared on both sides and the juice and barbeque flavor is retained with a high-heat, quick cooking method.
Whichever method you use to barbeque or however you spell it, barbeque has always been one of the great flavorful ways of cooking food. Meat cooked on a barbeque always seems more succulent, vegetables have more taste and potatoes are fluffier. Everything just seems to taste better when you barbeque it. So sit back in your backyard haven, light up your barbeque, have a cool drink standing by and go to it. The all you have to do is enjoy the results!
The act of Barbequing or Grilling has been around as long as humans. Cavemen quickly realized that food tasted good after it was cooked over an open fire. Barbequing has become a standard American tradition for families. The reasons as clear as to why, not only does the food that comes from barbequing have a taste that is unmatched by other cooking methods, but it also gives a family a reason to gather outdoors. Today, over 90% of families in the United States hold or attend barbeque at least once a year. About 70% of all of the barbeques are held on a gas grill.
Gas grills work by a spark igniting the gas within the grill. Gas grills typically have a knob or button in which you push, which in turn activates a small hammer. The hammer hits the top of an ignition crystal. Then the burner mixes the gas with oxygen and spreads it all over the cooking surface. This makes the gas grill one of the easiest, and fastest grills to use.
Gas grills come in all shapes and sizes, which makes then ideal for just about any type of barbequing party. Smaller gas grills give you the portability needed to plan barbeque parties away from home. Larger gas grills are handy and efficient for cooking larger amounts of food quickly, and without the mess of other types of grills.
So after deciding that you indeed are in the market for a barbeque grill, there are several factors that you must consider when you purchase your first gas grill.
Gas grills literally come in all shapes and sizes. The type of grill you get should really depend on what you plan on using the grill for. If you foresee camping trips, barbeques at the beach, or tailgate parties, you may want to consider getting a smaller gas grill. Smaller gas grills can range from anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds. Portable gas containers are also available for these types of grills.
If your plans are move focused on home cooking, then larger grills should suit you fine.
Gas grills, unlike some of the other grills types, have the ability to come with many different types of cooking surfaces. These different cooking surfaces include a BBQ surface, a flat grill, and a ribbed grill. Some grills even offer these types of surfaces as none stick, which allow you to cook a whole array of foods that you would not be able to cook on a grill otherwise. You will be able to cook your whole meal, including side dishes if you plan correctly.
Some gas grills even contain a Wok type surface for cooking pasta and rise dishes, or a full rotisserie set that allows you to cook rotisserie chicken.
Similar to weight, you should consider the amount of cooking surface area you will need, depending on the situations you will be in. If you will only be cooking for yourself or you and one other, you will want a gas grill with a smaller surface area, as it will be easier to clean. If you plan on holding parties or cooking for a larger family, then you will want to consider a gas grill with a larger surface area.
This surface area may also include different types of cooking surfaces. Look for the type that suits you best, or is interchangeable.
Gas grills are typically on the higher end of the cost scale, as they require more mechanical parts then other grills. You can expect to spend anywhere from $50 for a smaller grill up to $400+ for a large stationary grill.
You also have to remember that you must also purchase the gas for your grill. Propane can be purchased at your local grocery store, superstore, or from a dealer. Bottoms come in all sizes, including miniature versions for portable gas grills.
Natural Gas Grills
Summertime would not be complete without at least one outdoor barbeque. Once upon a time, there was a very limited array of foods that you could cook on your grill Today, modern conveniences allow you to cook pretty much any type of food on your grill.
The easiest grill to use is by far the natural gas grill. Natural gas grills are designed to hook directly into your home’s natural gas line, eliminating the need to provide the fuel source. This cuts out all trips to the grocery store for more charcoal or propane.
Another advantage when using a natural gas grills is the ability to control the temperature in which you are cooking. Natural gas grills have burner controls which allow you to produce different temperatures for the different cooking areas on your grill. This allows you to cook your meat on one side while keeping your side dished warm on the other.
Natural gas grills have the ability to come with many different types of cooking surfaces. These different cooking surfaces include a BBQ surface, a flat grill, and a ribbed grill. Some grills even offer these types of surfaces as none stick, which allow you to cook a whole array of foods that you would not be able to cook on a grill otherwise. Some gas grills even contain a Wok type surface for cooking pasta and rise dishes, or a full rotisserie set that allows you to cook rotisserie chicken.
Natural gas grills are by far the easiest type of grill to clean. With other grills such as charcoal and smokers, you have to remove the wood and charcoal briquettes each time. Natural grills only have to be wiped down. Some natural gas grills even have a none stick feature.
Natural gas grills are not portable as you will need to be able to hook them up to your natural gas line, so weight should not be that big of an issue when you go to purchase your first grill. Instead, you should look at the surface area available. Will you be able to cook for just yourself and one other? How about a family of 5?
Natural Gas Grill Brands
Broilmaster- One of the most popular brands of natural gas grills is the Broilmasters. This company has been around for a long time and prides itself on creating great grills, even in its companies early years. If you are looking for a reliable name, Broilmaster would be the way to go. One of the most popular Broilmaster grills is the Super Premium Series, which puts out 40,000 BTU’s of cooking power, and has a cooking surface area of over 695 square inches.
Brinkman- These simple natural gas grills put out a lot of power, and can be purchased for much less then it’s competition. The Brinkmans, like the Broilmasters, are built of solid construction and meant to last a long time. Typical power output is around 45,000 BTU’s. Smaller units can range from 12,000 to 15,00 BTU’s.
Lynx- Lynx natural gas grills were specially designed for cooking higher end meats such as steaks and ribs. This grill have a patent design that is suppose to lock in flavor and juices. The Lynx run on the higher end of the price range, anywhere from $500 to $3000. The typical cooking power is about 50,000 BTU and has a cooking surface area of 840 square inches.
Using a Charcoal Grill
So you have decided that you want to start barbequing. What more, you have done your research and decided that a charcoal grill is the right type of grill for you. So now you have to pick out the charcoal grill that suits you best.
One of the first things to consider when purchasing your first charcoal grill is what you will be using it for. If you plan on traveling and using your charcoal grill, you will want something small enough to travel with you. Smaller charcoal grills are ideal for cookouts, camping, and tail gate parties, but would not be useful if you were cooking for a larger amount of people. Smaller grills that are easy to transport usually cost under 20 dollars, so you may want to consider purchasing a separate grill for smaller occasions.
Safety should also be a major concern when you are picking out your first charcoal grill. Since you grill will contain hot coals, the number one concern should be whether or not your grill is sturdy. Look for a charcoal grill with a sturdy structure and sturdy legs. If you grill does now have sturdy legs, it’s chances of falling over is much greater. When a charcoal grill falls over, it send hot coals flying. Many charcoal grills also have built in safety features such as a water reservoir and smothering valves. Undoubtedly, when you are cooking with fire, accidents can happen. In the case that your grill gets out of control or becomes to hot, these safety features will prevent potentially dangerous fires.
One of the most noticeable features when using charcoal is the flavor of the food you cook. To cook with a charcoal grill, you must buy charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid. Charcoal is a one use item, and will need to be discarded after each use. Charcoal can be picked up at your local superstore, gas station, or grocery store, and is typically pretty inexpensive. Charcoal must be light and allowed to burn until the charcoal is no longer on fire, but is red embers. The best way to get the pile to burn is by stacking it in a pyramid.
While no one likes to clean their grill, it is necessary to maintain your grill if you want it to last it’s intended lifetime. One problem you will face is the fact that Charcoal grills stay hot for a long period of time. You can remedy this situation 2 ways. First you can leave your grill open, allowing it to burn out. This method typically burns a lot of the grease off, but can potentially cause problems if you are not near your barbeque grill. You do not want to start a fire. Another way is to completely close off your grill and deny the fire oxygen. As soon as the grill is cold, or cold enough not to burn you, you will want to clean the grill. Leaving the grill dirty for any amount of time will cause the buildup to become hard, and may make it harder to remove. Use a wire brush to clean off the surface areas of your grill, and then spray cooking oil on the surface. Take the racks off and clean them with dishwashing soap. Dawn or other brands that have degreasers work best. Rinse the racks off, and replace them in the grill.
Tips for Better BBQ
If you are new to barbequing, chances are you have run into some problems when it comes to barbequing. Barbequing, like anything else, takes practice. Learning from your mistakes, as well as the mistakes of other will help you learn quickly.
Before you begin cooking, spray your cooking area with a nonstick cooking spray. This will prevent your meat from sticking when you are rotating or removing it. If your meat sticks and tears, you will lose a large amount of juice, and your meat may dry out.
Never place food on the grill until the temperature is correct. The fluctuation in temperatures will cause your food to dry out or burn. If you are using a charcoal grill, make sure that the coals are completely gray before putting the meat on the grill. This will allow the temperatures to level out, and the majority of the lighter fluid to burn off.
Cooking with charcoal lighter fluid can be good or bad. The lighter fluid will cause the food you are cooking to taste different then with other types of grills. Alternatively, attempting to not use lighter fluid may cause a lot of frustration due to the fact that charcoal can be difficult if not impossible to light without lighter fluid.
You must properly prepare the meat you are cooking, before cooking it. You should never attempt to cook meat on a grill when it is still frozen, or even partially frozen. Thaw your meat by sitting it out about 12 to 24 hours before you plan on cooking it, or by thawing it in a microwave. If you meat is thawed, but in the refrigerator, set it out long enough for the meat to get to room temperature.
Once meat is cooked, never put it back in on the same plate you had it on when it was raw. This could cause the spread of many unwanted illnesses. Do not handle cooked meat with the same utensils that you used when it was raw.
Never poke you meat while it is cooking. Poking holes in meat will cause the juice inside to leak out into the bottom of the grill. Not only will this make your food dry and unappealing in the end, but it also could potentially ruin your barbeque grill. At the very least, it will cause a buildup of unwanted grease and juices on your girll, which will make cleanup harder.
Once the meat is on the grill, try not to open the lid to many times. Each time you open the lid, you change the temperature in the grill. The constant change in temperature and the air flow will cause your meat to dry up quickly.
Remember that the higher the heat is not always the better. While it is ok to quickly cook food, turning the heat up will just cause the meat to dry up and potentially burn.
While using tin foil or aluminum foil will make cleaning easier, it will cause your food to have more of a fried taste then a grilled taste.
If you are planning on using your favorite barbeque sauce, be sure to wait as long as possible to put it on the meat. Putting barbeque sauce on to early will not only potentially cause your meat to dry out, but it could also burn.
How To Clean Your Grill
When purchasing your barbeque grill, think of it as an investment rather then just another item for your outdoor entertainment. You should expect this item to become a large part of your outdoor activities for many years to come. But like any other investments, proper maintenance and care is needed to ensure that your barbeque grill will work for you for many years to come.
Leaving you grill messy after each use will not only make it harder on you when you finally do clean the grill, but it will also drastically decrease the lifespan of your grill. If you grill sits dirty, you increase the risk of rust.
While some maintenance and cleaning is specific to the type of barbeque grill your own (gas, electric, charcoal or smoke barbecue grill), the majority of maintenance that should be carried on does not change from grill to grill.
Barbeque Maintenance Tips
When purchasing your barbeque grill, think of it as an investment rather then just another item for your outdoor entertainment. You should expect this item to become a large part of your outdoor activities for many years to come. But like any other investments, proper maintenance and care is needed to ensure that your barbeque grill will work for you for many years to come. While some maintenance and cleaning is specific to the type of barbeque grill your own (gas, electric, charcoal or smoke barbecue grill), the majority of maintenance that should be carried on does not change from grill to grill.
Step 1- Gathering the Necessary Items
You will need some common household items on hand when it comes time to clean your barbeque grill.
* Brass wire grill brush
* Steel wool pads, preferably that contains soap already.
* Mild dish soap
* Sponge or dishcloth
* Spray cooking oil
* Dry baking soda
* Aluminum foil
Step 2- Brushing Your Grill Off
The first thing that should always be done to your grill is a routine brushing. Using your brass wire grill brush (or other brush suitable to your type of grill) you should brush off all the surfaces. By routinely brushing your barbeque grill, you will prevent any type of buildup. If buildup from food is left to long, it can become increasingly difficult to remove, and can end up causing problems such as rust.
Step 3- Spray Cooking Oil
Once you are sure that your grill is free of all buildup and debris, and that your grill is completely cooled off, you will want to spray it down with a light layer of cooking oil. Spraying it down with cooking oil will prevent your barbeque grill from rusting. It is especially important to make sure you barbeque grill is completely cold, as spraying cooking oil on a hot surface may cause the oil to heat up and ignite, which could be potentially dangerous to you and your barbeque grill.
Step 4- Use Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil on Your Grill
Baking soda is a very nice cleaning and polishing agent. Once you have removed any extra debris and buildup, lightly scrubbing your barbeque grill with baking soda will give it that extra shine, similar to the day that you brought it home from the store. This can also be used on handles and knobs to remove any extra buildup tat cannot be taken off with a wire brush.
Aluminum foil can also be used to keep your grill looking nice. Gently rub the aluminum foil on your grill, and you will notice that it removes grim and buildup. This is a cheap and inexpensive way to clean your grill.
Step 5- Clean Your Racks
The racks in your grill are especially important as this is where the food touches when it is cooking. You will have to use the wire brush to remove as much buildup as possible. Once you remove as much as possible, start washing the racks with dish soap. If the racks are really dirty, you may also want to use the steel wool pads. Be sure to completely rinse off all soap and residue before cooking on these racks again.