Nothing beats firing up the BBQ and cooking outside! There is something primal about cooking over an open flame that cannot be replaced by the convenience of a modern kitchen oven. Besides, the smoky flavor added to your food really adds something special for your taste buds. Close your eyes and picture the glow of the coals. Now imagine the sizzle when you lay that steak down on the grill. I’ll bet your mouth is watering, just thinking about it!
For grilling, you’ll need a medium hot fire. You can judge this from experience once you have a few grilling sessions under your belt. At first it will be helpful to hold your hand slightly above the grill where you are going to put the meat and see how long you can tolerate the heat. About two or three seconds is good for grilling steaks and burgers. For cooking sausage on the grill, about three to four seconds is good, but you can also move it away from the direct heat, close the lid, and smoke using indirect heat it to protect the tender sausage casings from splitting. Personally, I prefer smoking and will put the sausage on some foil away from the heat and let the sausage cook slowly with some onions and peppers. Spray on a little olive oil to keep things from drying out or use a drip pan with some liquid for moist heat.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
To get started you’ll need a good grill. I won’t get into the debate whether gas or charcoal is the best. Both have their pros and cons and I’d rather cook than argue! The more surface area for cooking, the more versatile your grill will be for using indirect heat, and obviously you’ll be able to cook more at one time. Don’t worry if you only have room for a smaller grill. Even a small grill will cook awesome BBQ. Once you get to know your grill, it’s characteristics will emerge and you’ll cook like a pro!
Choosing the Right Charcoal
Buy top quality charcoal! The cheap stuff burns too quick and you’ll end up using more and spending more in the long run. You don’t need gourmet charcoal, a quality charcoal like Kingsford works just fine. To get the best smoky flavor, add some wood chunks to the fire when using charcoal, or add water-soaked wood chips in a wood chip box with a gas grill. The wood chip box is essential to prevent the gas grill burners from getting clogged with ashes. There are many different kinds of wood used for smoking: pecan, mesquite, oak, hickory and so on… Experiment with different kinds of wood until you settle on your favorite.
The Secret to Great BBQ
So what’s the secret to great BBQ? The secret is… heat control! The right heat depends whether you are grilling or smoking and what kind of meat you are cooking. For smoking meat, the ideal temperature is about 200 to 225 degrees cooked for a few hours. The cooking time will vary according to the size and shape of the cut of meat, but you will achieve BBQ greatness when you cook slow and easy. Real BBQ cooked meat has a dark reddish-brown exterior, a reddish-pink layer just under the surface, and a moist, but well done interior, all the way to the bone. When properly cooked, the meat will be tender and moist with a smoky flavor.
So there you go! The secret to BBQ is heat control. Cook slowly when smoking meat on the BBQ and use quality charcoal and your favorite wood smoke for extra flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment and be sure to try your favorite vegetables cooked outside to go along with the main dish. Pretty soon, you’ll be an expert BBQ cook!