Monday, November 19, 2012

BBQ Is More Than a Meal, It Is a Taste of the United States!

BBQ is unique in the United States in that so many different parts of the country have quite a different take on what makes the perfect BBQ. The differences range from what goes into the sauce, to the types of meat, and even in using rubs instead of sauces. Tell someone from Texas that Carolina-style is the best, and you are best served to run for cover!

The Difference between Rubs and Sauces

This is where the battle begins... rub or sauce. Some regions will tell you that using a sauce is amateur hour. You need a nice rub that will tenderize and flavor the meat all at the same time. Other areas will tell you the sauce is everything, but the difference is when they apply it and how they serve it. Of course, there are BBQ hedonists that will use a rub while cooking and then slather on the sauce before removing the meat from the grill.

A rub is a mixture of various spices that serve different purposes. Some of the spices are meant to specifically tenderize the meat, while others infuse flavors and heat. When a rub is done properly, there is no need for anything else. Sauce lovers beg to differ and believe a quality sauce will take good BBQ to the next level. The makeup of the sauce, however, will differ from region to region.

Types of BBQ Sauces

When it comes to sauce, four regions are generally noted that present distinct types and flavors of sauces: Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, and Carolina. Texas-style sauce will have a thinner consistency as the tomato is often thinned out with Worcestershire and vinegar. The sauce is often served on the side and used for dipping. For those of you that have a sweet tooth for BBQ, this would not be a wise choice.

Kansas City-style is one of the more famous and one of the two that most BBQ restaurants will use on their menu. The sauce itself is very thick and very sweet. Memphis is another popular style and found on plenty of menus. It is another thick and sweet sauce, but it not as bold as Kansas City-style Bar-B-Q. These sauces are commonly used throughout the cooking process. Finally, we have Carolina-style. This is very popular for pork and is loaded with flavorful spices to complement the meat.

Pork or Beef?

Again, this is often defined by the region. For instance, beef if King in Texas, so it is not too difficult to figure out their favorite type of meat. Brisket is always on the grill at local establishments, but it will not be hard to find a healthy order of beef ribs, either. Kansas City is like Switzerland in BBQ, as they enjoy both beef and pork.

Carolina and Memphis BBQ lovers lean a bit more towards pork than they do beef. Both styles of sauces are loaded with spices and are very sweet, so the pork is really the perfect type of meat for this style of cooking. Unlike beef, the pork flavor is actually enhanced with flavors such as molasses and brown sugar.

Make Some Scrumptious Barbecue Ribs Today

Barbecue is a popular style of cooking that involves preparing a particular type of sauce that is filled with flavor and is very tasty. Different types of meat can be cooked in this style and it involves considerable use of various cooking techniques.

Sauces are an important part of a barbecue preparation and it is important to spend as much time on preparing the sauce with right flavors as it is to cook the meat well. Most stores today are well stocked with different variety of sauces that can be used in barbecue. These are ready to use sauces which can be directly used by you in your preparations. Most of these sauces are spicy and have a very strong flavor that helps in making the preparation delicious. Bottled sauces available in the store are available in a variety of colors and each of these has a distinct taste and must be purchased according to the personal choice. Consistency of these sauces is very thick and often times they have a spicy flavor that is offset by a sweet taste. A peculiar flavor is an inherent part of these bottled condiments and preparing these sauces is sometimes a good alternative to buying prepared sauces from the store.

Barbecue sauces can vary in consistency from thin to thick and can be prepared using a variety of ingredients and each of has their own unique flavor. Vinegar is commonly used in the preparation of thin sauces and is known for its acidic properties, used most often with pork. Use of this kind of sauce requires use of adequate ingredients that will offset the sour taste of the acidic compound. Tomato is the most widely used ingredient for making barbecue sauce. This kind of sauce is usually thick and has an interesting sweet and sour flavor. Mustard is another common ingredient that is used in the preparation of sauces and is a yellow colored sauce that has a very strong flavor. Ribs can be barbecued with any of these sauces to make an excellent and extremely tasty dish.

Chicken can be barbecued to prepare it in a manner that gives it a distinct and unique flavor that makes for an amazing culinary experience. Apple juice can be combined with barbecue sauce and vinegar to get a chicken preparation that is scrumptious. Black pepper and garlic are commonly used in barbecue preparations and lend a strong flavor to the preparation. Barbecue preparation can be made on the stove to get the same flavor as that of barbecued meat.

A popular BBQ ribs recipe is hot honeyed spare ribs, an interesting recipe that involves seasoning the ribs thoroughly and slowly cooking the meat. This is a good variation from other forms of barbecue preparation. It involves cooking the meat with the sauce in order for the meat to absorb the flavor of the sauce and to become extremely juicy and delicious to bite in to. The sauce has to be poured all over the meat to ensure the meat is completely covered in the sauce and is slow cooked. A visible coating of the sauce on the ribs provides an appetizing appearance as well as a savory taste.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Is The Ideal Tailgate Food?

A successful tailgate party is not unlike a successful NFL team. To be a winner, you need more than just the right components. You need an organized game plan that is executed flawlessly and within a certain budget.

While tailgating may be just part of your total game day experience, it may be the most important - perhaps even more than the game itself. Since a majority of fans kick off the game day activities with tailgating, a tailgate party can often set the tone for the rest of the day. And since any tailgating event revolves around the food, its importance just can't be overstated.

Why all the hoopla about the food? While there's nothing wrong with simply tossing some burgers and dogs on the grill, you have to remember that this isn't a mild-mannered backyard barbecue we're talking about. NFL tailgating is loads of fun, but it can also be stressful & tiresome.

Alcohol. Brutal weather. Physical activity. Traffic jams. More alcohol And that's before kickoff. You need to fortify yourself for all that and more.

The ideal tailgate food should:

Be easy to prepare. While it doesn't have to be as simple as flipping a burger, you should be able to get by with basic cookout equipment. Lots of folks prefer to cook on site so you don't need the added stress of having to bring along your entire kitchen.

Slow alcohol absorption. For better or worse, it's a fact that people drink while tailgating, sometimes excessively. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed depends on how quickly the stomach empties its contents into the intestine. The higher the dietary fat content, the more time this emptying will require and the longer the process of absorption will take - in other words, you'll feel "less drunk". Foods containing fat, protein, and carbohydrates reportedly are excellent at slowing the absorption process.

Keep you warm. In certain areas the weather conditions during football season can be ridiculous. Foods that are abundant in niacin (animal liver, eggs, cheese) and spicy foods boost blood circulation thereby keeping your body warm.

Be somewhat familiar. This is not to discourage you from indulging in exotic/foreign cuisine, but as any parent of finicky children can tell you, "it doesn't matter what it is if they don't eat it."

Be affordable. If money was no object then we'd all be dining on Kobe steak and lobster tails.
And should not:

Be raw or uncooked.
Be served cold.
Require anything other than plastic utensils to eat.
Tailgating can be fun but stressful. And if the old adage, "you are what you eat" is true then the tailgate food that you eat or serve can make a difference.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Using a Barbecue Meat Thermometer Can Help Make Your Cooking Safer and Better

Sometimes it's very difficult to work out whether the meat on a barbecue grill is correctly cooked, especially if it's a large joint of meat or a large bird such as a chicken or turkey. Over-cooked meat will disappoint your barbecue guests, and undercooked meat can be a health risk.

Stories of illnesses after BBQ's are not unusual and sometimes undercooked BBQ food can require emergency medical treatment in hospital.

A barbecue meat thermometer is a good solution to these problems. It can be used to measure the internal temperature of large roasts, steaks and other cooked foods. It does this by means of a probe which is inserted into the meat during or after cooking. The degree to which the meat has been cooked is indicated by its internal temperature.

Should You Always Use a Meat Thermometer?

If you are barbecuing fresh steaks it's not uncommon to cook them rare. Many people prefer them that way. But when you are cooking processed meats (e.g. burgers or English sausages) and large meat joints, chickens, turkeys and ducks they must be cooked until their interior temperatures are high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli (two of the commonest causes of barbecue meal illnesses).

Many people that barbecue regularly will tell you that you don't need a barbecue meat thermometer if you mostly cook steaks, sausages, hot dogs and burgers, because there are simple manual techniques for testing whether they're cooked or not, and, in the case of steaks whether they're rare, medium or well done.

But if you're cooking large numbers steaks, burgers, hot dogs and sausages you'll find it much easier and safer to manage your cooking if you use a meat thermometer.

How to Use a Barbecue Grill Meat Thermometer

There are lots of different types of barbecue grill meat thermometer, but all of them comprise the same basic components - a long probe and a gauge. The probe is long enough to be inserted into the thickest part of the meat and the gauge attached to it (either directly or by a wire) can either be analogue or digital.

The ones with a gauge directly attached to the probe are called instant-read meat thermometers. They used to be the most common type used for BBQ's, but now electronic remote-read meat thermometers have become very popular. As the name suggests these consist of a probe and a remote digital gauge which is either attached to the probe by wires or linked wirelessly to the probe through a transmitter station.

Whatever type of meat thermometer you use the tip of the probe must be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, but it must not touch any bone in the meat because if it does it'll give an overestimate of the meat temperature. The sensing areas of the probe are always clearly indicated and can be from ½ inch to 2 inches long. Take the length of this sensing area into account when inserting the probe into the meat (i.e. make sure it's at the center of the meat).

If you are cooking chickens, turkeys and ducks, insert the probe into the thigh area near the breast. For red meats, roasts, steaks, burgers or chops insert the probe into the center of the thickest part (i.e. in the case of a steak push the probe into the side, and for an English sausage insert it from the end).

Many BBQ grill recipes provide information on cooking temperatures, but here's a guide on the temperatures to aim for with different types of meats:

Beef and Lamb: Rare 125 degrees F, Medium 160 degrees F, Well-done 170 - 195 degrees F

Pork: Medium 160 degrees F, Well-done 170 - 190 degrees F

Chicken: Well-done 170 - 190 degrees F (chicken should always be well-done)

Duck: Rare 125 degrees F Medium 160 degrees F, Well-done 170 degrees F

Steak: Rare 135 degrees F Medium 140 degrees F, Medium 155 degrees F, Well-done 165 degrees F

What to Look for When Choosing a Barbecue Meat Thermometer

The probe of the meat thermometer should always have a sharp point so that it can be easily pushed into the meat. As indicated above this probe may be attached directly to an analogue dial or to a digital display. In some thermometers the dial or display will show temperature only, but there are others which helpfully indicate the right temperatures for different sorts of meat.

Instant-Read Thermometers

Probe thermometers which provide a direct reading of the internal temperature of meat have been around since Victorian times. Instant-read meat thermometers are the descendants of these Victorian ancestors. They either have analogue or digital displays. Analogue types can often be inserted into the meat to be cooked and left there throughout the cooking period. Digital instant-read thermometers can only be used toward the end of the cooking time. They're not designed to remain in the food as it cooks.

If you decide to buy an instant-read thermometer, make sure it has a nice clear analogue or digital display and that it has a good response time. Some thermometers can take up to 30 seconds to give a reading. This is a long time if you want to carry out your temperature checks quickly.

Make sure you buy your barbecue meat thermometer from a good barbecue accessory shop that has a good range of thermometers to choose from, or if you shop on-line check the customer reviews before purchasing.

Remote-Read Thermometers

There are a lot of different types of remote-read thermometers to choose from. Their cost has tumbled in recent years and they're now very affordable. The probe of a remote-read thermometer is either directly connected by wire to a digital gauge or to a transmitter which sends a wireless signal to a gauge. The advantage of the wireless meat thermometer is that it can be carried around whilst the food is cooking on your barbecue, providing an instant check on temperature wherever you are inside or outside the home. These devices can be very advanced, with special programs to help you keep an eye on and manage your barbecue cooking.

Some people have difficulties getting the transmitter and receiver of their wireless thermometer to communicate, but this is usually more of an operator problem than a malfunction. If you buy one of these thermometers, make sure you read the manual in detail. A more annoying problem is breaking the wires connecting the probe and the gauge or transmitter by accidentally dropping the BBQ lid on them.

However, don't be put off by these potential difficulties. There are thousands of remote-read meat thermometers in use on all types of BBQ grill. They are a fantastic way of making barbecue cooking easier, especially when they used for recipes requiring long cooking times.

To sum up; if you haven't used a barbecue meat thermometer before we recommend that you start with something simple like the basic Weber meat thermometer, and then move onto one of the more advanced remote-reading meat thermometers once you have become proficient at using a meat thermometer in your barbecue cooking.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Secrets to Grilling

All of you who feel like they've mastered the art of grilling, there is no need to read any further. But for the rest of you, mere admirers of Gordon Ramsay and other celebrity chefs - I strongly advise you to keep reading because I am about to share with you the secrets to grilling the right way. And every amateur cook has to know at least the basics of grilling - otherwise all that meat will go to waste. Well, not to waste as long as you don't burn it but you can't really reveal the full potential of the protein if you lack the necessary skills and technique. Without further ado, let us dive right into the delicious world of cooking!

I will share with you plenty of useful tips but if I was limited to only giving you one advice then I'd tell you this: practice! The right way to grill is what really works best for you, and the only way to completely master grilling is to practice a lot. What is the key difference between a professional chef and a home cook? Chefs spend a good eight hours on their feet preparing one dish after another, while a home cook prepares meals one or two times per day. If mastering cooking techniques is one of your priorities then you have to be prepared to fail a few times and even possibly throw out some fine cuts of meat. Eventually, you will feel more comfortable experimenting and you'll reach a point when you know exactly what is going on in front of you. Practice really does make perfect!

By getting into the more technical details, I'd like to point out that there is a difference between grilling and barbecuing. People often think that they are both the same thing but the difference is huge. While traditional barbecue relies on a lot of smoke and low cooking temperature, grilling depends on a higher temperature in order to sear what you are cooking and preserving the juices.

Grilling is similar to broiling. Both methods use direct heat but the main difference is that broiling uses heat coming from above, while in grilling the heat comes from below. Both methods are suitable for cooking tender cuts of fish, chicken, and beef. When it comes to cutting meat, there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to do it but you have to be sure that you're not cooking a piece that is too thick. If you do, the exterior will be overcooked by the time the middle is done. One of the good sides of grilling is that it is a relatively healthy way of preparing meat since most of the fat will drip into the fire but you have to be careful and avoid flare-ups from fat - there is a chance to burn what you're cooking.

By now, you are probably asking yourself what is the best fuel source for grilling. A lot of people use charcoal and make the common mistake of not using enough at the start or adding more when it burns down. As a result, they get food that wasn't seared properly so it overcooks. And what do I mean by overcooking? As soon as you lose the juices, you're done - game over. If the meat is dry then you know you've failed. Using self-starting charcoal briquettes can give food an awful chemical taste - use them as a last resort. You can buy real lump charcoal without any additives - the difference is from here to the moon.

Cleaning your grill is also very important. You always have to start with perfectly clean grill. Can you imagine cooking a fine cut of salmon on a grill that hasn't been cleaned for two or three sessions? If cleaning is a nuisance to you, then you can order grill cleaning for your home. If you think you can live through one grill cleaning then remember to remove all food residue with a wire brush while the grate is still hot at the end of the cooking session. It is clever to always spray some vegetable oil on the grill in order to avoid sticking.

Now, let's start cooking. It is vital to have your grill on the right temperature before you start cooking. Many home cooks, especially those using gas grills, wait until right before they start cooking but this is a common mistake. The grill has to be preheated 15 to 30 minutes before the first cut of meats "steps on the dance floor". Have all your cooking tools on standby including sauces and seasoning. It is always useful to have a spray bottle with water for accidental flare-ups. Also, you have to be very familiar with your grill. Knowing where the hot and cooler spots are can sometimes make or break your performance.

The preparation of ingredients is something you're probably familiar with but we can't really skip it. If you're cooking a steak it is best to remove most of the excess fat and season with some salt before you start. With fish, I prefer to place it in a zip lock bag with some olive oil and herbs. In most cases, you'd want to precook chicken in the oven to lessen cooking time which will give you control over browning. No matter what ingredients you're cooking with, always bring them to room temperature before you start! This is a law!

Marinades can make a huge difference in adding taste. Personally, I never cook without marinade. There thousands of recipes for marinades so you better check your cookbooks and find out what sounds tasty to you. Just remember to pat dry the meat when cooking with marinade in order to avoid flare-ups. Barbecue sauces are often used in grilling and people often prefer the commercial products but it is best to always cook with fresh ingredients. The most basic barbecue sauce includes tomatoes, onion, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar. You can create your own versions of this by adding ingredients. Personally, I love using red wine instead of vinegar.

The most frequent question when it comes to grilling is "how often you cook the meat?" and I will address this as well. So, how can I tell when my meat is done? You will find thousands of guides but it comes down to experience. Follow the guides in your cookbooks, but always touch the meat at difference intervals so you can become familiar with texture and firmness. Master cooks are often able to determine the condition of a cut just by seeing its colour and touching it. Cool, huh?

This is only the just of grilling and there is a lot more to learn, but if you are a newbie you can't get any better if you don't roll up your sleeves and light up the grill. Grilling is always a good alternative to cooking indoors during the summer. With time and a lot of practice you will surely master this cooking method.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's The Best Fuel for Your Charcoal Grill?

Every barbecue enthusiast has an opinion about the best fuel to use on a charcoal grill. If you've not thought much about your fuel options, you should, because the fuel you use can make a big difference to the quality of your barbecued meals.

The three fuel options are charcoal, briquettes and wood.

In this article we'll look at each of these in turn and then make some suggestions about the best ways to use each of them on your charcoal grill.


Mankind has been making charcoal for thousands of years, and probably been using it for cooking for almost as long.

Charcoal is made by burning wood in an atmosphere starved of oxygen, and while it's burning, water and other volatile components in the wood are vaporized. The charcoal produced is used as a fuel instead of wood. It's good for cooking food over because it burns more consistently than wood and it doesn't impart any particular flavors (good or bad) to the food cooked. Flavors can be produced by adding wood chips to the burning charcoal (we'll discuss this later).

Generally speaking, the best woods for burning on an open fire are also the best ones for producing charcoal. But very often when you buy lump charcoal for a BBQ grill you're not told what type of wood was used to make it, but if you do get a choice choose charcoal made from hardwoods such as oak, hickory or mesquite.

Avoid the inferior charcoal produced from timber off-cuts.

Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal briquettes appeared on the marketplace after Henry Ford spotted an opportunity to use the wood waste produced from car manufacturing to make charcoal briquettes. He did this by making use of a previously patented technique for producing "fuel briquettes". This technique involved a special process for combining and compressing granulated charcoal (produced form his waste wood) with a mixture of borax (used to aid the manufacturing process) and petroleum products (used to bind the wood-chips together and help ignition).

Henry Ford was definitely onto a good thing. He made lots of money selling his briquettes for the nations charcoal grills. Today there are lots of different varieties and brands of briquettes on the marketplace, some of which don't contain the unpleasant-smelling petroleum products. However, even if you can avoid buying briquettes containing petroleum products, it's still best to let them burn for a while on your charcoal grill before you start grilling food to make sure that you get rid of any other substances that might affect the taste and smell of your food.

Lots of people use a Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter to prepare the briquettes for their grills. This method avoids putting burning coals onto your grill until the unpleasant substances in them have burned off. Using a chimney starter you can also replenish your grill with fresh batches of hot briquettes when you are barbecuing for long periods of time.


Many barbecue veterans prefer to use wood for their barbecue grills. The reason isn't hard to understand. Burning wood gives off natural substances which can impart the most wonderful tastes to food. These substances are lost if the same wood is converted to charcoal.

The really interesting fact about these flavoring substances is that they differ from one type of wood to another. So if you barbecue the same food with hardwoods such as oak, beech and hickory the chances are that you'll notice a very different taste with each variety of wood.

What's the Best Fuel for a Charcoal Grill?

There are advantages and disadvantages for each of the three types of barbecue grill fuel.

Briquettes are extremely popular and widely available. We've pointed out some of their limitations, but one of the big advantages of briquettes is that they're easy to handle and transport, and when they burn they maintain a consistent high temperature (600 degrees F and higher) for long periods. Some types of hardwood Charcoal lumpswill also provide high temperatures, but natural charcoal will frequently not maintain a particular temperature for longer periods.

Wood can reach even higher temperatures than either briquettes or natural charcoal but it's not easy to maintain these temperatures. If it's important to maintain a consistent high temperature with wood you'll probably need to replenish your grill with fresh wood during the cooking period.

One very important point to make is that if you are using wood on your charcoal grill, remember to keep the grill open. If you don't do this your food will end up tasting far too smoky - perhaps even inedible.

Getting the Best Results on Your Charcoal Grill

Wood will give you superb results on a charcoal grill providing you bear in mind the tips and guidance we've provided above. But if you don't want to be involved with the extra effort and skill that's involved if you barbecue with wood you can compensate for the lost flavors by burning wood chips with your briquettes or charcoal lumps.

If you want to use wood chips soak them thoroughly in water first and then scatter them on the glowing coals before and (if necessary) during cooking. They will smolder and eventually burn up, but whilst they are doing this they will introduce the magic flavors into your cooking which you won't get by burning charcoal or briquettes on their own.

The big benefit of adopting this approach to barbecuing is that you can experiment with a wide variety of different types of wood chip to produce varied and interesting flavors into your barbecue food.

Here's a list of the different types of wood chip and the foods they are reckoned to go well with:

· Oak chips are good for all types of barbecue food, especially beef and lamb

· Pecan & Hickory produce a rich, dense smoke which is reckoned to be good for pork

· Mesquite is excellent for beef

· Maple produces a much milder smoke which is good for poultry, seafood and pork

· Alder produces a light flavor particularly suited to salmon, turkey and chicken

· Apple produces a very tangy smoke. It's good for chicken pork and game

· Cherry produces a sweet and tangy smoke and is good for salmon and duck.

There are lots more different types of wood chips. If you want to experiment with a few types purchase several small size bags of chips from your local BBQ Shop or from a good online store .

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Charcoal Vs Propane The Great Grilling Debate

If you're a griller of any level, you have a preference for the type of fuel you burn to cook your meals. There are two camps that are common in the world of grilling and barbecuing. You're either a Gas Guy or a Charcoal Guy. What's the difference? Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons for each.

Propane/Natural Gas Grills


Ready for cooking almost instantly

No cleanup of ashes
No charcoal to purchase or light
Clean burning, no smoke or odor
Doesn't impart a flavor to your food

Doesn't impart flavor to your food. While this can be a pro, many BBQ and grilling enthusiasts enjoy the smoky goodness that hardwood charcoal can add to their meats
Propane tanks are unreliable. You may have enough fuel to finish cooking, you may not. A gauge will help alleviate some of this problem
Propane can be dangerous. If you're not keeping a close eye on the condition of your tanks, you could be in for a disaster
You have to lug around a 25lb canister anytime you want to move your grill to a different location
Not well suited for low temperature cooking
This is not an exhaustive list by any standard, just some of the more common pros and cons involved with using Propane as your primary fuel source. Many a fine meal has been created with the assistance of propane and natural gas.



Imparts a flavor to all foods cooked with it. You can supplement your charcoal with hardwoods to further enhance flavor
High temps are a snap with charcoal
Maintaining a lower, longer cook time is possible with charcoal by simply positioning your food away from the heat source
You get the "authentic" experience of cooking over hot coals

Takes longer to get coals up to temperature for cooking
Ash cleanup and disposal
You can't easily regulate your temps by simply dialing down the flame
You have to keep charcoal on hand at all times for impromptu grilling sessions
While I mentioned charcoal is more "authentic" that's really subjective. Gas grills have been around long enough now that it's more a matter of preference than it is anything else. You can create delicious meals with either method, and in the end it all comes down to what you are more comfortable with using in your endeavors.

Just a final word on either method of cooking. No matter which fuel source you prefer, the key to creating great BBQ and grilled foods is technique. Take your time and study the methods you are using. Look to the friends and family who are skilled in the art of BBQ'ing for advice on how to improve your process. As with anything you undertake, grilling and BBQ'ing expertise is earned through trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and you'll find yourself at the top of the grilling world before you know it.