Quick Tip: Grilling Tips
As Memorial Day approaches, barbecues all over America are heating up. Here are some tips to make your grilling easier and better. And don't forget, the Weber barbecue hotline is available throughout the season at 1-800-Grill-Out (8AM—6PM CT) to answer your hottest questions on the spot.
—Sugar burns! That's right, sauces made with sugar, tomato paste or corn syrup burn quickly. For this reason, you should cook the food on the grill until almost done, then baste with any sugar-based sauce at the end of the cooking period.
—Blended pastes are excellent ways of flavoring foods, and you can make them easily with a hand blender or food processor. Combine salt and oil (vegetable or olive) with pepper or ground red chiles, herbs, garlic, lemon or lime juice, and spices like cinnamon or curry powder, etc. to make a thick purée. Then rub on the meat and refrigerate overnight. Oil-based rubs are especially handy for lean meats like poultry and venison.
—Chimney starters are efficient at getting your charcoal glowing, besides being more sound ecologically and also safer than lighter fluid. This metal contraption can be made from coffee cans, but perfect ones with handles are available at hardware and cookware stores. Simply place newspaper in the bottom, add charcoal on top and light the paper. In 15 minutes or so, the coals will have become hot and red and you can distribute them in your grill, ready for cooking.
—Wood for smoking or grilling makes a huge difference. Charcoal by itself is one thing, but a hardwood adds that authentic touch and real depth of flavor. Hardwoods vary in intensity and some common ones with their ideal uses include:
- Alder—light and delicate, ideal for salmon, fish and summer squash
- Hickory—strong and bold, for robust meats and chicken
- Maple—sweet, for lighter foods like pork, chicken and vegetables
- Mesquite—recently termed the "yuppie" wood because it is often over-used in restaurants for grilling and will turn bitter over long periods of smoking; however, if used discreetly can provide great depth of flavor and is the preferred wood of Texas smoke pits.
- Oak—the best wood for general use, oak adds a solid, savory touch without overpowering meats
Did You Know...?
Where did the word "barbeque" or "barbecue" originate? No one really knows, but it appears a toss up between these two theories:
- Barbacoa—the Caribbean word meaning a "framework of sticks" which suspended the meat over a flame to cook;
- Barbe de que—A French term describing the roasting of an animal from barbe (chin) to que (tail).
Commercial barbecuing began in the backrooms of meat markets around the turn of the century, when butchers cooked up the unsold parts like briskets, shoulder clods, and other meats they made into sausage. Barbecue can actually describe two different styles: grilling over a direct heat source, and cooking over indirect heat, more commonly known as pit or smoke barbecue. The true Texas barbecue is cooked very slowly at an even but low temperature, with the pitman keeping the heat to around 175 degrees over several hours. The biggest downfall of most neophytes is cooking the meat too hot and too fast, drying it out in the process. As the Texas grill masters say, "Cook it low—and sloooooooooow!"
Copyright © 1996—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.