Outdoor Cooking Techniques
Growing up in southern California during the 60s, my dad cooked outside over charcoal quite a bit. I thought if something was cooked over a charcoal fire, it had to be, by definition ” barbecued”. After all, it was cooked in a barbecue, right? It was much later, after I finished way too much schoolin’ and was working in my first real, professional-type job in South Carolina, that I heard the term “grillin'” applied to outdoor-cooked meats for the very first time. The term seemed strange at the time – by implication the meat cooked over one of those Weber electric grills in the kitchen was the same as meat cooked outdoors over charcoal. We even feasted on a whole hog, barbecued by one of the South Carolina’s true Low Country gentlemen one July 4th, but at the time I still didn’t make the distinction in the different styles and philosophies of outdoor cooking. Later, as I grew in knowledge and experience, I learned that there was actually a distinction between the outdoor cooking styles and that what I’d grown up learning to cook, and had became very proficient at, was grilling, not barbecuing. Like many of you, thanks to the proliferation of barbecue shows on TV, I learned about the four main different styles of barbecue: Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas. Because I grew up in southern California, I NEVER developed a taste for the vinegar, mustard-based Carolina style barbecue, despite living there for some years. I also learned about the various barbecue societies and along with my business partner here at Miners Mix, I became a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge.
In general, grilling involves direct cooking over high heat with the goal of cooking the meat relatively quickly. Grilling also is appropriate for cooking many vegetables and even fruits to accompany that meat, thus giving the inside kitchen a real break from its normal duty. Grilling can be done over an open bed of coals, or over a gas flame and can be exposed to the outside air or inside a hinged lid of some sort. Because the meat cuts are smaller and cook quickly, more tender cuts of meat are usually preferred. Any kind of seasoning, sauce, marinade, or rub can be used on grilled meat, but those that contain a lot of sugar should usually be avoided because the sugar will caramelize and burn, rendering your creation a blackened lump. Sometimes, lowering the heat and using that sugary rub or sauce during the last few minutes of cooking is a way to avoid crunchy black pork or steaks. Likewise, sauces or marinades heavy with oil should be used very carefully, because the oil will cause flare-ups.
Barbecuing is sort of the crock pot philosophy to outdoor cooking; a long slow process of cooking meat slowly over low heat usually in the low 200° to 250°F range for up to 10 hours and sometimes longer. Like the crock pot, barbecuing enables use of less tender cuts of meat such as brisket. Because of the low heat, those sweet sauces, marinades, and rubs with lots of brown sugar can be used with great effect. The sugar tends to caramelize slowly and creates a wonderful, flavorful bark on the surface of the meat, particularly on pork butt. Generally, barbecuing entails the use of wood smoke for flavoring that compliments the marinades or rubs. Expert barbecue chefs have their own favorites when it comes to type of wood, as each type imparts subtly different flavors to the finished product.
(ArticlesBase SC #3062550)