Barbecue Techniques that Have Stood the Test of Time

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A Brief History

Nowadays, barbecues are delicious meals which are beloved by all ages. They are also a fun outdoor cooking activity for you to partake in with your friends and family. Are you an aspiring pitmaster or do you want to wow your loved ones on your next barbecue cookout? Either way, look no further. 

Check out these time-tested and proven barbecue techniques!

Digging Deeper

Smoking Meat with Wood Chips

Did you know that the type of wood you use for grilling or smoking your meat is a huge factor when it comes to your dish’s flavor? The best wood for your barbecue needs depends on what you’re cooking and the flavor you’re aiming for. If you are cooking seafood, the best wood to use is straw, heather, and alder. Hickory, walnut, oak, and pecan are great for intense and bold flavors. Camphor laurel, on the other hand, is perfect for roasted duck. When using wood chips, remember to soak them in water first to get more amounts of smoke rather than simply having them burn quickly.

Grilling On Charcoal

Grilling on gas simply does not let you achieve that distinct smokiness in barbecues. When grilling meat, the number one rule is to always put the lid on for that signature smoky flavor; putting the lid on allows the meat to cook evenly and control the temperature. When grilling on charcoal, remember to just slightly close the lid if the meat is burning too hot. If you are just preparing quick-cooked food or small cuts of meat, you can just place the food directly above the burning charcoal. If you’re roasting meat or preparing food that takes a longer time, add some glowing briquettes around the charcoal grate; do not forget to also add a drip tray with some water on. For chicken breast and sausages, sear the meat over the burning charcoal and slide it to a drip tray for slow cooking. 

Electric Smoking

Tired of constantly waiting and checking on your grill only to find out that you have overcooked your meat? It takes skill and experience to perfect the best barbecue out there. However, you can shortcut your way to barbecue master chef’s success. In this modern age, electric smokers are becoming more popular for that quick and easy smoky barbecue. Unlike a traditional smoker, it’s easier to use, less time-consuming, and more convenient. You do not even have to use a lot of wood chips! With only just one cup of wood chips for every four to five hours, an electric smoker guarantees you that distinct flavor you are aiming for. 

Indirect Cooking Technique

Grilling directly over fire is the most popular barbecue technique for steak, kebab, and seafood; however, this technique would not work if you are planning to cook a large cut of meat, or meat that has been soaked in sugar marinade. In this case, the indirect cooking technique would be perfect. You can start by only letting one side of the grill be lit on fire and letting the food cook on the unlit side. Another indirect method is by adding coal only on the sides of the grill and letting the food cook in the middle; this way, you can evenly cook meat without the risk of burning the food. 

Cook Kebab Like A Pro

Are you guilty of burning your kebabs? Well, you do not have to go through that again; the secret is to soak the skewers for at least thirty minutes. If you are going to use metal skewers, get a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and wipe them; the vegetable oil will not let the meat stick onto the metal skewers. 

Plank Grilling

Planking or plank grilling is the technique wherein you cook food over a wooden board set over a source of heat like a grill. This is perfect for bold wood-smoked flavor in fish, chicken, vegetables, scallops, and pork. Make sure to soak the wooden board in water before you use it to prevent it from burning. Also, keep a bottle of water on hand for occasional flare-ups. 

Here is a tip for newbie barbecue enthusiasts: 

Keep your grill or smoker clean. Aside from hygienic purposes, keeping your grill or smoker clean, guarantees you will lock in the flavor you want whenever you cook your meat. Oil, grease, rust, metal shavings and mold surely affect the quality of the barbecue. 

The art of barbecue cooking is a craft that comes with practice and learning the right techniques. Whether you have a special barbecue sauce or a secret marinade, it is best to know the essential techniques and how to apply them in order to whip up the best-tasting barbecue. 

Question for students (and subscribers): Do you consider yourself a barbecue enthusiast?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Auchmutey, Jim.  Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America.  University of Georgia Press, 2019.

Moss, Robert F.  Barbecue: The History of an American Institution.  University Alabama Press, 2010.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by samer daboul, is licensed under the Pexels License.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland