Barbequing is an art form. Professional barbeque chefs understand that there are endless options for crafting meals and perfecting delectable, melt-in-your-mouth recipes beyond the standard advice that floats around in the spring and summer. The following will explore a few tips that can help you take your barbequing to the next level.
There are five concepts that need to be considered when you’re barbequing. The first is the quality of meat and produce that you use. The second is the marinade and preparation steps you take before your food touches the grill. The third is the heat that’s applied to the meat or produce, the fourth is the length of time the heat is applied, and the fifth is the smoke element.
Good quality meat is something that many people don’t understand until they’ve tasted the difference. The majority of conventional meat products that you pick up at your local grocery store are meats that were fed a poor diet in life, filled with antibiotics and hormones to encourage growth and discourage sickness that naturally arises when animals are packed too tightly together. More than this, conventional meat has often been slaughtered days ago and packaged, resulting in a loss of flavor, color, and nutritional value. You want to find grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat that is fresh. The fresher, the better.
Ideally, you also want meat that wasn’t wrapped in plastic as the plastic flavoring, especially if it’s going to be sitting in the fridge for a while either in the grocery store or your home, gets absorbed by the meat, and dulls the taste in a nasty way. Once you’ve had a cut of good meat, you’ll understand why this step is so important. If you don’t know how to find this, look up local butchers or farmers. Hunting clubs also tend to have a sense of where good meat can be found.
It’s also important that you take the time to figure out which cuts of meat work best for the particular dish you’re trying to make. For example, beef brisket requires two pectoral muscles that begin just under the chuck until about the fifth rib. The overlapping muscles have a seam fat layer between them. Again, if you’re unsure research the ideal cut online or speak to a butcher.
The same tips apply to choosing any product you’re going to grill for your side dishes. Look for organic, GMO-free produce that’s fresh. Fruit and vegetables start losing flavor and nutrition the moment they’re picked, and that means that you won’t produce that has been picked recently. Farmer’s markets can sometimes offer you produce that was taken off the tree/stem/vine the very morning you’re shopping.
Barbeque has a special flavor, and the secret ingredient is smoke. The perfectly smoked piece of meat is one that’s been kept in a smoky environment at a low temperature for a while. For this reason, many barbeque chefs turn to barbeque smokers, which allow for longer cook times that are more consistent. Again, carefully selecting the wood you use can alter the finished product. A good starting point is a hickory, but feel free to experiment until you find the right wood for you.
Yes, marinading requires some planning in advance, but it is well worth the effort. Coating meat to be barbequed with spices, herbs, and sauces can make a major difference in the outcome of your meal. In most cases, a longer marination period is better as this allows the meat to soak in all the flavors. It’s important to note that in many cases, the smoke flavor will completely override the marinade flavor unless you’ve let the meat soak in the flavor for several hours (overnight is best).
Of course, you don’t want to be using just anything to marinate your meat. Experimenting with and creating your own barbeque sauce can leave guests fawning over your barbequed meals.
Some meats need a little precook before they hit the grill. In particular, sausages often need a boiling in a high-quality stock before they’re tossed on the barbeque. This allows them to remain juicy as if they’re cooking on the barbeque alone; they’re going to dry out before they’re fully cooked. This is especially important for thicker sausages.
Most people who are new to the world or barbecuing settle for whatever fuel is available when the mood strikes them for some grilling. It’s worth spending the time to learn about different fuel sources and how they influence the taste of your food because fuel sources have a major impact on the final product. Fuel can take the form of wood, wood pellets, propane, natural gas, electricity, hardwood lump charcoal, and charcoal briquettes.
On the highest level of barbeque magic, there are many chefs who refuse to use anything other than wood because the flavor is stronger; many even have preferences in the type of wood they use as this can alter the taste. Lighter meats like chicken and pork work well with fruitwoods like cherry or apple. Beef tends to work with harder woods like hickory, and fish tends to vibe with cedar or alder wood.
When using a barbeque, you never want to light things and then throw the meat on. Patience is required. You want to wait for the flames to die down and the coals to be grey and glowing evenly. A good way to find the sweet spot for grilling meat involves holding your hand somewhere around 12 centimeters or 5 inches above the grill for a few seconds. If you can do this comfortably for about six seconds, that’s roughly equivalent to a low heat setting.
Four seconds is roughly medium heat and two seconds high heat. This being said, every barbeque is different, so you’re going to need to experiment with this to find the right balance (and please be careful).
Of course, an excellently barbequed piece of meat is a beautiful thing, but if your side dishes aren’t fresh and flavourful, the overall meal can be underwhelming. Crisp and crunchy salads, freshly baked buns or pieces of bread, as well as carefully selected cheeses, pickles, and condiments, can take your meal to the next level.
The above information should have explained a few key components of a professionally barbequed meal. You have likely noticed that experimentation is mentioned several times, and that’s because this is so very important. Little tweaks in the barbequing process can have big results in flavour and texture, and you’re not going to find the perfect combination for you unless you try out a few different things.