The Basics of BBQ (and grilling)
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
I could talk about food forever. Especially grilling and BBQ. There is so much that goes into it but it's also so easy to get a hold of. I'm not saying you read this once and you'll be king of the BBQ circuit but you'll definitely be on your way! Let's talk about a few different categories.
Grills / Smokers:
Knowing your grill / smoker is super important. If you're reading this either you're new to grilling / smoking or you just never really learned how to do it properly. To start, you need to know your equipment. I use the Hasty Bake Ranger and Legacy right now and they have been a knockout. The airflow control is so amazing but the ability to raise and lower my cook surface makes my job so much easier.
I have a video I'll share below that will show some great tips like how to start a charcoal chimney, how to set your grill for direct, indirect, and slow burn cooking.
Direct heat grilling is just like it sounds. The heat source is directly under your meat and it's generally cooked at a high temperature. Think steaks, chicken breast, pork chops etc.
Indirect cooking. Indirect will be using half of your grill to house the heat source, while leaving the other half uncovered. This is what I always use when I'm making something like chicken wings. Wings can take a bit to cook and if you're not careful it's easy to overcook or burn them. So you'll see in my video, I'll get a good sear on the wings via direct heat, then transfer the wings to the indirect side to finish them off without fear of flare ups or continued charring.
Slow burn cooking: Slow burn is using a decent amount of charcoal but essentially only lighting one side so it continues to roll over and light the other charcoal. You won't get a high heat but you'll get a consistent heat source and by adding some wood chunk you'll be smoking on your grill in no time. ONE OF THE BIGGEST THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN USING A GRILL AS A SMOKER is that you need to make sure to have your airflow adjusted. All grills have some sort of airflow adjustments and you need to have around ONE HOUR to ensure your temp is set BEFORE you consider smoking. You don't want to put meat on the smoker and be raising and lowering the heat by adding oxygen or taking it away. It's way easier to just dial it in off the get go. To restrict the airflow, close the vents almost all the way and start to add oxygen as needed to get to the temp you want. If you're grilling you'll want the air open all the way to get max heat.
To me the best thing you can do is to ensure you have a high quality charcoal and wood if you're going to do any real grilling / smoking. I understand the appeal of the "light a bag" nonsense but you're missing out on so much flavor and don't even get me started on lighter fluid. All you need is some good lump charcoal ( B and B Charcoal is the only choice in my eyes) a charcoal chimney and a fire source and you're set. Hasty Bake sent me some really cool match sticks that stay lit a while and do the job really well but they have this natural alcohol gel that burns completely away that is amazing for starting fires. Refer to my video to see how to get started grilling with real charcoal and a chimney.
How could I not talk about rubs all day? Not to sound like a broken record, but yeah, check the video at the bottom to see how to make some great basic rubs at home. The beauty of the video is after following my steps you can add your own flair and make some killer rubs yourself. No more store bought stuff that you're not even sure what's in it.
A few basics: If you're going with brisket or beef ribs, the standard is kosher salt and course black pepper. The key is to really think about flavor profiles you like. If you like a steak with a garlic flavor, add some garlic powder. Powder, not salt. Maybe you like a touch of onion? Add some onion powder. I keep saying powder because if you use garlic salt or onion salt you're adding more sodium and that can overpower your rub. You may not taste the garlic or onion you add initially but that's because it takes time to hydrate before the flavor really shows through. Per my video this is a sample rub that I use for my brisket.
50 g kosher salt
30 g course ground pepper
3 g onion powder
3 g garlic powder
Now there is a ton you could do even between the pepper like different varieties vs ground size vs time of grind. A fresh ground pepper is going to have a lot more bite to it than pepper that is either course ground from the store and had been sitting a while or even pepper you've ground yourself but has been about a week. That's the preferred for myself. Course ground pepper at home that has had 3-7 days to sit and chill a bit.
All purpose rub: There's a lot I could say about a ton of different seasonings and herbs but refer to the video to get a feel for my basic all purpose rub recipe. It's the best way to go. There's a wide variety of seasonings and you'll see why paprika is important for color or how celery or coriander can elevate your dish.