Table of Contents
If you close your eyes and think about barbequing, the chances are very good that you can actually smell the food cooking on the grill. We love to barbeque, and those who really love it often find themselves looking for reasons to host a barbeque – others don’t even bother to look for a reason…they just do it on a regular basis.
Barbeques, of course, provide us with excellent Quick Easy Food – but there is more to it than that. Barbeques are a chance to gather with friends and family for a bit of quality time – away from distractions such as television, computers, and video games.
It also gives us a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. For business owners, it gives them the opportunity to show their customers appreciation – and even the opportunity to acquire new customers.
We barbeque for a variety of reasons: for wedding receptions, when we are camping, to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, for family reunions, or just because we haven’t barbequed in a while and we have a taste for barbeque.
It is common to barbeque on the fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day, and some people love barbeque so much that they even barbeque for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One of the best things about barbequing is that you don’t have to have any particular reason at all for it, other than the fact that you just want to barbeque.
Barbeques are ideal for casual get-togethers. Children are able to run and play, without being cooped up indoors. Adults are able to let their hair down and show up in flip-flops. People bring their lawn chairs and just spread out and enjoy being with each other, with plenty of room in the great outdoors.
Barbeques generally take place in the spring and summer, but in some areas, they continue on into the fall. Some people love barbeque so much that they brave those cold dreary winter days to fire up the grill as well.
Not in all cases, but in many cases, men are in charge of the grill at a barbeque. This isn’t to say that women don’t do the barbequing as well – or that they don’t prepare side dishes and such, but traditionally, men barbeque.
Some have reported that they feel that this is due to the past – when men were responsible for bringing food to their families…and also to men’s dominance over fire.
Most people – men and women alike – simply like to barbeque, without worrying or wondering why it is that we love it so much.
Another nice thing about barbequing is that, for the most part, it is a portable way to cook. Depending on the type of grill that you have, you can pack your grill up and take it with you. You can barbeque at camp, at the beach, at numerous parks, or even on the side of the road at a picnic area.
There are no time constraints for barbequing. Barbeques can be very short, or last all day and all night. It all depends on the food being cooked, the amount of food being cooked, and what the group as a whole prefers.
Types of Food
The food choices are wider and more varied than many people realize when it comes to barbeque. You can virtually barbeque any type of meat – beef, pork, fish, poultry, and lamb, and many types of vegetables as well. Most people just attribute barbequing with meat – mainly beef, pork, or chicken. Corn and potatoes are excellent choices for barbequing, as well as many other vegetables, which you will later read about.
If you have never barbequed before, it is very easy to learn, although mastering it can take a while. The trick is to first watch and see how someone else does it, and to talk to them about the various techniques that they use, problems that they run into, and things of this nature. Don’t be surprised if they don’t tell you all of their barbeque secrets though!
When you are ready to get started with your own barbeques, the first thing that you must do is select a grill. We will cover this in greater detail in just a few minutes. Then, you must decide whether you will use propane or a wood/charcoal grill, followed by deciding whether you will use wood or charcoal if you choose that type of grill. Then there is the choice between smoke and fire.
Once those choices are made, you need to know about the various sauces and Marinaras that barbeque masters use, as well as seasonings. You will need a variety of barbeque accessories and utensils, and you will need to know how to prepare and cook the food. Of course, you must also know how to clean and maintain your grill.
All of that is covered in the following pages, and this information will definitely get you started – but in the end, becoming a barbeque master means firing up the grill and trying out different things until you find the best methods that work for you and your family’s tastes and preferences. Not all barbeque lovers are created equally.
So, if you are ready to get started with barbeque, let’s start by taking a look at the various types of grills that are available.
Barbeque grills come in a wide variety of choices – from the very plain to the very complex. Even with the various styles, there are really only two choices – gas or fire grills, and fire grills may also actually be smokers – but they require fire to create the smoke.
Most barbeque chefs have their own preference, but not all choices are good for all types of barbeques. Let’s take a look at each type of grill:
Gas or Propane Grills: The first thing that you need to know about propane grills is that they cannot use charcoal or wood. They can only use propane. The second thing that you need to know about this type of grill is that they cost more than charcoal type grills. These types of grills run anywhere from $130 on up to $2000 or more.
[wordbay]Char-Broil Performance TRU Infrared 450 Inch 3 Burner Propane Gas Outdoor Grill[/wordbay]
It is important to pay attention to the temperature ranges of these types of grills, as some won’t really get hot enough for your purposes. Most propane grill owners agree that the cheaper grills won’t get hot enough.
With that said, there has been a debate between which is better – charcoal or propane – for as long as propane grills have been around (the charcoal grill came first). That debate will continue on as long as both remain in existence it seems.
On the plus side of propane grills, they are easier to get started and easier to clean up than charcoal grills. These grills instantly light, and take about ten minutes or so to heat up. On the negative side, putting them together when you first get them can be a bit on the difficult side.
Another negative point when it comes to gas grills is the cost of the fuel. As you may have noticed, the cost of fuel is rising steadily – and this includes propane. You must keep an eye on the lines and connections with a gas grill, and these will need to be replaced from time to time.
For that barbeque flavor, if you are using a gas grill, you must use flavor briquettes, and of course, these also have to be replaced. Many people don’t like to use gas grills for this reason…they feel that the flavoring is ‘artificial.’ Some gas grills have smoke boxes, which are filled with wood chips, and these can be used for natural flavoring.
Charcoal Grills: First note that some charcoal grills can also be used as smokers. Also note that all charcoal grills can use either wood or charcoal. One of the nice things about charcoal grills is that they are very affordable, costing anywhere from $20 on up to around $500. These grills can reach temperatures up to around 700 degrees Fahrenheit fairly easy, and this depends on the type of charcoal used, as well as the amount used.
Charcoal grills are very easy to set up, but they take longer to get started. It takes a few minutes to get the charcoal or wood burning, and then about twenty minutes or so for the grill to get hot enough for cooking.
Charcoal isn’t overly expensive – certainly cheaper than propane. It comes in a wide variety of choices…you can purchase briquettes or lumps; you can pour the charcoal into the pit, or throw the whole bag in and light the bag. Often, charcoal starter fluid is used to get the fire going.
Charcoal grills are harder to clean than gas grills, and the grill grates will need to be replaced at least once a year. But one of the main reasons that people choose this type of grill over gas grills is the natural flavoring that comes from barbequing on a charcoal grill. Many barbeque masters are of the opinion that if it isn’t cooked with charcoal or wood, it isn’t barbeque.
Smokers: Smokers have to have a source of heat, and this source of heat will come from either charcoal or wood, with wood being the preference. For this reason, many people don’t understand that there is a difference between a smoker and a charcoal grill – but there is.
Charcoal grills have grates that can typically be adjusted, so that you can determine how close the food is to the fire. Most smokers don’t have this option – because the food is surrounded by smoke, and this is how it is cooked. These types of grills work best for slow cooking meats, with smoke, as opposed to fire, around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
As stated earlier, many models of charcoal grills double as smokers, although a true smoker is usually round and deep. Smokers cost about the same as charcoal grills, which is why many people will opt for a charcoal grill that doubles as a smoker.
Here, we’ve just touched on the types of barbeque grills that you can purchase in a store. Many barbeque masters will design and build their own barbeque pits…not to be confused with grills. These can be made of brick and cement, or made out of large metal barrels, which are sawed in half, with one side attached to the other with hinges. They attach a handle, have a stand welded, and put the pit on the stand.
If made of brick and cement, these are non-portable pits. The large pits that are made of metal are often transported on their own trailer…that’s how big they are!
If you are using a smoker or a fire grill, you will need something to generate the heat that is being used. This means that you either use wood or charcoal. The burning substance that you choose is often a personal choice, and some people think that certain foods taste better with wood, while others think other foods taste better when cooked with charcoal. Let’s look at both options:
[wordbay]weber charcoal grills[/wordbay]
Wood: While large pieces of wood are often used for large pits – such as the home made brick and cement pits, wood chips are used in charcoal grills and smokers. These are small bits of wood that can be purchased where most charcoal is sold. You can also purchase smaller logs and chunks of wood for charcoal grills.
Naturally, wood costs more than charcoal, and it comes in a wide variety of choices. For example, you can get Jack Daniels wood chips, which were soaked in bourbon, and then dried. You can get maple chips, mesquite chips, oak chips, cherry chips, apple chips, etc. You can get wood chips for any type of wood that you can imagine, and some have been specially treated to give off different scents and flavors…such as the Jack Daniels chips.
So, why would you choose wood chips over charcoal? Most people prefer wood because they feel that the flavor of the food is better. You should never choose soft woods or treated lumber for barbequing. Note that because wood is expensive, most people combine it with charcoal – but many would never dream of barbequing, using charcoal, without adding the wood as well.
Charcoal: You could think of charcoal as small chunks of fuel. When it comes to barbeques, there are essentially three types of charcoal that you might choose. These include lumps, briquettes, and extruded charcoal, however even in these three categories, there are many different types of choose from.
Lump charcoal get the hottest of all types of charcoal. Therefore, if you are cooking foods that require extreme heat, this is what you would choose. Lump charcoal is actually made of hardwood.
If charcoal is extruded, this means that it has been pressurized and molded. It is made of carbonized wood and ground wood, and is usually shaped like a log. If you purchase logs where you just light the wrapper on fire for your fireplace, this is what you are buying. While this can be used for barbeques, most people go with lump charcoal or briquettes instead.
The hard choices come into play when you opt to go with briquettes. Briquettes are constructed from a variety of substances, including mineral carbon, charcoal, sodium nitrate, sawdust, brown coal, borax, starch, and limestone. If the briquette is labeled as natural, this means that it only contains charcoal and starch. Briquettes may also contain paraffin, which makes it easier to light.
Even though briquettes do contain chemicals that you would never dream of cooking with, these chemicals are burned off quickly – before food is placed on the grill – and are only added to aid in igniting the fire. The briquettes may have additional ingredients added, such as mesquite, which serve to give the food additional or specific flavoring.
So, which type of charcoal do you need? If you want the food to cook quickly, and at a high temperature, most people will go with lump charcoal. However, if slow and steady is the choice, briquettes are normally used in combination with wood chips.
For smoking, many barbeque masters will get the fire started with charcoal – usually briquettes – and then keep the heat going with wood logs or wood chunks that are soaked (often with beer). This keeps the wood from igniting and burning up as soon as it hits the coals, and allows it to burn slowly, creating more smoke than fire, which is the objective when you are smoking foods.
If you are worried about the effect that some chemicals have on the environment, you should opt to barbeque with wood only, with lump charcoal, or with natural briquettes.
Note that as mentioned, some people combine wood chips with charcoal, and this seems to be a good option for many types of foods, and satisfies the palettes of most barbeque lovers as well. This is done by starting with charcoal, and letting those coals get good and hot – and then tossing the wood chips over the top of the coals.
Because some substances, such as wood, are harder to ignite than others, such as charcoal that contains chemicals to make it ignite easier, you may need to use starter fluid. This is purchased where charcoal is sold, and it is highly flammable. It, of course, contains chemicals that you don’t want in your food, but like the chemicals used in some types of charcoal, it burns off quickly, and is gone before the grill is actually ready to have food placed on it.
If you are new to barbequing, you should give each of these options at least one try to determine which one you and your family prefer. Again, remember that different charcoals should be used for different cooking techniques – such as whether you want to smoke the food or not, or how fast or slow you want the food to cook.
When you use a fire grill or smoker, you can essentially use fire or smoke to cook your food. Which one is best? This largely depends on what it is that you are cooking, and how you want it cooked.
Smoke: Most barbeque masters agree that smoking food cannot be compared with barbequing food – or using fire to cook. There is a distinct difference, even though both take place in what most people call a charcoal grill, although smoking can also take place in what is specifically called a smoker, which is only used for smoking food.
Are you confused? There is no need to be. Essentially, smoking and barbequing (using fire) is the same exact thing – with only one distinct difference. The difference is that when you smoke food, the food cooks very slow, with a lower temperature of heat. The heat comes first from a fire that is started, which is allowed to burn down until only hot coals remain. The food is then cooked with a combination of the low heat and smoke only – without fire.
For the most part, although charcoal may be used to initially get some heat going, smoking is done mostly with wood, whereas barbequing uses more charcoal than wood.
Have you ever heard of smoked cheese? Has it ever occurred to you that smoke requires heat…and cheese melts when heated? Cheese can be smoked – without melting.
This is a process known as cold smoking, where the food is actually kept cold, but smoke is produced with a low heat source, which comes from wood. This has nothing to do with barbequing, of course, but it an interesting tidbit that few people think about – or know about.
Fire (barbequing): Fire is used for higher temperatures, to cook food faster. While the food will still be good, it may not be as tender. Therefore, foods such as brisket are not barbequed – they are smoked…often overnight. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, and steak can be barbequed or smoked, but for these ‘smaller’ foods, the smoking doesn’t occur overnight.
As you can imagine, the flame must be controlled. Otherwise, you end up with food that is burned on the outside and raw in the middle. Controlling the heat and the flame is usually done with a vent that is located on the top of the grill. This vent controls the amount of oxygen that gets into the pit – and as you probably know, fire requires oxygen – or there it will not continue to burn.
This vent is how one can use a charcoal grill as a smoker as well – adjusting the vent to prevent air from fueling the flames, or extinguishing the flames while retaining the heat and the smoke.
Oh the sauces, seasonings, and marinaras that comes with barbeque! Often, barbeque masters will make their own sauces and marinaras, and they keep those secrets to themselves – although they are often perfectly willing to share any other barbeque knowledge that they may have. As they say ‘the secret is in the sauce.’
Of course, that isn’t necessarily true. The secret is also in knowing what fuel source to use, how hot to cook the food, how long to cook the food, how to season the food – and too the sauces that you use for the food. Good barbeque could never be attributed to just one thing – it’s a combination of several things.
Let’s take a look at the various sauces, marinaras, and seasonings that can be used to make your barbeque better:
Sauces: Barbeque sauce is a given when you are barbequing. The question is, first do you buy an already prepared commercial brand, or do you make your own sauce? If you buy a brand, which brand, and which flavor? If you make your own, what do you put in it?
Some people even buy commercial brand barbeque sauce, and then dress it up with their own secret ingredients. Some people add a little beer, and others add a bit of whiskey. Note that the heat burns off the alcohol, so the food is still appropriate for youngsters.
Because there are so many different varieties of barbeque sauce, and so many different ways that you could make your own sauce, this is an area where you should do some experimenting on your own, to determine which sauces you and your family most enjoy. There are countless recipes that can be obtained freely online for making your own barbeque sauce as well.
There is just one tip that you might want to note when it comes to barbeque sauces. Sauces should be used for a bit of additional flavoring.
If you use too much, you will be drowning out some of the flavor that is derived from the actual cooking process of the food – the natural wood and smoke flavors. So, essentially, while you want to use sauce – go easy on it…don’t smother the taste of the food!
Marinaras: Not all barbequed foods require marinara sauces. Of course, certain foods need to be marinated overnight – and some for two or three days – before they are put on the grill. This soaks the flavor of the marinara sauce into the food, but it also helps the food to be really tender and juicy in the end.
Steaks and briskets should always be marinated before cooking – preferably overnight. Briskets may need forty eight hours of marinating to turn out really great.
With that said, the question of marinara sauces is the same as barbeque sauces. There are commercial brands, and you can also make your own marinara sauces. Again, experiment with the possibilities to discover which ones you and your family like the most. Make sure that you write things down, or you may not remember what you did to make that food taste so great the next time around!
Seasonings: Like sauces and marinaras, this is a personal choice. Most people will use a bit of salt and pepper, but there are also many other seasonings that you can use to really spice your food up.
If food has a tendency to be tough, you will of course want to use a good meat tenderizer. You may want to add some Liquid Smoke (that’s a brand) if you are cooking with charcoal and less (or no) wood.
If you look around online, or in your grocery store, you will find a huge variety of different rubs and seasonings that are used for different types of barbequed meats. You will find more variety through online sources.
Are these rubs and seasonings necessary? It’s a matter of personal choice. If you become a barbeque master, and really learn how to cook over fire or smoke well, the fact is that you could forgo all seasonings and the food would still be fantastic. Again, it’s a personal choice.
If you are experimenting, and you are absolutely unsure of the possible outcome of using a sauce, a marinara, or a seasoning, only use that particular sauce, seasoning, or marinara on some or portions of the food, instead of all of it. Make sure that you have a way to remember which foods have that seasoning added so you can properly judge them later on.
Also, when experimenting, because sauces, marinaras, and seasonings can be expensive, buy the smallest possible product, instead of large bottles or containers until you know for sure whether it is a product that you will use again in the future.
Write things down! Write down what you’ve tried, how you mixed sauces and seasonings, and things of this nature. After several barbeques, you really will have a hard time remembering what you’ve tried, what you mixed together, and so forth. Write it down, and you can always refer back to it. Again, make sure that you write down the results as well.
At this point, you are ready to fire up the grill and master barbequing. Before you start that fire, realize that being a barbeque master starts with preparing the meat – long before you start the fire.
Obviously, you will shop with care when selecting meats for your barbeque. In the case of ground beef, you want to choose the leanest meat possible – because meat that is not lean is full of grease, and it tends to shrink up more when it cooks than leaner ground beef.
For steaks and briskets, you should look for the meats that appear to have the least amount of fat on them. Remember that all meat is sold by the pound, and that weight includes any fat that is on the meat.
Beef, Pork, and Lamb: Beef comes in many forms, but when it comes to barbeque, the choices tend to be hamburgers, steaks, ribs, or brisket. With steaks, ribs, and brisket, marinating is almost always necessary, for a couple of reasons.
First, as mentioned, this is one way of ensuring that the meat turns out tender and juicy. The second reason for marinating steaks and brisket is for flavoring. Many people mistakenly think that the flavor of the marinara sauce disappears during cooking, but this isn’t so, if the meat has marinated long enough. With steak, it is a good idea to cut away as much fat as you can before cooking. However, this isn’t the case with brisket – leave the fat, and when you place it on the grill, place it with the fat side facing up.
For hamburgers, if you are not using lean ground beef, make the patties bigger than you need them to be – otherwise they shrink away to nothing during cooking. The rule here is that if you are using regular ground beef; make the patties twice as large as you need them to be. For lean beef, make them only slightly larger than you need them to be when they are finished cooking. Marinating hamburgers is not necessary, but you can season to taste.
For beef hot dogs, slice the wieners on one side, but not all the way through. Put your seasoning inside of this slit. Some barbeque masters will also put chopped onion or slices of cheese inside the wieners, although cheese should only be added when the wieners are about to come off of the grill.
When cooking any meats, don’t put the sauce on until the meat is closer to being done! This stops the natural smoke flavor from penetrating the meat. Sauce is typically applied to the meat with a brush, and if you apply it to raw meat, and then apply it to meat that is done or nearly done, you are essentially poisoning your family with bacteria from the raw meat. Gross! Don’t do that!
While barbeque sauce should be left off until the meat is almost finished cooking, seasonings should not. Seasonings should be applied to the meat before it is ever placed on the grill. Some popular barbeque seasonings include Liquid Smoke, Onion Salt, Celery Salt, Garlic Salt, and of course Pepper.
Go easy on the ‘salt’ spices; otherwise the food will be way too salty. To avoid this, get an empty shaker, and combine equal parts of all of these salt based spices, and then just salt the meat as you normally would. Don’t just sprinkle spices on the meat – rub the spices into the meat so that it ‘sticks’ when being cooked.
While the meat is cooking on the grill, heat the barbeque sauce that you will add. It is better if you heat it ahead of time, because if it is cold, this changes the temperature of the meat. Ideally, the sauce will be as hot as, if not hotter than, the meat by the time that it is applied to the meat. Most people will add the sauce anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes before the meat is done.
Briskets and Steaks
In the case of briskets and steaks, do not cut the meat before it is cooled a bit. When you do cut, use a sharp knife, and cut against the grain of the meat. This adds to the tenderness of the meat, even though it is actually easier to slice along the grain.
Brisket should cook for approximately an hour per pound, although some experts recommend at least an hour and a half per pound, but this really depends on the temperature that it is being cooked. Ideally, brisket will be cooked slowly, at about 200 to 225 degrees.
While it isn’t a real problem with hamburgers and wieners, dry meat is a big issue with steaks, briskets, and ribs. Since you don’t want to apply barbeque sauce until the meat is almost done, you must find another method for keeping the meat moist while it is cooking.
One way to do this is with a squirt bottle. You can put anything you want inside the bottle. One idea is to put juice in it, such as apple juice. You could also use light oil, but be careful with this, because you don’t want the meat to start frying. Drying occurs because briskets have to cook so long. The same is true with steaks, even though they don’t cook nearly as long as briskets.
You can moisten steaks about halfway through the cook time, but briskets should be moistened about once each hour. This is the reason why the fat is left on the brisket, and why it is placed on the grill or smoker with the fat facing up – this fat helps to keep the meat moist as well.
Most barbeque masters remove the brisket from the grill before it is actually done. This is because it stops absorbing smoke after seven or eight hours, which essentially means that it stops cooking.
You can deal with this by wrapping the meat in foil, placing it in a shallow pan, and cooking it in the oven until it is done – at about 225 degrees for the remainder of the cook time required for that weight. The meat should not be wrapped in foil while it is on the grill or smoker!
The same rules apply to ribs. Ribs and brisket should both be cooked very slowly. Do not start pouring sauce on raw ribs. Cook the ribs just as you cook brisket. The only real difference is the sauce that you apply later on. For ribs, you might want to use a tangy mustard sauce.
Chicken: Most people think that barbequing chicken is easy – until they try it. Those who have tried it agree that it is one of the hardest foods to barbeque. This is because chicken must be cooked just right. If it is not cooked long enough, it can make people ill – literally. If it is cooked too long, it is not fit to eat. You must achieve a perfect balance.
There are several ways that you can barbeque chicken, and the easiest methods begin in the house. Remove the skin, and boil the chicken until it is done. Remove the chicken from the water, drain it well, brush it with barbeque sauce, and put it on the barbeque for about ten or fifteen minutes. This way, the chicken is already done, but it isn’t on the grill long enough to be overdone – and it still has that barbequed taste.
If you want to start with raw chicken on the barbeque, start by lining the grate with foil. Remove the skin from the chicken, and do not brush it with barbeque sauce until it is done. The chicken should be seasoned before it is placed on the grill. It should be turned every six to ten minutes, and should cook for about thirty minutes. Check the chicken with a meat thermometer. When it is done, it should be between 172 and 174 degrees. Apply the sauce when it reaches 170 degrees, and then let it cook for about ten more minutes.
If you are serious about cooking great food on the barbeque, especially in the case of a charcoal grill, you need to know how to position the food on the grill for the best results. Those foods that require more heat should be placed in the center of the grill, with foods that require less heat being placed towards the edges of the grill.
Some foods do not require direct heat, and many barbeque grills today have a small shelf that is raised above the main grate. This is ideal for foods such as wieners and sausages that tend to scorch on the outside quickly when they are on the main grate.
Different meats require different cooking times, and this depends on numerous factors, including the temperature and the thickness of the meat. Check meat often when cooking so that it doesn’t become overdone.
Many people never even consider barbequing vegetables – but once you’ve had barbequed vegetables, you will never barbeque again without throwing some veggies on the grill. Here are some tips for different vegetables:
Vegetable Kabobs: Any vegetable that you want to include on a vegetable kabob will be fine, although larger vegetables that must be sliced and are naturally crisp work best. Because the vegetables on the kabob are thinly sliced, they don’t take long at all to cook. Lay them down on the grate, and turn them after about ten minutes. Allow them to cook for an additional five minutes, and they are ready to eat.
Potatoes: Once you’ve had a baked potato, cooked on the barbeque, you will throw sticks at those baked in the oven. Wash the potatoes well, dry them, rub with cooking oil lightly, poke several holes in them, and then wrap the potatoes in foil, and place them on top of the coals. They should be perfectly done in about 45 minutes.
Corn on the Cob: There are two ways to cook corn on the cob on the barbeque. If the corn still has its husk, pull the husk back, but don’t break it away. Instead, remove the silk, cut the tip off of the cob, wash the corn, or allow it to soak for about half an hour (soaking is best, as it makes removing the silk easier). Dry the corn and brush it with butter. Simply enclose the corn in its husk, and use a twist tie to seal the end (don’t use a rubber band – they melt). If you’ve soaked the corn for 30 minutes, it only takes about ten minutes to cook it on the grill.
If the corn doesn’t have its husk, repeat this process, but wrap it in foil. This may require additional cook time – about fifteen minutes. Either way, the corn is placed on the grate, not on the coals.
Asparagus: Season the asparagus however you wish. Slice it however you like. Cover the grate of the grill with foil, and place the asparagus on the grill. It doesn’t take long for asparagus to cook. When it is done, it will be a slightly brighter shade of green than it was when it was raw – if it turns more of a gray color, it has cooked too long.
Onions: Peel the onion and cut it in half or in quarters. Onions will stick to the grill, so use a non-stick cooking spray on the grate before you get it hot. Place the onions directly on the grill for about four minutes. If you don’t want to spray the grill, you can coat the onions with oil as well to prevent sticking. Many people prefer to spray the grate because onions need no added flavors, and the oil can detract from the natural flavor of the onion. You can choose red onions, yellow onions, or white onions.
Garlic: Use whole bulbs of garlic. Cut he root from the end, and peel away the paper covering of the bulb. Brush the bulb with your favorite oil (olive oil is great). Place the bulb on the grill, with the cut portion facing the fire. Grill for about ten minutes – expect the outer portion of the bulb to turn a light brown.
Mushrooms: Wash the mushrooms well. Brush with your favorite oil, and place on the grill for four to five minutes. If the mushrooms are large, they may require a longer cook time – up to about eight minutes. If the mushrooms are too small, you can place small chicken wire or metal type mesh over the grate to keep them from falling through.
Eggplant: You can slice the eggplant anyway you like. Some barbeque masters slice them in circles. Do not peel the eggplant! You can coat the eggplant with your favorite cooking oil or salad oil and season them however you like. Eggplant should be grilled for four to five minutes.
Peppers: Red peppers, yellow peppers, and Bell peppers are very easy to barbeque. Cut the pepper in half and remove the stem and the core. Wash away all of the seeds. You can leave the peppers in halves, or cut them in quarters, but if the pieces are too small, you will need chicken wire or metal type mesh to keep the pieces from falling through the grate. Peppers can be coated with your favorite cooking oil or salad oil, and grilled for two to three minutes.
Chili Peppers are smaller and should be cooked whole for two or three minutes on each side. You can leave them as they are, or coat them with your favorite cooking or salad oil before grilling as well.
Squash and Zucchini: Cut the Squash or Zucchini in half from the top to the bottom. Coat it with olive oil, and season it to taste. You can use any seasons that you like. It should be cooked for about two minutes on each side, but you will have to really watch it when the open side – or the side that has the seeds showing – is facing the fire, as it will burn easily.
Tomatoes: You can grill regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. For regular tomatoes, cut the tomato in half from the top. Coat the tomato with your favorite cooking oil. Place on the grill with the cut side facing down, and allow it to cook for two or three minutes.
For cherry tomatoes, you may need to use chicken wire or small metal type mesh to keep them from falling through. Another option is a skewer. You can coat these with your choice of cooking oil or salad oil, and season them to taste, or grill them without oil or seasoning. Two to three minutes of cook time is fine – but it will be closer to two minutes, because they are so small.
No barbeque master would dare call himself such without having the appropriate barbeque utensils and accessories – and there are many of them to be had! The truth is, you don’t have to spend a fortune on barbeque utensils and accessories, but there are some that are essential.
Essential Barbeque Utensils and Accessories:
- Long Handled Utensils: This includes at least two spatulas (one for raw meat, and one for cooked meat), two sets of tongs, two long handled forks, and one long handled spoon (for moistening meat or pouring sauces over meats).
- Long Handled Brush: This is used for brushing meat. If you brush raw meat with the brush, you will need an extra brush for brushing cooked meat.
- Basting Mop: This is much like a brush, but the end is made of cloth. Again, if you use it on raw meat, you will need two basting mops.
- Grilling Basket: These are used for small vegetables or pieces of meat that are likely to fall through the grate during cooking. This takes the place of chicken wire or metal type mesh.
- Grill Press: These are used to hold meat closer to the grill and to help keep heat in. These should be made of cast iron.
- Grill Covers: Although this may not seem like an essential, if your grill is subject to weather, you will definitely want a cover for it. Keeping the grill covered when it isn’t in use will extend its life.
- Injectors: These are basically large (or small) injectors for injecting juices back into the meat as it is being cooked. Get several, and remember to not touch cooked meat with anything that has touched raw meat and not been washed thoroughly.
- Oven Mitts: ‘Long Sleeved’ oven mitts are definitely needed – and the thicker they are, the better. Get quality mitts that will truly protect your hands and lower arms from the heat and fire.
- Long Handled Hooks: These are used to open the lid of the grill, or to adjust the racks or grates when the grill is hot. Absolutely essential and this can be considered a ‘safety tool.’
- Fire Starters: Starting fires can be dangerous, and if you are using some type of ignition fluid, you are likely to get burned if you use a lighter. These are designed to enable you to start the fire from a safe enough distance.
- Skewers: These are needed for vegetables and kabobs, and come in a wide variety of sizes. You should get a good selection, with at least ten of each size.
Non-Essential Barbeque Utensils and Accessories:
- Aprons: All serious barbeque masters need at least one apron. They may even require a chef’s hat to match. Get several different ones that describe who you are – or that describe that barbeque master that you love so much.
- Chicken Sitters: These are used for barbequing whole chickens. The chicken essentially ‘sits’ on the metal holder to keep it from sitting directly on the grate, and for more even smoking.
- Cutting Board: Most kitchens are already equipped with a cutting board, but some barbeque masters like their own cutting board, close to the pit. They will also want a set of professional knives to go along with the cutting board.
- Smoker Box: These are mostly used on gas grills, but can be used on charcoal grills as well. They are essentially boxes that are filled with wood chips and placed on the grill, for the purpose of smoking the food.
- Rotisseries: This is different from a chicken stand. Rotisseries are easy to turn, so that the chicken can be cooked evenly on all sides.
- Rib Racks: If you plan to cook ribs often, you will find that while these aren’t necessary, they definitely make the job much easier – especially when those ribs are getting so tender that they are falling apart!
- Meat Markers: These are metal markers that are marked with words such as ‘rare’, ‘medium’, and ‘well-done’ among others, so that you can determine which meats are which when they are done.
- Grill Toppers: These are similar to grill baskets, but they are open. These also take the place of chicken wire or metal type mesh.
- Grill Lifters: while hooks can be used to move hot grates around, grill lifters were specifically designed for this purpose, offering greater control – but they do cost more than the hooks.
- Chili Grill: These are small metal devices that hold chili peppers so they can be cooked on the barbeque. Absolutely ingenious!
- Meat Tenderizers: This doesn’t refer to spices that are called meat tenderizers. This refers to devices called meat tenderizers. Most kitchens are equipped with these – but some barbeque masters like to have their own…they not only want to master the fire, they also want to lord it over the meat!
- Griddles: These are similar to grill toppers, but work more like a pan than a basket. This makes it easy to cook anything you want to cook on the grill, without worrying about anything falling through.
- Smoke Glasses: These glasses are actually considered an essential by many. When you open the top of the barbeque, you get inundated with smoke and come away with tears running down your face. These special glasses prevent that.
- Sauce Pots: These are used for heating sauces on the barbeque. They are made to withstand fire and heat, more so than the ones that you would use in your kitchen.
- Popcorn Poppers: Have you ever had popcorn popped on the barbeque? If not, you are really missing something great! These are excellent to have on camping trips.
- Long Handled Seasoning Shakers: These aren’t essential if you season the meat before cooking – but if you season the meat during cooking, you definitely want at least two of these.
- Grill Wipes: These are heavy duty disposable wipes that are designed specifically for cleaning grills. They aren’t essential, but they sure make the job easier.
- Hot Dog Rotisseries: These aren’t necessary, but they make cooking hot dogs and sausages a great deal easier.
Cleaning your grill is very important – for numerous reasons. Some grills are easier to clean than others – but regardless of how hard or easy it is, it absolutely must be done.
The most important reason for this, of course, is germs, and potential diseases and illnesses that come about due to cooking on a dirty grill. Salmonella comes to mind.
You don’t want to leave the cleaning until the next time you are ready to barbeque. This method only serves to make the job harder. Would you leave a skillet sitting on your stove until you wanted to use it again? Hopefully you wouldn’t.
Naturally, you will need to let the grill cool down before you clean it – but you can clean the grates, and in fact, the grates are easier to clean while they are still warm. Use oven mitts and hooks, or get a grill lifter to remove the grate from the grill. Grab the hose and start hosing it off.
Dribble some dish soap down the metal parts, and use a good stout brush to scribe the grate clean. Dry it well so that it doesn’t rust, and inspect it to be sure that you didn’t miss anything.
Next, you want to clean the grill itself. This will require waiting for it to cool down completely. You will empty the coals and dispose of them, and usually, you only need to hose the grill down – inside and out. Scrub any meat that may be stuck to the internal body of the grill.
Of course cleaning gas grills is much different, and you should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions, which should be found in your owner’s manual for cleaning these types of grills.
Barbequing is fun. The whole thing is fun – from determining what you will cook, trying new foods, and of course, gathering people together to enjoy the whole event.
Barbequing is also an ongoing learning experience. If you ask any barbeque master, they will most likely tell you that they are constantly learning new tips and tricks, and always trying new things out to see how they work.
Barbequing could be considered a sport in some ways – and there are many barbeque competitions held year round throughout the United States, Canada, and many other countries as well.