Summer afternoons call for one main cooking event–an outdoor barbecue. The roasting (using charcoal) of succulent meat, and the fondness of beer, are all in a day’s work of newlywed bonding. Come dinnertime, you and your spouse could be wallowing in the sweet fruits of your labor. Unfortunately, this traditional method of slow-cooking meat is being replaced by quick and easy knockoffs that have turned grilling into a complex mess of high-end gadgetry. Below are a few tips to keep outdoor barbecues simple, fun and delicious, the way they are supposed to be.
Go Back to the Basics
With the latest gas-burning grills hitting the market at insanely high prices, barbecues seem exclusive to master grillers in a league of their own. However, all you really need is a traditional grill that fits your needs. Skip the quick-light briquettes that you need to douse with copious amounts of lighter fluid and could affect the taste and quality of the meat. There’s nothing like cooking in the great outdoors with a good gas, or even a wood grill. This way, the meat cooks at a slower rate. Primitive? Yes. Delicious? Definitely!
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Why not BBQ with wood?
Certain types of wood affect the taste of the finished product. Because the smoke they give off produces different aromas, this gives the meat a distinct, smoky flavor. The type of wood or wood combination you use should depend on the flavor you want to impart. Choose mesquite, hickory, cherry, maple, alder, pecan or oak for slightly sweet and succulent taste of the meat. While herb woods like basil, rosemary, and thyme add a kick of flavor when combined with other wood types. Be sure to pre-soak the wood chips before grilling to prevent them from burning. Cook the meat on indirect heat by positioning it on top of the grill opposite to the charcoal and wood.
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Time It Right
The reason that grilling takes forever to cook meat, is because it tenderizes it, especially the tougher areas like connective tissue. By dismantling the collagen present in meat, the slow-cook method softens the meat and allows it to marinate in its juices longer. Depending on the cut and the weight of the meat, barbecues normally take a few hours up to half a day to prepare. Therefore, patience is a virtue most valued in the world of grilling. Plus, the use of charcoal or wood will ensure that the meat does not cook too fast or dry out.
Marinade and Rub
Although slow cooking the meat forgoes the need to marinade, some people like to soak certain meat that may easily dry up, such as fish, turkey, and chicken. In addition, some will marinade thinner cuts longer. However, since the slow-cooking method retains the juices of the meat, a light marinade may be just fine. Thicker cuts that elicit juicier results do not need to be marinated and will only need a dry rub of salt and pepper. This creates a crispy crusting effect on the outer areas of the meat. Be sure to keep the balance between salt and pepper because you do not want to overpower the meat’s natural flavors. With a delicious meat on its own, you will not even need a barbecue sauce.
These simple outdoor barbecue tips should help you get the grills going on a summer afternoon. Can’t you just taste it now?
Do you have any barbecue tips to add? What works best for you and your spouse?