Tips from the Pitmaster
Creating great barbecue is about more than just ingredients.
Light your fire
- Use fruit woods for long, low and slow cooks for great flavor. These woods have a milder flavor than woods like hickory and mesquite, which can easily give you an over-smoked taste.
- When using wood chips to add smoke flavor, first soak them in water to keep them from burning too quickly.
- When using charcoal for low and slow cooking, use a good charcoal briquette. They burn more consistently and are much easier to control.
- Use a charcoal chimney, available at most home stores, to start charcoal. It’s easy and safer than using lighter fluid.
Feel the heat
- Use an oven thermometer on the grill grate where the meat will be to determine the exact cooking temperature. Built-in thermometers measure the temperature at the end of the thermometer, not necessarily where the meat is. This difference in temperature could be anywhere from 25 to 75 degrees.
- Use a good meat thermometer to determine when it’s time to take the meat off the cooker. Every type of meat has different finishing temperatures.
Master your grill
- To cook indirectly with a gas grill, you’ll need a grill with at least two burners. Place your meat on the grate over the unlit burner and regulate the temperature accordingly.
- To cook low and slow with a charcoal grill, bank lit coals to one side of the grill. Place meat on the other side.
- Clean dirty grill grates with a spray bottle of water and crumbled aluminum foil held by a pair of tongs. Spraying the water on hot grates will “deglaze” them and make for easier cleaning.
Now you’re cooking
- Apply sauces toward the end of your cooking. The sugars in most barbecue sauces will burn if applied too early.
- In the low and slow world of real barbecue, the bigger the piece of meat, the longer and slower the meat will have to cook.
- Use a good set of strong tongs to handle meat on the grill instead of a long fork. Using a fork pierces the meat, which will allows flavorful juices to escape.