Welcome to Mikes Irish BBQ blog! We will share weekly updates and articles on all things grilling and barbecue. Have a question or subject you’d like addressed? Contact me at email@example.com. That said, let’s get to blogging…
Barbecuing vs. Grilling
The main thing to remember is that grilling is done ‘hot and fast’, directly over the heat and/or flames. Examples of items best grilled are burgers, steaks, and sausages. (Although they are grilled differently, we’ll cover that in another post.) Barbecuing is done ’low and slow’, over indirect heat for long periods of time, usually three to twelve hours, depending on the item being cooked. Typical items that are barbecued are pork shoulder, beef brisket, ribs, half-chickens, as well as larger sausages. The meat cooks slowly with charcoal, rendering the fat, and creating smoke which gives the meats a very distictive, smoky flavor. Local hardwoods (apple, hickory,oak,maple, mesquite) are added sparingly to glowing charcoal as seasoning, and vary depending on what is indigenous to the area. It is common to use a dry-rub on the exterior of the meat, which over hours creats a nice crust or “bark” which is coveted by barbecue enthusiasts.
Some barbecue grills are best for grilling, and some best for barbecuing. Others do both quite well. The most popular and prevalent brand is Weber. Weber is a company from Chicago that invented and popularized the ‘kettle’ grill that we see in so many Irish gardens. It was introduced after World War II, and as soldiers returned from war and cities extended to suburbs, within a few years you could walk through just about any neighborhood on any sunny weekend and feast your olfactory senses on the smells escaping your neighbors back garden. The kettle grill is very good for both grilling and barbecuing.
In addition to the charcoal kettle grill, there is the gas grill. As the name would imply, they are powered by a propane cylinder and initially used lava rock in place of charcoal. Over time as the grill was used, the lava rock would ‘season’, retaining the rendered fat, seasonings and sauces, increasing smoke and flavor the more the grill was used. These days most gas grills use ‘flavorizor bars’ or shields which are designed to serve the same purpose, and evenly distribute the flame throughout the grill. The gas grill is best for grilling, but may be used to barbecue as well. There are hundreds if not thousands of gas grill manufacturers’, but Weber is considered by most avid grillers’ as the gold standard.
Finally, there is the smoker, or ‘pit.’ This is a grill specifically designed for cooking low and slow, and it may or may not include a water pan, which is designed to keep cuts of meat moist throughout the long cooking process. It is called a ‘pit’ after the initial barbecuing devices which were often merely a hole or pit in the ground, lined with bricks and covered with a grate. It is not uncommon to call any smoking device a pit, even the large, stainless steel automated rotisserie type smokers found in commercial barbecue restaurants in America. The most common home smoker model is made by Weber, and is called a Smokey Mountain, or WSM for short.
Any and all of these devices will deliver delicious food. I own them all, and use each one depending on my mood, occasion and food being cooked.
Mike’s BBQ offers a class in West Cork covering all methods of al fresco cooking. Check out our website at www.mikesbbq.ie for details.
Happy grilling & barbecuing!