BBQ vs Grilling

BBQ’ing and grilling are words that are often used when speaking in general terms of cooking outside on the back patio. The definitions of these words however is quite different, defining the two styles of cooking meats. To BBQ means a low and slow cook, under 250 degrees farenheit, usually incorporating wood to impart a smoke flavor. Grilling, on the other hand is a high temp method of cooking, like is done on pork chops or steaks.

Fatty meats such as beef briskets, pork (hams, ribs, butts, shoulders etc) and others benefit from the long slow cooking of the BBQ method. Given time at low temps, much of the fat renders and connective tissues are broken down. This is generally done when the internal temperature is 155 to 165, and the longer the meat stays in this range, the more tender the result will be. If you are monitoring the temp at this time, you will see a “plateau” where the added heat from the coals is being used to break down the tissues, and not raising the internal temperature. This is a good thing, do NOT stoke the fire to speed up the cook.

Leaner cuts of meat that contain less marbling of fat are better grilled at high temps. The internal fat in a piece of meats helps to keep it moist during cooking, and a high heat sear keeps what little moisture the is inside the leaner cuts from being cooked out.

How to Set Up an Indirect Cook

Typically, BBQ is not only a low temp process, but an indirect cook as well. Usually the fire is in an offset firebox or a heat deflector is in place between the meat and the heat. Backyard grills can be set up for this by setting the coals on one side and the meat on the other. On a gas grill, you can turn only one burner on and set the meat over the other. One other method I have seen is to use a few firebrick (available for @ $1 ea.). They are put in place, then a raised placed rack over them, then the meat. Pizza stones are often used as well.

Depending on what you are cooking, a lot of fat can be rendered, therefore it is a good idea to use a drip pan under the meat. Not only does this keep the grill from getting nasty, but it allows you to add moisture while cooking. An inch or so of water in the pan will keep the meat from drying out as it cooks.