How many times have you been invited to a gathering for “barbeque” only to be served hot dogs, brats and hamburgers? Having grown up in Iowa and moved to Minnesota after graduating from college, I will admit to having attended and hosted many “barbecues.” This confusion, or contradiction, happens more than we think. As we get older, and sometimes wiser, we realize things that may come as a shock to us. We won’t get off topic and talk about the stork or other mythical characters from our youth, but rather will keep this cooking related and talk a little about what constitutes Grilling and what is Barbeque.
Grilling is a high-heat cooking method done directly over hot coals and sometimes live flames that literally cooks food in a matter of minutes. Now some of the old school barbeque purists from the South will immediately interrupt me and tell me that is how barbequing was, and is, done properly. So, just bear with me for simplicity purposes and follow along with me — because this is my blog! High temperature grilling will be done on electric, gas, wood pellet or charcoal grills where there is little or no heat deflection…basically cooking over the flame. This technique is best served for meats that you want cooked quickly, which is a majority of the items we pick from the meat cases at the local butcher or grocery store — namely chicken, hamburger, brats, hot dogs, steaks and chops. High heat cooking does not impart smoke flavor, but you can add smoke to the cooking process which we will cover in future blog postings.
Barbeque, on the contrary, is generally a long, slow, low-heat cooking method with an indirect heat source. This type of cooking is best served for those larger cuts of meat that would not survive a high-heat environment due to the nature of the type of meat (lean and less fat) or cut (brisket or shoulder). Flavor wood is added during the cooking process to achieve that traditional smoke, or barbeque, flavor. Barbeque techniques have evolved to include “low & slow” and “hot & fast” designations that we will cover in the future. However, even “hot & fast” cooking won’t approach the temperatures used for grilling meats.
While you may see a pattern in my future blog postings that there really is no right or wrong in grilling or barbeque…you can make it what you want it to be… there is a distinct difference between grilling and barbeque. It can be a little disappointing when you go to a “barbeque” expecting to have some slow smoked beef brisket or succulent baby back ribs only to have a plate of hamburgers and brats to choose from. Let’s do our part to put an end to the confusion of grilling and barbeque. If your friend invites you over to a barbeque, simply express to them in a kind and gentle manner that you will be expecting them to slow cook you some tasty eats!