Barbecuing uses indirect heat on an outdoor grill to slowly cook the meat. It is usually done at a low to medium temperature over wood or charcoal. Low and slow over several hours allows for increased tenderness and intense flavors.
- Regulate the heat by using a small amount of charcoal or wood.
- Indirectly place the meat (i.e., not directly over the burning charcoal or wood).
- Use a thermometer to monitor temperature. Don’t put the thermometer in the meat touching the bone.
- This method is good for tougher meat cuts that may have been marinated such as pork shoulder or beef round.
Grilling is cooking directly over the heat source to cook meat quickly at high temperatures. Grilling meat results in a shorter cooking time; often less than ten minutes. The goal is to sear the meat’s outside trapping the juices in the meat and creating a tasty char. Capturing the juices results in a protein full of flavorful juices.
- Best for tender cuts of meat such as steaks (New York strip, ribeye, filet).
- Open the grill’s vents to increase airflow when grilling.
- Watch over the grilling constantly to watch for flame flair ups and to ensure that meat does not overcook. This will not take long.
- Use chunk charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes to achieve a higher grilling temperature.
- Let the juices settle for at least five minutes after removing the meat from the grill.
Smoking (similar to barbecuing) uses indirect heat and a long cooking time. Smoking uses a flavorful smoke to cook and cure the meat. There are cold and hot smoking techniques. This blog is focused on hot smoking. Using wood chunks vs. charcoal creates a more flavorful smoke that is released from the wood flavoring the meat. The type of wood selected will impart different flavors into the meat and cures/tenderizes the protein.
- This technique is good for all cuts of meat. For tougher cuts or to impart more flavor, dry rub or marinade the meat overnight.
- Choose the wood chunk that complements the natural flavor of the meat. The Herb Crusted, Smoked Prime Rib that is included with this blog was smoked on applewood. But many times, we use mesquite or pecan wood chunks.
- Add a pan of water to the smoker to maintain the temperature and prevent the meat from drying out. You can also mist the meat with water every one to two hours.
- Add more smoking chunks as needed during the process to maintain consistent temperatures.