Various meats respond in different ways to BBQ heat and cooking. For instance fish and pork cook extremely fast and are prone to drying out if cooked too long. Chicken takes a long time to cook but easily burns on the outside before the inside is ready. Beef cooks well but needs low heat to properly BBQ well. Because of these differences, a cook needs to use different approaches to enhance flavor in the meat being BBQ.
Size of the Meat
Regardless of what kind of meat is cooked, the size and thickness directly affect its rate of cooking. Thick parts obviously take longer but can burn on the outside faster. Thin cuts cook very quick and need to be watched. Because of these differences, flavoring requires use of different methods.
Because fish meat and fillets are usually thin, they cook very fast. This can make the meat brittle and flakey in no time. To enhance flavor, a cook should add dry ingredients ahead of time so they cook into the fish fillet as it heats up. Then, just as the meat finishes, lemon juice can give the fish a bit of zing as it comes off the BBQ for serving.
Bird meat in general tends to be very rubbery when raw. So trying to marinate the meat doesn’t work well. Until the meat dries out a bit in the cooking process, it won’t be receptive to soaking in marinades. However, because it can burn so quickly on the BBQ, chicken needs to be raised up from the heat, usually on the second tier level if a BBQ has one. Once the meat starts to split flavoring and marinades can be added with great effect. However, a cook needs to be careful with sugar-based liquids such as Teriyaki sauce and BBQ sauce. The sugar in both will crystallize with too much heat and turn black into carbon. This defeats the purpose of a good chicken meal. So regular turning and application of sugar-based sauces at the last moment provide the best approach.
Depending on the size of the cut, pork like fish tends to cook fast. Left too long and it dries out completely, leaving a meat as tough as leather to chew. However, pork can be prepared easier via marinades in the refrigerator overnight. The meat will soak up the flavoring and a cook will be pleased with the results later on as dinner is served. Wine-based mixtures work very well, penetrating the meat and giving it fruit flavors.
The king of the BBQ meats, beef is probably the easiest to work with on the BBQ. Beef meat absorbs flavors in power and liquid form very well prior to cooking. Additionally, marinades can be applied during cook with great effect. For example, simply dousing the meat with Worcestershire sauce each time it is turned will cool the meat as well as caramelize the sauce flavoring into the meat. This works very well for large cuts such as Tri-Tip, T-bone cuts. Additionally, steaks can be powder-flavored both prior to and during cooking, just don’t overdo it. Otherwise the meat will come out heaving with a pepper or salt taste.
Budding BBQ cooks shouldn’t get too stuck on one type of meat only. Yes, trying a new meat or cut will probably come with some mistakes the first time. However, learning how to work with different foods and experimenting on the BBQ can create some wonderful dishes, both with meat and without. Remember, the BBQ has multiple controls which include temperature, heat output, and the most-used tool, the tongs or spatula. Use them liberally. By learning how food cooks well or not builds experience and much more exotic dishes down the road. So cook and learn away. The better one understands heat, flavor methods, and meats, the more his stomach will appreciate the work and education.