Americans love to cook outdoors, so much so that its considered a national pastime. When it comes down to the types of outdoor cooking, for many it comes down to this: BBQ’ing vs. grilling. Which is better? What’s the difference? While they are often used as interchangeable terms, there are some differences. Here are a few things to know about BBQ’ing and grilling that may help answer some of your questions.
Barbecue (or BBQ) is the term given to cooking over low heat (225 degrees or less) over a long period of time (up to 20 hours) with smoke. A barbecue or smoker allows you to cook meat in a closed environment. When meat is cooked using this technique, the results are tender and juicy, even if you’re using a tougher cut of meat. The combination of smoke and moisture from a slow cook over low heat that coats the meat, is what turns cuts of meat like ribs, whole chickens or large slabs of brisket into melt-in-your-mouth, fallin’ off the bone flavorful delights. When it comes to BBQ’ing, the smoke is the key. If you ask world-famous cooks what makes a BBQ a great BBQ, they’ll tell you that the intense, flavorful, reddish smoke ring that encompasses the cooked meat is the “red badge of honor.”
Grilling is a much faster way to cook outdoors using a high heat (450-500 degrees or hotter) for a short amount of time (less than one hour). Grilling uses an open fire, and is probably the oldest type of cooking known to man. Remember, long before there were fancy ovens or saute pans, there was man…and fire. When he first learned that he could stick a piece of meat on an open flame, grilling was born. This ancient technique has been modernized over the last few centuries, yet is still a fairly simple process that remains a favorite cooking method by the masses. Yes, we’ve added options of metal or enamel-coated grills along with gas or electric starters, and we’ve upgraded from a pit dug in the ground or a spit held with sticks over an open campfire, but the process is basically the same. And more importantly, the results are fantastic! Choose grilling for steaks, hot dogs, burgers, chicken or even vegetables, as it is the best method for using a searing heat to quickly lock in the flavor. After all, what would a hamburger be without the grill?
Not surprisingly, both BBQ and grilling are often referred to as an “art form” – one which some will say takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to perfect. Which method you choose is up to you, but either way you’re in for a treat!