If you are new to the world of grilling and barbecuing, you probably have no idea how complex a world it is. In fact, you may not even know the difference between barbecuing and grilling. If this describes you, then this guide will turn you into an expert on the world of outdoor cooking in a matter of a few minutes reading.
First, let’s differentiate between what barbecuing is and what grilling is. There are three main differences between these styles of cooking. The first difference is the heat source. Grilling is a form of fast cooking in which food is placed over an open flame or other high heat source. Barbecuing, on the other hand, involves cooking food over an indirect and low heat source.
The second difference between barbecuing and grilling is the amount of time that goes into the cooking process. Grilling is a very fast cooking process. It is typically used for high grade and expensive cuts of meat. These tender cuts only need the briefest of cooking times to allow the high heat to sear the outside and lock the juices inside. Barbecuing is a whole different animal. True barbecuing takes at the very least several hours. In extreme cases, it can even take several days. This is due to the fact that barbecuing uses less expensive and tougher cuts of meat than grilling. By using low heat and long cooking times, the meat becomes tender and juicy. Thus barbecue aficionados use the expression, “low and slow.”
The final major difference between barbecuing and grilling is flavor. Barbecuing, because it takes place over a minimum of several hours, has the ability to allow the meat to completely soak in the smoky flavor of the heat source that is used. Grilling takes place so quickly that little to no flavor from the heat source is absorbed into the meat. This tends not to matter since grilling utilizes such flavorful cuts of meat.
Now that you know the difference between grilling and barbecuing, it is time to learn the differences between gas and charcoal. This is a debate that involves passionate fans on both sides of the issues, many of whom will defend their opinions on the issue very heatedly. There is a strong point in favor of both of these heat sources.
If your main necessity is convenience, then a gas grill is the way to go. Gas can be turned on instantly, while you have to wait fifteen minutes or so to get the coals ready when using charcoal.
However, if your main concern is taste, then charcoal is by far and away the winner in this debate. Charcoal imparts its smoky flavor into the meat, and you can add the wood of your choice with the coals to truly impart a wonderfully mouth-watering taste into your meat. If you are just cooking hot dogs or hamburgers, you will probably not be able to taste the difference. However, if you are cooking anything else, especially steaks, then there is a noticeable difference in the taste of food cooked over gas and charcoal. The charcoal will leave your food with a much more satisfactory flavor.
Of course, if you are barbecuing instead of grilling, then you absolutely, positively must use charcoal. Using charcoal is the only way to get that wonderful barbecue flavor into the meat that you so laboriously cook over the course of several hours or days. You can add any kind of wood that you want to the charcoal and impart its flavor into the meat.
In the final analysis, the best idea is to have the ability to use both charcoal and gas. If you come home from a long day, you will most likely want to quickly grill something. Then you will be glad you have the gas. However, when you have a long time and want to really impress your guests, or even just your own taste buds, then charcoal will allow you to be the king of barbecue in your realm.