BBQ Tips For Beginners.

We’re definitely in the heat of summer and that means firing up the grill! If you are looking for some tools to show off your chops (as well as cook them) we found Arctic Monsoon to be a great resource. Whether you are a seasoned grill master or a beginner you’ll want to check out Artic Monsoon’s interview of the number one expert on grilling: his dad.

7 Tips For Grilling Success focuses on questions for the "beginner" but it offers a good review of the basic grilling tips that will make you rock star on the weekends!

Tip #1. There are a lot of terms out there for outdoor cooking in the summer: BBQ, smoking, and grilling to name a few. What are the differences between these terms?

BBQ and smoking essentially [are] the same thing. Similar to the oven in your house, you are using an enclosed cooker to smoke the meat or keep it at a uniform temperature. Typically, this is also done at a lower temperature, so it might take a while longer. 

Grilling is the act of applying high, direct heat to the food you are trying to cook. Grilling is a lot faster and is the method most people are actually using when they talk about cook outs or BBQs. Grilling is a lot faster than smoking or BBQing meat, however, you can use much tougher cuts of meat when smoking because the longer time and lower temperature breaks down those tough cuts of meat more efficiently.

Tip #2. Do you prefer cooking on gas or charcoal?

For smoking meat I prefer cooking with a mixture of charcoal and wood. I use the charcoal to get the fire started and to generate some quick heat, but the majority of my cooking is done with wood.

That’s not to say you can throw some 2x4s or construction grade lumber on a fire and cook over top of it, you actually want to use the wood of fruit-bearing trees because they give off a better flavor when the wood burns.

Some common examples in the Midwest would be hickory, or my personal favorite, apple. As you get further down south, you will find people using woods such as mesquite, or even pecan.

When I am grilling on my flat-top grill, I actually use a combination of propane gas and charcoal. While the charcoal and wood provide a good flavor, the propane provides a source of constant and consistent heat, allowing me to cook a bit faster than purely using wood and charcoal. 

Tip #3. Do you grill any non-meat items on the grill?

Occasionally yes, I do. I like to use a 
grilling basket or grilling tray when I’m cooking peppers and onions. Asparagus is delicious on the grill as well, in addition to zucchini and eggplant.

Sometimes people forget that you can grill vegetables just as easily as meat, and it really brings out a different flavor than most people are used to.

Tip #4. What is the best style for a beginner: gas or charcoal?

For a complete beginner, I recommend that you start with a gas grill. Until you really feel comfortable with cooking outdoors, a gas grill will give you more control over the heat distribution, which is a building block you have to understand before cooking with charcoal.

If you are looking for that smoky taste that comes from charcoal, you can always purchase a smoker box, fill it with wood chips, and set it on top of your grill grate next to the food you are cooking. This way, you get the benefits of total heat control as well as the smoky flavor from the smoker boxes wood chips. It really is the best of both world.

Tip #5. What are some good cuts of meat to practice with if you are just getting started?

For pork, I would recommend a boneless loin. For beef, a flat iron roast. It is a bit more expensive that the pork loin, but there will be very little fat in the cut so you will not be wasting much.

Contrary to popular belief, hamburgers can actually be a little tricky. It only takes one flareup to turn your beef patties into charred hockey pucks, so I don’t really recommend starting with hamburgers.

Tip #6. What is the most common mistake people make when they start grilling?

    Heat. Most people think that you need half a bag of charcoal and the gas turned up to high in order to grill effectively. Sure, your meat might be brown on the inside, but if you cook it on high heat odds are you will still have raw meat in the middle. The only thing worse than burning your meat is having someone bite into a cold section of raw meat.

    Which brings us into our final question:

    Tip #7. For those people who are interested in getting better at backyard grilling, what advice would you give them?

    Be patient. Patience is your best friend in any type of outdoor cooking, or cooking in general. As I mentioned before, you can spend a lot of money on buying nice cuts of meat and end up ruining it by blasting it with too much heat.

    Also overlapping. The more you flip your meat, the drier and tougher it is going to be. Ideally you should cook it on one side for a few minutes, flip it once, and then let the other side cook. Maybe you flip it one or two more times, but anything beyond that and you are ruining your cut of meat.

    Patience is the biggest thing, just slow down and take your time. Otherwise you are wasting your time on good quality cuts of meat and you are going to ruin it.

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