What are the differences between barbecuing and grilling? The terms have been thrown around interchangeably, but if you know what to look for, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two methods of cooking. Barbecuing involves cooking with indirect heat in an enclosed area, like a smoker or grill, while grilling is essentially cooking over direct heat with no enclosure. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between these two forms of outdoor cooking, keep reading!
How to tell whether you are barbecuing or grilling
If you plan to eat your food outside, a grill is probably what you need. A grill typically has three main parts: The firebox, which is where you build your fire; a cooking grate, which holds your food above that fire; and some kind of hood to contain smoke as well as keep other pesky critters away from your freshly grilled dinner. So if you are on an open field away from any buildings or people (or if they don’t mind having grease dripping on them), it’s safe to assume that you are going to be grilling. Cooking over coals or directly over flames may also be considered grilling.
What to Know When Choosing a Grill: While there are many variations, barbecues can be divided into two basic categories: gas grills and charcoal grills. Each type has its benefits, but which is best for you depends on what you plan to grill most often. A gas grill is convenient in that it heats up quickly, maintains an even temperature (no flare-ups), cools down quickly, and uses a propane tank rather than wood as fuel—meaning there’s less worry about windy conditions causing your coals to go out. But gas grills also cost more than charcoal ones; some newer models can run as much as $1,000 or more.
The Science Behind Grilling
Part of what makes grilling so popular is its simplicity: fire + meat = meal. But behind that simple equation are complex chemical reactions that we still don’t fully understand (but are working on). The Maillard reaction, for example, is a fascinating process that occurs when you grill meat. Cooking food over high heat causes a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids to create hundreds of new flavor compounds. These compounds trigger our hunger hormones so we eat more, but they also give grilled meats their distinct flavor. Amazing!
The best way to grill food is to first season your meat. For example, if you want to grill some tuna steaks, you should coat them with a bit of salt and pepper beforehand. Then, when it comes time to cook them on your grill, be sure that your grates are clean (so food doesn’t get stuck) and heat up properly before you put anything on them. When placing seafood or other delicate foods on your grate, be sure not to move them once they’re there–this will help prevent sticking.
Marinades, Rubs, Sauces, Salsas, Glazes, Condiments
Grilling is a flavorful, healthy way to prepare meat, fish, or vegetables. One of our favorite perks about grilling is that you can use all sorts of delicious and savory ingredients. If you are grilling chicken, for example, try using barbecue sauce as a marinade. You can also make barbeque-flavored rubs with spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, or chili powder mixed with garlic salt and olive oil to season your food before putting it on the grill. And don’t forget those grilled veggies! From grilled peppers to roasted eggplant — there are tons of ways to get more vegetables into your diet while cooking them over an open flame.
Choosing Your Meat
Cooking chicken and turkey on a barbecue or grill is best done with indirect heat, which helps keep juices inside. If you do use direct heat, move the chicken to a cooler side of the grill or turn down your thermostat to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked. One way to help prevent your food from drying out is brining; soak the meat in a saltwater solution for about 30 minutes before cooking for juicier results.
Beef – Steaks, Burger Patties & More
If you’re thinking of grilling a prime rib roast, rack of lamb, or a whole chicken, you should use either indirect or low-heat direct grilling. And if you want to grill steaks (or cutlets), chops, or burgers, then direct high-heat grilling is best. A few things to keep in mind: If your grill comes with a lid (some do not), close it as soon as possible after you put food on to cook; otherwise, heat from below will give your food an undesirable smoky flavor. Turn over grilled foods only once: try to avoid moving them too much because that causes both liquid and fat to leak out.
Pork – Ribs, Chops & Sausages
The key to barbecuing pork is to keep it as moist as possible. Apply a dry rub before you cook, or at least start with a generous glaze of barbecue sauce (which also makes for some killer pulled pork sandwiches). And if your meat does dry out a bit, don’t worry—just pop it in a pan or on your outdoor grill when you’re cooking up everything else. You can even create a steamer on top of your other food by stacking soaked wood chips over the grill grate. The vapor will lend extra moisture to whatever you’re cooking below it, while still imparting that classic smoky flavor.
Poultry – Chicken & Turkey
Chicken and turkey are low in fat, with just one to two grams of saturated fat per three-ounce serving. They’re also very lean, especially white meat chicken like breast meat. Because they’re so lean, it’s a good idea to cook them slowly over indirect heat or marinate them before grilling for extra flavor and moistness. Chicken is done when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, while the turkey is done when its internal temperature reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit (always use a thermometer to be sure). If you notice that your bird has lost juices from direct contact with flame or another surface, baste it frequently with extra virgin olive oil during cooking time.
Seafood – Fish & Shrimp/Prawns/Squid etc.
As far as taste goes, there isn’t much difference between grilling fish and barbecuing it. The main difference is that barbecued fish (or meat) will have a flakier texture than grilled seafood. This is because when you barbecue seafood, you usually use an oil-based marinade. Oil tends to create a slightly tougher outside layer on your food compared to plain water or a marinade made with wine or lemon juice. If you want firmer fish, try grilling instead of barbecuing it! It may not be quite as tasty but it will also be lower in calories.
Veggies & Sides (salads) – Vegetables like Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, etc.
I think it is hilarious when people grill corn on a cob! Corn on the cob is meant to be boiled or grilled in the husk. When you place corn directly on a grill you are doing nothing more than dehydrating it. All those beautiful natural sugars will burn off in minutes. A simple rule of thumb is: If it grows below ground, don’t grill it above ground! Potatoes should be cooked indirectly by cooking them in foil until they are almost tender, then remove from the foil and crisp up by throwing them directly onto hot coals for 2-3 minutes. This method also works great with peppers, eggplant, onions, or just about any vegetable that can withstand high heat.
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