01 Jan Barbecuing Vs. Grilling
The terms “barbecue” and “grill” are used interchangeably. Unknown to many, they are actually completely different verbs and nouns. When inviting friends and family over to your house for a barbecue, often times burgers and hot dogs are served. Really, a different term should be used, since the two words are so different. And don’t even think about using the wrong word when talking with a seasoned barbecue vet!
Simply put, the difference in barbecuing and grilling is time and temperature. When grilling, food is cooked over direct heat at a high temperature. Barbecue, however, is cooked at a low temperature and cooked slowly. Barbecue is cooked over something, such as coal or wood chips with indirect heat. But let’s dive into it a bit more…
As previously mentioned, this is what many people do in their backyards and refer to it as “barbecue.” Grilling is essentially the opposite of low and slow barbecuing: hot and fast (typically 500-550° F or more) cooking and getting a good, quick sear on the meat. Grilling is done over direct heat, meaning the flame is just below the meat. Meats like hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, seafood, pork chops and some fruits and vegetables are great for grilling.
On the other hand, barbecuing is cooking at a low temperature, thus your meat is cooked a lot slower. Hence the phrase “low and slow.” And when we say low and slow, we mean 225° F or lower for up to 24 hours long. The longer the cook time, the more flavorful and tender the meat. Ribs, beef brisket, pork shoulder, or whole chickens, turkeys and even pigs are typically saved for barbecuing. These types of meats are typically tougher. But with the low and slow nature of barbecuing, these meats have a good chance of becoming tasty, flavorful, and tender.
Barbecuing is usually done with indirect heat. The heat source (charcoal, wood chips, etc.) is connected to the chamber that contains the meat, but the meat is not directly over the flames like that of the grill.
Different types of wood chips will give off different smoky flavors that the meat will absorb. Common types of chips are hickory, maple, pecan, and oak. The strongest flavor of all: mesquite.
Sauce, Spices and Marinades
Here’s where barbecuing and grilling can overlap. Barbecue sauce can be used with both grilling and barbecuing. Marinades are usually used on meat (and vegetables and fruit) that is to be grilled and are used to add additional flavors to the meat. The flavors are able to soak in for 1-8 hours. The marinade is tossed out and the meat is cooked resulting in a flavorful, juicy meal. Spices are used in both cooking techniques. Many foods that are barbecued are treated with a dry rub of spices prior to being cooked. However, meats that are grilled can also benefit from a dry rub. Even just a bit of salt and pepper can qualify as a dry rub.