Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Perfect Summertime Barbecue

Spring is here and that means it is time to fire up the grill! Ever since the first cave-folks threw a chunk of meat on the pit, guests have been showing up, invited or not, to eat, drink, swap stories, and eat some more.

However, having a successful barbecue involves more than simply dabbing on some bottled sauce and char-grilling your favorite piece of meat, fish or chicken. It’s more of an art that requires making your own homemade sauce or marinade and using the right cooking process. For example, the meat should be slow-cooked over a low heat to make it tender enough to fall apart at the touch of a fork. True barbecuing is not that difficult, but there are a few guidelines to consider:

• Never cook any hotter than 280 degrees. Any hotter will result in a crunchy outside and raw insides, and ruin the flavor.

• Remember that slow cooking times is what makes a good barbecue. Basic times are: a whole 12 pound turkey should be cooked for 6.5 hours (add 15 minutes per extra pound). Brisket can be cooked 1.5 hours per pound. The same goes for pork (1.5 hours per pound). A whole chicken should be cooked for at least four hours (add 30 minutes for each extra chicken). Cut-up chicken (pieces) should be cooked for three hours. Cook ribs at least six hours (or 4 hours if you boil them first).

• Keep in mind that cooking times are not as important as the internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer and never serve any meat until it is at least 170 degrees at its thickest part. With pork, you should shoot for a target temperature of at least 190 degrees.

• Although not a requirement, consider adding some flavoring wood chips to your coals periodically throughout the cooking process. Certain woods greatly enhance the natural qualities of specific meats. Hickory and apple wood are great for pork, while mesquite makes chicken and beef a memorable experience. Also, pecan is heavenly for fish and chicken. Before adding the chips, soak the wood for a few hours in water to keep it from flaming up. You just want the smoke flavoring.

• Never allow an open flame – this will ruin your meat or chicken. You want soft red glowing coals…not a bonfire. There are two ways to avoid this: One is to use indirect heat by placing all the coals to one side, and placing the meat over the other side, preferably over a pan of water. The other is to keep a spray bottle of water handy so that when the meat drippings ignite a flame, you can just spray the coals with a fine mist to stop the flare up.

• Don't forget the coleslaw and potato salad. These sides can make or break a successful barbecue experience.

If you keep these tips in mind, you will have perfect barbecue every time, and be the envy of all your friends.

Here are some excellent barbecue sauce recipes to try out!

Basic Tomato Based Barbecue Sauce

Basic Vinegar and Pepper Style Barbecue Sauce

Basic Caroline-style Barbecue Sauce


  1. I'll have to keep this in mind when we start BBQ'ing later in the season (still far to cold to cook outside). I think we always cook to fast and should try slowing it down to see what happens.

  2. What a wonderfully simple and straight forward casserole dish. Can't wait to fix it...all the ingredients are in house.....sounds like dinner.
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