Making a better barbecue at home might be a very difficult task for you. However, if you are guided with the correct tips and procedures, you will find the entire process very easy. Do you intend to host a Barbecue party at home or you just want to have it as a dinner? You don’t need to be a great cook before you prepare a delicious dish.
1. What meal do you intend to serve?
First, you need to be clear about the meal you intend to serve. If you are not a fancy cook, you don’t need to bother yourself about creating a long-range of exotic dishes. Instead, focus on preparing simple meals you can cook perfectly.
What most party planners do not know is that guests prefer simple foods of a high standard. Yes, complex meals may seem impressive but the majority just needs something tasty to eat. Furthermore, you have every reason to impress your guests with a simple selection of meat dishes, fresh salads, and kebabs. Hence, think deeply and act wisely. Proper preparation will save you a lot and even enhance the quality of your cooking.
2. Start your preparations early
Definitely, there are numerous things you need to do before this big day. This might include chores like cleaning the barbecue equipment, gathering your cooking utensils, and preparing the burner. This will ensure that you know the location of these accessories you will need on the day. Little tasks? Oh no! Do not overlook such tasks as they will save you a lot of effort and time later.
If you plan dishes like potato salad, prepare them before time and place them in the fridge. In short, adequate planning is the key to hosting a better barbecue at home.
3. Get a quality smoker
There are several barbecue smokers available n the market. This means that you need to be very careful when making your choice. The criteria for selection should include a direct comparison of the features offered by each available model. Most of the models available can seem attractive on sight but let that confuse you. Otherwise, you may end up buying a smoker that does not have the required features.
One of the factors to consider is the stainless steel grate. Specifically, smokers with T-304 stainless steel grates are excellent for a better barbecue at home. Although this feature may cost you extra money, it always worth the extra money spent. Aside from the fact that they do not rust, they will also help you significantly by reducing your cleaning and maintenance time. It also prevents your food from getting contaminated.
Learn more about a Barbecue smoker here
· Know your smoker
If you already have a smoker at home, then there is no need to get a new one (except if compulsory). However, you need to study and understand your smoker parts and features. Essentially, you need to clean and replace some parts prior to your great party day. It is quite possible that you have not used your smoker for a long time. You should examine such smokers for effectiveness prior to the date.
Furthermore, know the essential features of your smoker, such as average temperature, smoke produced, and state of the steel surface.
4. What is Barbecuing?
You are reading this because you plan to prepare a better barbecue at home. However, it is quite important to clear the misconception about the term “barbecue”. In the US, a lot of people think barbecuing means cooking anything on the grill; whereas, this is not so. There is a huge difference between grilling and barbecuing. In barbecue, meat is not directly exposed to heat but rather to a low-temperature heat in order to get the expected result.
Moreover, it should also be noted that barbecue is not a dish but a cooking method. It is basically the process of cooking a large portion of meat at low temperatures with the smoke of a hardwood. The extent of cooking will depend on the meats’ tenderness.
· What is better barbecue at home?
This is arguably the best of all the tips on the list. Without this, preparing for a barbecue party is like planning a journey without a destination. Sure, everybody has tasted a good barbecue at one stage of their life. However, how would you know there is another barbecue level if you don’t try it? There are various ways and chances to improve on your barbecue level. Such a way is by entering a contest or by joining your local BBQ group. However, for the sake of your home party, limit yourself to the style you know best.
5. What about cooking cold meats?
Literarily, it is not advisable to cook fridge-cold meats directly. It is recommended that you allow the meat to assume the room temperature before cooking them.
Also, cooking a meat at an abnormally high temperature is not a solution when it comes to barbecue. Instead, the heat will burn the meat which is shown by the meat’s brownish coloration. AT the same time, this adds extra flavor due to the fact the outer part of the meat is being covered with fat. This crust layer will speed up the cooking rate of the inner parts after which you will be left with little or no remains.
This will not even give you the “finishes” you see in restaurant and hotel cafes. For the best result, you need a slow and relatively low temperature with regular basting.
· Cooking small pieces of meat
If you are using small pieces of meat, cook them indirectly and on low heat just around the edges of the grill. Cook larger pieces in the middle of the grill with higher heat. Keep the cooked meats in an oven at a temperature not lesser than 120°F until you are ready to serve them.
· Cooking large pieces of meat
As for larger pieces of meat, make use of the barbecue seasoning rub before cooking. This will add to its flavor at the end. When possible, cook them for an extended period of time and at a relatively low temperature. Make sure the meat is properly cooked at the end by using the temperature probe.
Generally, the best temperature to cook chicken is 165°F, ham at 160°F, and chops at 165°F. However, using the barbecue thermometer to test the cooked meat is a safe way and as well a great investment for your kitchen.
6. What of the smoker’s flame?
An important thing to note is that the meat is cooked by the heat and not the flames. It is a good practice to ensure that the flames do not get too much to avoid contact with the food. In the event that the flames are getting too much, take off the meat and increase the height of the grate. In situations where lifting the grate is not feasible, spray some water on the grate before returning the meat.
7. Measure Temperature at the Grate
Another important tool to remember when barbecuing is the thermometer. Usually, a digital thermometer that comes with a dual probe is needed. There are different temperatures needed for different meats. Hence, pay close attention to this in order to avoid cooking at the wrong temperature. If you cook at a wrong pace, you might end up with a tough meat. Hence, use the special barbecue thermometer to monitor the temperature of the grate.
While the thermometer is one of the numerous tools needed for barbecue, you will need some other tools. Tools needed include tongs, a fork, and a spatula. Make sure they are not too short or you may end up burning your hand when flipping the meat on the grill. There are lots of great barbecue sets out there which you will want to choose from.
8. Fix the Rubbery Chicken Skin Problem
Prepare enough coal bed on a grill. Grill the smoked chicken for about five minutes at a high temperature in order to achieve a crisp skin. Do note that you may not be able to make a better barbecue at home if the skin is not crisp.
9. Keep Your Lid Shut
Always keep the lid shut in order to achieve better cooking at the end. You should strive to maintain a regular temperature all through your cooking process. Hence, you need to open the lid only when it is essential and not because you want to see what is happening.
· Use protective cover
Benzopyrene (BaP), a Carcinogen, is produced whenever you grill your foods directly. Hence, it is advised to cover your food loosely with a piece of aluminum foil in order to minimize the level of BaP significantly. Also, cover veggies with aluminum foil before grilling for food safety and health.
· Use a Water Pan
A water pan is used to regulate and maintain a moist environment during your slow and low cooking process. Usually, there is a pan with smoking soaked wood chips. To complement this, place a pan of water directly on top of the wood chip pan. The fire from your smoker heats the liquid in your water pan directly which turns into vapor. This vapor mixes with the smoke which keeps the meat moist all through the cooking process. To add flavor to the cooking process, add some beer to the pan.
Furthermore, you can also use a water bath. This is just a tray that is placed underneath the cooking grate. This is to ensure that your cooking is done in a humid environment. Frequently check your water bath and pan during the cooking to ensure that the water doesn’t dry out. In case it does, refill with hot water. Otherwise, your bath or pan will act as a heat absorber which adds to the temperature of the grate. This makes controlling the internal temperature difficult and you know the outcome.
10. Indirect Heat
Indirect heating refers to a form of cooking whereby the food is not sitting directly on the heat source. For instance, heating via a grill is a form of direct cooking while heating via oven is an indirect one. Notably, indirect cooking is needed in barbecuing. This is because the heating period is more than 1 hour and the temperature required is below 300°.
Generally, brisket, whole chicken, barbecued ribs, and pork butt are better done via an indirect cooking. This is part of the reasons why most barbecue lovers use gas grills or Weber charcoal.
11. Proper Ventilation
Burning charcoal causes the release of harmful gases such as Carbon monoxide. This gas is colorless and odorless which is harmful to the body if inhaled in large proportion. It competes with Oxygen in the hemoglobin and results in fatal sicknesses, brain damage, or even death. This is why it is advisable to burn your firebox or burner in outdoors or where there is proper ventilation.
Also, check and ensure that the flame produced is light blue in color. To ensure this, consider opening the vents on firebox and maintain the heat in the cooking chamber with fire. For additional protection, make sure you keep your extinguisher close by.
12. Be careful about some Grilling Danger
Remove charcoal grills according to the directions provided with the barbecue. Almost all charcoal grills come with a one-touch method of removing ashes. Also, make sure the ashes are cooled completely before attempting to remove them in order to prevent physical damage.
13. Avoid the dangers
• Use marinades and rubs
Marinades are liquids which often contain herbs, spices, and oils used to further add flavor to the meat. In case you want to marinate your meat, here are the little tips to follow.
- Marinate your meat in the refrigerator and not off the counter.
- Marinate cued or stewed meat for 2 days or more.
- Soak veal, pork, beef, or lamb cuts for up to 5 days.
- In case you still want to use your marinade after cooking, divide the portion into two instead. Use on portion before and the other after the cooking. This is to avoid cross-contamination.
- If the marinade eventually comes in contact with the raw meat, boil them to destroy harmful bacteria before reuse.
• Pre-cook your meat
Pre-cook your meat to soften them and kill the bacteria that are present in them at the initial. After pre-cooking, make sure that you start your final cooking just after pre-cooking, without delay.
• Reduce drippings
Try as much as possible to reduce the number of drippings during your cooking process
• Grill veggies
Make sure you grill your vegetables before cooking.
14. Cook appropriately
It is essential for you to cook your meats to the appropriate temperature. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature as you cook.
- Poultry: 165° F
- Ground Beef: 160° F
- Beef, Lamb, and Veal:
- Medium rare 145° F
- Medium 160° F
- Pork: 160° F.
§ Do Not Poke Holes in the Meat
Using forks or any other sharp instrument may force a hole into your meat. Instead, use tongs or hands to do so. If your meat is filled with holes, juice will flow out of it and it will get dry easily
§ Do not drink Cola with barbecue.
Latest scientific research has indicated that eating Barbecue with kola can result into bone cancer. Hence, do away with kola when eating barbecue. Water is enough to quench your thirst.
Barbecue has emerged as the top choice of people whenever they want to throw a party, especially at home. However, the majority of these parties end up in a mess as the dishes are not always up to taste. As stated above, you need to understand what a good barbecue is and the ingredients/equipment you need to cook them. Furthermore, you need to learn the various methods of cooking them and well ensure safety before and after the cooking process. With the above few tips, we hope you have learned the basics of having a better barbecue at home.