Do you have a very large, stainless steel, propane grill on the deck at your house? Do you oftentimes use the words barbecue and grilling to mean the same type of cooking? I must admit, I certainly did until years ago I actually learned the difference between these two terms. If you have one of those propane grill monsters that you find lined up at your neighborhood big box store, then you are grilling every time that you use it.
Grilling means that you are cooking at very high temperatures for a relatively short amount of time. This is when you are cooking those steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs for the family. You throw them onto the grill and within minutes you are ready to eat. Even if you use charcoal like I do when I use my Weber One Touch Silver kettle grill, if you are cooking for a short amount of time at high temperatures, it is still called grilling.
Barbecue, on the other hand, is a slow process. This type of cooking is typically referred to as low and slow. You are cooking at low temperatures over a long period of time. Some food that you would cook in this manner might be a beef brisket, a whole chicken, a whole turkey, or ribs. The volume of meat tends to be a bit larger than your propane grilling food items. With barbecue you could use just charcoal, wood, or a combination of both for your fuel types. Woods such as mesquite, apple, hickory, and cherry impart a certain smokiness to the flavor of the food you are barbecuing. Some professionals in the barbecue world will only use one wood over another. It all depends on preference.
If you barbecue, you might find that you will need a whole day for that brisket or turkey to cook at the low temperatures. You will also have to add more charcoal or wood throughout the day to keep the temperatures constant. A typical temperature range for barbecue is between 200 and 225 Fahrenheit. It’s important that you have a thermometer built into your barbecue grill or smoker so that you can constantly check it to maintain a constant temperature. Once you taste the final result of the barbecue process you will be hooked for life!
The words barbecue and grilling should never be used interchangeably. There is a vast difference between these two modes of cooking. They both have their advantages but you just might find that barbecue is a process that you will find exhilarating as well as creative. Make it a point to take a stab at the process of barbecuing. It’s an experience you will never forget!