So you bought a grill, maybe not the most expensive kind, but one just right for the good old backyard BBQ. Now, you’re on the hunt to find a local butcher with every kind of meat and poultry known to man, as if it were a buried treasure, and you of all people, are the only one who knows the location.
Well that’s great, but do you actually have the proper essentials or know how to properly prepare the grill? Yes we know, it can somewhat be a daunting task if you aren’t accustom grilling on a regular basis. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you should never try to take on the monumental task of being a full-blown pit master in the beginning. Take it slow, ease up to the grill and say – “Grill, I will not in any way disrespect your awesomeness”, or something to that effect.
Luckily for you, with a little help from Tony Roma’s official Pit Master Jack Vogt, we’ve got you covered. The BBQ 101 beginners guide was designed especially for those just starting out. Not only that, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll should be well on your way to cooking up some pretty good ribs and steak.
The Rib Rack: When cooking ribs on a barbecue at home, a good rib rack is an essential tool. A rib rack not only optimizes space, it allows heat to circulate completely around the meat so the ribs cook evenly. A good rib rack is made of stainless steel and will hold several slabs of ribs, allowing the slabs to sit side by side at a 90-degree angle to the grate.
The Importance of Using Tongs: Using a fork to turn the meat on your grill will often poke holes that allow flavorful juices to escape. Tongs are excellent way to avoid this problem. Be sure to buy long-handled tongs to keep your hands away from the heat. There are many good stainless steel tongs on the market that are made especially for handling the excess heat you encounter from the open flames when you barbecue at home.
Why You Should Always Use A Meat Thermometer: Grilling without a good digital thermometer is like driving without a speedometer. Using a thermometer will ensure your meat is properly cooked and will also help you determine when to take it off the grill to avoid overcooking.
Don’t Ever Forget The Grill Brush: It’s important to keep your grill clean, and a grill brush with a long handle and stainless steel bristles is the perfect tool. Not only will it only chase away the germs, it will take care of any buildup that can cause uneven heat, excess smoke and flare-ups, and nasty leftover burnt flavors.
Know When To Put A Lid On It: The difference between using your grill’s lid and leaving it open is like the difference between oven and stovetop cooking. The lid is useful in trapping not only heat, but also smoke and flavor. If you don’t use the lid, you’re only cooking from underneath, which is preferable for thin foods, but not for foods that are more than ¾ inches thick.
Basic rule of thumb: If the food is thin or you need to watch its color, leave the lid off. If it’s an inch thick or thicker, close the lid and use a high quality grill thermometer.
Remain In Control of The Heat: Grills have an intake vent and an exhaust vent, and by manipulating these vents you can control the temperature. The intake damper brings oxygen to the fire, and the exhaust damper helps the intake vent do this, while also allowing gases to escape. While you’re learning to barbecue at home, it’s best to leave the exhaust damper all the way open and practice controlling the intake damper while you’re doing dry runs without food.
Learn How To Use A Drip Pan & Water Pan: Drip pans go under food and collect juices from the meat while water pans go over the heat source. You can fill your drip pan with water and it will add humidity to the cooking chamber. For some recipes, a drip pan full of water, seasonings and vegetables can yield succulent gravy. Water pans, on the other hand, are great for regulating temperature, increasing humidity and helping the meat retain more flavor.
Don’t Forget The Seasoning: Spices are one of the best ways to give food extra flavor – they help bring out the flavors you have already infused into the meat from marinating. Even if you decide to skip the marinade and go with a dry rub, you still want to include salt and pepper. When seasoning, make sure to distribute seasonings evenly across the surface for consistent flavor.