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Old 08-30-2017, 07:02 AM   #1
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How do you get your barbecue ready for cooking?

This is a request from my friends in it.hobby.cucina, the Italian newsgroup I go to for advice and information when I need information that you can't get elsewhere. There is a growing trend here in Italy for barbecues and smoking. Not that nobody did it before, it's very popular here. But I have a request from one of the members, which is, How to control the smoke, and what are the results between using a kettle and open fire barbecuing. Come to that, I wouldn't mind knowing the 10 must do's to get a fire going for barbecuing. Our barbecue's a pathetic little thing, looks like a kid's toy, and you couldn't even get two rib eye steaks on it! I know it's late in the year now, but ....there's next year ahead!

Obviously, in the reply I send, the proper accreditation will be the opening sentence of the thread. Does my request fit in with the rules? Many thanks!

di reston


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Old 08-30-2017, 10:00 AM   #2
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First I consider BBQ as low and slow, using wood smoke. This is how tough cuts get nice and tender, bringing out the best in that type of cut. This is where internal temps count more than time. For slicing brisket or pork shoulder/butt, the target is around 170F to 190F. For pulling, pork shoulder/butt needs to reach 198F to 205F. Keep in mind that during a cook (smoker) there usually is a stall at around 160F. It will pass and my basis for internal temps instead of time.

Grilling, which some consider BBQ, is generally hot and fast, unless you are using a reverse sear method. This is for the steaks, chops, chicken, fish, vegetables, etc...

When I fire up the smoker, grill or BGE, I always use a chimney starter. I never use lighter fluid or fire starters that contain petroleum products. Lump or briquettes are placed in the chimney, news paper goes underneath. Light the newspaper and it will start the coals. Once lit, the coals are transferred to the grill, BGE or smoker. Depending on what I'm doing, a full chimney may be enough to cook with. Most often though, they get added on top of unlit coals in the grill or BGE. For the smoker, they become the "fire starter" for splits of seasoned wood. The wood is either a fruit/nut/ hardwood. No evergreens. What I want is invisible or clean, blue smoke. Never ever use fresh cut wood. It needs to seasoned naturally or in a kiln. Some folks use chips or chunks. IMHO, these should never be soaked in water, which creates a nasty, acrid smoke.

My best advice is to get to know your cooker, learning to control the air flow to maintain temperature control and see if you can make any modifications that will help with this and possibly conserve fuel. I'm at a point with my smoker and BGE, where I know how to set the vents for different cooks.

Excuse me for becoming a novelist. LOL
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:05 AM   #3
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This might be a fun thread.

We here in the States take bbq/grilling for granted. We tend to forget many people don't just grow up with it as an everyday occurrence

Are you using charcoal, propane/natural gas or actual wood?

I use propane. To be honest, my prep is I knock the last grillings gunk off the grates and get to grilling.

Now for smoking, I use a propane smoker. It is just easier for me. I don't have a lot of time to get a wood smoker going and maintain the smoke. I use pellets in a smoke box most of the time. I can control the temp and smoke by how much I crack the door and adjust the vents.

I have used my propane grill to smoke when I was between smokers. Then I use a smoke box on the burners to get it going, then set it on top of the grates. Indirect cooking is the secret, as you are going low and slow. A multiple burner grill is the easiest. Just keep the one under the smoke box going, and put your meat on the other side.

Controlling the smoke is a bit harder, but your amount of smoke will change with how much you crack the lid. Closed, you will get very little smoke, crack it a few inches and you get more. Either way is useful, depending on what you are doing.

I am sure others will have ideas on using charcoal and wood grills and smokers.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:31 AM   #4
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I just realized that BGE probably means nothing to you. The Big Green Egg (BGE) is a ceramic Kamado style cooker.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:57 AM   #5
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How do you get your barbecue ready for cooking?

For low (temp) and slow (time) bbq'ing using my Weber kettle I use a variation of the 'Minion Method' of setting up charcoal and wood smoke.

There are lots of videos on YouTube on this subject.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:03 PM   #6
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Just to go backwards a little, the real goal of Barbecue is to use wood and/or charcoal to provide both heat and flavor. Never lose sight of that goal.

As for techniques, I used to belong to a BBQ forum, and I can tell you, there are many ways to do it, and everyone thinks their way is the only way to do it right.

I've cooked BBQ on everything from a fifty dollar grill, to an expensive smoker with electronics out the wazoo to make the "perfect" temperature and smoke. Unless you want to get way serious into BBQ, I would recommend you start with a good, multi-tasking grill, like a Weber Kettle, which I know they sell in Europe. Then, all you need to get started is some charcoal, some wood chunks, and some meat.

Below is a photo of a basic Weber Kettle smoking set-up. Charcoal and wood on one side, and meat on the other. This particular photo shows a meatloaf being BBQed. That is a very short cook. For longer cooks, like a beef brisket or pork shoulder, you will need to add charcoal and wood from time to time to keep the coals going. There are several methods to do that, including the above-mentioned "Minion Method," and the "Ring of Fire" method. Too much information for a forum thread. There are entire books about cooking BBQ.

But, don't forget the goal, charcoal and wood for heat and flavor.

CD

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Old 08-31-2017, 08:59 AM   #7
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Unless you use propane. :^ )
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylhanger View Post
Unless you use propane. :^ )
Unless I missed it, the OP isn't asking about using gas.
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Old 09-01-2017, 03:36 AM   #9
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Just putting out another option that they might not have thought about.

I used to enjoy a charcoal grill, but just don't have time these days. Which is a bummer since the Kingsford plant is just up the road from us. Freshest charcoal in the country.
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Old 09-01-2017, 10:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylhanger View Post
Unless you use propane. :^ )
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigC View Post
Unless I missed it, the OP isn't asking about using gas.
I'm in Vinylhangers corner... I have come to prefer the ease of gas for grilling. It's still easy enough to add a packet or 2 of wood chips for smoke, and I don't have to deal with dirty charcoal, replacing charcoal during long cooks, or disposing of the remains afterward.

I turn on the gas, press the igniter, let it heat for a few minutes, scrape any leftover burned bits off the grate, rub on a little oil and it's ready to go. When I'm done, I shut off the gas and I'm done. I do have to scrape the drip tray occasionally, but only when it gets to the point where the flare ups get out of hand.

I'm never short of propane. We have 2 bottles for our camping trailer, 2 for the grill, and one for out patio fire pit. When one goes empty, I just run it over the the next town to refill it. They only charge by the gallon, so I don't even have to wait for it to be completely empty.
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