The aroma of grilled and smoked food wafting through the air is appealing to most taste buds. It’s a smell that’s often associated with summer, and when executed correctly, grilling and smoking yield delicious results. While these barbecuing methods share similar qualities, they each cook meat in a different way. Read on to learn about the differences between these methods and some insider tips so you can grill and smoke food at home like a pro.
Grilling is the process of cooking food with indirect or direct heat, which produces a charred surface that seals in the natural juices of food. It’s usually done over charcoal or gas grills, and in some cases, infrared grills. This barbecuing method is a much faster process than smoking. Direct grilling is quick; common foods that are great to cook using this method include steaks, pork chops and chicken breasts. Indirect grilling involves cooking food low and slow, such as ribs, briskets and pork shoulders.
Alternatively, smoking is the process of slow cooking food with smoke from wood and low, indirect heat. The wood — whether you choose apple, cherry, hickory or mesquite — contributes to the flavor of the meat and gives it a smoky, woody taste. Basically, smoking breaks down the collagen in the meat, making it tender. Specialized meat smokers and grills are used for this barbecuing method. It’s best to keep the temperature between 68° and 176° Fahrenheit when smoking food.
There are many hacks for grilling and smoking food that’ll have you feeling like a pro in no time. When it comes to grilling, you can easily clean your cooking grates with aluminum foil as an alternative to using a grimy grill brush. Simply scrunch a ball of aluminum foil and place it between tongs. Use it to scrub the cooking grates before it cools. You can also use an onion if you’re out of aluminum foil. The acidity of the onion will help cut through any residual grime or grease.
To make succulent meat, try misting the meat with equal portions of water and apple cider vinegar. This will help keep the food moist while drawing smoky flavor particles to the surface. You can also add to the flavor profile of smoked food with aromatics. Simply toss some herbs onto the coals to enhance your barbecue.
For more insider tips on Barbecue at home, see the accompanying resource. Courtesy of At Home Dickey’s.