"There's nothing more enjoyable than having friends and family gathered around amidst the wonderful smells of charcoal-grilled prawns, vegetables and selected favorites. Barbecuing is one of those time- honored rituals that go hand in hand with summertime. Whether you're in your backyard or at you're favorite camping site, barbecuing is a pleasure to be enjoyed by the whole family."
Barbecuing has never been more exciting; with the endless designs of barbecues available and the myriad of barbecue cookbooks and cooking shows it really does take barbecuing into a whole new realm. With recipes for everything from grilled bananas to peaches and dry rubs for ribs, barbecues aren't just for cooking steaks and burgers anymore. With all the available barbecuing options it helps to know a few of the barbecuing terms and barbecuing utensils that are used.
Firstly, barbecues come in a wide variety of options; there are propane, natural gas and the standard barbecues for use with charcoal. Barbecues can come with range style one, two and four burner options along with rotisseries. There are even barbecues that have coolers built right into the bottom! Barbecuing has never been quite so convenient.
When you're using your barbecue it really helps to have the right utensils and barbeque accessories, this will make your barbecuing experience easier and more enjoyable. Long handled tongs, basting brushes and spatulas are quite helpful. Heavy-duty oven mitts can also be useful. Of course you don't want to forget the proper wire brushes and scrubbers (crumpled foil even works well) to remove build-up, keeping your grill racks clean.
Foods that are tender such as fish, vegetables and some burgers can benefit from cooking in a special grill basket (this way you aren't loosing any of your meal into the barbecue). There are also special racks available to be used with corn, potatoes, ribs and meat.
An excellent barbecue accessory is the grill wok, with this you can make you're favorite stir fries and vegetable dishes; the wok has small holes throughout that allow heat and smoke to penetrate the food. Another great grill accessory is the grill pizza tray used mostly for grilled pizza. Other grill accessories include; the grill topper used for fish and vegetables providing an even cooking surface, which prevents foods from falling through the grill rack; you can never have too many skewers in assorted lengths which can be used with a skewer rack for grilling your favorite marinated vegetables and meats; smoker boxes for gas grills filled with soaked wood chips add a wonderful smoked flavor to foods. Lastly foil packets are available or simple tin foil to wrap foods, just remember that you may be sacrificing the grill and smoke flavors when foods are wrapped tightly.
After you have the utensils and proper grilling accessories needed for you're barbeque experience you'll want to familiarize yourself on the different types of grilling processes and terms to find the ones that work best for you and to know exactly what has to be done. To start, basting is probably the most familiar of barbecuing terms, a simple brushing with a seasoned liquid adding both flavor and moisture to your food. A brochette is just French for a kabob, or simply food cooked on a skewer. A glaze is a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks as a result of regular basting.
Three very popular methods of barbecuing are the direct grilling, dry smoking and indirect grilling methods. Direct grilling is probably the most popular grilling used, it is when food is placed directly over the flame. It is a fast method because of the intense heat and allows for browning on the outside of foods. This process works best for food requiring short cooking times such as burgers and steaks, you must remember to turn food over to allow cooking on both sides. The dry smoking method is achieved by placing a grill rack indirectly over the heat source with the barbecue lid down, this allows the flame to burn thus creating smoke which covers the food, giving you a smoky flavor. Lastly the indirect grilling is a slow process of cooking because of less heat, it is done by surrounding a drip pan with the coals and putting the food over the pan, so the hot air circulates around the food (similar to a convection oven). It is wise to check with your barbecue owner manual for indirect grilling specific to your barbecue, roasts work well with this method.
After you've acquired the barbecue and all the necessary cooking utensils and accessories you're ready for the best part of barbecuing and that is the cooking of the food. Sauces, marinades and rubs are popular cooking ideas when barbecuing. Barbecue sauce can be said to define a great barbecue. Whether you use a little or a lot is a matter of preference. A sauce often includes sugar, honey or preserves, which can cause the sauce to burn when cooking; a suggestion is to brush your sauce on in the last five to ten minutes of cooking. There are a wide variety of sauces and glazes to be made ranging from apple butter barbecue sauce to raspberry piquant sauce.
Marinades are used for soaking your choice of meat, tofu or vegetables. The marinating both tenderizes and permeates the food with flavor, adding flavor and promoting crisp brown exteriors, changing an otherwise average dinner into a great one. Marinades are virtually fool proof and can be made in advance refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. The three basic ingredients in a marinade are; flavorings such as herbs, spices, sweeteners; oils which keep the food pliable and give a crispy crust; acids such as citrus juices, wines, vinegars and yogurts used to balance the sweetness. It is suggested to use the acids sparingly on fish and poultry, as they will soften the flesh when used.
A virtually fat free and easy way to add flavor to food is by using a variety of bold seasonings in a rub. The food is rubbed with spices prior to grilling, the rub transforms into a crunchy brown crust that seals in the juices and enhances the flavors of the food. The spices should be generously applied coating the entire surface of the food; the food should then be covered and put in the fridge for 15 minutes to 2 hours. Simplicity is the key for making rubs, salt and sugar are two of the main ingredients and the rest are up to you.
In summary, whatever your barbecuing specialty might be barbecues can be both a fun and convenient way to make dinner. Summertime needn't be the only time of year that you're barbecuing, if weather allows you can barbecue all year round. The options have never been more exciting, and the variety of foods and recipes never more abundant.
Valerie Giles owns and operates Best BBQ Online, a resource web site featuring barbecue grills, grill accessories and bbq recipes and marinades. Everything you need for the barbequing season. http://www.best-bbq-online.com. Try some of our complimentary Mouth Watering Rotisseries Recipes.