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Barbecue Or Meat Grill: Instructions For A Successful BBQ Meal

Updated on May 11, 2013

Some people interpret the term "barbecue" or BBQ to be a social assemblage which includes cooking, mainly grilling, in an outdoors space. Others call BBQ the grilling process itself; No matter how you use the term, barbecue is an exciting way to cook, able to give awesome results if done correctly.

Meats on the grill with vegetables.
Meats on the grill with vegetables.

The Right Meat

Beef, pork, chicken or lamb - no matter which you prefer, virtually every meat can be grilled and give a good result, but should be treated with knowledge and respect. In other words, not all parts of a meat are suitable to be grilled. Some of them lack the necessary fat, which will melt and give a delicious tasty finishing. Other parts are more suitable for stews, where the slow cooking in liquid lets them unleash their qualities in a better way.

For an amateur, it might not always be easy to distinguish which meats parts are good for grill. Actually, two things should never be underestimated: first is the quality of the meat itself. As opposed to cooking ways of meat, where a low quality meat is not easily distinguished due to the cooking process, in a typical BBQ the meat will show off tis quality at once. So it's up to you to make this your meal advantage, by having chosen a high quality, fresh meat.The second instruction to be followed at this stage, is the initial cut of the meat. The parts which are to be grilled at same time should be of same size and width and should have equally distributed fat.

Of course, every good cook should consider the rest table participants; no-one would like to disappoint his visitors, regardless if they are family, relatives or friends. For example, some meats could be particularly hard for children, so if your visitors bring with them their kids, you could do worse than having some soft, well-marinaded chicken ready to be added.

A griller with wheels and large grilling surface, suitable for an open garden with sufficient space.
A griller with wheels and large grilling surface, suitable for an open garden with sufficient space.

The Griller

The standard, fire and coal griller is always the best choice, but it's not the only one. Lately people tend to choose grillers which work with gas and maintain temperature with volcanic stones or other materials. Such type of griller would still produce a high quality cooking result on any material, but it would lack the feeling of the "smoking" which is present after a food has been coal grilled. For those who do not have large space or do not have high experience, an electric griller is not a bad choice, because it does not need some specific treatment or preparation before heating up.

If you have a traditional fire griller, you need to make sure the surface is prepared. Hopefully, last time you used you had cleaned the leftover meats and brushed them with wire brush to remove all debris. At this time, check how many meat pieces can fit in the grill without being too congested, so you can have an idea of how many meats you can provide at once for your diners. Be cautious with the firewoods or coals you buy too - pine tends to give a bitter smoking taste to the meat.

The Day Before - Meat Preparations - Marinades

A juicy, delicious grilled meat is not only a matter of cook's experience or meat's quality, but a matter of proper preparation the day before. The ingredients we choose to add on the marinades or rub on the meats will be of high importance to the final result.

In grilling, among experienced cooks there are two sides: those who prefer meat staying in an aromatic spices, herbs, juice, oils or even alcohol marinade, and those who consider dry rubbing on the meat, using crushed spices and spices mixtures, mainly spicy, to be more effective.
The initial, marinading method in liquid is for sure easier for the grill amateur and tends to give guaranteed results at all times. In marinades, there are no rules; anyone can experiment with the choice of liquid, herbs and spices, but there are some tricks which you might find useful:

  • If you are cooking beef and you are not sure if your visitors like it with some of its blood in, you need to add some wine or lemon juice in your marinade. This way, your beef will be "slowly boiling" form the insides, giving a very juicy result and making the cook's job easier.
  • Chicken makes a perfect combination with yogurt. Give it a try, by making a marinade with yogurt, cumin, chili pepper and crushed garlic.
  • If you grill pork, aim for coriander, cider and aromatic vinegars. You can find a large variety in stores which sell Asian foods. You could also try a marinade based on orange juice.
  • For better blending of flavors, crush your spices with a mortal and pestle or a food processor so they can release their oils too.
  • Sugar is a common material of marinades in many countries, and is also used on dry rubs. It requires some cooking dexterity however, because it tends to burn fast.
  • Available in the market you will find spices mixtures, specifically made for a particular meat. Search around and experiment, before attempting to invite people over.

Lamb chops served with lemons.
Lamb chops served with lemons.

The Moment Of Truth

Some generic instructions for a better meal are the following:

  • We should always let our ingredient reach room temperature if we plan to grill it. That means, if your meat has been marinading in the fridge, remove it from the marinade and let it stay outside for at least an hour before you place it on the griller.
  • Wash properly and cut the vegetables, if you plan to add some with your meat. Potatoes are a great choice - wash them and rub them, dry them then place in aluminum foil and throw in the coals. Don't worry, they still need some time before they are done and they will not burn easily. Corns, eggplants and mushroom are also good additions to any BBQ meal.
  • Avoid lighting the fire using paper from magazines or newspapers - the coloring and the material can produce toxic smoke which you would rather not have on your meat. Additionally, avoid using a typical fireplace firestarter, for the same reason. You would need approximately 1 kg of coals for every kg of meats cooked.
  • Organize and sort your space - the various tools, the lighter, the plates for the finished foods, cleaning paper, gloves and brush you will use to apply marinade should all be within your easy reach and not restrain your moves.
  • When you light the coals, give them enough time to be ready. Regardless of what some people think, a coal which is still causing visual flame is not good for your meat. You are ready to add your materials to be grilled on only when the coals are whitish in color and do not burn with flame anymore. Mind the distance between the grill and the meat - a large, wide meat part needs to be further from the coals to be given time to cook slow and fully.
  • Remove the meats from marinade and strain them from the liquid leftovers, then use some paper to dry them gently.
  • Keep the marinade near you, because you will be applying it occasionally using a brush.
  • Coat the grill with some oil and let it reach high temperature before you insert the meats. This way they have less chances of sticking to the grill surface. For the same reason, avoid changing sides too often.

Hopefully you have managed your time and materials well, and the result will be good. The final advice is, at this stage when the meats are grilling, try to be there for them. It is normal that such occasion would probably require your presence in many places, but try to stay near the grill to avoid possible mishaps and make sure the process is going smoothly.

Please share your BBQ experiences and tricks with me through the comments sections. We could all gain from it.

Have fun grilling and bon app├ętit!

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