Barbecue, (also spelled barbeque, or abbreviated BBQ) is a method of cooking food with indirect heat and smoke, or the end-result of cooking by this method. It is usually cooked in a covered environment heated by an outdoor open flame of wood, charcoal, natural gas or propane. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.
The word 'barbecue' is often used to refer to a casual party, usually outdoors or with an outdoor theme and usually with food that has been barbecued or grilled. For this reason many people consider any outdoor cooking, including grilling, as barbecue, which is frowned upon by purists. The device used for cooking barbecue can usually be used for both barbecuing and grilling and is often called a 'Barbecue grill', thereby adding to the confusion.
As a cooking method grilling is almost always a fast process over high heat and barbecue is almost always a slow process near indirect heat. For example, in a typical home grill with two separately controlled burners, grilled foods are placed over both burners, while if barbecuing, one burner is turned off and the food is placed over the cold burner and heated from the side. The meat is turned one or more times to ensure complete cooking.
This method of cooking breaks down the collagen in meat and turns tougher cuts into easy eating.
A member of the Airpork Crew barbecue team prepares pork shoulder at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Regional variations Edit
- the type of meat used
- the sauce or other flavoring added to the meat
- when the flavoring is added during preparation
- the role that smoke plays in preparation
- the equipment and fuel used to cook the meat
- how much time is spent cooking the meat
At its most generic, any source of protein may be used, including beef, pork, poultry, and fish. The meat could be ground, as with hamburger, processed into sausage or kabobs, and/or accompanied by vegetables. Sometimes the cut of meat (e.g. brisket or ribs) matters; sometimes the cut is irrelevant. Even vegetarian alternatives to meat, such as soyburgers can be barbecued. The meat may be marinaded or rubbed with spices before cooking, basted with a sauce or oil before and/or during cooking, and/or flavored in numerous ways after removed from the heat. Typically meat is covered with barbecue sauce which can be tomato or vinegar based. Vinegar-base sauce is typical of Southern barbecue while tomato-based sauce is Western style. Some forms of barbecue are barely distinguishable from grilled meats; most involve tougher cuts of meat, requiring hours of cooking over low heat that barely exceeds the boiling point of water. With direct heat grilling, the food is placed directly above the flame or source of heat. With indirect heat barbecuing, the food is off to the side and almost always under a cover, frequently with added smoke for additional flavor. Direct grilling is rapid cooking at a high temperature, while indirect barbecuing is much slower at a low temperature. Sometimes an open flame is required, with the fuel source irrelevant. In other cases, the fuel source is critical to the end result, as when wood chips from particular kinds of trees are used as fuel.