Google+ Q Dot: How to make Bar-B-Q in the Northwest.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to make Bar-B-Q in the Northwest.

Summer's winding down and we're looking at that window to have a good outdoor BBQ close pretty quickly here in the Northwest.

Let's face it. Here in the Northwest BBQ is not our thing. But that plays to our advantage, unlike BBQ meccas like Texas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis and the Carolinas, we're not restricted to the taste of the region. We have the freedom to just make some damn good BBQ that tastes good no matter where you're from or at. Before I give you some tips to having that BBQ to end all BBQ's for summer 2010 lets do a little bit of schoolin' about BBQ.

A lil' taste of history:

To know BBQ is to respect the history of it. It's truly America's food just like Football is America's game and Jazz is America's music. It was created by pioneers heading west, mountain men and cowboys. It's a man's food - literally. In those days the men headed out to conquer the west which left a lack of women of the puritan society who by the way, played their role as nurturers of the family and household which often meant preparing meals. With a lack of that role the men were left to fend for themselves and cook the best way they knew how which meant: hunt it, kill it, cook it and do it with whatcha got! Which often was nothing more than the flame on an open fire sparked by the woods of the region. Hickory, Mesquite and Apple were common and are still the woods of choice today in real Q'ing.

Grillin' Vs. Q'in'

What you do on your backyard grill ain't BBQ folks. That's grillin'. There's nothing wrong with that - just know that what you're doing in theory is not BBQ'ing. There's one difference to Grilling and BBQing. Grilling is like a one night stand its hot and fast and Q'ing is like building a relationship it's all about low and slow. That is low heat and cook it for a looong time.

Although you can achieve the tender, juicy succulence of BBQ in your backyard grill, chances are you haven't or maybe haven't experimented with it and it didn't work. Here's whatcha need to do.

Prep your meal.

1. First thing you need obviously is a grill if you don't have a BBQ pit (most of us northwesterners dont have a pit)
and by grill I mean a charcoal grill, not that fancy shmancy propane stuff.

2. Second thing you need is a choice of wood. Some folks are picky about their woods but really it doesn't matter. I'd suggest experimenting with all the woods to find the one you really become fond to. You can pick up bags of wood chips from Costco or Cash and Carry. Truth be told, if BBQed with wood chips from trees in the back yard and it's been a-okay.

3. Prep your meat. But in BBQing be careful of marinating meat in fancy sauces. It could spell disaster depending on what woods you use so in this case I say...KISS (keep it simple, stupid). Get (or make) a good rub from the store. A rub is just that. A mix of salts, spices and herbs you literally rub all over your meat before you cook it.

Prep your grill.

1. The older the grill the better. Especially if it's been used with wood as a cooking agent. The inner walls of the grill will already be "cured" with a woodsy smoke that can help infuse that wonderful taste distinctive to good Q. If an older, wood worn grill isn't available thats okay! Get your grill and keep the following formula in mind.

2. 1 pound of WOOD to 60 pounds of meat. Don't be putting a whole tree in your grill thinking you're gonna be making a good batch of BBQ, no one wants to eat trees.

3. If you're using a mix of charcoal with the wood (which you should just for the sake of igniting the coals) make sure you build your charcoal pile with equal parts wood according to the amount of wood you need to use.

Low and slow!

1. Before you put the meat on the grill let those coals get good, hot and ready. If you're doing beef cuts like brisket and steak or pork cuts like shoulder and ham you wanna get up bright and early because remember, BBQ isn't about hot and fast, it's about low and slow, you'll wanna cook these pieces (depending on weight) for a few hours at minimum. Ribs and chicken tend to take a little less time.

Things to watch for.

1. The beauty of BBQ is it's really unpredictable. You could guess you could Q up a turkey or a slab of brisket in about 6 hours but then again it may take less or it may take more!? So you gonna do a lot of eyeball tests and taste tests to see if it's where YOU want it to be.

2. Be very watchful of chicken. VERY watchful. Why you ask? The grease being in close proximity of your grill tray can ignite flames and remember were not grillin' we're Q'in!

Tips to achieve a delicious Q

These are tips and tricks I learned in my year working in a BBQ restaurant that you can use at home.

1. Wrap your meat in foil, with about a half a cup of water. The benefits of this are that you're meat will tend to cook a little bit faster (so you don't have to wait so long to eat!) the water will keep the moisture in the meat so it's tender and juicy and you don't get flame burns on your meat.

2. Cook meats like brisket with the fat side down toward the bottom of the grill. It has the same affect of the water but better! Now, I warn you healthy northwesterners eating your granola and organic green salads to just indulge with me for a bit. Fat gives meat its flavor. A juicy tender steak has a higher grade and thus a higher cost why? Because the fat marbling keeps the meat tender and flavorful, if you simply flip your fat side toward the heat you'll melt that thick layer of fat and the juicy flavor will absorb back into the meat.

3. If your worried about flames...find a neighborhood welder or metalworker who can cut a sturdy piece of metal with holes poked throughout it to stick just on top of the wood and coals. The holes will allow the smoke to rise up and penetrate the meat without the risk of flame burns. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE ONE YOURSELF.

4. Make yourself a good sauce. Every BBQ man or woman has a secret recipe. And you should be no different. For a common sauce start with three basic ingredients. Ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce and from there you can add whatever spices and herbs you desire.