Grilling VS barbecue: Part two
When smoking meats or barbecuing, most of your fire will be in the smaller chamber and the meats in the larger chamber. One advantage of using such a unit is that you do not have to tend it constantly. You can start your fire and put the meat in place and then go about other activities and check the fire every 30 minutes or so.
In a smoker/grill such as the ones mentioned previously, keeping the temperature 210 – 225, you can expect ribs to cook 4 – 5 hours, pork butt 7 – 9 hours and beef brisket 10 hours or more. This sounds like a lot of work due to the number of hours but you can develop a routine that will make it easier than it may seem after reading this. If you raise the temperature in an effort to “rush the process”, the meats will not be as tender and juicy. Regarding ribs, the age old debate is whether or not to remove the membrane on the backside. My choice is to leave it on in order to help retain juices and more flavor.
I suggest using real wood lump charcoal instead of briquettes. When you use briquettes, all that white powdery substance is not ashes. Some of it is food grade starch which was the adhesive used to hold the briquette together. Back when the federal government said that sniffing glue is not good for you, they told briquette companies to stop using glue as the adhesive. Incidentally, a man who was instrumental in developing the process to use starch as the adhesive in briquettes lived in Slidell, LA for a number of years. His name was Dale Lambert.
By using lump wood charcoal, you get a slightly hotter fire so less charcoal is needed and all of it will burn. This type of charcoal is available at a number of stores. I find it at several chain stores, twenty pounds of wood charcoal is close to the cost of ten pounds of a nationally advertised briquette brand. Even if you stick with briquettes, think before you buy the kind that has been soaked in a petroleum base liquid to ignite it. Most of the charcoal has to burn before the odor and taste of the chemical is gone. Meats absorb smoke flavor and other odors that are present in the first 40 – 45 minutes that they are exposed to such odors. Also, I DO NOT recommend using lighter fluid on any type of charcoal. You have the same problem of burning a lot of coals to get rid of the fluid odor. Many persons are tempted to squirt more fluid on coals that have been ignited in order to boost the fire. This is very dangerous since the flame can travel up the stream of fluid and the container can explode in your hand.
I use propane to light my charcoal. Since many of you may have a propane burner to boil seafood or cook other items outdoors, you can buy one of those charcoal lighting chimneys, place the charcoal in it and just sit it down on the propane flame and it takes just a very few minutes for the coals to be ready. A charcoal lighting chimney comes with instructions suggesting placing newspaper in the base and lighting it to start the coals. In windy conditions, flaming paper can blow into your yard and start a fire. If you use newspaper, you then have the ashes to clean up. You can use a little propane torch in one of the vent holes at the base of the chimney, if you do not have a propane burner.
By Jim Towler