Barbecue is a southern favorite and is
a fun past time when the weather is nice, and, you just want to be outside. Barbecue is also responsible for many a big family gathering when
the kids play in the yard, the women gather and chat and the men stand around lying
to each other. Whichever happens it's all about fun and good eating.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of barbecue recipes and styles. Naturally I
barbecue and my style is my style, but, since I'm here typing I'll share with
you the little things I do and share a little method along with it.
Traditional barbecue takes large cuts of meat and slow cooks them on a pit
with charcoal/hardwood combinations. A smoke flavor is essential with good
barbecue. In South Louisiana an old past time and family event is a couchon de
lait. This is a a whole roasted suckling pig stuffed with garlic and other
spices and rubbed with copious seasonings. This is done throughout the world so
we haven't invented anything new here.
The fast food enthusiast has come to translate barbecuing to grilling however
the two are slightly different in that the grill (usually gas fired) lends no
smoked wood flavor to the bounty as does charcoal and hardwoods. By
the way, hardwoods include hickory, mesquite, pecan and cherry to name a
few. I like grilling for such things as steaks, burgers and the like but
in the quick cook meats the smoke flavor is not demanded. Chicken and ribs
require smoke in my opinion!
I like to allow at least 4 hours to barbecue. 1 hour to get the pit right and
the remaining three to cook the meat (this is one batch). You would of course
allow more time if you're cooking more than your pit can handle in one cycle.
Chicken normally takes the longest, then the ribs and then the smaller choices.
I'll light the coals and let them get almost all white. I leave the coals in a
pile, I don't spread them out. Why? Because this gives me a choice of the heat
intensity I want to cook with. After brushing the grill down (no, I don't burn
it) I get to work. Before I get too busy I put a tin can of water right
over the fire to get some steam goin' (helps keep the meat moist). Soak some
hardwood chips beforehand and throw them in every half hour. A smoker box works
well as it does not let the wood catch fire. You can find these at
most grill accessory stores.
A little water added to your favorite barbecue sauce is
the ticket. If you add the right amount of water to the sauce it will still
stick to the meat. Put too much water and it rolls off the meat. I don't have to
tell you which one you want! Besides a water/sauce baste you can also use a butter or
oil baste. I like to finish up with this type because it adds flavor, not
The chicken goes on first and I start by quartering the bird, making a small
slit behind the leg and thigh (promotes cooking), patting it dry and seasoning
it with olive oil and Creole seasoning and whatever else you like. At the
beginning the chicken is snuggled up close to the fire, meat side down to get it a little
browned. I flip it once and brown it some more then move it just a little
farther away from the heat. Remember we're slow cooking here. The skin
side stays down for the remainder of the cooking. After about an
hour the basting starts. Now, after the second hour move the chicken a
little farther from the fire and continue to baste it with the water/sauce
baste. If you have a small pit you may not have the luxury of
moving the meat away. In that case you can always stack it one piece on top the
other and rotate it. Yes, it's a little more work but well worth it. The last
thirty minutes I put the un-diluted sauce on it and let 'er go. Now, when the
meat starts to leave the bone it's done. The thigh takes the longest to cook,
when you see the thigh bone move freely in the meat it's done. You can take it off before then but the
seasoning will not have penetrated as it should. For added moisture you can form
a pan with aluminum foil, put a little water in it and put the
chicken in it. Set this far from the fire and let it steam a little
Beef and pork ribs are a must! Slow cooking them is naturally the thing
to do. Start them out like the chicken, close to the fire then move them away.
You can also attempt a medium-well rib, which is good, but you have to stay with
it. This is done right close to the fire and if you have a poor grade of meat
will most likely not come out good. It's a chance you take with beef but pork
ribs are more forgiving. When doing this keep the bone side down. Lack of
moisture is the "big enemy" of ribs on the pit. To help
keep them moist put a piece of heavy duty foil with the sides rolled
up under the ribs sort of like a pan, or, use a pan covered. Keep a small amount of water
in the pan. It will steam and help keep the meat moist. I use a
pressurized water spritzer, or a regular hand sprayer to spray a little
water on everything as it cooks. Baby
Back Ribs... 10 Steps to Juicy
Sausage and stuff....
These quickies go on last and of course baste them as you
sometimes has a lot of fat in it. I suggest you cook it a while then cut it down
the middle and put a little sauce on it but don't leave it on the grill for more
than a few minutes. You can also pierce it to release some of the fat when
it's done cooking. Fresh sausage needs to be cooked throughout, smoked sausage is already cooked or
all it takes is heating. Fresh sausage is best done away from the direct heat
for a while, and, don't pierce the casing. Fresh sausage is normally made with
water in it. The water in the meat mixture not
only gives it moisture, but assists in the cooking process.
Burgers bought in the freezer section of the grocery cook quick. Keep them
moist and try not to over do them. Homemade burgers will take longer to do and I
like to do these when the fire subsides a little. I also try not to cook them
directly over the fire if the fire is real hot. Do your homemade burgers fall
apart on the grill? Check
this out (will open new window).
We can't leave out oysters, shrimp and fish as these are all great.
Remember when cooking theses, they don't take long, so be careful
not to dry them out. Here's a good seafood
kebabs are great on the pit also. Making "kabobs" is simple but takes
a little time and is well worth it.
Here's one method to keep the meat moist. About an hour before
it's all done put the meat in a pan and cover the bottom with water.
Put one more good coating of barbecue sauce over it, cover the pan,
and let it steam. This method will leave you with a little sauce at
the bottom. Cut the meat and slosh it around in the sauce before you
take it out.
Note: Never pierce the chicken or ribs with a fork. Use tongs always.
Piercing meat lets the natural juices out, you don't want that.
Hint: After the stuff is done and you have it in the pan add a little
water (about 1/8 cup) to the pan and keep it covered. Promotes moistness.
Another hint; When reheating barbecue, sprinkle a little water on the
meat before you reheat it. Again, this promotes a moist meat.