How the weather affects barbecue

Back in 2010, I led a trip of food writers to a relatively new place called Franklin Barbecue that was set up in a series of trailers in a parking lot off Interstate 35 in Austin. The Moores use an offset barrel smoker made from an old industrial propane tank, much like the smokers used by Franklin and Timmons. According to Moore, one of the most important factors in cooking barbecue is humidity, the amount of moisture in the air. Neither I nor Moore can claim to know the exact physics associated with this, but you might think about it in terms of "wet" heat.

Master Tender Smoked Brisket

We show you how to master the smoker and make a perfect barbecue brisket.

BBQ Pit Boys Video – Open Pit Roast Beef

The Thermometer – Your BBQ Smoker’s Best Friend

Smoking is a method of processing food that has been around for a long time. In the good old days it was used to help preserve meats for longer periods of time. This method is still used to this days. But there is also another type of smoking that is a very different process with a different end result in mind: the BBQ smoking. This type of smoking is all about cooking, tenderizing and adding flavor to pork, ribs, or whatever else you fancy eating including cheese or vegetables.

The process is relatively simple, in that there is not that much science to it. However there are a lot of little things you have to keep an eye out for and one of the most important ones is the temperature. Smoking works by burning some material (hardwood preferably, although some say that even corn cobs will do), and letting the smoke fill up a container that holds the meat. This is a slow process, but it is slow for a very good reason. The low temperature gives the meat time to break down into sugars, becoming tender and sweet at the same time.

One of the most important tools to be used is the thermometer. The only way to get the best out of your BBQ is temperature control. You need to know the temperature of both the inside of the smoker and the inside of the meat. The smoker should be kept at about 220F, while various meats have different temperatures which they have to reach before they are done. Usually it is somewhere in the range of 160-190F.

There are several ways you can go about this, but a good rule of thumb is to go for quality. This way you avoid overcooking or undercooking meat, and more importantly, food borne diseases. For the thermometer inside the smoker, go for the best (or something in the vicinity of the best). That’s about it. And the great thing about it is, that it will work for your indoor oven too, which is in most cases a worst thermometer than the quality in-grill one you are going to get.

For the food thermometer you have two choices (or at least two choices that matter): a leave-in and an instant thermometer. It might be a good idea to get both, but if you can only go with one, go with the instant thermometer. Get an electronic one, and all you will have to do is open the grill, stick the probe of the thermometer into the meat and wait three seconds for the temperature. Again, try to go for quality. This does not mean that expensive is better, not in this case or in the case of the in-grill thermometer. Accuracy is the most important thing to look for, but also keep an eye out for the speed to read and the temperature range. For an instant thermometer, find one that has a long, thinner probe to make sure you can get to the middle of bigger meats, while leaving in as much of the juice as possible.

You know how they say: a handyman is only as good as his tools. Or maybe nobody says that. Either way, good thermometers are what makes the difference between a good steak and a bad steak.

Essential Accessories for the BBQ Chef

So you’ve managed to get your hands on the smoker of your dreams, and now you’re wondering what to do with it. Well, before you start grilling, you should have several essential tools at your disposal. These accessories are indispensable if you ever want to use that bad boy, and once you get them, they will be handy to you for the whole span of your career as a BBQ chef.

Let’s start off with some of the basics. You’ll need a spatula. This is good for anything and everything that can go in your smoker. You can use it for veggies or meat, it’s up to you. But make sure you have one, and please make sure it’s metal. Then a pair of thongs is always a good thing to have. You can use it to flip meat or corn, and depending on the size of your smoker you might want to get longer or shorter ones.

Now, you also need tools to clean your grill. You will need to get a grill brush. This is essential, because your food will suffer if your grill is dirty. Make sure to use it after every cooking session while the grill is still hot for maximum efficiency. You can find brushes like this that have a replaceable head so keep an eye out.

A very different type of brush is the sauce brush. This one is not used for scrubbing, it’s used for painting the meat with sauce. This brush is great for applying an even coat on your meats and ensuring the highest quality for your BBQ.

Make sure you also have a good pair of grill gloves, to handle big chunks of meat (if you plan on doing that), and a good set of knives, for obvious reasons. From trimming to slicing, a good set of knives will make your life way easier.

And finally, make sure that you get your hands on good thermometers. There are two types: one that tells the temperature inside of your smoker, and one that tells the internal temperature of the meat. Getting both is a pretty good idea, but if you can’t do that for whatever reason, go for the thermometer that tells you the temperature inside the meat. And go for thermometers that have very low response times. The best can take the temperature in three seconds. This way you ensure that you do not lose too much heat when checking on your meat.

These are the most essential tools any BBQ chef will need. Without them nothing would ever get done. And even if someone would risk using their fingers to handle the really hot meat and would rip the meat with their bare hands, it doesn’t mean it would get done very well. We all know that grilling is manly, but, come on, it’s not that manly.