Summertime simply would not be the same without the smoky aromas of a barbecue wafting throughout the air, and easy BBQ ideas are a must for any seasonal host. Family outings, small gatherings, and summer parties are nearly always accompanied by the delicious flavors of sweet, wood-charred barbecue to tie the event together. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated by the skill and prowess that seems to be involved with yielding a tasty end product from the grill’s fiery depths. This hesitation is entirely groundless. Anyone can learn how to barbecue; so long as you understand the process’ basic steps, you will be able to impress your friends and family with the quality of your grilled products at virtually any party.
Classic barbecuing has come to be a veritable American tradition, and this cooking technique has been present in our country for nearly five hundred years. Historians believe that the barbecuing process was born when Spanish settlers introduced pork to the Native Americans. The Native Americans then applied their customary fire-smoking techniques to the pig, yielding incredibly tender meat that quickly swept the country by storm.
Thankfully, present-day barbecue masters do not have to roast their pigs over a primitive campfire. Throughout the years, barbecuing has evolved into a modern, yet simple technique that can be mastered by even the most unlikely chefs. Anyone can master the grill if they are armed with a few easy BBQ ideas.
The History Of Barbecue
Barbecue as we know it began in the United States mostly as a Southern way of cooking but can be traced all the way back to the Early American Indians who had a word for slow cooked meat over a flame said “barbacoa.” Although barbecue (sometimes spelled barbeque) in the South can be traced back to the early American Indians, they were not the first to roast meat and vegetables over open flame. Some historians cite natives of the Caribbean as the first to barbecue, while others can trace this type of cooking as far back as 1697.
The reality of barbecue is that any time anyone cooked their food over an open flame, pit or fire they were paving the way for barbecue as we now know it. During the Civil War, soldiers would eat wild and semi-tame pigs because they were a readily available source of protein for consumption. The availability of spices, flavors, and cooking supplies determined any spice or flavor that would be imparted to the meat.
Often meat for soldiers and travelers would be dried and salted to preserve it for long journeys but not everyone had access to the same resources. Seasonings and ingredients varied largely by region. This access to supplies paved the way for modern barbecue where the flavors and styles range from region across the United States and beyond.
Did you Know?
- According to estimates, prior to the American Civil War, Southerners ate around five pounds of pork for every one pound of beef they consumed.
- Lexington, Kentucky boasts of being “The Barbecue Capital of the World” and it has more than one BBQ restaurant per 1,000 residents.
- The word “barbecue” only refers to the style of cooking when barbecue is on the menu; otherwise the word refers to a social gathering where food is available.
- Most modern barbecues utilize smoking as the most popular way to flavor meat.
Getting Started With Easy BBQ Ideas
Before you begin the barbecuing process, you must equip yourself with the proper gear. The barbecuing process will be made enormously simpler so long as you possess the right equipment and the knowledge of how to properly use it. Most barbecue problems can easily be remedied by planning ahead for various situations, and anticipating possible problems.
First of all, you must determine if a gas grill or a charcoal one is the best barbecue for you. Some experienced barbecue masters insist that one grilling method is superior to the other; this is not necessarily true. Gas grills and charcoal grills simply represent different styles of cooking and neither is necessarily better than another. If you only have access to one kind of grill, there are ways to utilize certain strategies to compensate and adapt your grill to get the best results.
Generally, gas grills are recommended for beginners because they are easier to operate. Charcoal grills must be tended for considerable periods of time in order to achieve and maintain a proper cooking temperature, and this can be a difficult process for those who are inexperienced with grilling techniques. However, you can usually achieve a deeper, woodier flavor with charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables than you could with a gas grill. Gas barbecues are also far more expensive to purchase and maintain than charcoal grills. If you plan on practicing the hobby of barbecuing extensively, then a charcoal grill on which you can sharpen your skills would be ideal; if you only wish to barbecue occasionally, then you should purchase a relatively inexpensive gas barbecue grill.
Some basic cooking utensils are also required in barbecuing. Good-quality spatulas, tongs, and cleaning brushes are a must for proper operation and maintenance of your grill. The most important tool available to you as a beginner is a good set of cleaning supplies. While no one likes to clean a dirty grill, having a clean grill before you start grilling can mean the difference between total success and complete failure.
The initial cost of beginning a barbecuing hobby can seem a bit daunting. The purchase of meats, vegetables, cooking utensils, and a charcoal grill will cost around two hundred dollars; substituting a gas grill for charcoal will bring to total up to four hundred dollars. However, most grillers are able to obtain several years’ worth of usage out of their barbecue and utensils, and most cooks assert that the purchase of their grill was entirely worth the initial price.
How To Master Your Barbecue
Before beginning the grilling process, search for recipes and easy BBQ ideas that are applicable to your specific foods. Meats should be marinated for a few hours before cooking, vegetables should be coated with non-stick spray and seasoned liberally, and hamburgers should be shaped and patted to the perfect thickness. Any simple recipe will be able to tell you how your foods should be prepared.
Barbecuing can be remarkably simple if performed correctly. One helpful trick is to prepare your foods before taking them out to the grill. Assemble all your food, tools, and ingredients in an assembly-line format to help you utilize the most efficient process available. The mean should be pre seasoned or marinated, the grill should be clean, and your supplies should be readily available and in excess just in case you need an extra knife or two.
Next, bring your foods to the barbecue. The grill should be preheated to the recipe’s specified temperature and cleaned of any remnant crumbs. In many cases, the meat should be quickly seared over a high temperature and then moved to a cooler part of the grill to finish the cooking process. Searing helps to lock in meat juices and flavor. Be sure to watch the grill at all times for any out-of-control flames, and make sure that they are extinguished immediately. Cook your food to the recipe’s specified doneness; a food thermometer is especially useful when cooking meats.
Finally, remove your food from the grill and turn off the barbecue. Regardless of which type of grill you have, it is important to make sure your grill is completely off before you begin enjoying your food. If you have a gas grill, it is very important that you check and recheck that your gas supply is off once the cooking is done. It is advised that you scrape the grill clean of any charred-on foods while it is still warm; this will make the cleanup process much quicker and easier.
Tips and Tricks
The following easy BBQ ideas and tips can help you get the most out of your barbecue hobby…
- When first learning to cook, often beginners make the mistake of being overly cautious and precise with cooking techniques. The best way to barbecue is to allow your artistic culinary senses to guide you. Once you have mastered the basics, you must simply let your instincts take full rein.
- Don’t be frightened by the grilling process. Man mastered fire thousands of years ago, and there is no reason why you can’t do the same. Don’t be afraid to try something new; you will undoubtedly be pleased with the end results of your efforts.
- Look for tools that will make your tasks easier and fun. Half the fun of barbecuing is the social element of cooking. There are lots of toys, games, and other tools that make barbecuing easier, faster and more enjoyable.
- Make sure to keep your barbecue a few feet away from any ignitable material. You should also make sure to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Growing Your Barbecue Hobby
Once you feel more comfortable with the grill, do not limit yourself just to easy BBQ ideas. There are innumerable different grilling recipes that have been developed by home cooks and professionals alike. Be adventurous and try whatever seems interesting to you. You can learn a surprising amount about grilling through a trial and error process, and the best way to expand your barbecuing skills is to practice, practice, practice.
The following ideas can help you expand your barbecue skills…
- Consider entering a local barbecue competition if there is one in your area.
- Take a cooking class – many community colleges offer these, especially in the summer.
- Consider putting your newfound abilities on display for friends and family by having a large get-together featuring your home-cooked cuisine.
- Host a neighborhood barbecue cook-off.
Related Barbecue Resources
Check out the following online resources for other easy BBQ ideas and tips…
Barbecue’n On the Internet – a database of tips and information regarding the barbecue hobby.
BBQ Recipe Secrets – a collection of barbecue recipes and tips
Home BBQ.com – A barbeque forum where users can chat about the hobby, and exchange information and tips. Also a great overall resource on the barbecue hobby.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.