Last week my wife joked that our house (and our backyard) was becoming a big storage facility for all things BBQ. And since we’ve shared this house, I have to admit that it does seem to be slowly taking over.
I’ve got a nice arrangement of different smokers and grills out back, a 4,000 pound BBQ rig in the driveway and a garage full of equipment.
Some of these things are essential for competition BBQ. And the rest – everything from that old, rusty grill to the frayed extension cords – are simply just my prized treasures. But you don’t need a garage full to produce quality BBQ. You just need to know how to properly use the equipment you have.
Whether it’s a home-made UDS or a top-of-the-line Ole Hickory Pit, if you don’t know how to use it, you’re not going to get the best possible BBQ.And if you’re heating up wood chips with a hot plate, you’re not smoking BBQ… (and I don’t care who tells you any differently).
I don’t care what type of smoker you have; I guarantee you that good BBQ can be created on it.
- Before you put any meat on the cooker, fire it up and see how it performs. I do this with every “new to me” cooker I use.
- Watch the temperature gauge and make sure you can hold a steady cooking temp. It’s the most critical part to producing good BBQ.
- Learn how the air vent positions affect the temperature, and figure out where the hot spots are at grate level.
Once you have a handle on controlling temperature, you’re ready to smoke some meat. Just remember one thing: A little smoke goes a long way. Thin Blue Smoke is all that’s needed for flavor. Anything thick and heavy will give the meat a terrible taste that you just can’t get out of your mouth. Add a few chunks of wood at a time to hot coals, and you want have to worry about over-smoking.
Cooking BBQ is all about spending time with your pit, learning how to operate it and being able to look at a piece of meat on the rack and just know when it’s done.
It’s not always something you can be taught… it’s something you have to learn. It takes a little time – and a little practice to get it right. But at least it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
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