Sunday, May 20, 2018

Not Exactly a Word PSA But Still a Pet Peeve


Wikipedia gets this one right:

Barbecue or barbeque (informally BBQ or barbie) is a cooking method, a style of food, and a name for a meal or gathering at which this style of food is cooked and served. Barbecuing is done slowly over low, indirect heat and the food is flavored by the smoking process, while grilling, a related process, is generally done quickly over moderate-to-high direct heat that produces little smoke. [emphasis mine]

Dict.org does not capture this important distinction, probably because over time grills have come to be called "barbecue grills" and then just "barbecues."

Resolved, that cooking a burger, or a chicken breast, or a steak, or whatever, over a wood and/or charcoal flame is not "barbecuing" and the food itself is not "barbecue" even if you then smother it in "barbecue sauce."

Because of the aforementioned usage shift, I can't "prove" that by pointing at the dictionary, which is why this is not technically a Word PSA post.

But I believe it as fervently as a Pentecostal minister believes in the eternal lake of (presumably not low-temperature, hickory-fueled) fire.

I like to grill. There's no better burger than one that's been cooked fairly quickly over a wood and/or charcoal flame. Call it half an hour beginning to end, from lighting the charcoal and letting it burn down a little to walking in the house with a plate full of burgers (and usually a couple of hot dogs for variety, and now that Tamara is a vegetarian, possibly a skewer adorned with chunks of tomato, pepper and onion). The burgers get one flip halfway through, the hot dogs and veggie skewers get rotated in quarter circumferences, and they're all done shortly after they got started.

I also like to barbecue.

Barbecue starts the night before when I prep the meat (usually a slab of pork ribs, from which I remove the membrane, after which I store it in the fridge overnight either soaking in a marinade or covered in a dry rub and wrapped in tinfoil).

In the morning, I pull the meat out of the fridge and let it warm toward room temperature while I get a charcoal fire burning down to to coals and throw my first batch of water-soaked wood chips (hickory if I am smoking ribs, mesquite if I am smoking chicken) onto those coals to flavor the smoke.

Then I put the ribs on (with my barrel-type "barbecue grill" configured to circulate smoke rather than to maximize heat) and spend the next 6-8 hours trying to keep the temperature between 200 and 225 degrees Fahrenheit so that the meat cooks slowly up toward an internal temperature of 180 degrees, and gets maximum exposure to smoke during the process. This means occasionally adding charcoal (burned down to coals on the side, not inside the smoking area!) and more wood chips, removing charcoal, raging at the heavens if the temp gets out of control, etc.

The ribs occasionally get a light "mop" of liquid (water and either vinegar or vinegar, depending on my mood, with some garlic, pepper and mustard mixed in) to keep them from drying out.

For the last hour or two, I wrap the ribs in foil and let the temperature rise so that the outside gets just a little crispy. Then they come off the grill/smoker/heat and rest for a few minutes before I cut them.

Sauce is added by the eater, in the amount/type preferred by said eater.

Note: Another ingredient, cold beer, is added to me while I sit around watching/adjusting the temperature. It may not be the most important ingredient but it's important.

See the difference there? If grilling is a witty saying, barbecue is a fully elaborated philosophy. I barbecue once or twice a year. When the weather is right, I grill once, twice, even three times a week.

It bugs me to hear the two conflated.

That is all.

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