Grilling is really popular especially during the summer, because of the distinct roasted aroma and flavour meat gets from being exposed directly to heat, but that specific aroma and flavour occurs only when foods are cooked in temperatures in excess of 310 degrees F.
Grilling technically means you’re cooking food fast and hot and directly over fire. Meats exposed to this type of cooking can only be cooked for a short amount of time before being burned (the time is usually less than an hour). The cuts of meat used for grilling are steaks, pork chops, sea food, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs. Many vegetables can also be cooked this way.
Barbecue on the other hand is cooked low and slow. Meats being barbecued are cooked for a long period of time (2 hours up to 18 hours) by the smoke and heat produced from the burning of wood or charcoal.
The choice of meat is also another differentiator between grilling and barbecuing. Typical cuts of barbecue meats include: ribs, pork shoulder and butt, beef brisket, mutton (aka lamb), the occasional goat, and whole chicken and turkey. These cuts of meat, apart from chicken and turkey, tend to be tougher because there is a lot of fat and connective tissue in them. By cooking these meats between 225-249 degrees F the toughest of meats become tender, juicy, and melt-in-your-mouth. Traditional barbecue involves a little more work but the payoff is worth the wait.
PICKING THE RIGHT WOOD
Alder has a light and naturally sweet flavour, which makes it great for pairing with fish, poultry, and any white meat.
Apple wood has a fruity and sweet smoke that pairs wonderfully with pork, fish, and poultry
Hickory has a strong and distinct flavour that’s ideal for red meats (especially ribs).
Pecan gives your meat something of a fruity flavour and burns cooler than most other woods. It’s similar to hickory and is best used on large cuts like brisket and pork roast, but can also be used to compliment chops, fish and poultry.
Maple has a sweet and delicate taste, and tends to darken whatever meat you’re smoking. Goes well with alder, oak, or applewood, and is typically used for poultry and ham.
Mesquite is undoubtedly the most pungent and powerful wood you can smoke, and can easily overpower your meat if used improperly. Avoid using mesquite with larger cuts that require longer cooking times, or simply use it with other woods.
Oak, on the other hand is great for big cuts of meat that take a long time to cook. It’s got a subtle flavor that’s hard to appreciate in low doses.
Cherry wood’s flavour is best suited for red meat and pork, and it also pairs well with alder, hickory, and oak.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINING
Brining your meat keeps it from drying out during the smoking process. In its most basic form, brine is nothing more than salty water, but the best brines are made from much more than that. Since brining is a bit of a double edged sword (it helps meat retain moisture, but also makes it saltier), some people use sugar, molasses, and various spices to combat the salty flavour. To make good brine, add three tablespoons of salt to one quart of water (then throw in whatever else you prefer). For optimal moisture retention, soak your meat in brine for 10-12 hours before smoking.