Grilling 101: The Basics of Grilling

Grilling is basically cooking your food over an open fire, but just as how easy it may sound, achieving perfectly grilled food is far from easy. So if you are planning on picnics and parties with grilling cookouts sometime in the near future, learn first the basics of grilling and some useful tips to live by.

Grilling Equipment



Being acquainted with the grill itself is your first major step in grilling. There are various types of grilling equipment, each working differently. You either have a charcoal grill, gas grill, or electric grill. Electric grills are not so preferred for large cookouts because aside from the fact that it cannot achieve an exceptional taste of grilled food, it also lacks the ability to cook large amounts because it is relatively small. The two most preferred grills are the charcoal grill and the gas grill, particularly when hosting outdoor cookouts. While debates are going everywhere about what produces the best taste between the two, both, all the same, produces great smoky and rich taste of food. Charcoal grill utilizes charcoal for the heating while gas grill uses lava rock or ceramic coals heated by gas flames. The rule of thumb is to always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for your own grilling equipment especially when using it for the first time.

Direct or Indirect Heat

The type and amount of the food and your desired result will dictate of which heat is to be used for the grilling process. Direct heat cooking is cooking the food directly over the heat source, resulting to fast cooking at high temperatures. In indirect heat grilling, the grill lid is closed and the space directly under the food is flame-free. Indirect heat grilling takes a longer time for cooking at lower temperatures.

Recipes for Grilling

One great secret for exceptional tastes of grilled food lies in the spice rubs and marinades. Different recipes of grilled food are widely available, but you can just as well experiment on your own. Learn about the particular spices that best complements to the type of you are planning to cook. For spice rubs, you can choose either a dry rub or paste rub, and for marinades, you can have acidic marinades, flavoring marinades, or tenderizing marinades.

If you like seafood, you can also try this grilled tuna recipe!

Random (But Useful) Grilling Tips

• Place your T-fal GC702 indoor grill on a solid even surface away from any potentially flammable materials and from shrubbery, grass, and overhangs.

• Always keep your grill clean to prevent the food from sticking. You can also apply non-stick spray to the grill grates prior to lighting up the grill.

• During grilling, oil the food and not the grill.

• Flare-ups are normal and are caused by too much fat from the food or too much heat. When flare ups are coming in, turn the food and move it to another part of the grill.

• Never use gasoline, kerosene, or highly volatile fluids in lighting up your coals.

• For charcoal grills, a number of charcoals to use for the heating depends on the amount of food you will be grilling. Generally, 30 goals are needed to grill one pound of meat.

• For the gas grill, open the lid first before lighting up the grill to prevent gas build up inside the grill. Also, be sure that all the burner knobs are turned off before turning the gas on at the source.

• Have proper grilling tools and accessories.

Top BBQ Contests Around the World

Barbecue is not just a cuisine tradition found in the backyards of homes. Barbecue enthusiasts are incessantly growing in number and so different types of barbecue cooking competitions have been organized in different parts of the world to accommodate barbecue festivities in a larger scale. Here is the list of the top barbecue competition to date.

1. Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, Tennessee

Holding the Guinness title of “The Largest Pork BBQ in the World”, this barbecue competition has been the world’s most prestigious barbecue cooking competition with over 82 tons mile-long of pork cooked in Tom Lee Park, Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The competition also awards the largest prize giveaways in the history of barbecue cooking competition with a total of $115,000. The team to be hailed the World Champion will take home $14,500. The contest administrators allow barbecue fans and enthusiasts to judge after undergoing an orientation with the Kingsford Tour of Champions to be able to taste barbecue like a pro.

2. World Barbecue Championship (World Food Championships) in Kissimmee, Florida

Ran by the World Food Championships, the World Barbecue Championship is also one of the world’s premier barbecue competition with at least 100 teams competing for that single title “World Barbecue Champion”. To join the barbecue cooking contest, and open the management pro open registration process for up to 50 barbecue teams while the remaining 50 spots are for the participating teams coming in from the selected major sanctioning bodies in barbecue cooking competitions in the world.

3. International Barbecue Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky

As well as this is a barbecue festival, it is also a barbecue cooking battle for the Governor’s Cup held every second week in May in the town of Owensboro, Kentucky. The place welcomes a good number of 85,000 visitors with different variety barbecue with their specialty, which is the mutton and a spicy stew called burgoo, aside from chicken and sometimes pork. Each team is required to cook at least 300 chickens, 600 pounds of mutton, and 60 gallons of burgoo. Add up to the festivities the showcase of arts and crafts and the festive dancing, this festival should indeed not to be missed.

4. World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest in Houston, Texas

In the last days of February when everyone else in America is dealing with winter colds, one state does offer warmth with their best contribution to the world, barbecue. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Houston, Texas is a festival that also holds the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest to warm up the event. The three-day event accommodates around 300 team competitors to battle it out with everything barbecue from brisket to Dutch-oven dessert. Upon visiting, do not miss as well the rodeo, the live music every night and the craft beer.

5. Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee

Taking place in Lynchburg, Tennessee every fourth Saturday of October, “The Jack” is actually referred to as “The Super Bowl of Barbecue” with participating teams meticulously selected. The prestigious “invitation” is only sent to the names selected from the list of qualifiers that vied to join the competition. On the event, nothing beats drinking Jack while witnessing the best of the best pitmasters compete for pork ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, and chicken barbecues, plus their exceptional barbecue sauces and side desserts.

How to Make Your Own Barbecue Rub

A good barbecue starts with a good barbecue rub. The ingredients of your spice rub are the ones liable for the flavor surprises of your barbecue, and there are enough ingredients you can choose from and experiment with.
For your barbecue spice rub, there are three sets of ingredients to note.

1. Salt and Sugar

This is where to start with – a good salt and sugar base. The combination of correct amounts of salt and sugar will give the taste balance and caramelization to the food. The ratio between the amounts of salt and sugar depends on the type of food you are cooking. A higher ratio of sugar works best for pork while a higher ratio of salt suits great with beef and fish. The type of salt and sugar to use now depends on your preference. For salt, you can choose from a fine-grained refined salt, an additive-free coarse-grained kosher salt, a very fine- grained sea salt that came from evaporated seawater, or a seasoned salt – a regular salt mixed with flavoring ingredients such as garlic, onion, or celery. For sugar, the two choices are the white sugar, which is highly refined cane sugar that will scorch in high temperature, and the brown sugar, which is a white sugar mixed with molasses that add color to the food.

2. Pepper and Herbs

Of course, pepper adds the heat and completes the blend of taste and warmth to the barbecue. Remember to go slow when adding pepper to the mixture of salt and sugar until your desired blend of flavor and heat is achieved. Various types of pepper can be used for your barbecue rub. First on the list is the cayenne pepper or the ground red pepper that gives a good deal of heat and a bit of color to the food. White pepper gives lighter color, milder flavor, and gentle heat while cracked black pepper provides a stronger flavor compared to cayenne and white pepper. Smoked Chile powders such as the ground chipotle pepper also add deep flavor and heat to the spice rub.

3. Added Spices and Flavors

These are the herbs and other spices that match the type of food you are cooking. Here is a list of the best herbs and spices you can use for some meat cooked in grills.

  • For pork, you can add chili powder for an extra pungent flavor, whole cumin for an added aroma and peppery flavor, and either the deeper flavor of Hungarian paprika or the milder flavor of Spanish paprika. To achieve signature flavors for pork barbecue, you can also use coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, mustard, and thyme.
  • For beef, you can use almost everything used in pork except for ginger. You can also add oregano.
  • For poultry, you can also use whole cumin, paprika, coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, mustard, and thyme just as with pork, but other options include rosemary and dill.
  • For fish and seafood, you can mix your spice rub with whole cumin, paprika, dill, garlic, ginger, onion, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
  • Hungarian paprika gives deeper flavor while Spanish paprika is milder, but both provide sweet and hot flavors to the food.
  • Whole Cumin offers aroma to the food plus a nutty taste.
  • Bay Leaf is also widely used as an aromatic element to the food. It also adds a strong taste to the spice rub. You can read more about how bay leaf are supposed to be used here.
  • Dried mustard powder excellently combines with many spices.

8 Must-Visit Barbecue Restaurants in the US

Barbecue is one of the most-known traditional cuisines in America. The availability of different barbecue styles and variants are products of traditional cultivation from different regions in the US. If you are a barbecue enthusiast or are planning to do travels to different states, here is a list of what to try on the must-visit barbecue restaurants across the great land of America.

1. Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue in Kansas City

Previously known as Oklahoma Joe’s, the restaurant earned awards as a competitive BBQ team in the 90s. Upon visiting, try their barbecue ribs and burnt ends. The place is also renowned for their Z-man sandwich stuffed with smoked provolone, sliced slow-smoked brisket, and thick crispy onion rings.

2. Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas

The restaurant houses the Pitmaster Aaron Franklin who owns a James Beard award as the best chef in the Southwest, plus the restaurant itself have been hyped as the best barbecue in the country. Franklin Barbecue is one of the most remarkable barbecue restaurants in the US, with customers waiting in line for hours just to have their ribs, sandwiches, and their bestseller brisket. The place only accommodates customer for lunch.

3. Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, North Carolina

The place is guided by an Eastern North Carolina barbecue tradition since the early 19th century, and its owner, Pete Jones who opened the restaurant when he was just 17, had already served previous US presidents and had earned an award from the James Beard Foundation. You should try their specialty, which is the chopped pork sandwich with crunchy coleslaw and cornbread.

4. Central BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee

The owners and the restaurant itself already had appearances on shows; evidently, this place is popular and well-appreciated. The reason is their full slab ribs barbecue, pulled-pork barbecue nachos, homemade potato chips dressed with chunky bleu cheese, their Ghost River beer, and pretty much everything else that they offer.

5. Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas

The place has been established in 1932 and by far the oldest barbecue restaurant in Texas, owned and operated by generations of a single family. In fact, the restaurant has been declared “The Barbecue Capital of Texas” by the state legislature. Their best offerings are brisket and beef ribs cloaked in a peppery bark and oak-smoked sausages in either original, garlic or jalapeño-cheddar flavors.

6. Dreamland Barbecue in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The restaurant, which started in 1958, is best known for their accurately tender and juicy ribs. They also have homemade sauces and their banana pudding is a must-try as well.

7. Cooper’s Old Time Pit Barbecue in Llano, Texas

Declared by the Former President George W. Bush as his favorite barbecue spot, the barbecue in this place is cooked in “cowboy style” over the coals in a smoke-filled pit. Their signature dishes are pork chop sided with bacon-jalapeno mac and cheese, ice cream atop pecan cobbler, and gratis beans.

8. Smoque BBQ in Chicago

The place is self-asserted as a neighborhood barbecue place. Their cuisine is utilizing elements from the regional barbecue traditions added with a fresh and unique mark. They are the home of the best Austin-style brisket.

How to Setup Your Electric Smoker

The major categorization of the types of smokers is determined by the kind of fuel used to burn for the process of smoking. The four most known types of smokers are the propane, pellet, charcoal, and the electric. Out of all the four types, the electric smokers are the most convenient. You can just set it up and leave it be until your food has cooked and is ready to serve; you do not have to spend long hours in front of your smoker just so you can monitor the process.

The Setting-Up Process

1. Determine the type of electric smoker you have.

Before setting up your electric smoker, the first thing to note is what type of electric smoker do you own, as electric smokers come in different types as well and each type has a different setup and operating procedures.You either have the cylindrically-shaped vertical water electric smoker or the cabinet-style electric smoker. You can refer to the manufacturers’ guidelines about the type of smoker you have and study its specific operating instructions closely.

2. Season or cure your new electric smoker.

If you are using your electric smoker for the first time, then it has to undergo the process of seasoning first before you should use it. This is to ensure removal of odors, dust, machine oils, and other elements, which may be existent after the manufacturing process. In most cases, seasoning, or curing, involves coating the inside surfaces with cooking oil then turning the smoker on and let it operate for at least two hours so that the solvents will be burnt off. Every best electric smoker under $200 comes with specific instructions for seasoning, so be sure to follow it accurately.

3. Prep your food beforehand.

The ingredients for seasoning all depend on your preferences. You can have your food seasoned with dry rubs such as sugar, salt, and herbs, or have it drenched in an acidic marinade. It is best to marinate your food overnight, allowing the seasonings to be absorbed deeply into the food, which naturally results in a more flavorful smoked food.

4. Set up your electric smoker.

Each type of electric smoker has different instruction manuals for the actual use. Study the manual of the specific electric smoker you have.All the same, here are some tips for your electric smoker setup.

• Position your electric smoker outdoor in a safe place without any flammable materials nearby and away from the wind.

• If you intend to use the water pan, fill it up with more than half-full of hot water. You can also use liquids such as water with seasonings, beer, wine, soda pop, or apple juice for an added flavor.

• Plug the cord directly into an electrical outlet; avoid using extension cords if in any way possible.

• Do not crowd the wood chips into the tray as it may cause black smoke. You can soak the woods chips with water, but they also smoke great when dry.

• Learn the ideal cooking temperature range for the type of food you are cooking.

• Place your food in only when the correct temperature range is obtained.

When using electric smokers for cookout occasions, you spend less time in cooking and more time with everyone around without compromising your delicious food treat. Have fun with your delicious smoky cooking!

Best Saucy Barbecue Recipes for Beginners

Juicy Smoky Grilled Pork Chops

One of the must try barbecue recipes are the grilled pork chops, and you can prepare as easy as your barbecue skill will permit. Mix one tablespoon each of seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground paprika, then one teaspoon of ground black pepper, two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and one teaspoon of liquid smoke flavoring in a bowl. Rinse the pork chops and afterward sprinkle and massage the spice mixture into the meat then let it be for at least ten minutes. When grilling, it is best to use indirect heat for a slow but thorough charcoal grill cooking. To achieve the juiciness of the pork chop, enclose the pork chops in an aluminum foil when grilling to keep the food moist inside and to have it cooked evenly. Grill each side for about 12 minutes each side.

Grilled Salmon With Butter and Dill Pickle

Salmon is excellent for grilling because it barely needs tasting in order to determine if it is already cooked. For the spice mixture, you will need to blend four tablespoons of softened unsalted butter, one-fourth cup of finely dices dill pickles, one teaspoon of minced tarragon, and one-half teaspoon of Dijon mustard, then season it with ample amount of salt and ground pepper. For the salmon preparation, rub it first with oil then season with salt and pepper as well. Grill your seasoned salmon with moderately high heat. When grilling, the let the skin side down on the grill first for about three minutes until the skin is already crispy and slightly burnt, then, turn the salmon to the other side and grill for another four minutes. When cooked, top your grilled salmon with the previously prepared mixture.

Classic Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

The conventional tastes for barbecue always include sweetness and heat. The classic sweet and spicy barbecue sauce contain ingredients that complement to achieve this goal. Combine one and a half cups of brown sugar and ketchup, half a cup of red wine vinegar and water, and one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Then, season the mixture with two and a half tablespoon of dry mustard, two teaspoons of paprika and salt, and two dashes of hot pepper sauce. If you prefer it to be less sweet, you can cut off on the amount of sugar. To tune it more into a steak sauce, you can add more Worcestershire sauce.

Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

For a simple but uncompromised flavor, you can do an ultra-easy to prepare pineapple chicken kabobs, which you can serve in 30 minutes. You will only need skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes, pineapple chunks, green bell pepper, onion, preferred barbecue sauce, and the skewers. For the cooking, preheat your outdoor grill first into medium-high heat. Do not forget to oil the grate lightly. While the grill is preheating, thread the chicken, pineapple, green bell pepper and onion onto your sticks and then brush them with your barbecue sauce. Cook your kabobs on the grill 7 to 10 minutes each side. Your barbecue is ready to be served when the middle of the chicken is no longer pink and the juices are clear.

Building an Outdoor Grill Fireplace for Starters

An outdoor grill fireplace delivers both sophistication and functionality to backyards. If you love outdoor parties and cookout picnics, there is no way you are not having one in your backyard. However, building a fireplace comes with comprehensive planning, unrelenting effort, and sufficient finance. It all sounds exhausting, right? Well, it could just as well be great fun along the way. The following list intends to help you out on how to kick off your outdoor grill fireplace building.

1. Think through your purpose of building the fireplace

The planning of your outdoor fireplace firstly depends on what you intend its functionality should be. Whether you aim to hold intimate cookouts for a small group or host large parties outdoors dictates on the size and set up of the fireplace that should be built in your backyard. Also, think of what other purposes you want that fireplace to serve you aside from having it for grilling, whether you want to use it for a barbecue or pizza oven or others.

2. Assess and choose the location of your fireplace

When choosing a site for your outdoor fireplace, consider a spot with a safe distance from your house, from any other building like storehouses, garage, and playhouses, and from trees and overhanging vines and branches. Look around the site and inspect, or you can ask your utility, for any underground wires, cables, and pipes; you do not want to build on top of them for safety and practical reasons.

3. Design, size, and type of burning material to use

There are actually fireplace kits that you can readily assemble, but if you want a personal touch and customization, you can have your desired physical outcome of the fireplace be sketched. When designing, the major elements to exist are the base, the firebox, the grill grates, and the vent.You can choose to add accessories such as wood storage and seats set up. Be sure to achieve proportions with the surroundings.

The size of your fireplace depends on how large you intend your parties to be as well as how its size complements to your house. The Pellet Grills by Pit Boss are readymade so you also have to plan the dimensions of the fireplace around its size. The height is solely your preference.

What you need to decide early on is the type of burning material to use, that is, either wood-burning or a gas grill. If you plan to have a wood-burning fireplace, you firstly need to inquire about the needed legal permits, learn about any regulations and other requirements on your locality. Gas fireplace requires more safety measures in connecting your fireplace to the gas line; you should ask your gas company to help you out in this matter.

4. Gather the materials

List the building materials you intend to use for the project and start purchasing the materials that needed to be bought. It is best to ask advice for the correct building materials that makes up a durable fireplace.

After obtaining all the materials needed and after settling all the legalities needed for the building, you can now start the actual construction of your outdoor grill fireplace. The construction part necessitates group effort and skill, so better pull out your human resources to help you out. Happy building!

And lest we forget, read on to find some great safety tips about outdoor grilling!