You may have a solid routine that you follow every time you barbecue at home. On the other hand, most of us are always looking for ways to improve our barbecue experience and are eager to learn new tricks. Here we offer some tips that will make your barbecue at home the kind of top-notch meal you’ll want to repeat over and over again.
- Know when to put a lid on it. The difference between using your grill’s lid and leaving it open is like the difference between oven and stovetop cooking. The lid is useful in trapping not only heat, but also smoke and flavor. If you don’t use the lid, you’re only cooking from underneath, which is preferable for thin foods, but not for foods that are more than ¾ inches thick. Basically, if the food is thin or you need to watch its color, leave the lid off. If it’s an inch thick or thicker, close the lid and use a high quality grill thermometer.
- Dry Runs will help you better use your instrument: the grill. Practice makes perfect, so use dry runs to calibrate and season your grill. When your grill is new, wipe down all the surfaces with soap and water and rinse thoroughly. Allow to dry and then spray vegetable oil all over the inside of the cooking chamber. After putting in about 8 ounces of wood, heat your grill as hot as you can, and run it for about 30 minutes with all the vents open. This process will burn off contaminants, bake the paint and seal the pores. You can actually start cooking after this, while the grill is still hot, or you can wait until later. It’s also a good idea to play with the grill, using an easy thing to cook, like pork butt that you’re turning into pulled pork, or simply using a thermometer with no food. See how your grill responds to different variables, like opening and closing vents, before you cook anything really important.
- Vents are the key to controlling your grill’s heat. The key to successful cooking is to remain in control of the heat. When you’re controlling the heat of your grill, you should remember that the charcoal or wood is not the only fuel- oxygen also plays a role. Grills have an intake vent and an exhaust vent, and by manipulating these vents you can control the temperature. The intake damper brings oxygen to the fire, and the exhaust damper helps the intake vent do this, while also allowing gases to escape. While you’re learning to barbecue at home, it’s probably best to leave the exhaust damper all the way open, and practice controlling the intake damper while you’re doing your dry runs without food.
- Learn how to use a drip pan and a water pan. First, know the difference between the two: drip pans go under food, while water pans go over the heat source. Use a drip pan to collect the juices from the meat - but to keep them for use in sauce or stock - and to keep them from dripping into the flame and the water pan. You can fill your drip pan with water, and it will add humidity to the cooking chamber, while reducing the grill temperature and leveling fluctuations. For some recipes, a drip pan full of water, seasonings and vegetables can yield succulent gravy. Water pans, on the other hand, are not for making gravy. They’re great for regulating temperature and increasing humidity and can help the meat retain more flavor. Lining your water pan with foil will make for easier cleanup.
You know what makes a barbecue at home easy enough to enjoy every week? Precooked ribs from Tony Roma’s. These delicious ribs are simple to make and feature the great taste that so many fans of the restaurant have come to love. Join the barbecue conversation this summer with Tony Roma’s! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest tips and tricks for your barbecue.