Photo by Nanci Hutson.
Before you roll out the barbecue grill for a backyard party this summer, especially if you’re not an outdoor cooking connoisseur, impress your guests by learning the difference between grilling a hamburger and barbecuing a hunk of pork.
One is quick and tasty; usually requiring a top choice of meat cooked over hot coals or flames; the other is a far slower, yet arguably delicious, form of cooking beef, pork and chicken that done right – non-direct contact with coals and appropriate amounts of wood smoke – will ignite the salivary glands long before the meat is ready for consumption.
The slow-cooking process, as long as 12 hours, is believed to make the meat so tender and moist it falls right off the bone, experts say.
So a true outdoor barbecue will likely incorporate an adequate supply of appetizers and drinks as guests get ready for the main event, one barbecue aficionados will assure is worth the wait.
“Barbecue is special,” declared Mike Jeffery, who with his wife, Lynn, are the owners of Montana Bar-BQ at 2161 Hillsdale Road in Prescott.
The Jeffery’s explain that grilling meat is fast and hot, over 310 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas barbecue is slow and low-heat cooking at temperatures between 225 and 249 degrees Fahrenheit. Barbecue, too, has become synonymous with a variety of different types of sauces, seasoning rubs and marinades that add special flavor to the meat. The Jeffery’s make all their seasonings and sauces from scratch and have just started selling their own brand of sweet and tangy and sweet and spicy sauces at $5 a bottle.
“You know that (barbecue) meat is always going to turn out moist and tender,” Lynn Jeffery explained. “Barbecue used to be for throw-away meat, a way to make them taste fantastic. That was the whole purpose. Remember the old pot roast. Even that could taste good if it was smoked.”
Barbecue can also be a healthier way to enjoy meat as smoking one’s own meat eliminates the processed nitrates that have been deemed not to be good for people, Lynn Jeffery said.
Anybody can barbecue in their own backyard without spending a fortune, Lynn Jeffery said. A cheap charcoal cooker can be transformed into a barbecue smoker with use of wood chunks bought at the local hardware store, she said. Her choice of woods are apple, pecan or oak or hickory for the optimal taste. As for meat, barbecue is perfect for pork, beef or chicken, she said.
The history of barbecue likely dates back to cave men who used fire to cook the meat they hunted, with adaptations made over time and history. The one thing historians, and chefs, will concur is that barbecue is not an American invention, nor is it a modern-day culture culinary process.
National food writers suggest barbecue meat can be cooked on a grill, in a smoker, and sometimes underground; often it is a daytime affair organized around other festive activities, be it a family reunion or a large, outdoor wedding extravaganza.
“Everything good out there goes with barbecue,” said Lynn Jeffery who with her husband, caters events and provides various homemade side dishes such as coleslaw, potato salad, corn on the cob and her contest-worthy Southwestern specialty dessert: apple jalapeno pie.
Whatever the definition, barbecue has become far more than just the way meat is cooked. It is often used to describe a celebration, particularly in the summer months when people welcome the chance to be outside with their family, friends and neighbors.
So pick a date and visit the local butcher shop. The Jefferys are adamant fresh meat is the only way to go.
Grab some Frisbees, badmintons, volleyballs and softball bats. Clean out the grill or “barbecue” smoker, and warm up the coals.
Then invite me to the party!