The Ideal Barbecue in Three Easy Steps

There are three easy to follow steps which will help you achieve a fantastic barbecue.

Barbecue, to a traditionalist, signifies slow cooking. This usually includes employing a smoker, or possibly a grill with a tight fitting lid and large surfaces so it's possible to distance the food from the heat. You might push around briquettes to achieve this or light a fire on just one side. This produces a section of low heat (the one without any fire or briquettes) that lets you implement the first step: infusing.

With infusing, your objective is to get all of the flavorful ingredients into the meat before the surface layer is cooked sufficiently to seal the inside. Sauces, rubs, fat and the meat's juices intermingle with the heat and smoke to create a symphony of effects within the meat. Surface fat melts away and the particles become part of the external layer. The marbled fat in the interior also liquefies and does much the same thing.

Once everything is melting and getting hot, the conditions are right for the spread of flavor compounds throughout the meat. If you're preparing a fine steak, everything except the very center of the meat will be a recipient of what was once on the surface. If you're cooking chicken, anything on the outside of the meat just beneath the skin makes its way inwards. A thin layer of fat on a pork chop will spread into the middle.

The second step is a time consuming one during which the actual cooking occurs. As the interior temperature of the meat climbs towards 200F (93C), proteins break down and become amino acids. Sugars convert into particles that add a sweet taste. Salt is ionized and enzymes increase their activity. The final effect of this fired up chemical process is to transform raw meat into a delectable entree.

Throughout this stage, smoke from any wood which has been added lends flavor to the finished product. The meat seals itself and internal juices are preserved, heated up and altered. This is the phase where the meat needs to pass most of its cooking time and is accomplished by using a lower temperature than you'd cook with indoors.

After the interior temperature of the meat gets to 200F (93C), which it's possible to discover with a quality meat thermometer, it's set to be taken off the smoker or grill. Next comes the third step.

Your meat is not yet entirely finished cooking. While it cools down, there is still sufficient internal heat to keep altering the structure of the meat slightly. Throughout this stage, meat can become even more tender, creating a most satisfying meal.

Once the temperature has decreased to less than 165F (74C), it's time to dish it up. Cut off a small piece and check the color. Beef should be a dark red, and chicken should have become white and any juices should now be clear. Pork should be a grayish white. The flavor should be delicate and the texture easy to chew.

And there you have it. The ideal barbecue.

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