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Barbecue or barbeque (common spelling variant) (with abbreviations BBQ, Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Que; diminutive form of barbie, used chiefly in Australia and New Zealandmarker; and called Braai in South Africa) is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, with the heat and hot gases of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal or a propane gas grill, and may include application of a marinade, spice rub, or basting sauce to the meat. The term as a noun can refer to the meat, the cooking apparatus itself, or to a party that includes such food. The term as an adjective can refer to foods cooked by this method. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner. Barbecue is usually cooked in an outdoor environment heated by the smoke of wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.

Barbecue has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world. Notably, in the Southern United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only indirect methods of cooking over hardwood smoke, with the more direct methods to be called "grilling".

In British usage, barbecuing and grilling refer to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling also refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the U.S. and Canada as broiling. In US English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke (very similar to some forms of roasting). For example, in a typical U.S. home grill, food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal, while in a U.S. barbecue, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate. Its South American versions are the southern Brazilianmarker churrasco and the Argentinemarker asado.

Alternatively, an apparatus called a smoker with a separate fire box may be used. Hot smoke is drawn past the meat by convection for very slow cooking. This is essentially how barbecue is cooked in most U.S. "barbecue" restaurants, but nevertheless, many consider this to be a distinct cooking process called hot smoking.

The slower methods of cooking break down the collagen in meat and tenderizes the tougher cuts for easier eating.

Etymology

The origins of both the activity of barbecue cooking and the word itself are somewhat obscure.Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives ultimately from the word barabicu found in the language of both the Timucua of Floridamarker and the Taíno people of the Caribbeanmarker. The word translates as "sacred fire pit." The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.

Traditional barbacoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat (usually a whole goat) with a pot underneath it, so that the juices can make a hearty broth. It is then covered with maguey leaves and coal and set alight. The cooking process takes a few hours.

There is ample evidence that both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other languages and cultures, with the word (barbacoa) moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then French and English. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier.

While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, local variations like barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or bbq may also be found. In the southeastern United Statesmarker, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states, cuts of beef are often cooked.

The word barbecue has attracted several inaccurate origins from folk etymology. An often-repeated claim is that the word is derived from the French language. The story goes that French visitors to the Caribbean saw a pig being cooked whole and described the method as barbe à queue, meaning "from beard to tail". The French word for barbecue is also barbecue, and the "beard to tail" explanation is regarded as false by most language experts. The only merit is that it relies on the similar sound of the words, a feature common in folk-etymology explanations. Another claim states that the word BBQ came from the time when roadhouse and beer joints with pool tables advertised "Bar, Beer and Cues". According to this tale, the phrase was shortened over time to BBCue, then BBQ.

Styles

American South

Chicken wings being cooked slowly over charcoal ashes


In the southern United States, barbecue initially revolved around the cooking of pork. During the 19th century, pigs were a low-maintenance food source that could be released to forage for themselves in forests and woodlands. When food or meat supplies were low, these semi-wild pigs could then be caught and eaten.

According to estimates, prior to the American Civil War, Southerners ate around five pounds of pork for every one pound of beef they consumed. Because of the poverty of the southern United States at this time, every part of the pig was eaten immediately or saved for later (including the ears, feet, and other organs). Because of the effort to capture and cook these wild hogs, "pig slaughtering became a time for celebration, and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the largesse. These feasts are sometimes called 'pig-pickin's.' The traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings."

Each Southern locale has its own particular variety of barbecue, particularly concerning the sauce. North Carolina sauces vary by region; eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce, the center of the state (around Lexington, NCmarker) uses a combination of ketchup and vinegar as their base, and western North Carolina uses a heavier ketchup base. Lexington, NCmarker boasts of being "The Barbecue Capital of the World" and they have more than one BBQ restaurant per 1,000 residents. Another distinguishing characteristic of North Carolina barbecue is barbecue slaw, which has no mayonnaise, is composed of cabbage, ketchup, vinegar, and black pepper and can be served either on the side or on a sandwich. South Carolina is the only state that includes all four recognized barbecue sauces, including mustard-based, vinegar-based, and light and heavy tomato-based. Memphis barbecue is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces . In some Memphis establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce; the finished barbecue is then served with barbecue sauce on the side.

The barbecue of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee is almost always pork served with a sweet tomato-based sauce. However, several regional variations exist as well. Alabama is particularly known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise- and vinegar-based sauce, originating in northern Alabama, used predominantly on chicken and pork. A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with cole slaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it is barbecued.

Pit-beef prevails in Marylandmarker and is often enjoyed at large outdoor bull roasts, which are common in the warmer months. Marylandmarker-style pit-beef is not the product of barbecue cookery in the strictest sense, as there is no smoking of the meat involved—rather, it involves grilling the meat over a high heat. The meat is typically served rare, with a strong horseradish sauce as the preferred condiment.

The state of Kentuckymarker, particularly Western Kentucky, is unusual in its barbecue cooking, in that the preferred meat is mutton. This kind of mutton barbecue is often used in communal events in Kentucky, such as political rallies, county fairs and church fund-raising events.

In much of the world outside of the American South, barbecue has a close association with Texas. Many barbecue restaurants outside the United States claim to serve "Texas barbecue", regardless of the style they actually serve. Texas barbecue is often assumed to be primarily beef. This assumption, along with the inclusive term "Texas barbecue" is an oversimplification. Texas has four main styles, all with different flavors, different cooking methods, different ingredients, and different cultural origins. (cf. Barbecue in the United States) In the June 2008 issue of Texas Monthly Magazine Snows BBQ in Lexington was rated as the best BBQ in the state of Texas. This ranking was reinforced when New Yorker Magazine also claimed that Snows BBQ was "The Best Texas BBQ in the World" in the article "By Meat Alone" written by Calvin Trillin on November 24, 2008.

Events and gatherings

Diagram of a propane smoker used for barbecuing
The word barbecue is also used to refer to a social gathering where food is served, usually outdoors in the early afternoon. In the southern USA, outdoor gatherings are not typically called "barbecues" unless barbecue itself will actually be on the menu. The device used for cooking at a barbecue is commonly referred to as a "barbecue", "barbecue grill", or "grill".

  • Often referred to as "The World Series of Barbecue", The American Royal Barbecue Contest is held each October in Kansas City, Missourimarker. This event comprises two distinct competitions held over the course of four days. The first contest is the Invitational Contest, with competing teams being required to obtain an invitation by winning other qualifying contests throughout the year. The second competition is an open contest that any team can compete in. This open contest is the largest championship barbecue competition in the world, with the 2007 event attracting 496 teams.


  • The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held annually in Memphis, Tennesseemarker, during the Memphis in May festival. Other barbecue competitions are held in virtually every state in the United States during the warmer months, usually beginning in April and going through September. One of the best known was the Ribfest, first organized by former Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, which attracted over 400 contestants in 1982, ballooned to 750 entries and over 10,000 attendees by 1990, and helped popularize the distinctions between different regional styles to a much wider audience. These events feature keen competitions between teams of cooks and are divided into separate competitions for the best pork, beef and poultry barbecue and for the best barbecue sauces.


Techniques

Barbecuing encompasses four distinct types of cooking techniques. One type is grilling over direct dry heat on a shallow surface, usually over a hot fire (i.e., over 500°F) for a short time (minutes), from which one variant is charbroiling, which uses direct dry heat on a ribbed surface, and the other is griddling, which uses direct dry or moist heat (sometimes with the additions of oils and butter) on a flat surface. Grilling may be done over wood, charcoal, gas (natural gas or propane), or electricity. Another technique is baking, utilizing a masonry oven or any other type of baking oven, which uses convection to cook meats and starches with moderate temperatures for an average cooking time (about an hour plus a few extra minutes). Yet another technique is braising, which combines direct dry heat charbroiling on a ribbed surface with a broth-filled pot for moist heat, cooking at various speeds throughout the duration (starting fast, slowing down, then speeding up again, lasting for a few hours). The last technique is cooking by using indirect heat or low-level direct radiant heat at lower temperatures (usually around 240°F) and significantly longer cooking times (several hours), often with smoke.

Grilling (charbroiling or griddling)

Wood

Large beef steaks over wood
The choice and combination of woods burned result in different flavors imparted to the meat. Woods commonly selected for their flavor include mesquite, hickory, maple, guava, kiawe, cherry, pecan, apple and oak. Woods to avoid include conifers. These contain resins and tars, which impart undesirable resinous and chemical flavors. If these woods are used, they should be burned in a catalytic grill, such as a rocket stove, so that the resins and tars are completely burned before coming into contact with the food.

Different types of wood burn at different rates. The heat also varies by the amount of wood and controlling the rate of burn through careful venting. Wood and charcoal are sometimes combined to optimize smoke flavor and consistent burning.

Charcoal

Cooking with charcoal, like cooking with gas, is a more manageable approximation of cooking over a wood fire. Charcoal does not impart the rich flavour of cooking over hardwoods but is cheap and easy to purchase in sizes appropriate for close proximity cooking in typical commercially available home grills and griddles.

Charcoal charbroiling generally begins with purchasing a commercial bag of processed charcoal briquettes. An alternative to charcoal briquettes is lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is wood that has been turned into charcoal, but unlike briquettes, it has not been ground and shaped. Lump charcoal is a pure form of charcoal and is preferred by many purists who dislike artificial binders used to hold briquettes in their shape, and it also burns hotter and responds to changes in airflow much more quickly. Charcoal cannot be burned indoors because poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) is a combustion product. Carbon monoxide fumes may contribute to the pink color taken on by barbecued meats after slow cooking in a smoker. Many barbecue aficionados prefer charcoal over gas (natural gas or propane) for the authentic flavor the coals provide.

Chimney starter in use
A charcoal chimney starter is an inexpensive and efficient method for quickly obtaining a good charcoal fire. A few pages of newspaper are wadded up underneath the chimney to start the fire. Other methods are to use an electric iron to heat the charcoal or to soak it with aliphatic petroleum solvent and light it in a pyramid formation. Charcoal briquettes pre-impregnated with solvent are also available. Although the use of solvents is quick and portable, it can be hazardous, and petroleum solvents can impart undesirable chemical flavors to the meat. Using denatured alcohol ("methyl hydrate", "methylated spirit") instead of commercial petroleum-based lighter fluids avoids this problem.

Once all coals are ashed over (generally 15–25 minutes, depending on starting technique), they can be spread around the perimeter of the grill with the meat placed in the center for indirect cooking, or piled together for direct cooking. Water-soaked wood chips (such as mesquite, cherry, hickory or fruit trees) can be added to the coals for flavor. As with wood barbecuing, the temperature of the grill is controlled by the amount and distribution of coal within the grill and through careful venting.

For long cooking times (up to 18 hours), many cooks find success with the minion method, usually performed in a smoker. The method involves putting a small number of hot coals on top of a full chamber of unlit briquettes. The burning coals will gradually light the unlit coals. By leaving the top air vent all the way open and adjusting the lower vents, a constant temperature of 225°F can easily be achieved for up to 18 hours.

The Japanese-style kamado cooker utilizes lump charcoal for fuel. The kamado is made from ceramics and can be adjusted to cook for more than 30 hours on a single load of lump, the heat being retained in the ceramic walls, radiating into the food. There is no need to use water pans or replenish fuel during the cook, as is the case with steel water smokers. Furthermore, lump charcoal contains no additives or fillers as contained in charcoal briquettes. The very small amount of air needed to keep a ceramic cooker going at low temperature helps maintain a moist environment, whereas in a steel smoker, steam must be added from a water pan over the briquettes to keep the food from drying out. The kamado dates back several thousand years with roots in China and Japan.

Natural gas, propane, and electricity

A typical propane barbecue grill in an urban backyard
Charbroiling and griddling with natural gas, propane, or electricity is a step further removed from cooking over a wood fire. Despite this, and the higher cost of a gas grill over a charcoal grill, many people continue to prefer cooking over a gas flame or electric element. There are also some hybrid charbroilers and griddles that combine these two energy sources together for cooking.

Gas grills are easy to light. The heat is easy to control via knob-controlled gas valves on the burners, so the outcome is very predictable. Gas grills give very consistent results, although some charcoal and wood purists argue that it lacks the flavors available only from cooking with charcoal. Advocates of gas grills claim that gas cooking lets you "taste the meat, not the heat" because it is claimed that charcoal grills may deposit traces of coal tar on the food. Many grills are equipped with thermometers, further simplifying the barbecuing experience. However, propane and natural gas produce a "wet" heat (combustion byproducts include water vapor) that can change the texture of foods cooked over such fuels.

Added wood smoke flavor can be imparted on gas and electric grills using water-soaked wood chips placed in an inexpensive smoker box (a perforated metal box), or simply a perforated foil pouch, under the grilling grate and over the heat. It takes some experience in order to keep the chips smoking consistently without catching fire; some high-end gas grills include a built-in smoker box with a dedicated burner to simplify the task. Using such smokers on quick-grilled foods (steaks, chops, burgers) nearly duplicates the effects of wood and charcoal grills, and they can actually make grilling some longer-cooked foods, such as ribs, easier, since the "wet" heat makes it easier to prevent the meat from drying out.

Gas and electric charbroilers and griddles are significantly more expensive due to their added complexity. They are also considered much cleaner, as they do not result in ashes, which must be disposed of, and also in terms of air pollution. Proper maintenance may further help reduce pollution. The useful life of a gas or electric grill or griddle may be extended by obtaining replacement gas grill parts when the original parts wear out. Most barbecues that are used for commercial purposes now use gas or electricity for the reasons above.

Baking

The masonry oven is similar to a smoke pit in that it allows for an open flame, but cooks much faster, and uses convection to cook. Barbecue-baking can also be done in traditional stove-ovens. It can be used to cook not only meats, but breads and other starches, and even various casseroles and desserts. It uses both direct and indirect heat to surround the food with hot air to cook, and can be basted much the same as grilled foods. In some cases, the grill can also function like a bakery oven by putting a drip pan below the cooking surface rack of a barbecue grill, as well as a baking sheet pan on top, combining two techniques simultaneously, or one right after the other, cooking twice, with a duration slightly longer than grilling.

Braising

It is possible to braise meats and vegetables in a pot on top of a grill. A gas or electric charbroil grill would be the best choices for what is known as barbecue-braising, or combining dry heat charbroil-grilling directly on a ribbed surface and braising in a broth-filled pot for moist heat. To braise, put a pot on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours. There are two advantages to barbecue-braising: the first is that this method now allows for browning the meat directly on the grill before the braising, and the second is that it also allows for glazing the meat with sauce and finishing it directly over the fire after the braising, effectively cooking the meat three times, which results in a soft textured product that falls right off the bone. This method of barbecue has a varying duration (depending on whether a slow cooker or pressure cooker is used), and is generally slower than regular grilling or baking, but faster than pit-smoking.

Solar power

There have been a number of designs for barbecues that use solar power as a means of cooking food. The device usually involves the use of a curved mirror acting as a parabolic reflector, which focuses the rays of the sun on to a point where the food is to be heated.

Smoking

Chicken, pork and corn cooked in a barbecue smoker
Smoking can be done with wood or charcoal, although many common commercial smokers use a gas, such as propane, to heat up a box of wet wood chips enough to cause smoke. The heat from the propane fire helps cook the meat while the smoke adds its unique and delicious flavor. The distinction between smoking and grilling is the heat level and the intensity of the radiant heat; indeed, smoking is often referred to as "low and slow". Additionally, during grilling, the meat is exposed to the open air for the majority of the time. During smoking, the BBQ lid or smoker door is closed, making a thick dense cloud of smoke to envelop the meat. The smoke must be able to move freely around the meat and out of the top of the apparatus quickly; otherwise, foul-tasting creosote will build up on the meat, giving it a bitter flavor. Smoked meats such as pork exhibit what is known as a smoke ring: a thin pink layer just under the surface which is the result of the smoke interacting with the water in the meat.

Other uses

The term barbecue is also used to designate a flavor added to foodstuffs, the most prominent of which are potato chips. This term usually implies a strong smoky flavor and often denotes a flavor reminiscent of barbecue sauce.

Indoor air quality and health

It is believed that the air quality in the event area is associated with the cooking material used and the activities are even health-hazardous in some situations, such as barbecuing fresh meat. Therefore, the Maryland Department of the Environment in the United Statesmarker regulates the facilities installed in households under Maryland's Air Quality Regulations, Code of Maryland Regulations COMAR 26.11.02 . Lee et al. has provided a review on the issues relating to indoor air quality in restaurants.

See also



References

External links




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