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The ABC’s of BBQ

New to grilling? We’re not! We’ve put together this glossary of barbecuing terms for you in case you are still learning the BBQ lingo. Of course, if you have any questions, please give us a call and our experts will be happy to talk you through anything!

2-zone Cooking Splitting the area being used for cooking into two zones – one for indirect cooking and one for direct cooking. This allows for more control over temperature and for the ability to cook two different foods of varying thickness at the same time.

3-2-1 Ribs A foolproof way to cook ribs in a smoker. First, smoke for three hours at 225°F, then two hours wrapped in foil, and then for one hour, unwrapped, at a higher temperature.

A

Ahrs – The measurement for how long a cook takes.

Al Dente – When food is cooked to the point just before it is fully soft. Usually, this refers to pasta, when the noodles are a little stiffer but could refer to vegetables in this state as well. You’ll have to play around with your recipes to find the degree to which you and your guests prefer your different foods al dente.

Asado – The traditional grilling method used in Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

Au Jus – Jus is a French word meaning juice. Au jus means your meal is served with the juice or gravy from the meat drippings.

B

Baking (see also, Roasting) – A way of cooking in a confined space, such as an oven, where the food is receiving dry heat on all sides. This method is normally done using a pan.

Baking Powder – Lightens texture and increases the volume of baked goods. Makes carbon dioxide gas quicker than yeast when it is wet. Also used to extinguish grease fires!

Baking Soda – Also known as Crystalline Sodium Bicarbonate. Releases carbon dioxide and helps the batter to rise when it reacts to acidic ingredients.

Charcoal and wood pushed over to one side of the grill and under the grates and on fire.

Banking the Coals – Pushing the coals over to one side.

Barbacoa or Barbecoa – A name for the wooden racks that Caribbean Indians cooked meats and stored things on. Alternatively, this was a name for a cooking technique where Mexicans wrap a cow’s head with avocado or other leaves, cover it, and roast, simmer, and braise it within its juices in a dirt pit filled with hot rocks. Can also apply to goat, beef, pork, or lamb wrapped in aluminum foil and cooked in the oven.

Bark – A crust that forms on food as a result of the rub’s seasoning.

Baste – Brushing oil or water-based liquid onto your food while it is cooking to protect it from moisture loss and add flavor.

Bean Hole Cooking – A cooking method where a clay pot with beans is put into a hole that is lined with rocks that are heated from burning logs and then covered with dirt.

Bear Paws (see also, Wolf Claws) – A device used to shred meat that looks like claws.

Beer – If you don’t know what this is, you’ve probably been grilling wrong your whole life! A fermented alcoholic beverage is used to add flavor to marinades and sauces and make the cooking process a lot more fun for the chef.

Beer Can Chicken or Beer Butt Chicken – When an entire chicken is cooked vertically using the Indirect Heat Cooking method and has a slightly filled can of beer placed inside its base before cooking.

Bend Test This is how you can tell if your ribs are done; pick up the center bone by the flesh with tongs- if the meat bows away from the rib before it starts to break (like a rainbow shape), it’s ready.

BGE – Big Green Egg, a brand of a kamado grill.

Bitter – A taste sensation that some describe as sharp or unpleasant. This sensation can typically occur in foods and drinks like leafy green vegetables and hops in beer.

Black and Blue or Pittsburgh – When red meat is grilled to be very well done (black) on the outside but very rare (blue) on the inside.

A top blade or denver steak cut into pieces on a wooden board with a cutting blade and fork and seasoning on the surface nearby.

Blade Tenderizing – When meatpackers use sharp, thin blades to cut through the meat’s connective tissue and fibers to make a tough cut more tender.

Blanching – Briefly putting food in boiling water before moving it to cold water. This can partially cook foods, loosen skins on foods so they’re easier to take off, and can be used to enhance the green color of green vegetables.

Blue Smoke The best time to start grilling- when the smoke emitting from the flames is lightly blue-tinged.

Boiling – Cooking food in bubbling hot water that is approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature to boil water varies slightly with altitude). Note: increasing the heat is not going to make your water boil any faster. You should be careful when boiling foods because this cooking method can easily make foods dry and tough.

Boogers – …We know… Ew! However, it’s just what we call the liquid excreted from within muscle fibers when meats like salmon and burgers are cooked. No, this pink juice is not blood. Just protein water!

Braai – An Afrikaans word for South African cookout. On National Braai Day, traditionally celebrated on September 24, a host will let their guests use their grill to prepare the food they bring (potluck style). Popular foods include boerewors, which are coarsely ground sausages, sosaties, or marinated mutton skewers, and pap, a side dish made out of cornmeal that is similar to grits. Barbecued meat is called Braavleis.

Braise – Partially submerging meat in hot liquid for a long period of time, sometimes even up to 12 hours, typically using a slow cooker or a Dutch oven with a loosely fitting lid.

Brazier (see also, Grill)

Brine – Diffusing salt into the food to help it maintain moisture and enhance the flavor. Can be wet (salt in water) or dry (salt put on the surface of the food). Wet brine with herbs and spices is not as effective because the ingredients can only stick to the surface – they can’t get inside the meat.

BrineradeMarinade that can both brine and marinade at the same time.

Briquets or Briquettes – Squares of charcoal made of compressed, carbonized sawdust.

Brisket Meat from the lower chest of a cow. It consists of two parts- the flat/lean side (less fat), and the point/deckle side (more fat).

Broasting – Deep frying in a pressure cooker (trademarked).

Broil (see also, Char-Broil) – Food preparation method using direct heat with a flame directly above (usually when prepared indoors) or below (usually when prepared outdoors) the food.

BTU or British Thermal Unit – The amount of energy needed to increase by one degree Fahrenheit the temperature of one pound of water. Propane has approximately 2,500 BTUs per cubic foot while natural gas has approximately 1,000 BTUs per cubic foot.

Bullet – Lightweight and typically inexpensive top-loading drum-shaped cookers with dome lids. Racks are usually 15” wide, which can be too narrow for many slabs of meat, sometimes leading to overcooking or burning. Most bullets have a separate water pan to help keep moisture within the cooker so the meat doesn’t dry out. Some have doors on the side for adding water, wood, and fuel. Note: it can be difficult to reach food on the lower shelf of a bullet.

Burgoo – Savory stew (that some consider barbecue) cooked over an open flame in a cast-iron cauldron.

Closeup of homemade smoked burnt ends on butcher paper.

Burnt Ends – In the past, this style of beef brisket got its name from the lean flat side, and would often be considered overdone and crunchy. Now, this is made intentionally, often from a fattier area of the meat, and cut into small pieces.

Burping – Slowly opening and closing a kamado partially (instead of opening it all at once) to avoid flashovers.

Butt Over Brisket – Cooking a pork butt above a beef brisket so the pork fat drips onto the beef.

Butterflying (see also, Spatchcock)

C

Cabinet – Well-insulated rectangular cooking unit with a front door for adding meat, water, fuel, and wood, as well as several adjustable shelves. Can be fueled by wood, gas, electricity, or charcoal. However, it can be hard to maintain temperature if you open the door to add fuel or water.

Cabrito – Smoked or grilled goat.

Cadillac Cut or Competition Cut – Individually cut slabs of meat to give to the judges at a barbecue competition.

Capsaicin – Chemical found mainly in the ribs of a chili pepper that gives them their hot taste.

Caramelization – Adding a rich caramel or butterscotch flavor to food or sauce by oxidizing and browning sugar under heat (either by boiling sauces or exposure to a flame). Table sugar begins to caramelize at 320 degrees Fahrenheit, but fruit sugars begin to caramelize at 230 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carbonization – Heating something so much that it turns black and forms carbon. Also, the process used to make charcoal.

Carousel (see also, Rotisserie)

Carryover Cooking – When a food continues cooking internally despite being removed from the heat source because the heat from the exterior of the food migrates inward. The thickness of the meat impacts how much warmer the food will get, so invest in a good digital thermometer to keep tabs on the internal temperature.

Cast Iron Grates – Extremely heavy grilling grates that take a while to heat up (but also hold heat for a long time). Tricky to clean these and keep them from rusting. Makes very dark grill marks.

Char-Broil – Using direct heat over charcoal to broil food.

Charcoal – Chunks of sawdust and binders made by combusting raw wood until it forms char, a carbon product.

A charcuterie platter displaying different slices of meats with tongs in the middle to grab some to eat.

Charcuterie – Curing, preserving, and preparing meats like ham, sausage, bacon, and salami. A charcuterie board is a display of bite-sized meats and cheeses.

Chef’s Bonus – Pieces of food tossed on the grill to sample.

Chili or Chili con Carne – A meaty stew seasoned with chili powder. Ingredients vary depending on which region of the US you’re in.

Chimney – A tube with two compartments that is used with old newspaper to start a charcoal fire.

Chine – Where rib bones are connected together with cartilage and parts of the spine. A butcher can remove the chine with their band saw if you request it.

Chinese Barbecue, Chinese BBQ, or Char Siu – Marinated pork loin, duck, or ribs hung and roasted in an oven. Traditionally it was smoked, but not so much anymore. Usually done with gas or charcoal.

Chipped Mutton – A treat in Western Kentucky made from tiny shreds of mutton or pork bark dipped in a vinegar-based sauce.

Chop – Cut food into chunks that are about ¼” to ½” wide. Bigger than mincing or dicing.

Chuck Ribs- The upper five ribs of a steer or cow.

Churrasco – Brazilian technique for rotisserie barbecuing over coals and embers.

Clam Bake – Wrapping foods like clams or corn in wet seaweed and burying them in a sandpit with hot rocks or coals.

Clarified Butter – Melting butter until the water boils off, then separating the oil from the remaining milk solids.

Coarsely Chopped – Cutting food into bite-sized chunks. They don’t have to be exactly the same size.

Collagen – The tissue surrounding muscles that lubricates meat and becomes super silky and delicious when cooked down.

Cooking Chamber – The confined space where cooking food takes place. Some cooking chambers are not near or adjacent to where the firebox typically is.

Cracklings The skin of a pig that is usually roasted or deep-fried to get its iconic crispiness.

Grilled chicken in a basket with some butcher paper in it and garnish on a table.

Crust -The surface of the meat that becomes nice and crunchy after grilling.

Crutch Just because the meat is out of the flames doesn’t mean it’s out of the fire yet. Make sure to preserve your cooked meat in a crutch, or protective wrapping such as butcher paper, to prevent leakage and unsolicited germs. Maybe try the Texas Crutch- where meat is wrapped in foil while cooking for ultimate tenderness.

Curing A way of preserving and flavoring meat by immersing it in lots of salt or smoke for weeks or months at a time.

D

Dalmatian Rub A classic rub – just some salt and pepper.

Danger Zone Never let your meat stay out until it gets to this temperature: 41-135°F (unless you want nasty meat-hungry microbes crashing your summer barbeque!)

Dash ⅛ of a teaspoon. (Or, y’know, just wing it!)

Diced – Don’t be fooled. Food that is diced should be cut smaller than a game dice- maybe about the size of your pinky nail.

Dollop To measure a dollop, just fill a spoon and slap it on. No measurements are needed.

Done Meat is done when the thickest part reaches its ideal temperature. However, holding meat at a higher temperature can melt the collagen and fats some more for the juiciest meat of your dreams. Bon Appetit!

Dry Brine – Salt your meat a couple of days before your party so moisture can be retained and flavor can be enhanced while grilling. 

A raw cut of pork steak on a wooden board covered in a dry rub seasoning

Dry Rub vs. Wet Rub -A quintessential dry rub is just herbs and spices, massaged into the meat to form a crust. A wet rub, on the other hand, uses oil or water with the spices to form a paste.

E

Emulsion – Everyone’s heard the saying “Oil and water don’t mix”. But fear not! Oil and water can again be friends with the process of emulsion- either by shaking until their particles become very small or by mixing the two with an emulsifier (like mustard), which can help the normally opposing liquids stick to each other.

F

Fall Off the Bone If the meat falls off the bone, it’s overcooked. On the other hand, if it doesn’t pull off the bone, it’s undercooked.

Fat Cap The thickest area of fat that rests in the middle of the skin and the rest of the meat. A bit of this may dissolve and leak off, but will never get through to the muscle of the meat. The fat cap also works well as a barricade against smoke. 

Firebox The part of the grill that holds the fire and fuel.

Firebricks Bricks assembled from specific components configured to resist soaring temperatures. Occasionally used in cookers because they soak up the heat and will emit it back steadily and help balance out the overall temperature.

Flashovers or Flashbacks Don’t panic if your Kamado grill is suddenly engulfed in flames when its lid is opened! This happens when air from outside meets coals low on oxygen. Simply burp the lid, and your roast is saved!

Flash Point or Fire Point The temperature at which smoke from fat will burst into fire, usually around 600°F-700°F. Don’t use water to extinguish it if you want to ensure your skin is damage-free 🙂

Flare-up Scary grease fire that happens when fat drips into the firebox. When this happens, turn off the grill, smother the fire with sand or salt, and close the lid and vents to cut off the flow of oxygen. And in the future, consider cutting off some fat from the meat before grilling.

Flat – With meat like beef brisket, it is separated into two areas of muscle – the flat and the point. The area that is known as the flat is the lengthier and more slender of the two. 

Closeup image of grilled chicken that is sliced and tender on the inside

Fork Tender – If a fork slides into cooked meat with a little resistance, it’s ready.

G

Gelatin Melted collagen. Yes, it is also what JELL-O is made of.

Glue A mixture, like some pickle juice and yellow mustard, that is used to bind seasonings or dry rub to the meat that will be smoked. Once the meat is ready to be served, the taste of the “glue” will be unnoticeable. 

Grain Finished Beef When cows are given grain, like corn, to help them more quickly put on weight. This can result in an overall very delectable taste!

Grass Fed vs. Grass Finished Beef Grass finished beef is a cow that has been fed grass its entire life, including right before slaughter, when it’s in its “fattening” stage. Grass fed beef is a cow that eats grass for most of its life but is fed the fattening corn and grain as its last meals.

Grates or Grill Grates (see also, Gridiron) The frame that is used to place the food onto, and is the area that is used for grilling and cooking.

Grill vs. Griddle A grill is that real bbq vibe. The open flames, infamous grill lines, all taking place on a summer night under the stars… A griddle is used instead in most restaurants; a flat piece of steel heated underneath with electricity or gas. So basically, you’ve been served griddled cheese sandwiches for your entire life. How does it feel to be lied to?

Gridiron – Iron rods that hold meat over the flames in most grills and produce those grill lines on your food. Aka, a way to tell if your grilled cheese is fake or not.

Grill Topper The punctured piece that is commonly made from metal or wire mesh, and rests on top of a grill, and helps stop bits of food from slipping through the grates.

Gristle The stiff, rubbery, tough-to-eat nemesis of all barbecues. Basically the animal’s cartilage, and often confused for fat.

H

Pile of wood chips

Hardwood, Nutwood, or Fruitwood -The best firewood! Stay away from softwoods like cedar or pine that will give your meat an unpleasant taste.

Hoisin Sauce The iconic Chinese-derived sauce often made with soybeans, vinegar, rice, salt, flour, garlic, and chili.

Hot ‘n’ Fast Cooking method over direct heat with temperatures over 350°F. When using this technique, make sure to turn the meat often, or it will burn! Generally, this method is not as preferred as the Low ‘n’ Slow method, because it doesn’t always provide as much flavor.

I

Indirect Heat Cooking Rather than cooking food directly over a heat source, like grilling, food is cooked with the flow of hot air instead, so that it can roast nice and slow. Many smokers use this method.

Infrared Burner, Sear Burner, or Sizzle Zone A super hot section on a gas grill for browning the surface of meats.

Irregulars The last two bones on a rack of ribs that are usually overcooked.

J

Jaccard A tool with lots of thin blades, used to tenderize meat.

Jus A sauce made with the juices of cooking meat.

K

Kindling Small branches used while cooking over logs that ignite more easily and help transfer sparks to the tinder.

Konro – A Japanese open-top flat charcoal grill that can be produced up to 15 feet long! Similar to a Middle Eastern Mangal.

Woman cooking korean barbecue over a hibachi grill at a restaurant

Korean Barbecue – A marinated beef that is typically sliced thin. Can consist of a fun and unique dining experience where restaurant-goers cook their own barbecue over a hibachi grill at their table.

L

Lard Pork fat that is melted and resolidified. Used often in pie crusts and other baked delicacies.

Leoparding Those desirable charred spots on pizza cheese and the crust bottom that make the meal look real fancy. Caused by gas bubbles in the dough that blister when exposed to the hot air.

Likker The flavorful juices leftover in a pot or pan after cooking. Don’t waste these!

Low ‘n’ Slow Opposite of Hot ‘n’ Fast, and the ultimate way to go for the most delicious barbecue. Turn the temperature down to around 225°F-275°F and let the meat cook for a while to guarantee flavor and moisture throughout.

LP The liquid propane tanks for your gas cooker. Usually, they will carry around 15lbs of liquid fuel.

M

Maillard Reaction – Your favorite part of meat; its nice, brown, crunchy, rich surface has a name! And apparently, a chemical reaction! To put it more simply, the Maillard Reaction happens when sugars and proteins in foods react with heat and time. Who knew?

Marbling – The thin, white, and weaving lines of fat within the muscle. The more marbling, like on wagyu, the more tender and delicious- and the more expensive- the meat is.

Marinade Similar to Brine, but with less salt and more acid and oil. A delicious and easy way to add more flavor to your meat is by soaking it ahead of time.

Minced ginger on grate

Minced -To put it simply, chop into bits as small as your knife or grate will allow.

Mop Sauce – A simple mixture of liquids and spices that is “mopped” onto the meat while it is cooking to enhance flavors and keep the surface cool.

Mutton – Meat from a sheep who was older than one year.

N

Nappe When a sauce is so thick, it coats the back of a spoon.

NG  Natural gas for cookers that are usually delivered straight to the grill from your house, and requires a professional to hook up. Careful – dealing with gas lines by yourself is dangerous!

Non-reactive It’s important to make sauces and brines- or liquids with lots of oils or salts- in non-reactive containers like stainless steel or glass. Reactive materials like copper or cast iron can chemically react with the food, creating “off” flavors. 

O

Offset – A classic and popular smoker design that has two boxes- fuel heats in the smaller box, and food smokes in the longer one.

P

Pinch Just pinch the spice or other condiment with your index finger and thumb and toss it in. Technically 1/16 of a teaspoon, but who’s got time for that?

Pit Boss or Pitmaster Master of meat. The prince of the pit. Enjoys slaving over slabs of meat to serve you barbeque miracles.

Pit Cooking While this style of cooking may not be as manageable as using a cooker, it is still a well-liked way for cooking food like seafood, or even an entire pig. To begin, a pit is dug and then filled with sand, bricks, stones, and/or leaves. Wood is then added until it becomes only embers when more of what was used to line the pit is added on top, and then food is placed on top of all of that. Finish by covering up the pit until your food is done cooking.

A rack of ribs coated in sauce on a plate with some garnish and veggies.

Plate Ribs -Ribs 6-8 of a steer or cow.

Plate Setter A ceramic plate with short legs that are set between the coals and the grate in a Big Green Egg Kamado grill to create an indirect heating method.

Planking – A form of indirect heat cooking by placing meat on top of a hardwood plank soaked in water (see kinds of Hardwoods) and placing the whole shebang over flames in a closed oven. The wet treatment creates steam, the burning plank creates smoke, and the closed oven roasts the food – conduction!

Point or Deckle The part of the brisket with the most fat and juiciest meat.

Prawns vs. Shrimp Both have five pairs of claws, but shrimp have claws on two of those pairs, and prawns have claws on three.

R

Ready – Meat is done (see Done) when the thickest part of the meat reaches the desired temperature. However, just because the meat is “done” doesn’t mean that it’s at its optimal stage. Raising the temperature up by a few degrees and letting the meat cook at that temperature for half an hour can melt more of the collagen (see Collagen) and can result in more tender meat.

Reverse Sear An important and iconic cooking technique that involves grilling the meat at a low temperature to cook the inside, then searing it at high heat to brown the outside (see Maillard Reaction). This technique produces a beautiful darkened piece of meat while retaining the moisture inside.

Roasting – The most common way of roasting today is by cooking in an enclosed oven and surrounding the meat with dry heat on all sides.

Rotisserie A form of roasting that involves rotating food in front of a flame so the meat is able to cook more slowly.

Rub – A mix of spices/herbs massaged onto a piece of meat before grilling. Adds lots of flavors!

S

Sauce – Usually thicker than a gravy.

Searing Cooking meat on high heat for a short time (see Hot ‘n’ Fast) in order to get the famed crispy brown surface (see Maillard Reaction).

Different spices and herbs in jars on a wooden table surrounded by other herbs and scoops.

Seasoning -Ranges from adding the proper amount of salt (very important!) to also adding in different herbs and sauces.

Silverskin A thin silver skin between the fat and meat that will get tough once cooked. Remove before cooking!

Skin ‘n’ Trim A method used to prepare ribs. Typically involves removing the skin, since this is a more dense area of the ribs that often does not allow seasonings and spices to easily sink into the meat. This area of the ribs, if left on, can also become chewy and hard to eat after being grilled. Once the skin has been discarded, then the loose folds of meat and extra fat should also be removed and trimmed. 

Smidgen Less than a pinch, or 1/32 of a teaspoon. Yes sir, one smidgen of salt for the lady, if you would be so kind.

Smoker A type of cooker that uses smoke from a separate firebox (see Firebox) and heat to cook meat indirectly.

Smoke Ring This is how you know you smoked brisket correctly- if there is a pink ring just under the crust of the meat. This means you used the right amount of smoke!

Snake Method Another way of cooking Low ‘n’ Slow. Briquets or Briquettes are placed on the edge and only the first couple are ignited, while the rest organically catch on fire.

Spatchcock – Formerly known for pressing the poultry flat, spatchcocking is now known for making a cut on the backbone and pounding the bird flat. The optimal technique is to remove the backbone entirely. 

Spritzing Spraying your cooking meat with any sort of drink you are consuming. This cools your meat and retains the moisture. Stay hydrated!

Stall Resist the urge to increase the heat while using a smoker- or the internal temperature of your meat may stall, or plateau, and even drop.

Sucre et Salz A French saying that gushes about the combination of sweet and salty.

T

Tallow – Beef or lamb fat that is melted and solidified again. Just like lard, it is used in many baking and frying recipes.

Tandoors – A traditional Indian coal-fired clay oven. Similar to the Japanese kamado.

Texas Crutch A method where ribs are covered in foil with a little bit of liquid to delicately steam, marinate, and increase the speed at which the meat cooks.

Tinder Pencil-sized sticks used to start fires.

Tuning a Pit The process of modifying a cooker for optimal performance and distribution of heat.

U

Umami One of the five senses, and best described as “meaty”.

V

Olive oil in a decanter on a wooden surface

Virgin Olive Oil -Oil that was extracted from olives with pressure only, no chemicals added.

W

Wolf Claws (see also, Bear Paws) – A device used to shred meat that looks like claws.

X

Xavier Steak A steak that has melted swiss cheese and asparagus on top.

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