Read an Excerpt
1.3 Smoking, barbecuing, and grilling.A lot of people don’t understand the difference between smoking, barbecuing, and grilling. When grilling, you quickly seal in the juices from the piece you are cooking. Grilling takes minutes. Smoking takes hours, sometimes even days. Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that by throwing some wet wood chips over hot coals you can smoke your meat. At best you can only add some flavor on the outside because the moment the outside surface of the meat becomes dry and cooked, a significant barrier exists that prevents smoke penetration. A properly smoked piece of meat has to be thoroughly smoked, on the outside and everywhere inside. Only prolonged cold smoking will achieve that result. Smoking when grilling is no better than pumping liquid smoke into it and claiming that the product is smoked now. Let’s unravel some of the mystery. All these methods are different from each other, especially smoking and grilling. The main factor separating them is temperature Smoking - almost no heat, 52° - 140° F, (12° - 60° C), 1 hr to 2 weeks
Barbecuing - low heat, 200° - 300° F, (93° - 150° C) few hours
Grilling - high heat, 500° F, (260° C), minutes The purpose of grilling is to char the surface of meat and seal in the juices by creating a smoky caramelized crust. By the same token a barrier is erected that prevents smoke from flowing inside. The meat may have a somewhat smoky flavor on the outside but it was never smoked internally. Barbecuing comes much closer, but not close enough. It is a long, slow, indirect, low-heat method that uses charcoal or wood pieces to smoke-cook the meat. The best definition is that barbecuing is cooking with smoke. It is ideally suited for large pieces of meat, like whole pigs. The temperature range of 200° -300° F is still too high to smoke meats since the fat that binds meat in sausages will melt away through the casings, and the final product will taste like bread crumbs. Smoking is what it says: smoking meats with smoke that may or may not be followed by cooking. Some products are only smoked at low temperatures and never cooked, yet are safe to eat. Generally we may say that smoking in most cases consists of two steps: Smoking
Cooking After smoking is done we increase the temperature to about 170°F (76° C) to start cooking. We want to cook meats or sausages to 152 F° (67° C) internal temperature and here the quality and insulation of the smoker plays an important role. Nevertheless the main smoking process is performed below 140° F. There are important differences between smoking and barbecuing. Barbecued or grilled meats are eaten immediately the moment they are done. Smoked meats are usually eaten at a later date. When smoking foods a higher degree of smoke penetration is needed and that can only be achieved at lower temperatures. Furthermore, smoked meats are eaten cold. Many great recipes require that smoked products hang for a designated time to lose more weight to become drier. It is only then that they are ready for consumption.