Backyard grilling is sometimes used synonymously for 'barbecuing', though it is one method of barbecuing. Barbecuing actually encompasses three distinct types of cooking techniques. One type is charbroil-grilling over direct dry heat on a ribbed surface, usually a hot fire (i.e., over 500°F) for a short time (minutes). A similar technique is griddling over direct dry or moist heat (sometimes with the additions of oils and butter) on a flat surface over a hot fire, at the same pace as charbroiling. Grilling and griddling may be done over wood, charcoal, gas (natural gas or propane), or electricity. Another technique is braising, which combines direct dry heat charbroil-grilling 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 other 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.
Charbroil grilling is done on some kind of ribbed surface or grill over direct, dry heat. The heat source used can vary. The most common heat sources are:
- Natural gas or propane
This method of cooking is very quick and easy.
Cooking over wood is very flavourful. Different woods are used to control the burn rate and temperature. In general, hard woods are burn slower and slightly cooler, while soft woods burn faster and slightly hotter. Wood needs to be dried and appropriately aged before use as a fuel. Cooking over wood can be very expensive, so usually wood chips are combined with some type of charcoal, which is very inexpensive and more readily obtainable. Charcoal also burns far more predictably than wood.
There are generally two types of charcoal you can purchase: briquettes and lump charcoal.
Briquettes are inexpensive and have a controlled and very predictable. You can buy them in most grocery stores. They come in heavy paper bag and consist of pillow-shaped pieces that contain everything from sawdust to sodium nitrate ("Chile saltpeter") to cow manure.
Lump charcoal is also relatively inexpensive, and some varieties have a good, controlled burn rate. Many grocery stores are also starting to carry lump charcoal, which is usually comprised of pre-charred hardwood and contains nothing else. These usually impart a nice, smoky flavour to the food.
When cooking outdoors, it is extremely vital to cook any meat products thoroughly in order to eliminate any bacteria. The easiest way to accomplish proper and thorough cooking is through the use of a grilling thermometer which can be purchased at your local hardware store. In order to improve efficiency, a meat slicer may be used to thinly slice your meat before it is cooked.
When preparing meat, various spices and flavor enhancers may be added to improve the overall quality and taste of your meal. It is common to bathe chicken in a mixture of flavoring before cooking, allowing the uncooked meat to soak up the flavoring.