I’m writing this in the hopes that some of you who use the word “barbecue”, or “BBQ”, incorrectly to define what you’re actually doing will learn something. Just because you are cooking over a grill doesn’t mean you’re barbecuing. You’re probably grilling.
Barbecuing is the process of cooking low-and-slow, not hot-and-fast.
When I cook pork butts for 12-14 hours, or Baby Backs for around 5 hours, with cooking temps around 235*-250*, that’s barbecue.
The most common ways to barbecue are on an offset cooker or a water smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain that I use.
An offset has the fire box offset and below the cooking chamber. These are more difficult to use in that they require more attention to keep temps consistent. Plus most offsets sold are the cheap ones from the nearest big box store. They leak, the metal is thin, they don’t last, and they use a ton more charcoal.
The Weber Smokey Mountain is commonly referred to as a Bullet smoker because of it’s shape. It has a water pan that, when filled, acts as a heat sink and aids in temperature consistency. Some people will use sand and/or a clay pot with sand instead of the water pan. I’ve gone 12 hours+ on one load of charcoal.
I’ve let my WSM cook overnight without any temperature problems whatsoever.
You can also barbecue on kettle grills and gas grills. Below is a pic of me barbecuing a brisket flat on a Weber Performer. Notice the flat is blocked from the direct heat of the coals by plenty of foil allowing this flat to cook for many hours. When used properly for barbecuing a kettle can burn for hours without refueling.
Barbecuing is used to make tough pieces of meat edible by rendering the fat down and breaking down the connective tissue.
Next time you invite friends and family over for a BBQ, it’s not barbecue unless it’s low and slow. If you’re cooking steaks, burgers, dogs, etc, you’re grilling.
Oh yeah, don’t ever, EVER boil ribs to make them tender. You’re cheating yourself of fantastic juices that just get wasted in the pot of water, unless you’re making “pork juice water” that is. Also, if you boil ribs to make them “fall off the bone”, that’s not good either. Ribs should have some bite to them.
Stop boiling and cook lower and slower.