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Barbecuing

Barbecue & Grilling Recipes from AlansKitchen.comBarbecuing is cooking food in or above a fire. Traditionally this is done with hickory or mesquite wood, which provides the cooked food with a nice smoked flavor. Propane is commonly used for convenience, but it does not produce a smoke flavor unless smoke chips (small bits of wood wrapped in foil) are added. Molded chunks of charcoal are also often used; these can produce an awful taste if not allowed to properly preheat, especially if they have been soaked in lighter fluid.

The following instructions assume that you wish to cook using a common cheap barbecue grill with a wood fire. Wood for this purpose is commonly available in bags, and may be used in any normal barbecue grill.

Tools

  • tongs for handling cooked food
  • pancake turner for handling raw food
  • wide pot with a lid, to protect cooked food from flies
  • garden hoe, to redistribute the fire
  • fist-sized mesquite wood chips
  • common cheap barbecue grill (vented bottom, grill itself, vented lid)
  • gas torch (optional)
Barbecue Heat

"Mississippi" Method

The "Mississippi" method of measuring barbecue heat involves placing your hand about 6 inches above the grill and counting ("1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi") until the heat of the grill becomes too intense to keep your hand in the same place. A recipe may call for a "2 Mississippi" fire.

Instructions

Forming burgers

  1. Start with lean meat. High-fat burgers will melt, then ooze through the grill and into the fire.
  2. Form burgers to be 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Make them generally very thin, but a bit thicker at the edge for strength and to avoid burned edges. Make sure the edge does not have radial cracks.

Starting the fire, if using matches

  1. Remove the grill itself (the wire mesh) from the grill.
  2. Open all vents, top and bottom, front and back.
  3. Put some small pieces of wood aside to place on the fire as it starts. Place a layer of wood in the grill (the bottom part), mounded up in the center.
  4. Place fine splinters of wood (2mm by 6mm by 4 inches) on top of the mound. Criss-cross them, with each layer having 3 to 8 pieces.
  5. Place some small pieces of wood (1" by 1" by 4") over and around the splinters, being careful not to cause collapse or cut off air.
  6. Light the splinters of wood on fire from several directions.
  7. Add the remaining small pieces of wood to any large flames that appear.

Starting the fire, if using a torch

  1. Remove the grill itself (the wire mesh) from the grill.
  2. Open all vents, top and bottom, front and back.
  3. Pile up the wood to light it.
  4. Light the fire. Direct the torch flame deep into the pile, from all sides, until the fire is well established.

Preparing the food

  1. Once the fire is burning well enough to survive this step, use the hoe to spread the burning wood around and toward the edges. You should end up with a flat layer of wood. The flames may temporarily die out, but should come back soon.
  2. Place the grill itself (the wire mesh) into the grill.
  3. If the flames are high, close the lid until they go away, then open the lid again. By this method you will control the heat, save fuel, produce lots of smoke to flavor your food, and get the middle cooked without burning the outside.
  4. Using your pancake turner, place some thin food onto the grill.
  5. Remember: When significant flames appear, close the lid until they go away, then open the lid again. By this method you control the heat, save fuel, produce lots of smoke to flavor your food, and get the middle cooked without burning the outside.
  6. When a burger is solid enough, with the pink color mostly gone from the top and certainly gone from the bottom, flip it.
  7. Flip the burger a few more times as it cooks, evening out to cooking. Be sure not to contaminate a nearly-cooked burger with juices from a barely-cooked burger. You may hold the pancake turner in flames for a while to solve this problem.
  8. Using the tongs, quickly move the burger into the covered pot to protect it from fly contamination.

WARNING: To avoid food poisoning, take care to not cross contaminate the cooked meat with raw meat.

Adding cheese

  1. Choose some of the cooked food to have cheese added. Place this food back into the grill.
  2. Quickly add the cheese. Thin slices of chedder cheese, broken into 1/2-inch by 1.5-inch pieces, work well.
  3. Close the lid, even if flames are no longer present. Keep the lid closed, even if this kills the fire.
  4. Remove the food once the cheese has melted.
  5. Close the lid and seal all openings to save any unburned wood.
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