Outdoor cooking can be a world by itself. When most people think of barbeque, the image of the family cookout during the summer months is what usually comes to mind. And what we mainly discuss here at cookouteveryday.com falls right along those lines. Our aim is to help you cook some delicious food in your backyard. But we also want to school you on some of the finer points of outdoor cooking. That’s why this post is going to deal with the subject of bbq grilling vs smoking. Well shoot, what’s the difference? Let’s take a look at each one.
For starters, let’s get the terminology straight. When you’re ‘cooking out’, you could be barbequing on a charcoal grill or smoker. There’s more than one method to barbequing a chicken! But grilling is typically what you do when you’re cooking dinner over hot coals – and there’s even a good deal of variance with that style of cooking. Smoking can be thought of as a ‘low and slow’ type of cook, and they both taste great. However, its important to note that if you’re talking with serious (or competition) grillmasters, bbq to them means smoking meat. Yet your neighbor considers what he does in his backyard barbequing. Got it? Well, just in case you didn’t let me clarify.
Grilling Your Meat
Grilling involves cooking your food directly over heat – when it comes to charcoal grilling, that means that the meat will be directly over a bed of hot coals. Cooking this way is considered a fast way to prepare meals. Since the food is exposed to higher temperatures, it gets heated through more quickly. This style of food prep is great for cooking specific cuts of meat like steaks, chops, fish, any cut of chicken, and veggies, among other kinds of food. Although grilling is considered a fast way to make your meal, be aware that you can also employ an indirect style of cooking as well.
For an indirect burn, all you’ll need to do is arrange your coals on one end of the grill’s bed and heat them, while you place your meat on the opposite end. This is more of a baking style, since you are allowing the heat from the coals to warm the food in a confined space, instead of allowing the coals themselves to do the work directly. Either way to grill is fine. Just understand that there is a bit of an adjustment to using the indirect style on the grill, as the dishes that are being prepared are heating differently. This just means that they may take a little longer to finish.
Smoking Your Meat
Smoking your meat can be considered the other end of the spectrum. While grilling normally involves cooking the food directly
over the fire, smoking it takes more of a deliberate approach. See, when the meat is put in a smoker, it is never exposed to the heat directly. In fact, smokers normally have a heating chamber, called a firebox, that’s attached to the smoker. The fire is contained in the smoker and feeds the heat to the primary unit. This way ensures that the temperature is lower, but allows for the meats to cook over an exceptionally long period of time. Twelve hours or more is not unheard of for this style of burn.
Cooking food in this way is great for cooking large portions of food like brisket, hams, and roast. And plenty of people cook whole carcases like chickens, turkeys, and pigs. So if you’re going to cook a whole animal, smoking is definitely the way to go. This method is ideal for large gatherings, since a whole lotta folks can eat off a whole pig.
Also be aware that smokers come in two varieties; electric, and charcoal (wood). And that’s great, but around these parts, we believe in charcoal. So stick with the charcoal smoker and you’ll be fine.
So Which is better – BBQ Grilling or Smoking?
Now that we’ve gotten down to the nitty gritty; which one is better? And the right answer is…that’s the wrong question to ask. Whatever you decide to cook on a given day will taste great with either of these two methods. Truth is, there are plenty of grillmasters that have both set up in the backyard and use each of them regularly. I would pose the question to you this way: what types of foods do you enjoy eating? If you’re a big steak man, then you may want to start off grilling. However if good pulled pork is easily worth a road trip across the state line, then smoking meats may be better suited to you. Just remember this one fact….you can ‘barbeque’ either way!
So what’s my preference – bbq grilling or smoking? I choose to grill, because I have a small family. And when I throw large cookouts, invariably, I end up cooking on the grill. All day too. So that’s what I prefer. Now I certainly do enjoy smoking, and practically all of the bbq competitions involve smoking. But grilling’s my thing. I encourage you to try both, because folks are passionate about each one. And when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that the food tastes great. Right?