Let's agree; there is nothing better than a lazy summer weekend spent with friends. And food. Lots of food. So maybe you have already been thinking about throwing some juicy burgers, chops and steaks on the grill to serve the crowd. But let me tell you if you want to serve your friends the real deal, have a barbecue.
From the beginning, barbecue meat was cooked over an open flame but using indirect heat. The term itself evolved from the Spanish word barbacoa, meaning to dry or slow-roast big chunks of meat or even a whole animal. A method in the older days to help keep the meat preserved for a long time. Today, the word barbecue has a more cultural meaning than just a large and fulfilling meal. It’s a social event that gathers family and friends around a fire.
Perhaps you’ve already been introduced to this art of cooking, the low and slow barbecue phenomena that, is part culinary movement, part sport. The low and slow approach to barbecue meats simply refers to the Low cooking temperature and the Slow cooking time. Even though regular grilling for a crowd over a direct heat source for a short amount of time seems convenient because it brings food to the table quickly, it tends to be less fun. The secret of a succulent barbecue meal lies within its cooking time.
The method of barbecuing meat for a long period over low indirect heat generated by firewood is best for larger cuts since it allows the chunk to soak up the smoke and rub flavours and become very tender and moist. Its the ultimate way to enhance the flavour of meat at its best, at the same time bringing primal pleasure to the pit master since things are less predictable with live fire cooking with coal and wood.
Meat cooked low and slow style will quite literally fall apart under its weight so this is the technique to use if you like Pulled Pork, Brisket or tender ribs. Therefore, contrary to grilling, barbecuing focuses more on the quality of meat and less on marinades. Barbecuing meat low and slow can take anywhere from four to sixteen hours to cook. It’s a cooking experience under open skies that leads to a succulent meal.
For the low and slow style of barbecuing the most common gadgets used are smokers and wood-fired barbecues. As a general rule, firewood for BBQ is broken down into two categories: smoky and sweet. For stronger, smoky flavours, pit masters will use ironbark, pecan or oak logs of wood. On the flip side, fruit woods such as apple chunks, pear, nectarine, result in barbecue meat that boasts a milder and sweeter taste.
If you do decide to fire up a barbecue for that lazy summer weekend here are some tips on which meats to use if you are joining the low and slow pit master movement.
If you don’t want to spend the whole Saturday watching your brisket caramelise and guests are getting hungry and impatient at a barbecue, ox cheek is an excellent choice for slow-cooking. It has all the fatty qualities of more substantial slow-cooked meat such as shin or a fatty brisket, but it is small enough to cook quickly (5-6 hours at 120C).
Pig wings or pork hocks are still good value and taste so good when cooked on the barbecue. Cook for 6-7 hours at 120C or until soft and tender for the Obelix experience.
Chicken is ideal for the barbecue and go whole! Open up the cavity and spread the legs as much as possible to enable the heat to cook the bird evenly. Cook for approx. an hour and 20 minutes at 120C. Ensure that it's cooked through, then eat it straight away or let it cool then grill it hard to get some good char.