What is Low and Slow?

Low and slow is the hallmark of barbecue. It is cooking at a low temperature using indirect heat. Barbecue typically uses larger pieces of meat (whole hog, Boston butt, picnic shoulder, beef brisket). The meat would be overcooked on the outside to reach the proper internal cooking temperature, so longer cooking times at low temps are called for here. The longer cooking time also helps break down the fibers in tougher cuts resulting in tender meat. Renee Shelton Renee’s love for tri tip almost surpasses her love for cake. Almost. Really, it’s a tough call here. When she’s not tasting BBQ and dipping in the sauce, Renee can be found at...

Barbecue Vs. Smoking Vs. Grilling

Both barbecuing and grilling cooking techniques cook meat over open heat, but barbecue involves low and slow cooking with the addition of actual wood smoke. Barbecuing is cooking meat with a definite smoky flavor that naturally penetrates the meat. Barbecuing Barbecue uses larger cuts of meat than grilling, and the heat is indirect. The low and slow heat and cooking times are necessary to make the finished product tender, flavorful, and juicy. These low temperatures range from 200 to 250 degrees F, and are maintained during the entire barbecuing time, often one hour per pound of raw meat. Smoke from wood or wood chips impart flavor into the meat as it is barbecuing. Smoking: Cold or Hot Smoke Smoking meat involves either cold smoking or hot smoking. Cold smoking doesn’t actually cook the meat but gives it a definite smoke flavor. Because this method doesn’t cook the food, temperatures for cold smoking are below 85 degrees F, the meat or seafood being smoked must be cooked or cured before smoking, or cooked after smoking bringing the temperature to 160 F before being served (over 165 degrees or higher for poultry). Hot smoking is a cooking method, where the meat is heated or cooked slowly while using smoke to flavor. Meat and seafood that are hot smoked are typically brined or cured before smoking. Brining helps to not only flavor the meat, but the acid in the brine acts as a natural tenderizer. A dedicated smoker is generally preferred since the cooking temperature is better controlled. Grilling Grilling involves faster cooking, at higher temperatures, and generally uses smaller cuts of...
Mesquite Wood

Mesquite Wood

Mesquite wood is closely related to Texas BBQ, and a popular hardwood to many industries. It is either native or introduced to much of the U.S. The wood burns hot and produces a strongly flavored smoke that is often paired with another wood. When used in barbecue it is more of a flavoring wood than a main smoking wood. Types of foods that go well with mesquite: Beef and pork – the smoke is too strong to be used with poultry and seafood, although if it is used in conjunction with another wood mesquite does give other foods a very delicious flavor. Mesquite Classifications and Types The mesquite tree is in the legume family (Prosopis genus). Its flowers attract honey bees which in turn make a very fragrant and unique tasting honey. The protein and carbohydrate-rich bean pods produced by the mesquite trees are used by animals and humans as a food source. The mesquite tree is very drought tolerant with deep taproots that go extend far below the ground in search of water. It is a common tree in the Southwest. The mesquite tree improves the nitrogen in the soil and produces a showy foliage. The limbs provide shelter to wild animals. It produces a beautiful and decorative hardwood for woodworkers and furniture makers. But despite all of its positives, mesquite can be hard to control once established. According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, most varieties of mesquite are an invasive species or a noxious weed. Honey Mesquite – Prosopis glandulosa The honey mesquite is also known as the Western honey mesquite. It is a thorny, brushy tree with sweet seedpods liked by livestock. The yellow flowers, that bloom from February...
BBQ and Smoking Woods

BBQ and Smoking Woods

Almond Almond wood produces a mild, sweet smoke. The smoke as well as the ash is very light. Apple Apple wood is a popular wood for smoking with the sweet and subtle flavor it gives food. While it is mild, it is the strongest of all the fruit woods making it stand up to red meats. Avocado Avocado wood produces a mild to medium smoke, depending on the tree (not variety of avocado). The flavor is suited for red meats, but poultry also works with this wood. Cherry Cherry wood is a sweet, fruity wood. The smoke is light to medium with smoky notes. The smoke will turn light colored meats (especially poultry) darker, or even a tinge of red. Grapefruit Grapefruit wood produces a medium smoke with a citrusy-smoky flavor. Any citrus is interchangeable: orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, key limes, grapefruit, Minneola. Hickory Hickory is the most commonly used hardwood for BBQ and smoking. It is often called the ‘King’ of BBQ wood. Hickory is closely related to Oklahoma, Eastern North Carolina, and Texas BBQ. Lemon Lemon wood produces a medium smoke with a citrusy-smoky flavor. Any citrus is interchangeable: orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, key limes, grapefruit, Minneola. Lime Lime wood produces a medium smoke with a citrusy-smoky flavor. Any citrus is interchangeable: orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, key limes, grapefruit, Minneola. Mesquite Mesquite wood burns hot and produces a strongly flavored smoke that is often paired with another wood.   Oak Oak is a hardwood, and is the second most popular type of wood for smoking. Oak has a medium to heavy smoke flavor. Since the smoke isn’t overpowering, and depending on the type of...
Avocado Wood

Avocado Wood

Avocado wood produces a mild to medium smoke, depending on the tree (not variety of avocado). The flavor is suited for red meats, but poultry also works with this wood. Type of foods that go well with avocado wood: Beef – whole roasts Pork – whole roasts Poultry – whole birds Renee Shelton’s love for tri tip almost surpasses her love for cake. When she’s not tasting BBQ, she can be found at Pastry Sampler. Photo by Executive Chef John Shelton. You can find him sharing his fishing adventures at Dana Point Fish Company.   All Q’d Up BBQ Blog Writers Dedicated to the art of grilling, smoking, and...
Olive Wood

Olive Wood

Olive wood has a unique flavor, somewhat reminiscent to mesquite only milder. Appropriate for both grilling and smoking. Type of foods that go well with olive wood: Beef – thick steaks, roasts Pork – Ribs Lamb Poultry – chicken, but is also good with game birds Any meat that will be served with a spicy sauce, or anything with a Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean marinade, brine, or rub. Renee Shelton’s love for tri tip almost surpasses her love for cake. When she’s not tasting BBQ, she can be found at Pastry Sampler. Photo by Executive Chef John Shelton. You can find him sharing his fishing adventures at Dana Point Fish Company. All Q’d Up BBQ Blog Writers Dedicated to the art of grilling, smoking, and...