To Grill or Bar-B-Que, THAT is the question!

Having lived all over the country, and being a huge fan of all things grilled, I have learned that there is appropriate nomenclature for each locale.  We learned all of the socially acceptable terms for each area.  We attended festivals and ate all manner of things from a grill, including, but not limited to:  Beef, Lamb, Pig, Fruits and Veggies. 

What about you?  Do you BBQ, or, do you Grill?

For instance, at “home” we were always going to “grill out”, . . . as opposed to grilling in?  I mean, I’m sorry but, your George Foreman, really doesn’t qualify.  Where else is there to grill except “out”? 

What you grill is also a question.  We usually grilled hamburgers, bratwurst or hot dogs, the occasional steak or chicken, but never pork chops (my mom lived in fear that she would not get the internal temperature high enough and we would all get food poisoning and DIE!!)  and almost always, over charcoal.  MatchLight and a match- that’s all you need.  Oh, and if you say BBQ, you mean you are actually going to put BBQ Sauce ON whatever it is you happen to be grilling. 

Simple, to the point.  It wasn’t an art form, just a means to an end- dinner.

Then I moved to Texas!  Wow!!!  In the southwest, they “BBQ or Barbecue or Bar-B-Que”, and how!  In Texas and Oklahoma, BBQ generally involves some specialty wood (Mesquite) and smoke.  Lots of smoke.  Hours and hours of smoke.  It’s a slooooooooooow cook; long and drawn out, much like their speech.  And, it IS an art form all unto itself!  Most of the time the meat of choice involved is a beef brisket. 

There are, evidently, no pigs in Texas.  Brisket was, and I’m sure still IS, the meat of choice and they are readily available at your local super market.  Where I grew up, the only brisket I knew anything about was a corned beef brisket for St. Patrick’s Day.  However, in the southwest, they speak of brisket as if it were a blend of royalty and deity all slathered in some special blend of home-made BBQ sauce and “rub”.    Rub???  What in the world? Yeah, that was my question too?

Everyone in Texas and Oklahoma has their own “rub” recipe and they aren’t sharing.  Rub recipes are highly secured formulas (think  the Coke formula, or better yet, the precise amount of uranium needed in a nuclear warhead) and NO ONE will ever be told the recipe!!!!  You can’t get a security clearance high enough for that!  There are BBQ Festivals and Cook-offs too numerous to even begin to name.  If you are the winner of the Festival, well, let’s just say, everything truly is bigger in Texas- including attitudes and boasts.

In the midwest, they “Cook Out”, hmmm, okay, again, as opposed to cooking IN?  I guess that makes slightly more sense.  They use a gas grill, mostly and choose pork chops, pork burgers, hot dogs and hamburgers, or, if you are in North Central Kentucky, Mutton.  Mutton is to Kentucky as Brisket is to Texas, only greasier.  AND, as an added bonus (?) it is served with a side of burgoo (Don’t even ask).

The grilling style is a nice blend of the other two styles: gas it or smoke it.  The choice is yours.  However, it’s more of a family affair reserved for holidays or group picnics, or even restaurants, as opposed to the,  “it’s really hot and I don’t want to turn on the stove so let’s just grill out”, mentality I grew up with.  Notably, it was in the midwest that I was introduced to the likes of grilled vegetables (which became an addiction),  as well as a pizza cooked, entirely, on the grill.   It was pretty good, but seemed like more trouble than it was worth. 

In the Southwest and Midwest, I think it is just about avoiding the summer heat.  The Texans do it by smoking the poor brisket to death, thereby eliminating the need for their actual PRESENCE outside to monitor the progress.  Just asphyxiate the thing!  It’ll be awwwwriiiiiiiight.  There is the periodic flip of the meat, but all in all, it’s a long, lonely time in the old smoker if you’re a brisket.    As for the Midwest, all they want is OUT of the heat and they get out of it by gassing their food.  Get it done fast! Get back inside and save yourself from the suffocating humidity!  UGH!  ‘Nuff said!

At home, for all but the “dog days of August”, you can actually enjoy sitting out by the grill slowly basting and tenderly flipping your meat.  Depending on the evening, it might actually be nice to have that little bit of radiated heat from the grill.  You can sit and read, watch the kids play, sip some lemonade, you know, relax.  There isn’t any pressure to produce the perfect brisket here. 

I’ll take a brat (pronounced “braht”), some Jays and a nice cold drink to go with, please.

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2 thoughts on “To Grill or Bar-B-Que, THAT is the question!

  1. Well, I’m feeling a little pigeonholed here! Let’s see: I’m in the Midwest; we mostly cook with gas; we adore vegetables on the grill; and, I’ve made pizza on the grill, numerous times. It appears your study in the art of grilling/bbq/barbeque is pretty spot-on.

    We don’t really say ‘grill out’ however; I usually just say we’re going to ‘cook (insert meat of choice) on the grill.’ Maybe we’re an aberration, though?!

    I’m really not that well versed in the art of grilling, even though I love it, so I just bought a new cookbook off Amazon called: Ribs, Chops, Steaks & Wings. The recipes look fantastic. Can’t wait to get my grill on this summer!

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