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Dave Lineback's Barbeque Basics

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Making barbecue is one of the most simple forms of cooking. It has been going on since prehistoric times. Here's how you do it: 1. Burn some hardwood down to coals. 2. Place a tough cut of meat over the coals and cook until tender. 3. Pull out a hunk of meat, add a little finishing sauce if you like, and enjoy! When you burn a hardwood like hickory or oak down to coals, the "bitter" components of the smoke are burned off in the flames. What remains is a thin, sweet smoke coming from the coals that is almost invisible to the eye. This is the smoke that produces the characteristic pink aurora in the surface of the meat that gives barbecue its distinctive flavor. I do not believe it is possible to get too much of this smoke in the meat. Without it, the meat is nothing more than a roast. That's why every barbecue joint worth its salt has a separate hearth for making the coals that are subsequently picked up in a shovel and placed under the meat in the pits. While you might see a ton of white smoke coming from the hearth chimney, you will seldom see anything coming from the chimneys above the pits. But you sure can smell it! Some much for the one and only really important thing about barbecue. All the rest is window dressing. The question of how long to cook is primarily a question of time and temperature. Temperature is a function primarily of distance from the coals and air circulation. (The word barbecue itself derives from the name of the wooden structure the West Indians used to suspend meat over coals for cooking.) Tough cuts of meat like beef brisket take a very long time for the connective tissues to break down. Therefore, very low temperatures are in order. Pork takes less time. I am amused by the protracted daily discussions on this List about thermometers. Barbecue is an art, not a science. Pitmasters may argue a lifetime over whether the racks should be 16 or 18 inches above the coals, but I have never visited a pit in which a thermometer was used! Most of them have no idea what the temperature is. Oh, they might touch a door with the palm of their hand. More likely they are going to be studying the wood, the outside temperature, the humidity, etc. Like my golfing buddy sez about my collection of putters, "It ain't the fiddle, its the fiddler!" Some truly great barbecue can be made on an old set of bed springs held over a bed of coals by cinder blocks at the corners. Most folks like to push their barbecue in a particular direction with a little finishing sauce. That's okay so long as it does not mask the barbecue flavor. Of course, if the meat was roasted in a gas grill or some other such "oven on wheels" that produces no wood smoke at all, a strong finishing sauce will be necessary to emulate a barbecue "taste". That stuff might be good to eat, but, folks, please don't call barbecue! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Yield: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 0:00


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