The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue

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The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue

Award-winning Robert ‘BBQ Bob’ Trudnak shares his 7 secrets for barbecuing success

If you are exploring the tasty world of barbecuing and want to know where to start, you've come to the right place.

One of the most common misconceptions for beginners is that grilling is the same as barbecuing, but that's not the case. Grilling uses high and direct heat for quick cooks (think burgers, hot dogs, and steak). Barbecuing, on the other hand, requires indirect, consistent, low heat and longer cook times. Many who barbecue also use different types of wood to smoke their meat for added aroma. Meat used for barbecuing also tends to have a higher fat content, which provides tenderization and flavor over a long cook.

To help you get started into the hobby of barbecue, we've put together seven easy essentials to help you get started on your journey:

Step 1: Temperature Is Key: “Slow ‘n’ Low”

The key to delicious barbecue is the precise mix of time and temperature. Whereas grilling uses high and direct heat for quick cooks, traditional barbecuing requires indirect, consistent low heat and longer cook times. It's commonly referred to as a "slow 'n' low."

Step 2: BBQ Cooker

Having a well-made cooker, grill, or smoker that uses charcoal or wood as its heat source is essential. Some popular styles are barrel and drum, offset, and bullet-style smokers. Be careful with the cheaper models of these as they aren't often air-tight, and unwanted oxygen airflow can cause undesirable temperature spikes.

Step 3: Temperature Control

BBQ Guru's award-winning temperature control devices automatically and constantly control your cooker’s fire. In other words, they do the work for you. We carry an entire line of high-tech cooker accessories, including the PartyQ, DigiQ, and CyberQ. All of our temperature controls can be used on any charcoal or wood-burning cooker.

Step 4: Fire

Don't be intimidated by cooking on charcoal! Believe it or not, the key ingredient to barbecuing is confidence. When it comes to lighting a fire, we recommend using paraffin wax cubes, a chimney, or a charcoal starter torch. To keep things as natural as possible, don't use lighter fluid.

Step 5: The Meat

There are many dishes you can make with barbecue, but there are four that are the most popular and seen at many competitions: barbecue chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and brisket. It's important to keep even temperature throughout the cook, know what internal meat temperatures work best for the type of meat you’ve chosen, and make sure your meat retains moisture during the entire cook.

Step 6: Adding Flavor to Your Cook

After you've burnished your barbecue basics, try adding smoke woods like apple, hickory or mesquite wood to your charcoal. Sauces and rubs are also a great way to achieve a variety of flavor profiles. Rubs are dry and usually applied to the meat before cooking. Sauces are wet and are typically applied toward the end of the cook for a sweet or savory caramelized crust.

Step 7: Accessories

There are some barbecue accessories that simply make cooking "slow and low" easier, safer, cleaner, and a lot more fun. Knives, gloves, tongs, and injectors are just a few of the many other items that are indispensable for the barbecue aficionado.

Throughout the years, Robert “BBQ Bob” Trudnak has amassed more than 200 awards and prizes at BBQ competitions, including the title of Grand Reserve Champion at the Jack Daniels’ World Championship. He’s also an entrepreneur and inventor, having helped launch the world’s first BBQ temperature-control device for the company BBQ Guru.

Yes, Bob is truly a BBQ-lover. He’s also passionate about helping others learn the joy of BBQ’ing by teaching cooking classes in both the United States and Europe.

BBQ Guru:

Founded in 2003 in Warminster, Pennsylvania, BBQ Guru makes barbecuing easier, more convenient and enjoyable for BBQ enthusiasts and beginners through its offerings of education, recipes, know-how, passion, technology and product lines.

The company was first in the marketplace to develop and sell a patented electronic temperature-control BBQ device and the most popular device of its kind for charcoal and wood-burning cookers. Used by dozens of award-winning BBQ competition teams, BBQ Guru now carries an entire line of high-tech cooker accessories, including the top-selling PartyQ, DigiQ, and CyberQ. Since launching, over 100,000 units have been sold around the world. Guru proudly manufactures its products in the USA.

Today, BBQGuru.com is a one-stop shop for essential BBQ tools, products, high-tech gadgets, accessories and expert BBQ’ing advice.