With the proliferation of BBQ shows on TV, and with a patio covered with four different barbecuing devices, I have frequently been asked “smoker v. grill?” The answer…“depends”. Depends on whether you have time, or you want to cook fast.
I enjoy smoking foods. I have a couple of specialized smokers…a ceramic oval “Kamado” and vertical, gravity feed charcoal and wood smoker. But you don’t need to invest in any real equipment beyond a kettle grill. With coals on one side and the meat on the opposite on the top grate, you have a makeshift smoker.
Before the pandemic, time was such a precious commodity, most people didn’t embrace the idea of a smoker because the culture of smoking meat is based on the concept of “low and slow”. Low temperatures take a looooooooong time to cook food--but that’s how the magic happens. Low temps over long periods of time renders fat and breaks down the collagen in meat, making the toughest cuts of beef tender and melt in your mouth. With life slowing down a bit, now’s the time to get involved in smoking meat.
To me, there’s nothing better than dining on succulent meats kissed by smoke, but we’ll talk more about hot and fast grilling next time, after the break...
Here's an example of one of my cooking implements...more to come.
|Assassin vertical gravity-fed smoker|
Grilling speaks for itself, and it's what we do mostly up here in Massachusetts in the summer. If you want to cook a thinner cut or meat or vegetables quickly, there’s no better way than over a hot bed of coals. I have a gas grill (Weber), but I also have a Weber kettle charcoal grill. I hear people complain all the time that it takes too long for charcoal to heat up, but that just isn’t true; letting a gas grill heat up for ten minutes is about the same time it takes to heat up a full chimney of charcoal.
|Usual Northeasterner's gas grill|
For those that don’t understand the concept of a chimney starter, I have covered this in other discussions, but imagine a large coffee can filled with charcoal. Light some newspaper in the bottom, and let the fire build from the bottom. In ten minutes, those coals will be ready to go; just dump into the grill and get cooking.
|Weber Performer with Chimney Starter|
In any event, and regardless of the cooking vessel used, grilling or smoking allows you to enjoy the primal experience of cooking meat over fire. In my world, there’s almost nothing better and now is the perfect time of year to get into that!