One thing’s for sure if we’re talking about barbecue. It’s not a genre where we just decide to hold a barbecue on the weekend because the weather’s good. It’s more complicated than just going to the store for some meat and throwing together a lunch with what we have at home. Of course, we can do something like this, but that won’t be much of a BBQ. This method requires extensive preparation. Let’s take it into account what we’ll need to make out barbecue experience unforgettable. By the way, you can visit the Goody dinner hosted in the Budakeszi Briquette on the 1st of April to learn some secrets from the professionals themselves.
What is BBQ?
Before we begin we should clarify what it means to barbecue. It’s not easy to define this concept because it’s up for debate even in its country of origin, the United States. The first and only Hungarian book about barbecuing, the BBQ expedition, written by Máriusz Adorjányi and László Kócsa states “smoking on low heat”. So we have to cook the meat low and slow over charcoal, so the flavor is influenced by the type of wood we use. (We’ll get back to this later) Barbecue is not equal to smoking because you have to keep the temperature below 100 C while the classic barbecue calls for temperatures between 110 and 120 C. Many people mistake it for grilling but that happens at higher temperatures. (150 to 250 C) There are people who use grilling as a generic term to describe every method of cooking that uses charcoal and a grill. So in some sense barbecue is a kind of grilling.
If we manage to find our way out of the maze of definitions and still have plans to try out these techniques we have no choice but to acquire an appropriate oven. There are a lot of varieties but we’ll be only talking about those that are good for beginner barbecuers and are available in Hungary. The first of these is the cabinet smoker which is very popular in the USA due to how economical it is and the fact it’ easy adjustability. Moreover, it’s available in Hungary here. The much smaller bullet smoker is also adequate for any barbecue, but it can also be used for grilling just as the kamado grill which is a cross between an ancient Japanese inventions and American grilling traditions. The kettles are very popular in Hungary and are multifunctional but it’s not easy to use these for barbecue so we don’t recommend them to beginners. Good quality tools are not cheap but our chances of success are significantly higher with them. If we take care of these tools they will serve us for 20 or more years, so consider it as a long-term investment.
The key word here is natural! If we want to have a quality BBQ experience we should avoid using briquettes and lighter fluids. These contain materials hazardous to our health and they ruin the flavor. You should use hardwood or charcoal made from hardwood. The BBQ Expedition recommends we use 5 cm pieces of wood. But what kind of wood should we use? Any type of fruit tree that grows in Hungary will do. Of course, you’ll get different flavors depending on the wood. Most popular are the mild flavored apple wood, the sweet and fruity cherry wood, plum wood, which is recommended for pork. But you can also use grapevines as additional flavoring.
What is the worth of a good oven and wood if the ingredient we work with doesn’t meet our standards? Not much that’s for sure. You should steer clear of bad quality meats with low-fat content. Because meat tends to dry out during barbecue we should always choose something with high-fat content. Not every type of meat is good for this technique but we still have a lot of options. But we have to be circumspect. Certain parts are not easy to prepare like the King of BBQ, the brisket. We don’t recommend these for beginners but you should get back to them once you’ve become a BBQ master. But let’s take a look at the types of meats that are ideal for beginners. The most basic of these is the pork rib which, according to the BBQ Expedition is “fool proof”. By the way, most parts of pork are suitable for barbecue, like the shoulder, spare rib, and the thin flank.
To learn what types of meats are suitable for barbecue and how to season them and what kind of sauces to make for them you must read the second part of our article.