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Ultimate Barbecue Guide 101: Glossary

BBQ Barbecue Guide

Here’s a handy little Barbecue Guide which will help you whether you’re cooking BBQ, eating Bar-B-Que or shopping around for Barbecue.

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BBQ Barbecue Guide: Glossary

All – Slang for Oil.

3-2-1 ribs – A method for cooking spare ribs with (3) three hours in smoke, (2) two hours wrapped in foil, and (1) one hour back in the smoke.

Adobo Sauce – A dark-red sauce or paste of Mexican origin made from tomato, vinegar, chile’s and garlic. Often used to pack Chipotle Chiles in cans.

Al Dente – Something that is that is cooked to be firm to the bite. AKA Firm to the tooth.

Ash Catcher – A removable metal tray used to hold the ashes that fall away from the coals. Remove the tray, after it is cool to shake off ashes and clean the tray.

Ash Tool – An accessory for the Big Green Egg. A metal tool which can be used to stir ashes in the cooker (to knock the ash off from previous fires) and to scrape out ash through the lower vent.

Au jus – Jus means juice or gravy made from the natural drippings of the meat. Au jus means served with juice.

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Banking CoalsThis is moving the charcoal to one side of the grill. This allows the food to be cooked via the indirect heating method.

BakingIs a method of cooking food that uses prolonged dry heat, normally in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones.

BarbecueBarbecue, Barbeque, BBQ, Barbacoa or Barbecoa, Barbie.Is a term for cooking with fire. It is a noun. A verb and an adjective.Barbecue or barbeque is a cooking method, a style of food, and a name for a meal or gathering at which this style of food is cooked and served. Barbecue can refer to the cooking method itself, the meat cooked this way, the cooking apparatus/machine used (the “barbecue grill” or simply “barbecue“), or to a type of social event featuring this type of cooking. Barbecuing is usually done outdoors by smoking the meat over wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large, specially-designed brick or metal ovens. Barbecue is practiced in many areas of the world and there are numerous regional variations. Barbecuing techniques are numerous. The technique for which it is named involves cooking using smoke at low temperatures and long cooking times (several hours). Baking uses an oven to convection cook with moderate temperatures for an average cooking time of about an hour. Braising combines direct, dry heat charbroiling on a ribbed surface with a broth-filled pot for moist heat. Grilling is done over direct, dry heat, usually over a hot fire for a few minutes.

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Barbecue Sauce – A red, yellow, brown or white (yes white) sauce which can be sweet, tart, spicy, or aromatic. Most are tomato based and they can be served with the food or used as a marinade or for basting.

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Bark – A dark brown to black, chewy and flavorful layer which forms on the outer layer of the meat when cooked low and slow. The formation of bark is assisted by the use of a rub. The more sugar in your rub, the darker the color of the bark will be due to caramelization and/or burning of the sugar. Some feel that rubbing the meat with mustard aids the formation of the bark.

Basting – Brushing a seasoned liquid on a food to add moisture and flavor.

BAT’sBig Ass Trophies, trophies that usually signify a high finish in a BBQ competition.

BellowsA popular accessory to help boost combustion in wood fires, feeding air to the flames as it is forced out of an expandable bladder. Though unnecessary for a gas hearth where the combustion level is easily controlled with the turn of a knob, bellows’ lovely finish in attractive blends of fine woods with vinyl or leather makes them a decorative accessory.

Bend TestThe best way to tell if ribs are done. The most used method is the bend test where you simply pick up the rack of ribs from the middle 1/2 way. If the ribs bend at a 45° angle or more they are done.>

Bitter –One of the five basic taste sensations, the others being sweet, sour, salty, and umami. Bitterness is the most sensitive of the tastes, and many perceive it as unpleasant, sharp, or disagreeable, but it is sometimes desirable and intentionally added via various bittering agents. A pungent sensation that is often confused with sour/acidic because they are both sharp and in excess, unpleasant. Commonly found in leafy green vegetables, the hops in beer, and citrus peel.  An example of undesirable bitterness would be the result of too thick of a smoke (picks up creosole – see thin, blue smoke).

Black and BlueRed meat that’s charred on the outside and “blue” (or very rare) on the inside.

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Blue Smoke – Refers to that magical moment when the smoke coming off the flame is lightly tinged blue. This is the optimal goal.

Blow Out – Juicy skin sometimes gets bruised due to overheating or a scratch that swells under fire. This is when a Pitmaster has a blowout on their hands.

Braising -A combination cooking method that uses both wet and dry heats. Food is first sautéed or seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in flavored liquid. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting.

Brine – Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt in water. other ingredients can be added for flavor as well.p>

Brining– In food processing, brining is treating food with brine or coarse salt which preserves and seasons the food while enhancing tenderness and flavor with additions such as herbs, spices, sugar, caramel and/or vinegar. Meat and fish are typically brined for less than twenty-four hours while vegetables, cheeses and fruit are brined in a much longer process known as pickling. Brining is similar to marination, except that a marinade usually includes a significant amount of acid, such as vinegar or citrus juice. Brining is also similar to curing, which usually involves significantly drying the food, and is done over a much longer time period.

Brochette – French term for kabob, food cooked on a skewer.

Broiling – Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily through thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. When the source for grilling comes from above, i.e. a home oven, grilling is called broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is through thermal radiation.

BTU – British Thermal Unit – A rating system used to determine the maximum heat a grill generates. Propane has a BTU rating of 15,000 BTUs per pound a 30,000 BTU grill would consume 2 pounds per hour.

Burnt Ends – A method of preparing brisket, usually from the point. When the flat portion of the brisket is done, the point may be separated from the flat and put back into the cooker for another couple of hours. It is then removed from the cooker, chopped, mixed with sauce and returned to the cooker for another half hour of smoking. The resulting “burnt ends” are then served on a bun

Burping – Slowly opening your smoker a tiny bit, then closing it, then opening it a bit more, then closing it, before you open it all the way. Sometimes, if you open the very tight devices (like Kamado) quickly, oxygen rushes in and heat rushes out. This fireball is called flashover.

Butt over Brisket – When fatty pork butt is cooked atop brisket and its juices flow down through the grate to give the beef a little basting love.

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Cadillac Cut / Competition Cut – In barbecue competitions the entrants must cut up their slabs into individual bones so each judge can have a bone. Some wily judges don’t just cut the bones apart by slicing thru the meat midway between the bones, they make extra meaty servings by running their knife along the adjacent bones leaving every other bone meatless and to be sucked on by the kitchen crew. Also known as the Hollywood cut.

Capsaicin – The chemical in chili peppers that makes them taste hot. Most of the capsaicin resides in the ribs of the pepper and to a lesser extent in the seeds.

Carbonized  – Charcoal is wood that has been carbonized. What happens when it is exposed to high heat in the absence of oxygen.

Caramelization – Browning of sugars caused by oxidation. Creates rich flavors. Barbecue sauces usually develop interesting new flavors when caramelized. Similar to, but different from the Maillard reaction, described below. Caramelization is a process which occurs when sugar is heated until it forms a liquid and then takes on a color from clear to almost black as it is heated to higher temperatures. Usually associated with candy making, caramelization occurs, however, when any sugar is heated sufficiently. Its primary relevance to cooking barbecue is when it occurs in the sugars contained in a rub or sauce. Note, this is NOT the same thing as the Maillard Reaction!

Carry Over – The amount of time after pulling meat off the cooker that the protein takes to continue cooking, then cool down.

Carnivore – A carnivore is a “meat eater”. An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue.

Carving Board – A cutting or chopping board is a durable board on which to place material for cutting.

Cascade – The gush of juice that should come forth when brisket is done right.

Ceramic Briquettes – Radiant materials compacted into a brick shape; used in gas grills. Ceramic briquettes don’t burn completely like charcoal. Lava rocks and metal plates are similar alternatives.

Ceramic Cooker – The art of Kamada cooking originated in Japan hundreds of years ago, and today’s ceramic charcoal cookers emulate that cooking method. The basic component of the cooker is the clay, or ceramic, a product that has been used by many cultures for centuries. Perhaps the most popular of the brands today is the Big Green Egg. These cookers are very versatile – they can grill, a very high temperatures when desired, they can bake, and they can smoke at low temperatures for very long periods of time, with little maintenance.

Charbroil – The terms charbroiling, broiling, grilling and char-grilling are often used interchangeably, though depending on the application and equipment involved there may be differences in how the food product is actually cooked.

Charcoal – Charcoal is the lightweight black carbon and ash residue hydrocarbon produced by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis — the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen. This process is called charcoal burning. The finished charcoal consists largely of carbon.

Charcoal Briquettes – Compacted ground charcoal, coal dust, and starch used as fuel in charcoal grills.

Charcoal Grate – The rack that holds charcoal in the firebox.

Charcoal Grill – A grill that uses charcoal briquettes as its principal fuel.

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Chef’s Bonus – Trimmings that get tossed on the smoker or cut off the slab by the chef to taste just to “see how it’s going”.

Chimney – Usually refers to the charcoal chimney that many people use to get charcoal lit and ready quickly. The charcoal chimney consists of a vertical metal tube where you put the charcoal. This portion of the tube is separated from the bottom of the tube by another piece of metal with holes in it. You stuff paper in the bottom part – or another type of starter you may prefer – and the flame ignites the charcoal above. Units have a handle that is shielded from the tube so you can lift and pour the hot coals when you are ready to add them to the cooker.

Chimney Starter – A metal cylinder which holds hot coals for starting a fire.

Chipped – A selection of bark and meat from ribs, neck, and shoulders are mixed in a dip liquid.

Cold Smoking – Cold smoking is when smoke applied to the food has a temperature between 90F and 120F. Cheese, some spices, and some fish are good when cold smoked. Cold smoking must be done carefully because microbes thrive at these temps. Some smokers need a special insert, a baffle, to lower the temp sufficiently.

Collagen – Collagen is a type of connective tissue, meaning it holds together or connects muscle tissue together. Initially very tough, collagen breaks down under long term heat, giving meat a tender, silky mouthfeel.

Conduction Heat – In BBQ, this is what is happening when heat is conducted from the outside of the meat to the inside of the meat. The more intense the radiant heat, or the higher the temperature of convection currents, the faster meat conducts heat to its core.

Convection Heat – In BBQ cooking, this is known as the “indirect method” or cooking adjacent to the heat source. Convection can be from natural force or stirred by a fan (forced convection). This method ensures meat will be evenly cooked, so it’s good for whole chickens, turkeys, rib roasts, and other large pieces of meat.

Cracklings / Cracklins’ – The skin of a pig made crispy and crunchy and scrumptious by frying or roasting. Tradition dictates they be either slow roasted on the barbecue or deep fried in lard. Sprinkled liberally with salt, these pigskin delights are the best accompaniment for a Clemson vs. South Carolina game of pigskin on TV. The name probably came from Charles Lamb’s 1822 “A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig.”

Crash in the Smoker – Sometimes meat lined up in the smoker sways off the track. When it does lose its balance, the collision is deemed a crash in the smoker.

Creosote – Creosote is a group of organic components that condenses on cool surfaces of meat and your smoker when wood is burned improperly. It is black and sticky, tastes bitter, and is carcinogenic. The goal is thin, almost invisible smoke. (see Thin Blue Smoke).

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Crutch – Preserving meat’s post-fire life is just as important an undertaking as smoking. Wrapping, say, pork shoulder in butcher paper helps absorb grease and create a protective shield—that’s the crutch.

Cure – Meat to be smoked or jerked should be treated with a cure compound made of salt, sugar and sodium nitrate. This process takes several days.

Curing – Curing is any of various food preservation and flavoring processes of foods such as meat, fish and vegetables, by the addition of salt ( also called sodium chloride) with the aim of drawing moisture out of the food by the process of osmosis.

Doneness -Doneness is a gauge of how thoroughly cooked a cut of meat is based on the color, juiciness and internal temperature when cooked. The gradations of cooking are most often used in reference to beef (especially steak and roasts) but are also applicable to lamb, pork, poultry, veal and seafood (especially fish)., Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Direct Grilling – A method of quickly cooking food by placing it on a grill rack directly over the heat source. Food is often cooked uncovered on a charcoal grillbut covered on a gas grill.

Drip Pan – A metal or disposable foil pan placed under food to catch drippings when grilling. A drip pan can also be made from heavy foil.

Dry  – When used in terms of barbeque, dry means a couple of things. First it can refer to the meat being served without sauce. Second, it can refer to the meat being cooked “naked” whereby the juices that escape the meat drip off and go into the fire, or into a pan that is physically separated from the meat itself. Thus it is not cooking in the juices. third, it can mean the meat itself, lacks juices  resulting in a dry mouth feel.

Dry Smoking – A method of cooking food by placing it on a grill rack indirectly over the heat source with the lid down and vents adjusted. This allows the fire to burn, which creates smoke.

Electric Grill – A grill powered by electricity without an open flame. These can be used indoors as well as outdoors and are more environmentally friendly than charcoal or gas grills.

Elastin – This is another type of connective tissue and is primarily found in an animal’s ligaments and surrounding muscle groups. It’s stretchy and incredibly tough. Unlike collagen, elastin does not break down when the meat is cooked, and this is where we get gristle.

Egghead – A pit master who uses the Big Green Egg ceramic grill (affectionately known as Humpty) exclusively.Person that cooks on the big green egg; big green egg enthusiast.

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Ember Cooking – The process of placing foil-wrapped food on a bed of hot coals inside a grill to enhance flavor, and give food a dark, golden brown crust, called caramelization.

Fall Off the Bone – The point where the meat on ribs de-attaches itself. This may sound enticing, but in the pro scene, judges typically like less cooked, firm to the tooth bites.

Fat Cap – The thick layer of fat between the meat and the skin.

Firebox – The bottom of the grill that holds the fire or heat.

Firebrick – High temperature brick made especially for use in high-temperature applications such as fireplaces. Firebricks are cream colored. They can be used to provide a ceramic barrier for indirect cooking and as supports for raised grids. Normal brick should not be used for this purpose. See also Splits.

Flare-up – Flames caused by fat dripping onto hot coals or lava rocks.

Flash Over – A fireball.

Foodie – A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and who eats food not out of hunger but due to their interest or hobby.

Foil – The act of wrapping food in tin foil while cooking (see Texas Crutch).

Food Porn – Pornography for Food. AKA as PRON (Parental Rating). a food term foodies use to describe succulent and appetizing food photo’s.

Fry – To cook in a pan or on a griddle over heat especially with the use of a lot of fat., Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Gas Grill – A grill that uses gas from a tank or natural gas line as fuel.

Gastronome – and Gourmet define the same thing as Foodie, i.e. a person who enjoys food for pleasure.

GBD – Golden brown and delicious—the motto for good barbecue.

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Glaze – To form a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks, usually by basting it.

Glycemic Index – The glycemic index or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.

Greezy – Or greasy. Taste sensation of too much fat or oil.

Griddle – A flat piece of steel heated from beneath. Food cooked on a griddle is often called “grilled” although strictly it is griddled not grilled. These are popular in cafes and restaurants since you can use them indoors.

Grill – A cooker that features high heat cooking ability. The mainstays of the backyard can be either charcoal, gas or electric. The most convenient cooker in that they can quickly be lit and cooking. Also known as a brazier, where the food sits on a grate above flame, directly exposed to the heat. Hibachis and Weber Kettles are good examples of grills/braziers. Grilling is usually done at temps of 300F or higher and some grills can reach more than 600F. It is important to differentiate between grills/braziers and smokers/barbecues.

Grill Basket – A hinged wire basket that is used to hold foods for grilling.

Grill Marks – The process of creating burn marks on food from the hot grids of the grill.. By searing for 90 seconds and rotating the food clockwise 45 degrees, you will create an elegant crisscross pattern. How to properly mark grilled food.

Grill Master – An experienced outdoor cook, a skilled craftsman who primarily uses a barbecue grill. AKA Backyard affectionado’s.

Grill Rack – The latticework of metal rods that holds food on a grill; sometimes referred to as a grill grate or grid.

Grill Wok – A wok made specifically for grilling. With its sloped sides and numerous small holes, it makes small pieces of vegetables, meat, or seafood easy to stir-fry on the grill.

Grizzle – Or Gristle. The elastin (connective tissue) found in an animal’s ligaments and surrounding muscle groups.

Hardwood – Refers to those species of wood that are non-resinous, which typically makes the wood stronger and “harder” in terms of its strength. Hardwoods are used for cooking to give the meat a distinctive smoky flavor, and this flavor will vary depending on the wood used. Resinous wood, such as pine trees, should not be used for cooking – they will produce an acrid smoke that will give your meat a very rough taste, and the creosote from the wood will build up quickly on the smoker.

Hogma – Referred typically by North Carolinian BBQ fanatics who believe that pork is the only legitimate barbecue meat.

Hot ‘n’ Fast – Cooking over high heat, usually an open flame, at temperatures usually over 350F. Hot’n fast is great for browning the meat with the Maillard reaction. Cooking at this temp requires you to turn the meat at least once lest it burn. (See Low ‘n’ Slow).

Hot Sauce – Hot sauce, chili sauce or pepper sauce refers to any spicy sauce made from chili peppers and other ingredients. Heat levels do very greatly.

Indirect Grilling – This technique combines aspects of grilling and barbecue. Food is placed off to one side of the heat source, usually over a drip pan in a covered grill. It takes longer than simple direct grilling, but the temperature is a lot higher than real barbecue. Indirect grilling is great for cooking whole chickens, turkeys, rib roasts, and other large pieces of meat that would burn if you used direct grilling.

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Injection – Stabbing a syringe full of marinade into meet to infuse extra flavor deep in.

Jerk – Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, and tofu. Jerk chicken, pork, or fish originally was smoked over aromatic wood charcoal. Most jerk in Jamaica is no longer cooked in the traditional method and is grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum jerk pan. The wood (“pimento wood”), berries, and leaves of the allspice plant among the coals contribute to jerk’s distinctive flavor.

Jerk Seasoning – Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called “pimento” in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Jerky – Jerky is meat that has been cut into strips, trimmed of fat, marinated in a spicy, salty, sweet rub, or liquid, and dried or smoked with low heat (usually under 70 °C/160 °F) or is occasionally just salted and sun-dried. The result is a salty, savory, or semisweet snack that can be eaten fresh, or be stored for a long time without refrigeration.

Jiggle – Properly cooked brisket will quiver when touched.

Kabobs – Pieces of meat, poultry, seafood, and/or vegetables, threaded on a skewer and grilled.

Kettle Grill – A round charcoal grill with a heavy cover. It usually stands on three legs and can be used for either direct or indirect grilling.

Keto – The ketogenic diet (keto diet) is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates and is beneficial to overall health if done in moderation.

Kindling – Thin, dry wood used to start a fire.

Knife and Fork – Objects that are never allowed near ribs.

Lava Rock – This natural rock results from volcanic lava and is used as an alternative to ceramic briquettes in gas grills. It can be used many times, but eventually needs to be replaced.

Live-Fire Cooking – Cooking over the flames and heat of a variety of fires, such as charcoal, gas, or wood. Keep a spray bottle close by in case the flames get out of control.

Low ‘n’ Slow – By keeping the heat low, under 275F, and taking your time, the fats and collagens melt, making the meat juicy and flavorful. Heat it up too much and the proteins get bunched up in a knot and the meat is tough. Cooking low ‘n slow means you usually do not have to turn the meat over because it is not exposed to direct heat. See Hot ‘n’ Fast

Lump – The favored charcoal of serious barbecuers, lump contains only burning wood, with no additives or by-products like sawdust. It burns hotter and longer and has a flavorful smoke.

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Maillard Reaction – The chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that browns a food’s surface, giving barbecue its crackling bark.

Marinade – flavored liquid, which includes an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, wine, vinegar or dairy. Acid tenderizes the meat and balances out sweet or spicy flavors in the marinade. A liquid to soak the meat in. In order for it to penetrate — and it doesn’t penetrate very far, by the way — it needs acidity. Acidity can be found in most fruit juices, wine, and vinegar. Similar to a brine, but with much less salt and much more acid.

Marinate – To steep food in a liquid mixture before it is cooked. Marinades add flavor to foods and tenderize certain cuts of meat. Beef cuts that benefit from marinating include boneless skirt steak, flank steak, top round steak, tip steak, and chuck blade steak.

Membrane – Also known as the skin, it must be removed.

Minion Method– A method created by Jim Minion. Place several lit coals on top of a full chamber of unlit coals. The unlit coals gradually light throughout the cook from the lit coals resulting in a much longer cook time of up to 18 hours depending on conditions.

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Mole – Is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red/colorado, yellow, green, almendrado, de olla, huaxmole, guacamole, and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut, and such spices as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate.

Money – Any technique or choice cut or rub that will win money in competition.

Money Muscle – The choice piece of pork, located high on the shoulder, that is the most moist and flavorful. A its name implies, it often pulls in the loot during competitions.

MOP – or Mop sauce. A thin sauce brushed on the meat with a small mop or brush while it is cooking, especially on an old fashioned direct heat pit. It keeps the surface cool and adds flavor. The classic mop is vinegar based with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce. The mixture is poured into a large wooden bucket, stirred, and mopped on the pig every 15 minutes or so, especially if you are cooking in a pit dug in the ground. Use a broom handle with a rag tied on the end. Modern variations on the theme use beer, apple juice, and even soft drinks like Dr. Pepper. Keep at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling over direct heat.

Mr. Brown – The browned, rub-seasoned crust that forms on the outside of barbecued meat.

Mr. Brown goes to Town – Refers to the Memphis ritual of adding crunchy pieces of pork to sandwiches.

Mrs. White – The fatty, moist inside of barbecued meat.

Naked – Meat cooked sans pan or foil on the grill.

Omnivore – An omnivore is an organism that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter.

Oven – An enclosed cooker. The big hot thing in your kitchen is an oven and a Weber Kettle with the lid on is also an oven. With the lid off it is not. It is a brazier (see definition above).

Paleo – The Paleolithic diet (Paleo diet), caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a modern diet requiring the sole or predominant eating of foods presumed to have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era. The diet typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat and excludes foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, or coffee.

Pellets – Pellets are made of 100% compressed wood sawdust with no additives. A renewable fuel source made from sawdust or wood chips otherwise destined for landfill.

Pellet Smoker- A smoker that uses wood pellets for fuel instead of charcoal or gas.

Pescatarian – Is an organism that practices a diet that includes fish and other seafood, but not the flesh of other animals.

Pickling – Pickling is the process of preserving or extending the lifespan of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar.

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Pit – Originally a pit was a hole in the ground lined with logs burned down to charcoal. In recent years, the word “pit” has become more generic and now means an area that contains just about any device(s) for cooking barbecue.

Pit Boss – A Pit Boss is the person who directs all and everyone in the BBQ Pit.

Pit Master – An experienced barbecue cook. One who has gained respect for their food. That means:
1. Mastery of one’s pit without electronic assistance.
2. Its the cook, not the cooker.
3. Understanding and controlling the environment. Read more about What is a Pitmaster?: Here

Pitmaster’s Privilege – The right of the Pit master or Boss to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

Plateau – The phase during the low and slow cooking of piece of meat like a pork butt or a brisket in which the internal temperature of the meat stops rising. During this phase, the connective tissue in the meat (collagen) is being converted to gelatin. This conversion process uses all the heat from the fire and as a result, the internal temperature of the meat stops rising. Once this conversion is complete, the heat from the fire can go back towards raising the internal temperature of the meat. This plateau can last many hours and can occur at different internal meat temperatures. The internal temperature of the meat may even drop a few degrees during this phase.

Polypitist – A pit master with more than one BBQ pit in his or her backyard.

Power Cook – If a Pitmaster is behind on his or her cooking, cranking up the heat to overcompensate is a must.

Primal – Essential, fundamental and basic.

Radiant Heat – Heat that is radiated from a heat source. For the purpose of BBQ, Radiant Heat is generally referred to as the “Direct Method” or cooking directly above the coals.

Rendering – This is the process where fats and tough connective tissues in a meat are gradually broken down during the long, slow cooking favored in barbeque. The result is a wonderfully tender meat.

Resting – Letting the meat stand or rest for a few minutes before serving allows its juices to redistribute, providing for a more consistent and juicy taste.

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Reverse Sear – Cooking over indirect heat to gently raise the temperature of the meat’s center.

Rib Hooks or Rib Hangars – These are metal hooks that pierce a slab on one end and hang the meat vertically in a narrow smoker.

Roasting – Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat where hot air envelops the food, cooking it evenly on all sides with temperatures of at least 150 °C (300 °F) from an open flame, oven, or other heat source.

Rotisserie – The spit or long metal skewer that suspends and rotates food over the grill’s meat source.

Rub A blend of seasonings rubbed onto a food surface before grilling., Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Salty – The simplest receptor found in the mouth is the sodium chloride (salt) receptor. Saltiness is a taste produced primarily by the presence of sodium ions.

Sauce – In cooking, a sauce is a liquid, cream, or semi-solid food, served on or used in preparing other foods.

Saute – or Sautéing – Is a method of cooking that uses a relatively small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat.

Savory – or Savoriness is an appetitive taste and is occasionally described by its Japanese name, umami or meaty. It can be tasted in cheese, soy sauce, fish sauce, concentrated stocks/broth, and is also found in many other fermented and aged foods.

Snake Method: A different way to lay out briquettes to control the temperature for a long and slow cook. Light one end and it will slowly burn from one end to the other.


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Softwood – Resinous – Refers to resin in wood, from tree species such as pine. This type of wood is also commonly referred to as softwood, and is not used for cooking since the resin burning produces an acrid smoke that will give an palatable taste to the meat.

Scoville Scale – The substance that makes Peppers HOT is an oil called Capsaicin. It is mostly concentrated in the veins of the pepper, although to a lesser degree in the seeds as well. In the early 1900’s, a man named Wilbur Scoville invented a system to rate the “Heat” of the different types of peppers. In the test, peppers were rated with what was called “Scoville Units.” The rating system became known as the “Scoville Heat Scale.” This is still the most common system used today to rate the heat of peppers. Although, (like everything else), people have tried to develop new and different rating systems over the years. The “Scoville Scale” is still the most popular.

Seagulls – The public that attend BBQ competitions looking for free food.

Sear – or Searing – Is a technique where you cook the surface of the food (usually meat, poultry or fish) at high temperature until a browned crust forms.

Seasoning – A seasoning is an ingredient (s) added to food. The term also refers to the process of treating the surface of a cooking vessel with a stick-resistant coating formed from polymerized fat and oil on the surface.  Seasoning is mandatory on cast-iron cookware, which rusts rapidly when heated in the presence of available oxygen, notably from water, even small quantities such as drippings from dry meat. Food tends to stick to unseasoned iron and carbon steel cookware, both of which are seasoned for this reason as well. Other cookware surfaces such as stainless steel or cast aluminum do not require as much protection from corrosion but seasoning is still very often employed by professional chefs to avoid sticking. Seasoning of other cookware surfaces is generally discouraged. Non-stick enamels often crack under heat stress, and non-stick polymers (such as Teflon) degrade at high heat so neither type of surface should be seasoned. Grill and Smoking equipment benefit from Smoke as a primary component in aging the cookware for better taste.

Seasoning Grates – Coating the cooking grate with olive oil just before adding the meat.

Seasoning the Grill – Process to regulate a new grills temperature and all the smoke from cooked food to accumulate on the inside of the grill to “season” your food with great grilled flavor. If you have a new grill, or one that has just been cleaned for the season, the first few times you grill it may run hotter than normal. Once you have seasoned the grill, the interior will be less reflective and the temperature will normalize.

Seasoning the Smoker – The interior and cooking surfaces of a new smoker often have machine oil or other byproducts of the manufacturing process on them. If the owner’s manual doesn’t have specific instructions on how to break it in, follow these: Begin by washing down the interior and cooking surfaces thoroughly. If the interior is stainless or polished aluminum, that’s all you need to do. If it is steel, dry it thoroughly and coat the inside and all cooking surfaces with cooking oil. Spray-on cooking oil is good for this. Crank up the heater as high as possible and add a big chunk of wood. Let it billow for an hour or so. Let the oven surfaces cool and coat with cooking oil again. You are now ready to cook.

Seasoned Wood – Wood that has been properly dried out after cutting. Seasoning generally takes six to 12 months. Wood burns much more efficiently when its moisture content has been reduced.

, Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Shiggin’ – When slick Pitmasters spy on their competitors to uncover BBQ secrets, this covert practice is called shiggin’.

Shiner – When a rack of ribs bares exposed bones, it means too much meat has been butchered off. The bones, therefore, “shine through” the meat.

Skewer – A long, narrow metal or wooden stick inserted through pieces of meat or vegetables for grilling.

Skin ’n’ Trim – To prepare a slab of ribs: Excess fat, loose flaps of meat and the thick membrane on the concave underside are cut away.

Slather – A process in which a wet ingredient is used prior to sprinkling a dry spice or rub. This helps the dry ingredient adhere to the protein. In BBQ, the most common base slathered on is mustard.

Sludge – A black buildup of greeze and smoke. Also a type of heavy metal style of music.

Sour – Sourness is the taste that detects acidity.

SPOG – A basic rub seasoning consisting of Salt, Pepper, Onion and Garlic Powder.

SPG – The base of many rubs or essential ingredients in cooking. Salt, Pepper and Garlic.

Spicy – Pungency is the condition of having a strong, sharp smell or flavor that is often so strong that it is unpleasant; for example, the pungent smell of a dirty diaper. Pungency is the technical term used to refer to the characteristic of food commonly referred to as spiciness or hotness, sometimes heat, which is found in foods such as chili peppers.
The term piquancy, is sometimes applied to foods with a lower degree of pungency that are “agreeably stimulating to the palate.” Examples of piquant food include mustard and curry.

Smoke – Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases emitted when wood or other material undergoes combustion from heat or fire.

Smoker – A piece of equipment for making barbecue that provides a temperature controlled, smoky environment. Smokers come in many sizes and are powered by a variety of fuels—electricity, natural gas, wood, and charcoal. The goal when using a smoker is to maintain a temperature of about 225°F. Any piece of cooking equipment that can hold a low temperature and create smoke may be called a smoker—which means you can build your own.

Smoker Box – A small perforated metal container placed on a gas grill’s lava rocks or ceramic briquettes, or the grill rack of a charcoal grill, to hold wood chips and provide smoke..

Smoke Ring – The moneymaker pink layer near the meat’s surface, resulting from a chemical reaction to wood smoke.

Splits – Firebricks which are only half as thick as normal. Can be used on edge as a support for raised grids or side by side to make a thinner barrier than with regular firebricks for indirect cooking.

Stall – A period during smoking when the temperature has peaked but the meat has temporarily stopped cooking.

Stick Burner – A cooker that primarily generates heat by burning wood.

Sugar Cookie – A sweet, crunchy bit of surface fat embedded with spices.

, Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Sweet – Sweetness is a basic taste most commonly perceived when eating foods rich in sugars. Sweet tastes are regarded as a pleasurable experience, except perhaps in excess

Temperature  – can be an essential element of the taste experience. Food and drink that—in a given culture—is traditionally served hot is often considered distasteful if cold, and vice versa. For example, alcoholic beverages, with a few exceptions, are usually thought best when served at room temperature or chilled to varying degrees, but soups—again, with exceptions—are usually only eaten hot. Barbecue can usually be served hot or room temperature and still be enjoyable. Temperature is also a physical quantity expressing hot and cold. The degree or intensity of heat present in a substance or object, especially as expressed according to a comparative scale and shown by a thermometer or perceived by touch. The ideal meat cooking temperatures are:, Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Texas Crutch – Aluminum foil wrapped around meat with a little liquid (water, juice, beer) to prevent dryness and accelerate the cooking process.

Thin Blue Smoke – See Blue Smoke.

Torch – A torch is a stick with combustible material at one end, which is ignited and used as a fire source.

Umami – Umami is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). It has been described as savory and is characteristic of rich broths and smoked cooked meats. People taste umami through taste receptors that typically respond to glutamate, which is widely present in meat broths and fermented products and commonly added to some foods in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG). Since umami has its own receptors rather than arising out of a combination of the traditionally recognized taste receptors, scientists now consider umami to be a distinct taste, most cooks strive for.

Upright Smoker – A smoker that uses a vertical smoking chamber. Usually contains several trays that are stacked. Considered a more efficient smoker than a horizontal offset. Firebox is either under the cooking chamber or beside it.

Vegan – Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. they refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances. They basically eat hay.

Vegetarian – Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat. Focus is primarily on vegetables. Semi-vegetarian diets consist largely of vegetarian foods but may include fish or poultry, or sometimes other meats, on an infrequent basis. Those with diets containing fish or poultry may define meat only as mammalian flesh and may identify with vegetarianism. vegetarians can and do barbecue frequently as grilled and smoked veggies look and taste great.

Vents – Holes in a grill cover or firebox. When open, air circulates through, increasing the heat of a fire.

Water Smoker – Smokers that have a water pan close to the heat source. Moisture evaporates and keeps the humidity in the oven high so the meat does not dry out. We like ribs moist, we like jerky dry. For making ribs, a water smoker is a good thing to have. One can also put wine, beer, juice, herbs and more in the water pan. Celery, herbs, onion, and other aromatics in the water pan can flavor the food. Most bullets are also water smokers so the water/drip pan acts as a baffle between the heat source and the food. The model shown at right is the popular Weber Smokey Mountain.

Wet – In barbecue terms this is the opposite of dry. First, it can refer to barbecue being served with sauce on it. Secondly, barbecue can be cooked wet by having it cook
in its own juices, either by resting in a pan that collects the juice that drips from the meat, or by being wrapped in foil so that it stews in the juices.

Wood Chips and Chunks – Natural wood materials added to a fire to impart a smoky flavor to food as it cooks. Alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak, and pecan are commonly used. The chips are soaked in water, drained well, and added to a fire just before putting food on the grill.

, Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

Whitebone – A sign that ribs have been overcooked. If you pull on two adjacent ribs and one “whitebones,” the meat pulls off the bone, leaving it white.

White and Narrow – How to describe a rack of rib’s girth.

White Sauce – A specialty of Alabama, this zesty mayo-based concoction typically dresses BBQ chicken.

Yard-bird – Slang for a chicken

Now that we got your Juices flowin’ with our BBQ Barbecue Guide of slang wordsand terms used in BBQ Barbecue Cooking, head on over to our Barbecue Directory and Find some great BBQ near you! GO: BBQ Directory

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