How to cook pulled pork
September 6, 2019

The second episode of Becoming a Backyard BBQ Master is here! Today, Evan will attempt to smoke his first Pork Butt (also known as a Boston Butt).

Pork butts are a great choice for cooking low and slow. They’re hard to mess up, they taste delicious, and they provide a lot of food for a lower cost (so if you do manage to mess it up you won’t feel too bad).

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or, like Evan, new to the world of Backyard BBQ, there is something to enjoy in this new video series. Watch the episode now, and read on for more insights and instructions on smoking your first pork butt.

Why Start with Pulled Pork?

I have loved eating pulled pork for as long as I can remember. We grew up going to BBQ restaurants and the sandwich was a staple around our house as well. Smoking a pork butt, however, has always seemed like a mystical and unattainable task to me. To be honest, I thought that smoking anything would be difficult.

Turns out I was wrong: Pork butts are actually one of the easiest things to smoke! They may take a lot of time, but it’s low effort and well worth it.

I have cooked a few pork butts in the past, but always using a crockpot. Some recipes claim it is just as good as the smoker – I’m here to tell you that is also not true. If I had to do a blind taste test of my crock pot pulled pork and my new smoked pulled pork, I would guess the right one every time.

So, since I love pulled pork and it’s one of the hardest things to mess up, I decided that this would be my very first smoke.

Materials

There are two different sets of materials I need to explain. First, the food ingredients and then my smoking equipment.

Food Ingredients are very basic:

  • Pork butt or Boston butt (they’re the same thing). I smoked one that was 9 pounds, which is a pretty large cut of meat.
  • Dry Rub to go onto the butt
  • A bit of oil for the grill
  • Liquid for the drip pan – you want some kind of liquid in your drip pan to keep the meat moist. Some people use juice or soda, but I just used water.

Pork Butt ready with Dry Rub

That’s it! That’s all you need to smoke a pork butt. Obviously you may want bbq sauce or buns or coleslaw to make sandwiches with once you’re done, but that’s completely up to you. You could also use your pork for tacos or serve it without bread. It’s a versatile meat, and once you cook 9 pounds worth you’ll get several chances to enjoy it.

Smoking equipment that I used:

Equipment for Smoking a Pork Butt

The equipment was amazing and made the job much easier. In particular, I loved the Flame Boss. It felt like cheating (and some purists probably would call it cheating), but when you’re new to smoking it is a fantastic assistant.

The Flame Boss deserves its own episode in the future, but basically it monitors the temperature inside the pit and inside the meat. It also controls a small fan, which can blow air into the smoker to raise the temperature as required. It’s a really clever design and makes it very easy to reach and maintain a consistent temperature when you cook for long periods of time. You can monitor and adjust the temperature on the Flame Boss itself, on your phone, or even through Alexa devices.

I had to choose which type of wood to smoke with as well. The Pecan chunks were recently featured in Garden and Gun magazine, so they seemed like the best option for my first smoke. I’ve never cooked with or tried pecan before, so I was excited to try it.

How to Smoke your First Pork Butt (or Boston Butt)

There are a ton of great resources out there from experienced backyard bbq masters when it comes to smoking your first pork butt. One in particular that I used a lot was Primo University: Pulled Pork (Boston Butt) Recipe.

But sometimes the experts forget about the things newbies don’t know, so I’m going to share my experience and hopefully add something useful to the world.

Step 1: Prepare the meat the night before: Preparing the meat is relatively simple. If there is excess fat, you can cut some of it off (but don’t cut too much because that provides flavor and juiciness). Then, choose the dry rub of your choice and cover that butt as best you can with it. I wrapped the butt in plastic wrap and stuck it back in the fridge so it could soak in all the flavor over night.

Step 2: Preheat the Smoker and Prewarm the meat: Most smokers take at least 20-30 minutes to get to the right temperature. Before lighting up the grill, however, make sure you take the pork out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter. Allowing it to warm up a bit and get closer to room temperature will help it cook more evenly.

Then, light up the grill and bring it to temperature. Use lots of charcoal so you don’t have to add more halfway through your cook (any leftover charcoal can be used on the next cook). Don’t forget to add 2-3 cooking chunks as well. Most people smoke pork at 225F, but some will go at 250F. I started at 225, and then bumped it up to 250 in the last couple hours because I was starving.

Pecan Chunks for Cooking Pulled Pork

Step 3: Drip pan and Meat into the Smoker: Once the smoker is at temperature, it’s time to start cooking! First, place the drip pan into the grill below where the meat will go. Don’t add liquid to the drip pan until you have placed it (or you can be like me, and discover how difficult it is to slide a pan full of liquid into a hot grill). Once placed, add your liquid and then place the pork butt into the smoker. You should place the meat on the grill with the fattier side facing down.

It’s also important that you place the meat on indirect heat! In other words, you don’t want burning charcoal directly under the pork butt. You should use a ceramic heat deflector, which will allow the smoker to have an even temperature throughout and help your butt cook evenly. Since I didn’t have the appropriate heat deflector racks, I ended up piling all the charcoal onto one side and cooking on the other. This worked just fine, except I ran out of charcoal quickly because I only had it on one side.

Step 4: Play the waiting game: Pulled pork can take a long time to smoke. If you want an estimate, plan for 1-2 hours for each pound of meat. This creates quite the broad range. My first Boston butt was 9 pounds and took about 13 hours. My second one was 10 pounds and took 22 hours!

You really shouldn’t open your smoker throughout the day either. Each time you open it, you lose a lot of heat and it will only cause the process to take longer. You may need to check it a couple of times to ensure the drip pan still has liquid in it or that your charcoal is still in good shape, but otherwise resist the temptation!

Using the Flame Boss for a Pork Butt

This is where having a Flame Boss can be really helpful. The picture above shows how it monitors the temperature of your pit (red line), your meat (yellow line), fan output (green line), and goal temperature (blue line). You can where, when I opened the smoker, the pit temperature dropped significantly. It gives you good info on what’s happening, so you are not tempted to open and check.

It’s also worth mentioning that there is an actual thing called the stall. Basically, the Pork butt will heat at a pretty quick pace until it reaches 150F. Then all of a sudden, it stalls! It may get stuck there for an hour or two, but don’t worry – this is normal. Eventually it will get going again and reach the goal temperature. Just keep playing the waiting game!

Step 5: Remove when the pork reaches 195F: You need to cook pork butts to a pretty hot temperature. The extra heat breaks down the tough tissue and makes it juicy and tender. Once your meat reaches 195F, it is time to take it off the smoker.

Wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 30-60 minutes. This lets it cool down a bit and helps the juices distribute themselves.

How to pull a pork butt

Step 6: Pull that pork! There are several ways to pull pork. The most basic (and the one I used) is a couple of forks. This can be difficult if your meat is still tough, but hopefully it will be very tender and fall apart easily. Bear claws are another great option, and I know some people who use a certain type of blender.

Step 7: Eat it! Once pulled, your pork is ready to eat. I was really happy with how my first pork butt turned out. It was far more juicy, tender, and flavorful than anything I had made on a crockpot. The pecan wood added a subtle nutty flavor that was quite enjoyable. We had pulled pork for several days, shared with friends, and even put some in the freezer.

And now I feel one step closer to becoming a backyard BBQ master.

How to make Homemade Pulled Pork Sandwich

Lessons Learned

Each episode, I want to share a few lessons I learned. I mention 3 in the video, but there are a couple more I want to add:

  1. Add more charcoal: I think I lost about an hour of cook time because I ran out of charcoal. The Primo temperature started dropping and really fell off when I had to add the charcoal. The flame boss worked pretty hard to get it back up to temperature, but it took time. It’s always better to have excess charcoal because you can use it again for your next cook – so you don’t have to worry about wasting it!
  2. The Flame Boss was amazing: Seriously recommend this tool to anyone wanting to improve their low and slow cooking skills
  3. If you’re looking, you aren’t cooking: It’s really tempting to look at your meat and check it throughout the day. Don’t do that. Every time you open it, you lose significant cook time. Not just while it is open, but the pit also needs time to heat back up.
  4. Add liquid to the drip pan after placing the drip pan: I made this mistake, and it took me a lot more time to get the drip pan positioned.
  5. Cook the day before a party: This didn’t really hit home until my second cook. We had some friends coming over on Friday, and my original plan was to wake up really early and start cooking the butt so it would be hot off the smoker in time for dinner. This would have worked great if it took 14 hours, but instead it took 22 hours to cook! Our dinner party would have been a disaster, but fortunately circumstances forced me to start on Thursday. The nice thing is, pulled pork is easy to reheat and still tastes just as good! So, if you’re making food for an event, always give yourself plenty of time!

Conclusion

All in all, this was an awesome first experience with cooking low and slow for me. If you have any points or tips for others new to the world of Backyard BBQ Mastery, then please share them in the comments below!

Don’t forget to subscribe so you can catch the next episode of Becoming a Backyard BBQ Master.

August 29, 2019

As a pitmaster, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to cook with bark-covered firewood. The secret to grilling and smoking delicious food is using the right firewood. There are thousands of different tree species, each of which has a unique composition that results in a different flavor. Regardless, nearly all tree species have bark. If you come across a piece of bark-covered firewood when grilling or smoking, though, you don’t have to necessarily discard it. To learn more about cooking with bark-covered firewood, including whether it’s safe, keep reading.

What Is Bark?

Bark is the outer layer of a tree’s trunk and stems. It covers the entire tree, essentially acting a protective shell. While nearly all trees have bark, the composition of bark varies from species to species. Some trees have thick bark, whereas others have thin bark. Some trees have hard and rigid bark, whereas others have soft and elastic bark. By definition, however, bark is simply the organic tissue covering a tree’s trunk and stems.

Why Trees Have Bark

The primary purpose of bark is to protect trees from injury and stress. It acts as a physical barrier between a tree’s inner core and the environment. Without bark, trees would be susceptible to environmental injury and stress caused by extreme temperatures, wind, fire, pests, disease-causing fungi and viruses, and more. Bark protects trees from these and other related environmental injuries by creating a protective barrier over the tree’s core. As long as the bark is intact, trees will have a natural and effective defense mechanism against environmental injury and stress.

It’s also worth noting that bark helps trees retain water. When fully grown, it’s not uncommon for trees to contain up to half their weight in water. If a tree weighs 1,500 pounds, for example, it may contain up to 750 pounds of water. Most of this water is located inside the tree’s core. If the bark is removed or otherwise not present, water quickly leak out, resulting in significant stress that could even kill the tree.

The Myth of Cooking With Bark-Covered Wood

Because bark has a different composition than solid wood harvested from a tree’s core — it’s less dense and more brittle — some pitmasters avoid using it in their grill or smoker. They’ll either discard the bark-covered wood, or they’ll attempt to manually remove the bark. While it’s true that a tree’s bark has different properties than its core, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice of fuel for a grill or smoker. Rather, you just need to choose the right type of firewood.

Another reason some pitmasters avoid using bark-covered wood in their grill or smoker is because bark burns quicker than solid wood from a tree’s core. This is because bark is less dense than solid wood. Its lower density means bark has less organic matter for the combustion process, resulting in a shorter burn time than that of solid wood. Of course, you probably won’t use just bark in your grill or smoker. Instead, you’ll use a combination of both bark and solid wood.

Yes, You Can Cook With Bark-Covered Wood!

There’s nothing wrong with cooking with bark-covered wood. On the contrary, it can introduce unique flavors that aren’t possible with conventional barkless wood. As previously mentioned, bark has a different organic composition than a tree’s core. When burned, the unique compounds in bark will produce flavorful smoke that mixes with the smoke of the burned solid wood. As these two types of flavorful smoke combine, they create unique and mouthwatering flavors.

Choose Bark-Covered Wood That Has Been Kiln Dried and Properly Stored

For the best flavor and performance, you should choose bark-covered wood that has been kiln dried and properly stored. If a piece of bark-covered wood hasn’t been kiln dried, it’s best to err on the side of caution by not burning it.

What is kiln dried wood exactly? As the name suggests, it’s any type of wood — typically a hardwood species like oak, hickory or cherry — that’s dried inside a kiln. There are several different ways to dry wood, the most common of which is air drying. With air drying, wood is left outdoors for an average of six months, during which the moisture inside its pores will escape. Kiln drying is a more advanced drying technique that involves placing wood in an oven-like kiln where it’s exposed to heat and pressure. As a result, kiln dried wood contains substantially less moisture than other types of wood, including fresh, green and air-dried wood. By choosing bark-covered wood that’s been kiln dried, you’ll create a cleaner fire inside your grill or smoker that delivers the best flavor to your food.

In addition to being kiln dried, bark-covered wood should also be properly stored if you intend to use it for cooking. So, what’s the best way to store kiln dried wood? There’s really no single right way to store it. Some pitmasters prefer storing their kiln dried wood indoors, whereas others prefer storing it outdoors. If you’re going to store your kiln dried wood outdoors, however, you should keep it covered and off the ground. If it’s stored in the open and/or on the ground, it will absorb moisture. When in doubt, you can always store kiln dried firewood inside your home. Many pitmasters prefer keeping their kiln dried firewood right inside their kitchen where they can easily access it when grilling or smoking food.

Video: How to Choose the Right Wood for Smoking Meat

In the YouTube video below, pitmaster extraordinaire Malcolm Reed offers several helpful tips on how to choose the right wood for smoking meat. Reed explains that wood chunks measuring about 2 to 3 inches work best when used in conjunction with charcoal because of their ability to produce lots of flavorful smoke. You can always use wood chunks alone, but they are particularly effective when added to a mound of hot charcoal. The charcoal will produce the heat to cook your food, whereas the wood chunks produce the delicious flavor that’s synonymous with smoking. When using wood as your primary heat source, on the other hand, Reed recommends hardwood logs of a flavorful variety like hickory.

Reed goes on to say that bark on wood chunks adds a “different note of flavor.” It’s a subtle flavor that’s often overlooked by pitmasters. Nonetheless, adding a small amount of bark from kiln dried and properly stored wood can enhance the flavor of your food. Whether you use wood chunks or cooking wood logs, you don’t have to worry about bark negatively affecting the flavor of your food.

You can check out the complete video by clicking the play button below. In the roughly three-minute-long video, Reed offers insight on how to choose deliciously flavorful wood for smoking meat.

In Conclusion

It’s a common misconception that firewood must be stripped free of all bark before it can be used for cooking. In reality, though, bark is harmless and can even be beneficial. It produces flavorful smoke that mixes with the smoke created by the solid wood. Just remember to choose bark-covered wood that’s been kiln dried and properly stored.

Stock up on premium cooking wood today by visiting our online store today.

August 26, 2019

If your smoking chunks burn to ash after just a few minutes of sitting inside your smoker or grill, you may assume that soaking them in water will help. After all, wet wood burns more slowly than dry wood, so conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that pre-soaked smoking chunks will burn more slowly than traditional, unsoaked smoking chunks. While you can always conduct your own experiments by testing both types of smoking chunks, you’ll probably discover little or no benefit when using pre-soaked smoking chunks. In fact, it could result in other problems that interfere with your outdoor culinary activities.

What Are Smoking Chunks?

As pictured below, smoking chunks are small rectangular-shaped pieces of wood — usually about 1 to 2 inches long — that are designed specifically for smoking and grilling. You add them to your grill or smoker, and once lit, they’ll release flavorful smoke compounds that are absorbed by your food. Different varieties of smoking chunks have different flavors. Hickory smoking chunks, for example, have a strong bacon-like flavor, whereas cherry smoking chunks have a mildly sweet and fruity flavor. You can even mix two or more varieties of smoking chunks to create a combination of flavors.

Smoking chunks are similar to smoking chips. The only real difference is that smoking chips are smaller and thinner, resulting in a shorter burn time. You can use either type in your smoker or grill, but smoking chunks offer the longest burn time. And with a longer burn time, they’ll release more flavorful smoke to help you cook delicious food.

Why Some Pitmasters Soak Their Smoking Chunks Before Using Them

Before adding them to their smoker or grill, some pitmasters soak their smoking chunks in water in an effort to make them last longer. Smoking chunks are typically dry because of the way in which they are processed. The smoking chunks sold here at Cutting Edge Firewood are processed in a kiln — a process known as kiln drying — for 48 hours. That’s 12 times longer than the standard required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Therefore, the general belief is that soaking smoking chunks increases their moisture content and, in turn, promotes a longer burn time.

Some pitmasters also believe that soaking smoking chunks in water will make them produce more smoke. If you’ve ever used pre-soaked smoking chunks, you may recall seeing a large plume of smoke shooting out your smoker’s or grill’s dampers. As a result, you may assume that soaking your smoking chunks will lead to more flavorful food.

Soaking smoking chunks is a relatively simple process that consists of the following steps:

  1. Place smoking chunks in a medium-sized bowl or pan.
  2. Fill a bowl or pan with water (or fruit juice).
  3. Allow smoking chunks to soak for 24 to 48 hours.
  4. After soaking, the smoking chunks are added to a smoker or grill.

The Truth About Soaking Smoking Chunks

You should think twice before soaking your smoking chunks before adding them to your smoker or grill. Although it sounds like a simple and effective way to extend their burn time, as well as create more flavorful smoke, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Even when submerged in water for 48 hours, smoking chunks will absorb very little water. They’ll absorb and retain some water on the surface, but the interior of your smoking chunks will remain dry. After lighting your smoking chunks, the water on the surface will quickly burn off. Neither smoking chunks nor any other type of hardwood will absorb any significant amount of water from soaking. If hardwood was highly absorbent, boats featuring wood hulls would likely sink rather than float. This same principle applies to smoking chunks. Water struggles to penetrate past the smoking chunk’s exterior, resulting in a dry core.

Contrary to what some pitmasters believe, soaking smoking chunks in water doesn’t make them produce them more smoke when burned. The smoke you see pillowing out your smoker’s or grill’s dampers isn’t actually smoke. It’s moisture that’s being evaporated off your smoking chunks as they burn. As your smoking chunks heat up, water evaporates in the form of steam. Therefore, pre-soaked smoking chunks don’t produce more smoke; they only produce steam that looks similar to smoke.

Using pre-soaked smoking chunks can even cause several problems, including the following:

  • Increases the risk of your smoker or grill rusting.
  • It may extinguish your fire.
  • It temporarily creates “cold spots.”

How to Make Your Soaking Chunks Last Longer (Without Soaking Them)

Soaking your smoking chunks won’t make them last longer, nor will it make them produce more smoke. The good news, however, is that there are other ways to make your smoking chunks last longer. When used properly, smoking chunks shouldn’t catch fire. Instead, they should smolder, during which they’ll slowly release smoke. If you place your smoking chunks directly on a bed of hot charcoal, you can expect them to catch fire and burn to ash. If you place them next to your charcoal, on the other hand, they should smolder.

Don’t expose your smoking chunks to direct heat. To make them burn more slowly, you need to use indirect heat. If you have a large mound of charcoal in the center of your smoker or grill, try placing your smoking chunks off to the side. Alternatively, you can place your smoking chunks in a foil pan and then place them on top of the charcoal. Whether you place your smoking chunks next to your charcoal or place them in a foil pan, you must use indirect heat so that they’ll burn slower and for longer.

You can also make your soaking chunks burn more slowly by adjusting the dampers on your smoker or grill. When all the dampers are fully open, the internal temperature of your smoker or grill will rise, resulting in a shorter burn time for your smoking chunks. Partially closing the dampers, on the other, will limit the amount of oxygen the fire receives, resulting in a longer burn time for your smoking chunks.

It’s important to use high-quality smoking chunks derived from a hardwood tree. Softwood smoking chunks are less dense than their hardwood counterparts. With a lower density, there’s less wood matter in softwood smoking chunks than in hardwood smoking chunks. By using high-quality hardwood smoking chunks, and by placing them next to your charcoal rather than on top of your charcoal, you’ll achieve a longer burn time.

The Bottom Line on Soaking Smoking Chunks

It’s not uncommon for pitmasters to soak their smoking chunks in water before adding them to their smoker or grill. The general idea is that soaking smoking chunks makes them burn more slowly and produce more smoke. As revealed in this blog post, though, pre-soaked smoking chunks don’t burn any slower than unsoaked smoking chunks, nor do they produce more smoke. They both burn at roughly the same rate while producing a similar amount of smoke in the process.

Find the best quality smoking chunks by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey, all of which will allow you to smoke delicious meat. We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.

Primo Grill Cooking with Wood
August 23, 2019

Today we’re excited to introduce you to a new series, hosted by our very own Evan Forester. It’s called, “Becoming a Backyard BBQ Master” and follows Evan on his quest to go from zero to hero with his backyard BBQ skills. We think it’s going to be fun!

Hi everyone! And welcome to the first episode of Becoming a Backyard BBQ Master.

My name is Evan Forester, and here are my credentials for hosting a Backyard BBQ Master show:

  • I have a backyard.

That’s about it! I have used a grill before, but just for burgers and hot dogs. I’ve never even tried to grill a steak. I certainly have never smoked anything before.

All that being said, I enjoy cooking and I love food. I figured now was a great time to learn, and I’d love to invite you on this journey! Make sure to watch the video, or you can read the story below:

Unboxing the Primo Grill

First things first, I had to take my dysfunctional gas grill to the curb and set up my new Kamado style grill. I chose the Primo XL 400 – it’s large (really large) and oval shaped. It’s got a few features I already like and will explain below.

Set-up was pretty easy, but it is a two person job. The cart was very nice to put together and didn’t take too much skill. You only need two tools and it took us less than 30 minutes. You could do the cart on your own, but it will take more time and be difficult to line things up.

Where you really will need help is lifting the large ceramic grill into the cart. The Primo XL 400 is a beast. We managed with two people, but to be honest three would have been easier.

My biggest mistake was setting up the grill at 2pm on the 4th of July. It was crazy hot outside, but I really didn’t have a choice. We were hosting people that evening and I had to cook burgers and brats! If you set up your own grill, make sure you do it when the weather is cooler. Alternatively, if your order a Primo from Cutting Edge Firewood, our delivery artisans can set it up for you!

Unboxing my Primo XL 400 Grill

The kit I chose included:

  • The Primo Grill
  • The Cart
  • The Cast Iron Divider (this enables you to have your heat source on only one side of the grill)
  • Heat Deflector Plates (these enable indirect heat cooking)
  • Heat Deflector rack (these hold the deflector plates)

Ultimately, choosing the size of your primo and the different pieces you want depends on what you want to do. Out of the box, the grill includes everything you need for basic grilling, but the extras are really nice and give you more freedom. If you have questions, our customer support team would be happy to help.

What I like about the Primo

There are several things I liked about the Primo – some before I even cooked with it!

First, you can tell it is a high quality grill. My old gas grill was in seriously bad shape, so this was a very quick upgrade. It’s nice to that the grill is made in the USA – as far as I know the Primo is the only ceramic grill with that claim to fame.

Second, I love the size. It’s big and makes no apologies about it. We love hosting crowds of people at our home, so this gives us a lot of flexibility to cook for large groups. Part of the genius, however, is their oval shape and split design. If I’m cooking for just a couple people, I can get the coals and cooking chunks going on one side of the grill and leave the other empty. I won’t waste charcoal and it’s less clean-up.

It’s also super-flexible. I can cook close to the heat on one side, and far from the heat on the other. I can easily move certain items from indirect heat to direct heat instantly.

I’m sure as the series goes on, I’ll find more things to like about this grill!

My First Cook

For my first cook on the Primo, I kept things simple and stuck with what I know. I cooked burgers and brats.

I used Royal Oak hardwood lump charcoal and some hickory chunks from Cutting Edge Firewood. I used my cast iron divider so all the direct heat was on one side (see image below). This allowed me to reverse sear the burgers.

two zone cooking

What is reverse sear? Basically, it’s a technique where you cook the burgers on indirect heat for a few minutes. This lower temperature warms up and cooks the burger without drying it out. Once done, you move the burger to the direct heat side of the grill and cook it at a high temperature to give the burger a crispy exterior while keeping the juices inside.

I took a similar approach to the bratwursts as well. The direct heat gave them a crispy exterior while the indirect heat allowed it to take on the smoke flavor and cook through.

The Primo Grill is large

I was excited to compare my previous efforts on the gas grill with the primo. I noticed the difference immediately.

The smoky flavor of the hickory was surprisingly noticeable. Hickory provides strong flavor and may be too much for some (cherry, oak, and pecan are all less intense flavors), but I love bold flavors. They tasted great!

What really made me happy was the results of the turkey burgers. In general, I’m not a fan of turkey burgers, but someone brought them so I threw them on the grill. They were frozen and I added nothing to them flavor wise.

And then one of the guests at the party started raving about the best turkey burger she had ever eaten. “What did you do to make this taste so good? Normally I eat turkey burgers because they’re healthy, but I miss the flavor of beef. These taste great!”

It was the hickory, of course.

Needless to say, I had a great first experience with the Primo, but I kept it simple. My journey to becoming a Backyard BBQ Master has a long way to go, but it’s fun to get started!

On the next episode, I’m going to attempt to smoke something for the first time in my life: a 9 pound pork butt. Stay tuned!

August 14, 2019

Grilling is a centuries-old cooking technique that involves placing meat, as well as other food, directly over a fire. Because it uses direct heat, it cooks meat more quickly than other methods. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there on the topic of grilling. In this post, we’re going to explore 10 common grilling myths and misconceptions that you shouldn’t believe.

#1) You Should Only Flip Meat Once

You’ve probably heard this grilling myth before: Meat should only be flipped once. Some pitmasters believe that flipping meat more than once will dry it out. Whether you’re grilling chicken breasts, steaks, fish or any other meat, though, you’ll need to flip it multiple times to ensure it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. If you only flip your meat once, it may burn on one or both sides, which is certain to dry it out.

#2) Gas Grills Are Better Than Charcoal Grills

Both gas grills and charcoal grills have their own unique advantages. But in terms of flavor, charcoal grills outperform their gas counterparts. Gas grills use liquid propane as fuel, and while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with liquid propane, it doesn’t offer the same delicious flavor as a charcoal grill. The only real benefit of using a gas grill is convenience. It’s typically easier and faster to light a gas grill than a charcoal grill.

#3) Marinade Will Soak Into Meat

Another grilling myth is that marinade will soak into meat. In reality, meat absorbs very little marinade — even when submerged in the flavorful liquid for 24 hours. You can still marinate your meat before grilling, but don’t assume that it will soak into your meat. Most of the marinade will simply stick to the exterior of your meat where it subtly enhances your meat’s flavor. There’s simply no way for the marinade penetrate through the skin and into the meat.

#4) You Must Use Charcoal in a Charcoal Grill

Although they are called “charcoal grills,” you don’t have to limit yourself to only using charcoal in them. You can use high-quality cooking wood as an alternative fuel source. Cooking wood consists of hardwood varieties like oak, hickory, pecan and cherry, all of which burn hot while producing minimal emissions in the process. Just create a small stack of cooking wood in the main fuel compartment of your charcoal grill, after which you can light it using some tinder and kindling.

#5) Pink Juice In Grilled Meat is Blood

If you cut into your grilled meat and discover pink juice, don’t panic. Contrary to popular belief, pink juice isn’t blood. It’s actually a specific type of animal protein known as myoglobin that’s suspended in water. Blood is much darker, almost a reddish black color, than the pink juice in meat. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that your grilled meat isn’t undercooked just because it has pink juice in the center. As previously mentioned, this otherwise mysterious juice is a combination of water and myoglobin.

#6) Grilling Is Time Consuming

Grilling can certainly be time consuming if you don’t use the right approach, but it’s generally a much faster way to cook meat than baking, sauteing or using other methods. Chicken breasts, for example, typically require just 10 minutes on a hot grill, whereas filet mignons require even less time on the grill. The most time-consuming aspect of grilling is preparing and lighting the charcoal or cooking wood. Once the fire is going, however, you can grill most meats and foods in less than a half-hour.

#7) It’s Okay For a Grill Grate to Rust

It’s not uncommon for grill grates to develop rust. It doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, after months or years of use, a grill grate may eventually develop a layer of rust. With that said, you should take precautions to prevent your grill grate from rusting. If ignored, the rust will spread while literally eating through the grate until there’s nothing left. How do you prevent your grill grate from rusting exactly? One way is to choose a stainless steel grill grate instead of a cast iron grate.

You can also protect your grill grate from rusting by cleaning it after each use. When you are finished grilling, use a wire brush with a little soap and water to clean the grate. As long as you keep the grate clean, as well as dry, it shouldn’t develop rust. And if your grill grate already suffers from a substantial amount of rust, you can replace it with a new grate of the same size and shape.

#8) You Can’t Grill in the Rain

Who says you can’t grill in the rain? At the first sign of a light shower, some pitmasters call it quits by abandoning their grilling activities. While you shouldn’t attempt to grill in severe storms, you can, in fact, grill during light showers. As explained in a previous blog post, there are several ways to keep your grill hot even when it’s raining. Placing your grill under a roof or canopy, for example, will keep it dry and protected from the rain. You should also keep the lid closed, with the dampers open, to minimize the amount of moisture that able to enter your grill. By taking a few basic precautions, you can grill in the rain.

#9) Stop Flareups With a Spray Bottle

Flareups are an all-too-common phenomenon encountered by pitmasters when grilling. Consisting of a short burst of fire, they are typically caused by fat or oil dripping onto the fire. As fat or oils drips down from your meat, it may land on the burning charcoal or cooking wood, resulting in a flareup. When a flareup occurs, your first instinct may be to mist it with water. After all, water usually extinguishes fires, so it only makes sense that it will do the same for a flareup.

The problem with misting flareups with water is that water doesn’t extinguish grease fires, such as those caused by fat or oil. It will only stir up the ash, some of which may land on your food. If a flareup occurs, try closing the dampers to starve the fire of oxygen. Once the flareup has died down, you can reopen the dampers to keep your fire going. Just remember to avoid misting it with water.

#10) You Can Tell If Meat Is Done By Poking It

Some pitmasters poke their meat after grilling it to determine whether it’s done cooking. A firm texture may lead you to believe that your meat is finished cooking, whereas a soft texture may lead you to believe that it needs a few more minutes on the grill. But the reality is you can’t tell if meat is done cooking simply by poking it. Different types of meat require a different internal temperature for safe consumption. Chicken, for example, needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas pork needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. While poking can give you a better idea of whether your meat is still raw, it doesn’t reveal the meat’s internal temperature. To ensure your grilled meat is safe to eat, use a meat thermometer to read its internal temperature.

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