06 June 2010

The Great Grilling Debate (sure to ignite flames at your BBQ)

We're just trying to keep the peace.  It seems that along with religion & politics, one should avoid certain grilling and BBQ topics in polite company.

The religion of the grill and the politics of good BBQ make for a fierce debate - as we observed over the weekend as guests at a friend's outdoor event.  A healthy debate was flaming around the grill - and we did what we could to remove the sharp objects away from those taking sides.  Trying to referee this group required many refills of our wine glass.

Steven Raichlen, Elizabeth Karmel and Bobby Flay we're not, but we have done a lot of reading and grilling.  We've posted a bit about grilling (20 Must-Have Grilling Guides, Grilling Like a Pro), and we avidly follow 50 of the best grill-tweetfolk in our BBQ-Entertaining Twitterlist, so we didn't think we were total idiots about these topics.  Apparently, we need to go back to BBQ school to get a proper education.

We'd like to share the contentious topics with you - and see where you draw the lines.  At a minimum, you'll get a sense of where things are hot enough to get burned!

Topic #1 - Charcoal versus Gas
This is a religious issue to many...at the top of our newly revised list of taboo dinner party conversation topics.

Charcoal is often characterized as THE traditional method.  While gas grillers can't quite understand the fuss...
Is there a difference - and does it matter?

Topic #2 - Direct versus Indirect Cooking Method
We thought that both techniques had merit - but apparently there is a school of thought that grilling is ONLY about the direct method, and you should use your oven for anything else needed.

Do you think both have a place in the grill world?

Topic #3 - Grill Hardware & Accessories - Toys or Tools?
We are gadget geeks in our house (as if you couldn't tell from our "MUST-Have Cooking Tools" posts...) and like to test-drive new tools of the trade.

Apparently, there is a very strong LESS is MORE contingent out there advocating to use the basics and ONLY the basics when grilling.  We would agree that some tools turn out to be more of a toy or gimmick, but which items do you think qualify as tools versus toys?

Topic #4 - Marinades or Rubs?
We thought of both of these as flavor options.  Wrong again we learned - though it appears to be specific to what is being grilled.

There's an active discussion happening at Chowhound regarding marinade or rub or both for brisket for example.  If steak is to be grilled, take a look at what the Louisiana taste panel decided in Steak Debate: Marinate or dry rub?  WoodenBoat Forum has a poll on the general topic.

Which way do you go?

Topic #5 - How to Judge Temperature or Doneness 
What is THE technique seems to be the key question.  The Finger Test to Check Doneness of Meat from Simply Recipes (a blog we love) is a great guide (take a look and see why).  

Is it wrong to use meat thermometers?  What if it's dark?  Can we bring out the grill lights or does this violate #3 somehow? And how does the grillmaster keep which steak doneness matches which guest? This weekend's grillmaster host happened to like the Grill Charms we had given him to mark which piece of meat/fish/chicken belongs to whom - wouldn't this be a tool instead of a toy?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

We're hoping there are some smart & savvy grill folk out there that can shed some light on what's best and what works - we're just looking to keep the peace while cooking up some savory grill food for entertaining ;-)


Darryl Koster said...

I am not the best bbq'r or giller out there. I can answer all of these though

Does it taste good?
Yes = good job
Bad = Try again

the savvy host said...

Darryl - love it! thanks for keeping us straight ;-)

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