Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BBQ Essentials - Getting Started

Barbecuing and grilling is a great hobby because it doesn't have to be expensive.  I liken them to the City of Las Vegas.  If you have ever visited Las Vegas you may know what I mean.  There is so much to do and see you can spend as little, or as much money as you want to entertain yourself.  The same holds true for grilling and barbecue.

I will show you some basics to get you started, and give you items to consider to help you with all things barbecue.  So let's get started....


There are two types of basic grills, gas and charcoal, and you can often find both for under $100 each. 

Charcoal Grill

Most professional, or experienced grillers will only use charcoal grills because of the flavor the smoke from the charcoal gives the food being cooked, and because it can get hotter than a gas grill. 

Charcoal grills require a little extra time as you have to heat your charcoal and get it to temperature before cooking your food.

You can spend as little as $39 for a table top unit to thousands for large towable rig.

Gas Grill
Sometimes us back yard enthusiasts just want a good piece of meat and don't have the extra time to tend with charcoal.  We just want to grill and go, and this is where a Gas grill may help you.

They are easy to use.  Turn on the gas, push a button to ignite and you're ready to go.  The gas grill is a favorite for a lot of people and great results can come from it.

Once again you can spend under $100 for a gas grill to thousands for a really cool stainless steel unit. 


There are two kinds of charcoal you can purchase.  Charcoal Briquettes and Hardwood Lump Charcoal.

Lump Charcoal is made directly from hardwood by heating the wood in the absence of oxygen, and removing the water from the wood.  The result is a product that resembles coal, and produces less ash than charcoal briquettes.Many like to use lump charcoal instead of briquettes because it is all natural, lights faster, burns hotter and gives a hardwood smoke flavor to food being cooked.  However, it is more expensive than briquettes and burns faster.

It is often available at local hardware stores or businesses that sell BBQ grills and accessories, but may not be as accessible as briquettes.

Charcoal Briquettes are manufactured from sawdust and other wood by-products compressed with additives that help them light and burn consistently.

Briquettes provide a more stable burn for a longer period of time and is cheaper than lump charcoal.  But it takes longer to light, you may get a chemical smell until fully lit and burning, and will produce more ash.

Charcoal briquettes are readily available at most hardware stores.


Unlike charcoal, propane tanks for gas grills provide instant heat and fire.  Depending on how often you use your grill, a standard size 20 lb. propane tank can last you quite a while.  

There is no mess and no fuss.  Simply screw the fitting from your gas grill onto the tank, and turn the valve counter clockwise to start the gas flow and your ready to ignite and cook.

Propane tanks are easy to obtain and can be found at many places including hardware stores and gas stations.  When the tank becomes empty just take your old tank, and exchange it for a new one.


If your cooking with a charcoal grill a Chimney Starter comes in handy.  It lights charcoal quickly and evenly.  

To light your charcoal simply fill the canister with your lump charcoal or briquettes and place some crumpled up newspaper underneath and light the newspaper on fire.  The fire quickly heats up the charcoal and your coals will be red hot in about 10 minutes and then your ready to dump them in the bottom of your grill and start cooking.

Insulated Food Gloves, or Leather BBQ Grill Gloves can become useful if grilling over a hot flame.  Charcoal grills, especially, can become extremely hot, and gloves will protect your hands and arms from getting burnt while cooking and handling food.


Bear Paw Meat Handler Forks I think are a very cool little grilling utensil that will help you lift hot food items from the grill to your platter. They securely hold food while carving, and are very useful as a meat shredding tool.

We used these at a pig roast, and it helps pull/shred meat very quickly.

A Smoker Box is your solution for that hardwood smoke flavor and smell if you are using a gas, or charcoal grill.

Fill the box with soaked wood chips and place under your grate, above the flame, and you can achieve some of that smoke flavor great barbecue is known for.