Glossary of Barbecue

Barbecue        This is the most common American spelling of the word. Other
variations include barbeque and bar-b-que. This latter version leads to the
theory of the word having French origins, though it most likely came from the
Caribbean area, where a similar phrase described a form of cooking in a pit
covered with leaves. The word can refer to the act of cooking, as in 'we're having
a barbeque', or the result of that cooking, as in 'we are serving barbecue'.
Barbecue meat can come from a grill, oven or crock pot, but is most commonly
thought of as resulting from some form of smoker, pit, or open fire, where
charcoal and wood are the primary fuels. Other popular variations of the word
include BBQ, B-B-Q, and simply "Q".

Brine        Soaking a meat in a solution prior to cooking. Typically this is water
with salt, and thus the reference to brine, but brines can also have juices as
their base liquid, and can contain other flavor adders such as sugar. Rule of
thumb on brining is to soak the meat for about 30 minutes per pound being

Briquette        A type of charcoal that is formed by pressing various combustibles
together into a small, compact brick, or briquette. The downsides of briquettes is
that they are not just the wood itself - they can contain accelerants, sawdust,
binders, etc. - things that can affect the taste of the meat, and may not be things
you want to ingest. Their upside is that they are relatively inexpensive, and they
do keep an nice consistent heat for cooking, and in my experience they burn a
little longer that equivalent lump charcoal. When using briquettes I highly
recommend not using one that has an accelerant, or lighter fluid, added to the
briquettes, as it will likely dramatically affect the taste of the meat.

Carbonized        Charcoal is wood that has been carbonized, which is what
happens to wood when it is exposed to high heat in the absence much oxygen.
Good charcoal will be fully carbonized - you won't see unburned wood on or in
the charcoal.

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.

Charcoal        Carbonized wood, or wood products. Charcoal is made by
exposing wood to high heat in the absence of much oxygen, which causes the
wood to carbonize. Charcoal has been made much the same way for hundreds
of years. The primary advantage of charcoal is that it will typically burn at a
consistent temperature for a relatively long period of time, while imparting a nice
flavor to meat - making it a virtual necessity for barbecue!

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.

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.

Firebox        This is the part of the cooker that the charcoal rests in. The firebox
can be at the bottom of a vertical smoker, or in a box off to the side. For a smoker
the firebox is separated from direct radiation of the heat to the meat - by either
being off to one side, or by having a water bowl in between the firebox and the
meat. When smoking with a charcoal grill you can accomplish the same thing by
piling the coals on one side of the grill and cooking the meat on the other side.

Grill        A cooker that features high heat cooking ability. These mainstays of the
backyard can be either charcoal or gas and are perhaps the most convenient
cooker in that they can quickly be lit and cooking.

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.

Hickory        A tree that is possibly the most popular for producing the smoky
flavor favored by barbecuers. Hickory has a strong smoke that has been known
to make neighbors salivate just from the smell of the wood burning.

Lump        A type of charcoal that is favored by many serious barbecue people.
Lump charcoal contains only the actual wood being burned - there are no
accelerants to make it burn faster or more easily, no additives to bind it together,
no by products like sawdust. You can get many different species of wood in
lump charcoal to suit your barbecue taste, and the quality of the charcoal itself
may vary from one manufacturer to another. Most ceramic charcoal cooker
companies recommend that you only use lump charcoal in their cookers -
indeed the Big Green Egg even sells their own lump charcoal to go with their

Mapp Torch        A canister of highly flammable gas used by some enthusiasts
to quickly ignite charcoal. These torches are similar to propane torches, but the
Mapp gas burns hotter. In addition to speeding up the process, using a torch
eliminate the ash that will result from using newspaper or similar to start your
fire. Both are easily found in the plumbing section of a typical home building
supply store.

Mesquite        A tree, or shrub, very popular in barbecuing. A product primarily
from the American southwest, this wood gives a distinctive flavor to meat, and is
a great wood for flavoring steaks.

Naked        In barbecue, when a meat is cooked without being in a pan, or
wrapped in foil, Big Daddy T refers to it as being naked.

NewbieQ        A phrase coined by Big Daddy T that refers to someone who is
new to the process of barbecue.

Q , or "Q"        A variation of the word barbeque. This is about as short a variation
you can get, but is popular in the American south.

Qpinion        Not a word you will find in Webster's, this is a phrase coined by Big
Daddy T to highlight an opinion being given about some form of barbecue. They
will appear on the website in orange background with blue lettering. You may
differ with the opinion, and you may even be correct, so no offense intended,
none taken.

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.

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.

Rest        In the barbecue world, letting meat rest means just that - after cooking
the meat is set aside, usually covered with foil, for 15 minutes or so before
being served. This allows the meat to fully finish cooking and absorb juices
back into the meat, resulting in a more moist meat.

Rub        A mix of spices put onto, or "rubbed" onto the meat, prior to cooking.
Rubs are very popular for barbecue, and often the resulting meat is served "dry",
with just the rub on it, no sauce.

Smoker        The term is a bit generic, referring to any type of cooker that uses
indirect heat to slow cook meat, and transferring a smoky flavor to the meat.
While you can smoke with a grill or a ceramic charcoal cooker, the term smoker
most often refers to a metal cooker that has an indirect firebox for charcoal and
wood. The common characteristic for any smoker is that it cooks at low
temperatures for long periods of time. Larger versions often have wheels, or are
entirely mobile, incorporating trailers into their design.

Wet        In barbecue terms this is the opposite of dry (no rocket science on my
website) and it can mean a couple of things. 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.
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