BBQ Tips

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Looking for BBQ tips? This is where you'll find them from The Charcoal Supply Company owner Dan Gilson.

 
Dan Gilson is the "Lead Dog" for  “3 Dogs BBQ”,  a Competition BBQ Cooking Team located in North Pole, AK. The team's awards include Grand Champion, 2006 "The Hide Out's" First Annual BBQ Contest; Grand Champion, 2007 "Big Daddy's" Ho-Down Showdown BBQ Competition and Block Party; Grand Champion, 2009 "Big I's" Last Rib Standing BBQ Contest; Grand Champion, 2010 Brrr-B-Q Contest, Grand Champion, 2010 Fort Wainwright Fourth of July Backyard BBQ Contest; and 2010 Alaska BBQ Association Team of the Year.

Wood Characteristics

Wood Type: Characteristics: Use With:
Hardwoods
Red Oak One of the most popular woods, Robust smoke flavor. Good with red meat, pork, fish and game.
Hickory Pungent, smoky flavor often associated with bacon. One of the most common woods used. Good for smoking all meats.
Mesquite Strong earthy flavor. One of the most popular woods in the country. Good with most meats, especially beef.
Pecan Similar to hickory, but more subtle. Good for most needs, works well with turkey and other poultry and fish.
Orange Medium smoke flavor with a hint of fruitiness. Excellent with beef, pork and poultry.
Almond A nutty and sweet smoke flavor. Good with all meats.
Fruitwoods
Apple Slightly sweet but dense, fruity smoke flavor. Beef, poultry, game birds, pork and fish.
Apricot Mild and Sweet, Fruity. Good with most meats, poultry and fish.
Cherry Slightly sweet, fruity smoke flavor. Good with most meats, poultry and fish.
Peach Slightly sweet, woodsy flavor. Good with most meats, poultry and fish.
Plum Mild and Sweet. Good with most meats, poultry, and fish.

Know Your Cooker

In my opinion, one of the most important things in BBQ cooking is to know and understand your cooker. Great BBQ can be made on just about any cooker. I use several types of cookers such as horizontal offset pits, a couple different types of vertical water smokers, and kettle grills. I know how each one works and have produced outstanding BBQ on all of them. You too can produce outstanding BBQ when you know and understand your cooker!!

The Basics

Cook often, Experiment much, Pay attention to your cooker, and Take notes!! Many times a BBQ cook will turn out a product that is especially good but have a hard time reproducing the product. The best way to stay consistent is to record the cooks. Take notes on the Outside Temperatures, Weather, Fuel, Smoke Woods, Cooking Temperatures, Cookers Used, and ingredients.

Fuel

ImageUse a good quality fuel. Try different types and then use what works best for you. I use Wicked Good, Weekend Warrior Blend, 100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Use a charcoal chimney to light your charcoal. I never use charcoal lighter fluid. I think the fluid adds bad smells and tastes to my BBQ and that’s not good. A charcoal chimney and a sheet of newspaper will have your charcoal ready to cook with in about 15 minutes. You can use a propane torch or weed burner to light your charcoal if you are in a big hurry. If you use charcoal for fuel, experiment with smoke wood and learn how the woods affect your fire as they are also a fuel. Try different types of wood and again, use what you like best. There are several species of wood that work well for BBQ like Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, Pecan, Apple, Cherry, and Peach. Wood can also be used as the sole fuel source in some cookers. Wood can be burned directly in the cooker for heat and smoke or can be burned down to embers in a separate pit and then added to the firebox for heat and smoke. Know how long your fuel will last and when you need to add fuel if needed. Experiment with adding lit fuel or unlit fuel and use what works best in your cooker. Some cookers will use more fuel than others.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is best accomplished by controlling the amount of air that feeds your fire. Trying to smother the fire by controlling the air leaving the cooker is rarely effective and can lead to some pretty bad tasting BBQ. Trust me on this one!! Know how your cooker controls the air getting to the fire and experiment with the controls. Usually there is a damper of some sort that can be opened to allow more air to the fire for higher temperatures or closed to allow less air to the fire for lower temperatures. Vertical Water Smokers also use a water pan to help with temperature control. If you use a water smoker, experiment with an empty water pan, a water pan filled with sand or a clay flowerpot base. There are even automatic temperature control devices that feed air to the fire with the use of blowers such as “The Stoker” which can be found at www.rocksbarbque.com  Understand that wind, rain, and cold or hot temperatures will affect the temperatures inside your cooker. Know those affects and account for them when cooking.

Temperature Differences

Learn if your cooker has hot spots, cool spots or spots where temperatures are slightly different. Most cookers that I have used have had varying temperatures at different locations inside them. Vertical smokers will have different temperatures between the bottom and top grills and Horizontal Offset Pits have different temperatures between the firebox side and the chimney side.   Depending on the type of cooker, see if moving your fire will affect the temperature at grill level. If you cannot move the location of the fire, try cooking the larger cuts of meat in the hotter spots and smaller cuts in the cooler spots You may find that you have to move the cuts of meat around on the grill during the cooking process to keep things from being cooked too much or too little.