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Frequently Asked Questions about Barbequing

Every day, we receive lots of emails from people asking for answers to general questions. For a glimpse of this dynamic exchange of ideas and tips, and for answers to questions about food that you may have had yourself, please have a look at this FAQ! You can also browse other answers at other FAQs pages or look for answers in articles in the services page.

If you still have questions, post it in the recipe forum where other visitors may respond to your request.

Q.  What types of wood are best when smoking chicken?

A.  There are many types of wood chips available on the market, and each type of wood yields a slightly different flavor. Some woods complement certain meats better than others. Alder, apple, cherry, and pecan are all good choices for smoking chicken.

Q.  What's the difference between grilling and barbequeing?

A.  Cooking directly over the heat source is known as grilling. The food is cooked for mere minutes on a hot grill, and the lid is rarely if ever closed. Thin cuts of meat, fillets, kabobs, and satès are good candidates for this method. Indirect heat is used for larger pieces of meat, such as thick steaks, roasts, and whole fish. In this method, the food is cooked just off the heat at about 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). The lid is closed, and the cooking times are somewhat longer. On a gas grill this generally means firing up the two outside burners, and cooking the meat over the middle, unlit burner. When using charcoals, the coals are pushed to the sides of the grill, leaving a place in the middle to cook. Traditional barbeque is a form of indirect heat using very low temperatures over long periods of time.

Q.  What is pit roasting?

A.  Pit roasting involves cooking meat in a large hole dug in the ground. A wood fire is built in the pit, which is then filled partially with charcoal. Once the coals are burning hot, they are covered with gravel and sand. The meat is wrapped, placed atop the layer of sand, and buried under a few inches of dirt. This process generally takes 10 to 12 hours and is used for cooking whole lambs. A meat thermometer is absolutely necessary, as the cooking time is difficult to estimate since it is partially dependent on environmental conditions. We recommend researching this method thoroughly before attempting it.

Q.  What is a marinade?

A.  Marinades are sauces in which meats and fish may be soaked to give them added flavor and tenderness. Marinating should always be done in the refrigerator.

Q.  How long do I grill lamb chops?

A.  When grilling, 1-inch thick lamb chops should be cooked over high heat for 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

Q.  I often find myself adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family, but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have any advice for me?

A.  Changing recipes in order to make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling." Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as soufflés, baked items requiring yeast such as breads, and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies, breads and whole turkey.

Our Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed guidelines for recipe scaling.


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