This Isn’t About Smoking Food It Is About Grilling But There Are So Many Better Headlines About Smoking

I spend a lot of time looking at vintage images of things.  They are not in as bountiful a supply as one would imagine.  Except for barbecue images.  There are a ton, and I would guess that the reason is that barbecuing was a family deal you could do outside back when there were more family deals, and back when you could actually go outside.

Still, almost everyone I know with a house has a barbecue.  And this heat wave isn’t going to last forever.

Right?  It isn’t going to last forever, right?

One of the traditions of barbecuing, at least in my experience, is your guests telling  you how to do it better than you are doing it.  They almost never actually know how to do it better, but it is something to talk about while you are waiting for the grill to heat up.  I have a lifetime of those tips, so here:

Speaking of the grill and waiting for it to heat up, make sure you do.   Heat it up first, I mean.  My neighbor told me, get the grill so hot everything on it ashes, and then brush it off.  That’s the best way to clean it.


Why are they running to him? For chicken?


There’s a lid for a reason.  Smoke is essentially a seasoning, and if you are going to grill, take advantage.  People forget that.  I think it is because the sound of grilling is as satisfying as… grilling.


Wearing a suit to a barbecue is SERIOUS Ivy.


Use your hands.  People are afraid to touch food for fear of germs, spreading germs, getting germs, whatever.  But it is part of cooking.  Steak is supposed to feel like the palm of your hand when it is done.  When you push the palm of your hand, I mean.  Don’t barbecue your hand.


Ignore the dumb hat. Check out the rise on the other guy’s trousers.


I did a concert last night, and the front row was smoking grass.  It’s bad if you are trying to play, but grass is important to barbecuing.  Stay with me.  Grass fed beef, it is said by almost everyone who eats beef, tastes better.


I am the father of a teenage girl and I know when things are afoot. So, apparently, do they.


Cleanliness is next to – not getting sick when you barbecue.  That starts with your hands, especially since I just told you to touch  food.  That doesn’t mean you can’t wipe your hands on your apron.  You wear an apron, right?


Hannibal Lecter grilling. And WHAT is that jacket thing?


I HATE when stuff sticks to the grill.  A few reasons.  First, it always falls through as it cooks, and that’s a mess.  Second, no one likes to eat anything off a grill that looks like a raccoon got to it first.  If you are grilling fish, don’t put it directly on the grill.


This grill was designed by the same team that did the spaceship in the original Lost In Space.


I had heard this tip before, but was always suspicious.  I am not an expert at grilling, but I do know guitars, and when you talk to guitar experts there are always little tips they give you that make them sound like they know an-awful-lot more than you do about guitars.  But those tips never seem to make a difference.  So I thought that letting your meat sit for a bit before you grill it was one of those tips.  Something chefs do to make cooking look harder than it actually is.  But I was wrong, it actually does make a difference.


Forget the sport coat.  Save the chicken.

And last but not least.  In writing, I call this penny-editing.  It means making and suggesting changes that have no material impact on… the material.  It is editing for the sake of editing.  I get if you are an attorney and need billable hours so you have to move some paper around a few nights a week, but writers don’t – and neither do people who barbecue.  People LOVE to move things around on the grill to make it look like they are doing the work.  Don’t.

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.  – JB

13 Comments on "This Isn’t About Smoking Food It Is About Grilling But There Are So Many Better Headlines About Smoking"

  1. Hardbopper | July 22, 2022 at 9:50 am |

    A grey flannel, no less!

  2. One quick note, on behalf of those of us from Southern families: grilling is “grilling” or a “cookout”; it is *not* a barbecue. Barbecue or “BBQ” is a noun.

  3. @Paul. Amen.

  4. whiskeydent | July 22, 2022 at 10:40 am |

    Well here I go with the wave of unbidden advice:
    1. South of the Mason-Dixon and certainly west of the Sabine River, barbecuing and grilling are not interchangeable terms. In Texas, the former is about smoking a brisket “low and slow” for about 10 hours and the latter is about that steak on the sizzling grill for 16 minutes.
    2. Learn to use your tongs to press the meat to test for doneness. In time, you’ll be able to tell a medium rare from a medium. Your brother-in-law will be jealous of your grill skills and you will avoid burning your fingers to poke the meat.
    3. Grill marks rule! To make it easy to attain that perfect crosshatch, flip each side twice. On the first round, put the steak on lengthwise. On the second, turn it 45 degrees. If you’re a one-flip purist, then make the 45-degree turn about halfway through. Match the timing if you sear.
    4. After cleaning the grill, coat the cooking area with spray-on vegetable oil to avoid the dreaded sticking. Do it BEFORE you light the fire; a flare-up might burn your arm and your brother-in-law will laugh at you if you do otherwise. The spray really helps with yard bird.
    5. Good marbling is spidery fat veins running all over the meat, not the globs you often see. Also, trim off any globs on the edges and throw them into the fire to add flavor.
    6. Avoid discussions with your brother-in-law about whether to sear and whether to do it at the beginning or end. It will only lead to divorce, bloodshed and prison.
    7. Finally, you will not succeed without the proper Grilling Fluid to help you stare at the meat as it cooks and ignore your brother-in-law. For me, that is a double Negroni in a tall, insulated tumbler. My ice doesn’t melt in the 100+ heat and the drink lasts (just barely) the time it takes to heat the grill and cook the meat. Plus, I get the health benefits of the marinated orange slice at the end.

  5. whiskeydent | July 22, 2022 at 10:44 am |

    Well hell, I saw Paul’s post after I posted mine. Sorry for the redundancy.

  6. Here I go again, but no to “grilling.”

    A few drops of clarified butter in a cast iron skillet– as hot as you can get it. Drop the chops, sear for about 30-45 seconds– until a brown crust forms. Flip and again. This “seals the juices” in a way that grate grilling never has or will (can). Find a spoon and sauté. This is how you get the flavor. You’ll (actually) taste the (actual) meat. A great way to ruin a top drawer filet or porterhouse? Cook on an open grill and deluge it with all that smoke.

    If I want smoke, I’ll pour a dram of Laphroaig and light up a good cigar.

    Never understood “Southern BBQ.” It’s smoke covered in overly sugared or too-vinegary sauce.

  7. Charlottesville | July 22, 2022 at 2:20 pm |

    S.E. – There is much to be said for steak cooked in a cast iron pan, but “Never understood ‘Southern BBQ.’ It’s smoke covered in overly sugared or too-vinegary sauce. Gross.” Them’s fightin’ words.

    BBQ and martini’s are two subjects about which there are as many adamant ideas about the true apotheosis of the genre as there are aficionados. I, however, while having strong views on these subjects, am happy to sample all styles of either, with a pan-seared steak thrown in for good measure.

    A happy weekend to all. I hope the searing temperatures we are feeling outdoors these days are soon again confined to grill and pan where they belong.

  8. The Amazing Tom | July 22, 2022 at 2:48 pm |

    In NC, people have fought with fists over vinegar V tomato based sauce.
    I compromise, I love both.
    I like Memphis dry rubbed too.

  9. whiskeydent | July 22, 2022 at 5:24 pm |

    This morning y’all inspired me to get a beef rib plate for lunch at Iron Works Barbecue in Austin. The three ginormous hunks of beef and bone were as heavenly as usual. I am now emerging from my meat coma, just in time for a Beefeater’s and tonic at the local.

    Y’all have yourselves a nice weekend!

  10. Equal parts sugar, ketchup, white vinegar ( I prefer a bit more vinegar), seasoned with Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce, and lots of course ground black pepper. A splash or two of Texas Pete adds some zing. Perfect for both the red slaw AND over the pulled pork shoulder served on hamburger buns. My late maternal grandfather — a Chapel Hill man from Lexington-Denton, NC — taught me how to do it over indirect heat. Takes five to seven hours depending on the size of the shoulder. My wife also whips up a a batch of hushpuppies to go with the barbecue the couple of times each summer I make it in the Weber grill.

    Kind Regards,


  11. Cookout: Ribeye, or two, medium-well to well done over charcoal, salt and pepper, with a tall glass, or two, of George Dickel no. 12, with cherry coke and a splash of vanilla on the rocks.

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