The word BARBECUE is derived from the Spanish word Barbacoa. It refers to a meal at which meat and other food is cooked and eaten outside, often a meal that you invite friends to. In America barbecue can signify any form of outdoor cooking or even indoor cooking that uses any number of varieties of sauces and/or rubs labeled barbecue.
These sauces and rubs come in many forms and colors from light to dark reddish brown depending on the number and color of the herbs and spices used to create the sauce or rub. In the northern, mid-western and south-western part of the country red sauces are the norm. Some like it hot but the majority of people like it mild to vinegary sweet.
In the Deep South it’s a different story. Most of the meat used for barbecue, usually pork, is first smoked in an outdoor pit, chamber or barn and then cooked over aromatic wooden embers from hickory, oak or apple-wood and then sauced with a piquant mixture of white vinegar and small green chili peppers.
The mere mention of barbecue conjures up the imagery of various foods being cooked in or on some outdoor facility. Barbecue, or its abbreviation, BBQ, in many localities throughout the country has become a virtual sport with different States, Cities and even counties competing for supremacy in the culinary art.
Barbacoa, Barbecue, Bar-B-Cue was originally a pit that was dug into the ground or sand large enough to accommodate the size of the food to be cooked. Then the pit was filed with wood that was stored, or gathered from the local surroundings, set on fire until the flames were of a manageable height, then the meat, seasoned or not, was placed on a green stick that was stuck in the ground, leaned toward the fire, and rotated at intervals until it reached the desired doneness.
This method of outdoor cooking, with or without a pit, was used until about the early 1900s when picnicking, cooking and eating outdoors, became popular. Since then the name barbecuing gave way to grilling, and the barbacoa pits moved above ground and became manufactured steel receptacles designed to contain wood chunks or charcoal to fuel the fire needed for cooking.
Thus the outdoor grill became a framework of metal bars used for cooking food on was fitted over the fire chamber.
Once the charcoal or wood was glowing the food was placed on the grill, turning it regularly until it was
cooked through. Modern electric, and gas grills came later along with ‘lava rocks’, re-usable charcoal briquette sized pieces resembling charcoal, for use by those who did not want to mess with charcoal.
If you are the least bit savvy about grilling food you will, no doubt have read his books or have seen him on TV, the Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, who has become the go-to-guy associated with grilling food.
A full range of outdoor cooking equipment abounds today and can viewed and purchased at any of a large number of department stores and home improvement stores throughout the country.
While the kettle style of charcoal or propane gas fueled grill is still popular for use in patios and on decks for occasional outdoor cooking. It is done mostly in the summer and fall months when the temperature is usually warmer. These grills are mostly used for cooking steaks, ribs, chops, hot dogs, bratwursts and other sausages.
According to Marty Meitus, of the Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO.) May 26,2004 - “ In the early days of Weber grills and “Kiss the Cook” aprons, barbecuing was likely to mean hamburgers and hot dogs – and for the truly adventurous, chicken and steak. Even now, a lot of people are afraid to venture much further.”
However, if you live in a warm climate with moderate rainfall and mild winters, and are serious about outdoor cooking, then an outdoor kitchen is the way to go.
If it’s not only for cooking hot dogs and hamburgers and other meats and you’ll want to increase the size of your outdoor menu and get into cooking vegetables and fruits and even breads and pizzas and anything else from soup to nuts. A word to the wise: Don’t attempt to grill a papaya either whole or half. It will melt out of its shell, kill your fire, and leave you a big mess to clean.
Then you’ll want to look into the kind of equipment you’ll need. You can do this easily online by accessing www.bbq.com and click on the outdoor kitchen tab. You will see everything needed to set up an outdoor kitchen with some floor plans thrown in for good measure.
As Deborah Pankey, Food Editor for TheDailyHerald, (Arlington Heights, IL.) so aptly put it in her article of May 19, 1999 on grilling - “A painter doesn’t paint without brushes, a plumber cannot work without her wrench, a window washer cannot clean without his squeegee.”
Therefore, if your kitchen is going to be outdoors you will need to pick out a convenient place that will best serve the needs of the kind of cooking you plan to do. Will you want to make it part of your patio or deck? Will you want it fully or partially enclosed and maybe screened in with a roof and an outdoor fireplace?
With the equipment that is available today you can customize your al fresco kitchen, within the limits of your funds, including the necessary items that will make you the envy of all your relatives and guests.
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