Ash Catcher: A removable metal tray used to hold the ashes that fall away from the coals. Remove the tray, after the grill is cool to shake off ashes and clean the tray.
Bark: A brown crunchy crust that forms on some barbecue or grilled meats caused by seasonings from the rub and the maillard reaction. Some people, really like this and believe it compliments the overall flavor.
Baste: To brush, spoon or pour a seasoned liquid/bbq sauce over the surface of food while grilling to keep food moist. The liquid can be a marinade, drippings from the bottom of the pan or oil.
Big Green Egg: A green ceramic grill, shaped like an egg. The airtight design holds heat and retains moisture. It can smoke brisket slowly at low temperatures or it can sear steak at high temperatures.
Brine: A liquid that is very high in salt. Soaking ribs in a brine for an hour can, by chemical magic, add moisture. Like a marinade, but with much more salt and much less acid.
Brisket: Place beef brisket on a rack inside the grill and cooked slowly for at least 10-12 hours with indirect heat with wood chips.
British Thermal Unit (BTU): A rating system used to determine the maximum heat a grill generates. Propane has a BTU rating of 15,000 BTUs per pound a 30,000 BTU grill would consume 2 pounds per hour.
Brochette: The French term for grilling food on a skewer.
Broil: To cook by direct radiant heat, as over a grill.
Caramelization: Browning of sugars caused by oxidation. Creates rich flavors. Barbecue sauces usually develop interesting new flavors when caramelized.
Ceramic briquette: A compact, ceramic brick used in gas grills.
Charcoal briquette: Fuel for grills; compacted coal dust, charcoal, and starch.
Charcoal grate: A rack that holds charcoal in charcoal grills.
Charcoal grill: A grill fueled by charcoal.
Chimney Starter: The best way to start a charcoal fire. It uses old newspaper and not petroleum products that soak into your charcoal and can add a funny flavor to your meat. Don’t ever be caught at a competition using charcoal starter fluid.
Cold Smoking: Cold smoking is when smoke applied to the food has a temperature between 90F and 120F. Cheese, some spices, and some fish are good when cold smoked. Cold smoking must be done carefully because microbes thrive at these temps. Some smokers need a special insert, a baffle, to lower the temp sufficiently.
Cowboy Steak: A porterhouse steak that is rubbed in a paste of garlic, chili powder, salt, oil and pepper, refrigerated for several hours, then seared on a grill.
Cross over ignition systems: A method of lighting multiple burners in sequence by pressing a button.
Direct grilling: Cooking food by placing it directly over a grill’s heat source.
Drip pan: A metal pan or piece of foil placed under food to catch drippings when cooking on a grill.
Dry Rub: A mixture of dry herbs and spices added to food before grilling because of its ability to stick to meats when grilled. Most rubs start with paprika and/or chili powder to add color and mild flavor.
Drop-in grill: An outdoor built-in grill that can be “dropped,” or installed, in an accompanying metal cart.
Electric grill: A grill powered by electricity with no open flame; can be used indoors or outdoors, and generally considered to be more environmentally friendly than gas or charcoal grills.
Ember Cooking: The process of placing foil-wrapped food on a bed of hot coals inside a grill to enhance flavor, and give food a dark, golden brown crust, called caramelization.
Eye of Round: An inexpensive piece of tasty meat that is, normally, marinated in Dijon mustard and cooked on a grill.
Filet Mignon: A high quality thick cut of steak, from the tenderloin, that is tasty, tender, and lean.
Firebox: The bottom of the grill that holds the fire or heat.
Flank Steak: Once considered the poor man’s meat, because it is a tough cut of beef from the belly muscles of a cow. The meat has to be pounded or marinated for tenderness before it is grilled, then it is cut against the grain into thin pieces.
Flare-ups: Flames caused by fat dripping onto hot coals or lava rocks.
Gas grill: A grill fueled by gas, either from a tank or natural line.
Glaze: To form a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks, usually by basting it.
Grill Basket: A hinged wire basket that is used to hold foods for grilling.
Grill Brush: A cleaning utensil used to remove caked-on, charred foot bits from the grill grate.
Grill Grates: GrillGrates are sold in interlocking sections and sit on top of your current grill’s grates. The hard anodized aircraft grade aluminum rail tops are flat and wide and make perfect dark crunchy grill marks where the contact the food and cook by conduction. The base can get very hot and distributes the heat evenly across the cooking surface eliminating hot spots and amplifies the radiant heat cooking.
Grill Ignitors: Miniature spark plugs that are located on or at the burner of a gas grill. An ignitor sends a high voltage along the wire to the ignitor electrode inside the collector box. The collector box collects gas, which sparks the light.
Grill Rack: A metal grate that rests above charcoal or gas-heated area of grill; cooking surface.
Grill topper: A porcelain-coated grate with small holes; placed over grill rack when grilling small pieces of food, such as vegetables.
Grill Wok: A perforated, bowl-shaped skillet used to prepare stir-fried dishes on a gas or electric grill.
Hanger Steak: A cut of beef that looks like a V and commonly cut into two separate pieces. It is a tough piece of meat, with lots of flavor, and is best marinated before grilling over high heat.
Herbs: Dried or fresh green leaves that are added to foods to contribute flavor. The active ingredients are usually oils in the leaves.
Indirect heat grilling: A method of cooking where the food is not placed directly over the heat source so it can roast more slowly. Many smokers use indirect heating. The opposite of grilling.
Lava Rock: A light density rock that distributes heat quickly. It is an alternative to the ceramic rock, and can be used multiple times.
Lump Charcoal: Fired up from actual wood pieces, lump charcoal burns hotter, longer and has a flavorful smoke.
Maillard Reaction: The Maillard reaction is one of the great miracles of cooking. It is the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars created by heat responsible for the crust on breads, dark beer, transforming boring beans into coffee and chocolate, and turning the ourside of roasted meat into something rich and complex.
Marinade: A liquid to soak the meat in. In order for it to penetrate — and it doesn’t penetrate very far, by the way — it needs acidity. Acidity can be found in most fruit juices, wine, and vinegar. Similar to a brine, but with much less salt and much more acid.
Marinate Sauces: To soak food in a seasoned liquid, or marinade, for a period of time; infuses food with flavor prior to cooking.
Membrane: Also known as the skin, it must be removed. You will typically run into this when cooking ribs. Be sure to remove the translucent membrane from the rear side of the ribs using a pair of good tongs or your hand.
Mop or Mop Sauce: A thin sauce brushed on the meat while it is cooking, especially on an old fashioned direct heat pit. It keeps the surface cool and adds flavor. The classic mop is vinegar based with black pepper, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce. The mixture is poured into a large wooden bucket, stirred, and mopped on the pig every 15 minutes or so, especially if you are cooking in a pit dug in the ground. Use a broom handle with a rag tied on the end. Modern variations on the theme use beer, apple juice, and even soft drinks like Dr. Pepper.
New York Strip: The rare cut of meat has a delicate flavor and is naturally tender. Keep at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling over direct heat.
Portable grill: A small, camping grill with push-button ignition.
Porterhouse Steak: Two steaks in one, ideal for grilling. One side is the tenderloin and the other side is the strip.
Poultry: A healthy alternative to beef and pork, chicken, game, and turkey can be grilled over direct or indirect heat.
Pit Master: An experienced barbecue cook, a skilled craftsman, who watches over the pit and can tell by sight, sound, smell, and touch, if it is running too hot or too cold, when it needs fuel, when to add wood, when to add sauce, and when the meat is ready.
Rib Eye: A desirable piece of meat, extremely tender and generously flavored. Taste best seared.
Rib Hooks: These are metal hooks that pierce a slab on one end and hang the meat vertically in a narrow smoker.
Rotisserie: The word rotisserie has two meanings. On grills it is a way to turn meats like chicken on their own axis. On barbecues or smokers, rotisserie units have a ferris wheel arrangement inside with shelves revolving through the oven space (shown at right). This is good because there are often significant differences in heat from top to bottom in the oven. In addition, the fat drips on the slab below and bastes it.
Rub: A mixture of spices that is applied to meats before grilling to impart spicy or smoky flavors. Can be dry or made into a paste to enhance the taste of meat.
Rump Roast: A meat placed on a rotisserie, to allow juices to flow into a pan. The juice from the pan is used to baste the meat.
Sear: Using very high heat to cook the outside surface of the meat for a short period of time–this helps to give a crunchy texture. Be sure to let your food cool down before serving. This will help to eliminate the juices from being released from the meat itself.
Season a Grill or Smoker: The interior and cooking surfaces of a new grill or smoker often have machine oil or other byproducts of the manufacturing process on them. If the owner’s manual doesn’t have specific instructions on how to break it in, follow these: Begin by washing down the interior and cooking surfaces thoroughly. If the interior is stainless or polished aluminum, that’s all you need to do. If it is steel, dry it thoroughly and coat the inside and all cooking surfaces with cooking oil. Spray-on cooking oil is good for this. Crank up the heater as high as possible and add a big chunk of wood. Let it billow for an hour or so. Let the oven surfaces cool and coat with cooking oil again. You are now ready to cook.
Shank Steak: One of the most exercised muscles of the cow, thus, a tough piece of meat. Marinade before grilling.
Side burner: A burner attached to the side of a grill for additional, non-grill cooking.
Sirloin: Top sirloin is different from sirloin steak because it is boneless. The lower portion contains part of a hip bone. Marinate before grilling to add flavor and tenderness.
Skewer: A long piece of metal used to hold bite-sized pieces of food.
Smoker box: A vented metal box for wood chips; when placed within a grill’s heat source, provides smoke.
Spices: Usually brown powders made from dried seeds, barks, berries, pods, or roots. The active ingrediends are usually oils in the powders. See also herbs, above.
Tilapia: This small, low fat fish originally comes from Africa where it has been used for thousands of years. Recently it has become one of the most important “aquaculture” fish in the world. Tilapia is a white fish with a slight pinkish color. It is an excellent fish for grilling and broiling.
Tongs: A utensil used to add, remove, reposition, and flip food on the grill.
Vents: A device used to control the temperature on a grill. Opening the vent increases the temperature of the coals. While closing the vents decreases the temperature.
Warming Racks: An additional grill grate that keeps food warm without burning them. It’s also great for warming up hot dog and burger buns and vegetables.
Wood Chips/Chunks: Aromatic wood chips or chunks release scented smoke such as hickory, maple or mesquite infusing the food as it cooks over the fire.