Online dictionaries define a barbecue as a 'grill, or outdoor fire place for roasting meat, often seasoned with sauces, and usually held outdoors in a social setting'. What is certainly true, the term 'Barbecue' can take on a host of meanings. Some people will think of it as a type of food, others a sauce, a few an outdoor cooking event, many a piece of grilling equipment or cooking technique, and finally you may conclude it's all of the above.
What's for sure, a barbecue can be alot of fun, especially on a hot summer's evening. The aroma of food cooking over charcoal is a marvelous alternative form of cooking, which can quickly become an obsession. The advantage of barbecuing includes the sociable environment it provides, it's relaxed approach to cooking, and of course the distinct flavour of the food cooked.
The traditional barbecue is assumed to consist of a heat source, usually charcoal, a grill, and either a hole in the ground to place the grill over, or a stone / metal construction to place the grill on top of. Some countries, notably the USA, would consider a gas burning barbecue a high powered grill, and refer to that cooking process as 'grilling'.
Grilling can be classified into three main categories; direct grilling, indirect grilling and smoking. Direct grilling is the process most people will be familiar with, where thin meats like steak and chops are placed over a high heat. Indirect grilling deals with larger and tougher meats, placing a moderate fire to the side of the meat and closing the lid of the barbecue. Then the meat is slowly cooked just like in a conventional oven. Smoking involves the same process, but combines wood chips alongside charcoal at an even lower cooking temperature. However, there are more many variants to these categories, such as spit-roasting, and grilling in the embers of a fire, to name but a few.
However, in the UK, when people think of barbecuing, they usually think
of direct grilling. Because this site is targeted for the UK, it will
concentrate on barbecue equipment and techniques that offer a fast grilling
time. The technique of smoking (popular in Southern America), and other
low heat barbecuing techniques and equipment will not be covered in depth.
Likewise, because most people in the UK refer to grills as barbecues,
so will this site.