Nothing says summer like the sizzle of a barbecue. But the mantle of grill or pitmaster is a heavy one. Bert Fraser of Fruita turned a love of barbecue into a thriving enterprise with his business, Fruita Wood And Barbecue Supply. Fraser ships more than 2,000 pounds of wood chips everyday to grilling fanatics around the country. Here are his barbecue best bets, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Know The Difference Between Grilling And Barbecuing
Grilling means holding court with a spatula and cooking something for a short time over a direct source of heat. Think hamburgers, steaks and veggies. Barbecuing means cooking over an indirect source of heat for a long time, from six to 16 hours. Think low and slow.
Quality Doesn't Mean Luxury
You don't need a souped-up setup to cook great barbecue. With the right seasoning and a few flavored wood chips, you can produce delicious results even on your standard patio gas grill.
High And Dry
Don't soak your wood. Soggy chips will steam your meat. Use wood that is fresh enough to still hold some moisture.
Use a fruit wood such as Western Slope peach for your chicken breasts. Cherry and sassafras woods help prime rib flavors sing. Mild, nutty woods such as Texas post oak are perfect fits for salmon. Never use evergreen and pine woods -- the creosote oils will burn up your food. Wood from elm and cottonwood trees doesn't have a good taste, and those bags of mesquite wood from grocery or hardware stores is too old and dry to maintain moisture.
Forget that falling off the bone stuff -- that means your ribs are overdone. Perfectly cooked meat require a stronger bite to remove from the bone. To test, grab a rack of ribs up by the tongs at one end. If the rack flops and tears, the ribs are over done. If the rack bends but holds together, it's just right.