I love BBQ. There is something primitive about cooking meat over an open fire, especially when you are cooking ribs. After the meat is done and I am holding the rib with my bare hands and ripping the meat off with my teeth, I feel a connection with hunters and foragers from hundreds of thousand of years ago, who probably ate the same way that I did.

As primitive as the idea of BBQ sounds, a bit of science still comes in if you want to make good BBQ. Temperature control and time are the two biggest factors in BBQing. Good BBQ takes time to cook, so it’s very important to be ready early in the day if you want to eat in the evening.

Temperature control on a charcoal grill is unpredictable, and every time you start a fire, it’s different from the previous fire. Also outside factors like wind, weather, humidity all comes into play when you try to build the perfect fire. If you are using a gas grill, cooking temperature is a lot easier to control and maintain for long periods of time. There is a lot of debate out there over Charcoal vs. Gas grills, some say that the charcoal grills have better taste, others like the convenience of gas. I really wanted to learn how to grill on a Charcoal grill so after we moved to Austin, I purchased a Weber Kettle Grill.

Since I bought the non-premium grill without a built in thermostat, I took my candy thermometer and stuck it through the round vent holes on the top of the grill.  My method of cooking is indirect heat, which means half the grill is lit for a slow fire, and the meat is placed on the cooler half not directly over the coals. You want your meat cooking temperature to be around 220F-250F. It is very important to place the thermometer/vent opening directly over the area where the meat is so you can correctly gauge the temperature of cooking. If you measure 220F in your thermometer, but your measuring over the coals, that means your meat cooking temp is lower than 220F, and your meat will take longer to cook.

There are a lot of good information online on how to start and maintain a fire, direct and indirect cooking, and smoking meats. I would recommend bbqrevolution.com, since they have a lot of step by step guidelines.

For this BBQ I decided to smoke two types of spareribs ribs, total cooking time would be around 6 hours. I also decided to make some corn cakes, baked beans, and green bean salad to go with the meal. It’s not a BBQ without some sort of pie, so I finished off the meal with a Banana Cream Pie.