As a BBQ grill owner you probably read up a lot before you purchased your grill – and in doing so read about a fair few myths. We are here to debunk them for you, so read on to find out what is BBQ truth and what is BBQ legend…
When it comes to debunking BBQ Grill myths there are so many to choose from, it is hard to know where to start. We will attempt to cover them all but on the off-chance that we miss any please feel free to get in touch and let us know! In the meantime let’s buckle in and get ready to debunk some untruths!
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Why it’s Important to Debunk BBQ Myths
BBQ Myths are holding you back. They are taking a toll on your equipment and are stopping you from being the best cook that you can be.
Rather like a superstition, a grilling myth leads people astray and can seriously adversely impact the quality of your food. Some myths are even dangerous within themselves; leading to food poisoning or worse.
When you first start grilling you can’t separate the truths from the fictions and you end up confused by the whole scenario. In the end, it can be enough to put you off.
There will always be a guest at your BBQ telling you why you should do it using their method instead of your own and, realistically, if you research each myth they utter you can decide for yourself what is going to work best.
What are the Biggest Myths in BBQ?
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the myths we have encountered over the years…
BBQ Grill Myth: That Stainless Steel Cleans Itself
This myth has been perpetuated by the recent revelation that the metal composition of doorknobs allows them to harbor certain anti-bacterial properties (KCET). This was tested and is actually true.
Certain metal types do have antibacterial properties that help them resist certain strains of germs but – and this is the important bit – not all germs. You can view the full study here courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine.
The damaging effects of this myth have seen millions of people around the world read articles about the anti-bacterial properties of metal and now don’t clean any metal surfaces.
This is a terrible idea when applied to your BBQ Grill. It is a known fact that cross contamination between raw meat and cooked meat can cause bacteria strong enough to kill you.
If you don’t wipe down your BBQ grill with an antibacterial wipe or spray – or even just some hot soapy water – between uses you will eventually make someone sick. It is only a matter of time.
BBQ Grill Myth: That Searing your Meat locks in the Juices
This is a straight up lie. The reason we sear the meat around the outside is to provide a little color, add smokey BBQ flavors and/or to baste a sauce into it.
Searing is a process which dries out your meat and goes by the scientific name of ‘The Malliard Reaction‘ (The Science of Cooking). In chef terms we would call it ‘caramelization’. It is a chemical reaction that one of the amino acids in the meat has to the heat that is being applied. It bubbles and browns while simultaneously drying out your meat.
At any rate; searing the outside of the meat actually produces cracks in the surface of the meat that allows more juices to escape than it otherwise would. To avoid this, the pros have long since turned to wrapping food up before they place it in the pit.
Originally they would use foil for this, but then the discovery was made that butcher’s peach or pink paper will scorch and char but not burn. It is water resistant and non-stick – unlike the foil – and makes an excellent addition to your BBQ arsenal. We love it because it solves the problem of lost juices… which searing simply does not solve…
If you want to try this BBQ hack for yourself then you can pick some up on Amazon, courtesy of Oren International.
BBQ Grill Myth: Chicken Must be Cooked Until the Juices are Clear
No! Stop! Think about it! If you are cooking a piece of bacon on your grill and it has white globules on it you know the white is fat, right? Now… if you are cooking a bit of minute steak and those juices are red and bloody… This would mean that it was under cooked too.
However, when you get to chicken it will run pink right up until a really high temperature – and you will end up with a dry, tough old bird that nobody wants to eat.
With chicken it can’t leak out the same fat content that bacon has because it doesn’t have it, nor can it run clear because chicken is mostly water. When you cook that water and it starts to work its way out, it becomes pink when it encounters Myoglobin (NY Post)– a substance released as the protein heats up.
This myoglobin is pink until the temperature turns it clear and that is how this myth was produced. Unfortunately this has led to many an overcooked chicken and more than one evening spent on the toilet.
Cooking chicken too much will lead to terrible indigestion or worse; just as under cooking it is dangerous.
BBQ Grill Myth: Marinating the Meat Makes It More Tender
Again, this is completely untrue. Marinating actually only soaks about 1.8 inch into the surface of the meat over an eight hour period. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that the amount of time you would need to soak the meat for in order for it to be fully saturated would be longer than the amount of time the meat has before it starts to rot.
Even if you could fully saturate a meat in marinade sauce it would have no effect whatsoever on the tenderness of the meat.
The act of rubbing molecules of flavor against the outside of the meat has no bearing as to how soft it is. If you want tender marinated meat you need to do what the professionals do and invest in a meat tenderizer similar to this one, by KitchenAid.
The bonus to this is that you look like a bad-ass as you pound your steak with a hammer at your grill; the bad part to this is that you end up with meat splattering all over the place. Do what pro chefs do and cover the meat with a folded up piece of saran wrap before your hit it. This way there won’t be raw meat and blood all over your BBQ.
Sadly this is just another myth… although we still recommend marinating for the flavor value… just remember that, as a general guideline, the thicker the piece of meat the less likely it is that the marinade will penetrate deep down.
To get the most out of marinating your meat do it for at least eight hours and prepare your meat into small chunks or thin strips.
BBQ Grill Myth: Looking Ain’t Cooking!
We all know that if you open the oven door and peek at the food it makes the cook time longer, right? Well with BBQ’s this is not the same. When you close the lid you turn the BBQ from a grill into a convection oven, not unlike the oven you have in your kitchen. This means it cooks even heat over time, all around the meat.
When you open the oven door you lose approximately 10 degrees a second – when you open the BBQ lid the temperature does not change – but the air stops circulating. This means that it isn’t cooking on the top any longer, but it is now functioning as a grill and cooking the underside. Basically, this means the meat is still cooking and that it is easy enough to get the hot air circulating again.
Additionally, if you don’t check your food you have a very real chance of setting your back yard on fire.
So this one is another lie – although like most BBQ Grill myths there is a history of truth to it. When one compares opening an oven door to opening the BBQ grill lid you can see how it could get confusing. To read more about Convection and how it works see this article by the BBC.
BBQ Grill Myth: Meat Should be Room Temperature Before Cooking
Oh Dear No! There is actually a chance you could poison someone doing this. Safe food storage must be below a maximum of 8 degrees Celsius.
After this point the bacteria on the surface of the meat start to reproduce and spread like crazy, it can take a matter of minutes for a bacterial strain on your meat to grow to the point where they become harmful… leave your meat out of the cooler to ‘heat up’ and you are putting your life – and the lives of your family and friends – at risk.
Take a look at this article on Food Safety given as instruction from the British Government (who have very, very strict food safety laws). It should give you an indication of how many types of bacteria there are on meat that are capable of reducing a grown man to a hospital bed.
Food safety and hygiene – things like keeping your grill gloves washed, your hands clean and your clothing hygienic – are just as important as flavor and juiciness. Don’t get caught out by this one…NEVER cook room temperature meat.
A good guide the pros use is to check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If it is over 8 degrees and it smells even slightly off, then it is rotten and must be discarded. A professional chef wouldn’t even smell it; they would discard any meat that was not of a safe temperature. An outbreak of food poisoning can kill a business literally overnight.
BBQ Grill Myth: A Smoker Smokes Anything!
Actually; a smoker can smoke anything…but the degree to which that smoke will saturate into the food will vary depending on how long that meat or food type has been on the smoker. It is estimated that most meats need to be cooked with your smoker for a minimum of twenty minutes in order to fully taint the meat with deliciousness.
Rather like the marinade sauce, a mere glance at the BBQ Grill or smoker will not be enough to pass on the flavor.
For best results, plan to smoke your meat over the grill for at least 20 minutes. Most smokers will come with a time guide of their own to tell you how long to cook specific types of food for.
However, when smoking via BBQ it needs to be that magic 20 minute mark. You then need to factor in the thickness and size of the meat. A huge, thick steak or fillet will take hours to saturate with smoke. A fillet of fish, on the other hand, will take the 20 minutes or less.
For smaller items of food wrap them in pink paper for protection. For larger items of food either increase the cooking time or cut them into thinner pieces to achieve the perfect smokey balance.
BBQ Grill Myth: A Well Oiled Grill Is Necessary
This myth is physically dangerous. Do not spray oil from a can towards the hot coals of your BBQ grill – there is a risk of explosion. Similarly, oil applied to the grill rack via a paper towel will simply smoke and sizzle. When oil smokes it is because it is too hot. When you put meat into a pan that is too hot you burn it on the outside and fail to cook the inside.
A professional chef working with an open burner is far more likely to apply a thin layer of oil to the meat itself if it is to be thrown straight onto the rack.
They will then rub a mixture of salt and pepper into the meat before placing it. This adds a little more flavor than your normal grilled steak and allows for plenty of non-stick capabilities of its own. Since the oil has been applied to the meat and not the metal it will heat up as the meat does, and not as the fire beneath does. In this way you can avoid burning your steaks.
Alternatively, use a little foil or pink paper if you think your meat is going to stick. You will still achieve the markings of a BBQ grill and the smoky flavor – but it will take a little longer to cook on.
For best results apply oil to the meat and apply the meat to a neatly cleaned grill… or invest in a grill with porcelain enamel (Wikipedia) coating on the cooking surface just to be safe.
As you can see there are a fair few BBQ Grill Myths – and we have barely managed to scratch the surface! We hope we have managed to debunk a few of them for you nevertheless and hope you will come back to our page again for all your other BBQ related news, tips and tricks!