Glossary (Page Heading)
The wood of the apple tree. Applewood’s mild, fruity smoke is best for smoking and grilling pork. You can find applewood smoking chips and pellets.
Ash bucket
A metal bucket used to collect the ashes from past fires or wood-grilling or smoking sessions. Larger ash buckets often come with a lid and a hand shovel.
A mechanical device inside a pellet grill or smoker that moves pellets from the hopper to the burn pot.
Baking refers to cooking food in the dry heat of an oven or a pellet grill with the door closed or the lid on. Baking is typically done at a temperature of up to 375°F (190°C). You can bake desserts, chicken and roasts, appetizers, and more.
Bark – on meat: Bark is the black, crispy outer layer of smoked meat. Formed from the browning and caramelization of the crust and the penetration of smoke into the meat, the bark is sought-after and is often the most popular part of brisket or smoked pork.
Bark – on wood: The thick, dry outer layer surrounding the trunk, stem, and branches of the tree. Most remove the bark from the wood before cooking with it for even combustion and cleaner smoke.
Barrel grill
A large, cylindrical grill made out of a barrel for cooking food over charcoal or firewood. Barrel grills usually have a larger grilling or smoking surface, which makes them popular for larger gatherings or cooking larger quantities of meat.
To baste is to brush or drizzle the surface of the meat with butter, fat, oil, or pan drippings to improve heat transfer and give the skin a crispy, golden-brown crust with a rich aroma and complex flavor resulting from the Maillard reaction. Basting will also help keep the meat moist.
Braising is a cooking technique that combines both dry-heat and moist-heat methods, and it is commonly used to cook meats, poultry, and vegetables. The braising process typically involves searing the food over high heat to develop flavor and color, then slowly cooking it in a small amount of liquid, in a covered pot or pan, at a low temperature for an extended period of time. The long, slow cooking process breaks down the connective tissue, making the meat tender and flavorful. Garlic Braised Short Ribs is a great example of a braised dish.
Broiler chicken
A broiler is any breed of chicken bred and raised specifically for meat production. Broiler chickens are perfect for the rotisserie, for spatchcocking, or for roasting whole.
Broiler oven
A broiler is the part of an oven where broiling is done. Broiling cooks or browns the dish at a high temperature, so watch it carefully!
To broil is to grill in the oven under dry, direct, and intense heat, typically in the range of 500 to 550°F (260 to 290°C). Compared to grilling, which cooks from the bottom up, broiling cooks from the top down.
The term for the browning that takes place on the surface of meats, produce, and baked goods as a result of exposure to high heat, which triggers the Maillard reaction. Browning most often occurs in a skillet with fat like oil, bacon fat, or butter.
The process by which sugar oxidizes, giving food its golden-brown hue, nutty scent, and caramel flavour. At 230°F (110°C), fructose, the natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables, caramelize. At 320°F (160°C), sucrose in sugar begins to caramelize. Examples of caramelization include caramelized onions, caramel sauce, and sautéed mushrooms.
Charcoal is used as fuel for cooking, whether over an open fire or in a grill. Many also throw in the smoker’s firebox to increase the heat.
Charcoal briquettes
Charcoal briquettes, known simply as briquettes, are compressed coals made of coal dust, sawdust, wood chips, pulp, peat, borax, and binders (petroleum- or starch-based). Briquettes fall under the broader category of charcoal; they are not to be confused with lump charcoal, which is free from additives and tends to burn hotter.
Cherry wood
The wood of the cherry tree. A hardwood, cherry wood smokes with a mild, sweet, fruity flavor that’s best for grilling and smoking beef and poultry.
Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria get transferred from one piece of food to another through direct contact or contaminated hands, a countertop, a cutting board, or utensils that haven’t been sanitized properly. For example, cutting raw chicken and using the same knife to cut carrot sticks for a vegetable tray.
Crosshatch grill marks
These are the dark brown or black grill marks that make a steak, chicken breast, or another cut of meat look so tasty! They’re obtained by grilling the meat for a few minutes and then turning it 90 degrees. Grill it some more, flip it and repeat the process on the unmarked side.
Direct-heat grilling
Direct-heat grilling occurs when you grill food directly above hot coals, smoking wood in a kettle grill, or over the lit burners on a gas grill. Some higher-end wood pellet grills have a deflector plate that slides under the grate for direct-heat grilling.
Dry heat
This heat is used for broiling, grilling, searing, and roasting food. Fat or oil can be added to the pan, brushed on the grate, or rubbed onto the food to improve the conduction of heat and facilitate even cooking.
Dry rub
A dry rub is a mixture of dry, ground spices and herbs that add flavor and aroma to meats and other foods before they are cooked. The rub is typically made up of a blend of seasonings, such as salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, sugar, and garlic powder, that are mixed and then applied to the surface of the food. The dry rub forms a crust on the meat’s surface during cooking, which can help to seal in moisture and enhance the meat’s flavor and texture. Additionally, it’s a great way to add extra flavor to grilled or smoked meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables. It’s commonly used in BBQ or smoked dishes.
Electric grill
An electric grill is a cooking grill powered by electricity instead of charcoal or gas. Most electric grills have flat-top griddles, though makes and models with tall ridges that impart grill marks on the meat can also be found. Many eclectic grills are small and can be used on your countertop.
Electric smoker
An electric smoker is a large outdoor device for smoking meats, seafood, cheeses, vegetables and more. They’re powered by electricity instead of live fire.
To wrap a piece of meat tightly in aluminum foil before, during, or after cooking. Sometimes, this term is used synonymously for wrapping with butcher paper. Foiling – or foil packets – is a tasty way to cook food while retaining all the juices inside.
The wood from trees that bear fruit. Fruitwood is a type of hardwood that is commonly used for smoking pork, poultry, and seafood. Apple and cherry are two of the most common fruitwood used for smoking.
To fry is to cook food in hot fat or oil, usually in a pan, pot, or fryer, until it is cooked through and crispy. Depending on the amount of fat or oil used, there are three kinds of frying: pan-frying, shallow-frying, and deep-frying.
Game is the name for the meat of wild birds and animals. Generally, game is hunted instead of being grown on a farm. It has a rich aroma and a stronger flavor that appeals to some.
Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is regular butter that’s heated to evaporate the moisture and strained to remove the butterfat.
The result is fat with a clear consistency, golden color, buttery taste, and a smoke point raised to 482°F (250°C). This makes it suitable for cooking over higher heat.
A grill grate, also known as just a grate, is the part of the grill that your food sits on while it cooks. These grates can be made from different materials such as cast iron, cast stainless steel, or welded stainless steel rods. They play a big role in the grilling process by storing heat and transferring it to your food, giving it that delicious grilled flavor. Plus, the holes in the grate allow hot air to flow through, helping to cook your food evenly. You may also notice tall ridges on your grate that create those iconic grill marks on your food.
Gravy is a thickened sauce made from the juices and fats that come out of your meat while it’s cooking on the grill, broiling, roasting or searing. It can be made in various ways, but you basically add some fat (butter or fat from the meat) and a tasty liquid such as broth, wine, beer or cream to the pan where you cooked your meat. You can even add some onions for extra flavor. After simmering it, it is thickened with cornstarch or flour and then poured over the meat, giving it extra flavor and moisture. It can be served in a side bowl for the meat or even in a small dish, called ramekin, for dipping.
Grease fire
A grease fire occurs when it gets heated to the temperature at which it ignites.
Grease tray
A sloped tray that goes on the bottom of gas grills and that collects fats and juices that drip off the meat during cooking and funnels it to a disposable cup or pan underneath. Grease trays should be replaced regularly.
Green wood
Freshly-cut firewood that has yet to be seasoned. Green wood burns unevenly and emits a heavy smoke that imparts meats and vegetables with an unpleasant bitter flavor. Avoid cooking with green wood.
A griddle, sometimes known as a “plancha” in Spanish-speaking countries, is a flat, heavy metal plate perfect for grilling all kinds of delicious food. The plate is typically made of durable materials such as cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel. You can place it on your grill’s grates and preheat it along with the grill, or if you’re using an electric grill, the griddle is heated with heating elements from underneath. While grill grates are great for meats, griddles offer a flat, smooth cooking surface that is perfect for delicate foods like bacon, eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, toast, French toast and pancakes. One of the most popular outdoor griddles is the Blackstone griddle.
A grill is a fun way to cook food, especially when enjoying the great outdoors. Grills come in various types and can use different kinds of fuel, such as charcoal, firewood, natural gas, propane and even wood chips or pellets. Electric grills and grill pans designed for stovetops are also available for you to use in your kitchen. They’re perfect for grilling steaks, seafood, chicken, and more.
Grill brush
A grill brush is a brush with a scraper head and stiff bristles, made out of nylon, palmyra, or steel, for scraping burnt bits and pieces of food from the grill grate.
Grill marks
The dark and distinctive lines on food, such as meats, vegetables and bread, that have been cooked on a grill are called grill marks. Some chefs prefer the simple single-strip look, while others rotate their food to achieve the crisscross patterned marks. These marks are created by the Maillard reaction, which happens when food is exposed to high heat. Grill marks enhance the appearance of food, making it more visually appealing, and adding a delicious smoky flavor and aroma.
Cooking food, primarily meats and vegetables, by exposing it to high-heat sources like charcoal or gas flame is called grilling. The food is put on a metal rack and heated, either directly or indirectly, until it is cooked to the desired level. This grilling process is usually done outdoors and is considered a summertime classic.
Hardwood is the wood from dicot trees with flat, wide leaves rather than round, long needles. Hardwood is porous and generally suitable as cooking fuel.
Heat transfer
Cooking, which covers all the food preparation except salads, cold soups and some sweet dishes, involves moving thermal energy, or heat, from a heat source to the food. This transfer can happen either directly or indirectly. Temperature can range from low to high, with low heat used for slow cooking and simmering and high heat for faster cooking like sauteing and grilling and achieving a nice golden brown color on the food surface.
Hickory wood
Hickory is a type of hardwood tree known for its strong, savory smoke. When used in grilling or smoking, it imparts a unique smoky flavor to meats, such as pork, chicken, turkey, and game birds, similar to bacon. The smoke from hickory wood gives the meats a dark, rich color and aroma.
An igniter is a device that starts the flame in a gas grill. It comprises parts such as a spark generator, electrode, collector box and wires. Some gas grills use piezoelectric igniters, while others use batteries to power their igniter. In latter cases, it might be necessary to change the batteries occasionally.
Ignition is the act of igniting a charcoal, gas, pellet, or electric grill so that a flame starts or the heating elements are switched on.
Indirect heat
Indirect heat is cooking food low and slow, with gentle heat, by placing it close to, not directly above or under, the heat source.
Indirect-heat grilling
Grilling by placing the food over a charcoal-free zone on a kettle grill, or one with unlit burners on a gas grill is called indirect-heat grilling. Since wood pellet grills have a separate, isolated firebox, they provide indirect heat by default.
Jerky is a type of beef prepared by removing the fat and cutting the lean meat into thin slices, then drying them over very low heat. Its low-fat content and dry texture make it highly resistant to spoilage, but it is tough and dry and can be challenging to chew. When stored at room temperature, jerky will last for about 1-2 weeks but can last up to 1-2 months when kept in the refrigerator.
Kettle grill
A kettle grill is a small grill with a round lid and a spherical pit for cooking food over charcoal or firewood.
Kitchen hygeine
Food safety is a broad term that refers to the various steps that cooks take to protect food from harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. This includes measures such as washing hands, and cleaning and sanitizing countertops, cutting boards, and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. These actions are performed in all stages of food handling, from storage and preparation to cooking and serving.
Kitchen shears or scissors
Kitchen shears are a type of scissors for spatchcocking poultry, snipping fresh herbs, and opening packages. Kitchen shears are made out of food-grade stainless steel. Kitchen shears have a tendency to wander all over the house, despite repeated reminders to return them after using them.
Maillard reation
The Maillard reaction, commonly known as browning, is a chemical process that occurs on the surface of foods that are high in protein when exposed to temperatures between 284°F (140°C) and 355°F (179°C). When heated at high temperatures, the proteins and carbohydrates in the food start to become active and interact. As they collide and fuse, they create a variety of aromas and flavor compounds, making the food smell delicious and taste great. This is why foods like seared steaks, bacon, rotisserie chicken, toasted bread, and sauteed foods have such a distinctive taste. It is also why food doesn’t have as much flavor when boiled, steamed, poached, or cooked sous vide, as the water boils at a temperature below the minimum required for browning to occur.
The streaks of intramuscular fat on a steak which melt during grilling, making the meat delectable and succulent. A well-marbled steak is a thing of culinary beauty. Ribeye steaks have great marbling.
A dry rub or wet marinade is a method of seasoning meat before cooking that can enhance its flavor and aroma. A dry rub is a combination of dry spices and seasonings that is applied to the surface of the meat, while a wet marinade uses liquids such as oil or a combination of acid and water-based fluids such as lemon juice or vinegar to infuse the meat with flavor. Marinades can also feature enzymes from fruit juices which can help break down the proteins in meat, making it more tender. Both dry rubs and wet marinades can add different flavors and aromas to meats, making the final dish more delicious.
The wood of the mesquite tree. A hardwood, mesquite smokes with a strong, aromatic smoke that’s best for beef, veal, lamb, and game birds.
Mirepoix (meer-pwah) is a classic French flavor base consisting of diced vegetables that enhance the taste and aroma of soups, stews, broths, and sauces. The traditional mix of mirepoix includes diced onions, carrots, and celery, which are sautéed in butter or oil until softened and lightly caramelized. The ratio of the vegetables can vary and sometimes garlic, leek, and bell pepper can also be added. The combination of these ingredients is said to add a depth of flavor and richness to dishes by creating a balance of sweetness and savoriness while also adding a natural sweetness to the dishes.
Before starting to cook, it’s important to preheat your grill. This is done by turning on the grill and allowing it to reach a high temperature with the lid closed for a specific time. In summer and fall, preheating should take around 15-20 minutes, while in spring and winter, it may take a bit longer, around 25-30 minutes. This process is important because it ensures that the grill grates are hot and the walls of the grill are radiating heat, providing a uniformly hot cooking surface for your food. Cooking on a preheated grill allows the food to come into contact with the hot surface and browns and cooks it evenly, which is the goal for the best grilling experience. Many oven-cooked recipes also call for preheating the oven.
Roasting is a method of cooking food, such as roasts, meats, poultry, pork, or vegetables, in an enclosed space like an oven or grill where dry heat surrounds the food. The temperature used in this method is generally set between 375°F (190°C) and 500°F (260°C), and the lid is closed. The dry heat causes the surface of the food to caramelize and brown, creating a rich, savory flavor and sealing in the natural juices for a moist, succulent final product. The roasting method is perfect for larger cuts of meat and poultry or whole birds, and also can be used to cook vegetables.
Searing is a technique used to quickly brown the surface of meats, poultry or fish by exposing them to high heat. Searing can be done by cooking ingredients in a skillet or by directly grilling them. The high heat causes the surface of the food to caramelize and form a crispy golden-brown crust while also activating the Maillard reaction, which adds a rich aroma and savory flavors to the food.
Searing is best suited for thin cuts of meat that can cook through in a matter of minutes, but for thicker cuts, a gentler temperature and longer cooking time might be needed to cook the inside thoroughly. This technique is commonly used to improve the flavor, texture and appearance of meats.
Seasoning the grill grate
Maintaining the grill grates is crucial to keep them in good condition and protect them from rust or corrosion. This can be done by regularly brushing and coating them with oil before and after each use. To properly season the grates, they need to be heated for a while, usually 10-15 minutes, after the oil is applied. This process, known as polymerization, causes the oil to adhere to the metal and create a non-stick surface. A well-seasoned grate not only resists rust and corrosion but also prevents food from sticking to it, resulting in an even cook and making it easier to clean.
A skillet is a type of pan that is commonly used for cooking on a stovetop. It features a thick, heavy bottom and gently sloping sides, typically made of cast iron, carbon steel, or stainless steel. Skillets are versatile pans that can be used for different cooking methods like searing thick cuts of meats, sautéing delicate ingredients like vegetables, and pan-frying in general. Skillets are commonly used because they conduct and hold heat well, providing an even cooking surface that browns and cooks food evenly, which is essential for many dishes.
A binder is a liquid substance that is applied to meats before applying a dry rub. This is done to help the dry rub stick to the meat more effectively. Common examples of binders include cooking oil, pickle juice, mustard, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, among others. They are usually brushed or spread over the surface of the meat and work as an adhesive, allowing the dry rub to stick better to the meat’s surface, thus providing a deeper flavor penetration. This is a useful technique to enhance the flavor of the meats, poultry, fish or vegetables before cooking.
Smoke point
The smoke point is the temperature at which a cooking fat or oil begins to degrade and break down and starts to smoke. Every type of fat or oil has a different smoke point; some of them can withstand higher temperatures than others. When a fat or oil is heated beyond its smoke point, it will emit a stream of bluish smoke, which can not only set off smoke detectors but can also leave soot and stains on the walls. Additionally, when fat or oil is heated past its smoke point, harmful compounds are formed, which can affect the taste and smell of the food, making it smell burnt and taste acrid. Using fats and oils with a smoke point appropriate to your cooking method is important.
Meat can experience a period of time during cooking where its internal temperature plateaus or stalls, usually between 150-175°F (65-80°C). Stalling happens due to a phenomenon known as evaporative cooling. During this phase, the meat’s internal temperature stops increasing, even though the heat is still being applied. This can occur for an extended period of time, sometimes for hours. As the meat cooks, the heat causes its juices to begin to escape and evaporate, which cools the surface of the meat and slows down the cooking process. Eventually, the meat will reach a point where the evaporative cooling effect is no longer significant, and the internal temperature will start to rise again.
Trimming is the process of removing any excess fat from a piece of meat before cooking. It is done using a sharp, flexible knife, like a fillet knife. This technique allows for a leaner cut of meat, reducing the amount of fat consumed and allowing for a more even cook, as well as enhancing the flavors and presentation of the final product. Properly trimmed meats are also less likely to produce flare-ups while grilling and will cook more evenly.
Trimmings are the excess scraps cut from a larger piece of meat. The fat can be melted in a skillet and cooked; the meatier scraps can be used to make broth for soups and stews.
USDA Grades
USDA Grades
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grades are a system that evaluates the quality of beef, and there are three categories:
Prime: Considered the highest quality beef with the most marbling, making it the best choice for dry cooking methods such as broiling, grilling or roasting.
Choice: This grade has good marbling; it’s suitable for wet cooking methods such as braising or stewing with moderate heat.
Select: This grade has the least marbling, it’s leaner, and it should be cooked low and slow; it will be less succulent than Prime and Choice cuts.
It’s recommended to buy the highest-grade cuts you can afford, as the more marbling on the cut, the more flavorful the meat.
Wet heat
Wet heat is the heat transferred to food through convection currents when water or a moist cooking liquid that’s not oil (for example, beer, broth, stock, vinegar, wine) is heated.
Boiling, poaching, and simmering are all wet-heat cooking methods.
Wood pellets
Wood pellets are small, cylindrical pieces of processed wood, usually ½ inches long, used as fuel for pellet grills. Wood pellets are made from compacted sawdust, scrap lumber, and the other residuals leftover from sawmilling.