November 16, 2023

BBQ Guide: A Complete Comparison With Other Equally Great Grilling Methods  

The barbecue world has unique flavors that set it apart from other cooking methods, but not everything is about BBQ itself. From the sizzling and fast grilling to the slow smokers and the cultural richness of Argentine asado, in this BBQ guide, I’d like to discuss the difference between your traditional BBQ and other equally […]

Daniela Solis

November 16, 2023

The barbecue world has unique flavors that set it apart from other cooking methods, but not everything is about BBQ itself. From the sizzling and fast grilling to the slow smokers and the cultural richness of Argentine asado, in this BBQ guide, I’d like to discuss the difference between your traditional BBQ and other equally great cooking methods that give meat the most delicious flavor. Who knows, perhaps soon you’ll find yourself cooking some achuras over an Argentinian grill! 

BBQ vs Cookout 

When it comes to backyard gatherings, BBQ and cookouts emerge as contenders. Picture a typical summer evening, the sun casting a warm glow on the backyard, and a group of friends or family eating outside. Is what they are doing it barbecue or cookout?

Geographical location plays a pivotal role in shaping the meanings of “barbecue” and “cookout.” In the Northeast and Midwest of the USA, these terms are often used interchangeably, referring to a gathering where friends and family grill hot dogs, hamburgers, and other summer favorites. 

But the distinctions become more pronounced in the South, where a “cookout” signifies fast cooking over a direct flame, featuring fast food like hot dogs and hamburgers. On the other hand, a “barbecue” in Southern states involves a grander scale event, characterized by slow cooking over an indirect heating source, such as pits or smokers. 

This method requires meticulous preparation of meat (which includes pork, chicken, and beef), including marinating meats overnight and slow-cooking them for hours. All in all, barbecues involve slow cooking in indirect heat, often planned well in advance, while cookouts are characterized by quicker, direct heat cooking and a more spontaneous gathering.

BBQ vs Grilling 

bbq vs grilling

Now let’s delve into the difference between BBQ vs grilling. Barbecuing entails slow-cooking large cuts of meat over an indirect heat source, commonly using charcoal or wood. The process, often characterized by a temperature range between 100 and 150°C, demands a significant time investment, with the goal of achieving tender, flavorful results. This method is ideal for tougher cuts like:

  • pork shoulders, 
  • beef briskets, 
  • and ribs

The idea is to eat meat that is soft, moist, and infused with a distinct barbecue flavor. 

Meanwhile, grilling is more like an action movie, as you’ll be cooking foods hot and fast (typically around 230 – 290°C) over direct heat. Dinner is served in less time than it takes to decide what to watch on a streaming service! This means you cannot really grill anything, but you’ll need small cuts of food that take less than 20 minutes to cook, such as: 

  • steaks, 
  • seafood, 
  • burgers, 
  • and sausages. 

Grilling is versatile and suitable for a variety of foods, including vegetables and fruits, making it a popular choice for providing a diverse range of dishes, including those suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. 

BBQ vs Smoker

This comparison is even more difficult and your taste buds will be the ultimate judges. While barbecue requires a temperature dance between 100 and 150°C, ensuring the meat emerges tender, the smoker uses hot charcoal and slow-burning hardwood to envelop meats in aromatic wood smoke.

 Smoking is typically done at lower temperatures, often ranging from 82 to 135°C and using different types of wood, such as hickory, mesquite, or fruitwoods, that can give unique flavors to the smoked meat. Just consider that smoking is not for the faint-hearted or the impatient: some recipes call for 24 hours of smoking time —yes, you read that right! 

BBQ vs “Argentine Asado”

bbq vs argentine asado

Now comes the ultimate duel in the art of cooking meat with hot charcoal: what’s the difference between barbecue and Argentine Asado? While both BBQ and Argentine Asado share the common denominator of grilling meat, they diverge in the details. 

The Argentine Asado is not just a meal; it’s a sacred ritual that takes place every weekend, on birthdays, during Christmas, before or after important football matches, or, to be honest, whenever possible. It involves friends and family, who gather around the fire as a whole social event that takes hours to prepare and enjoy. 

The first crucial step in mastering the Argentine Asado is building the fire, a task that demands respect for tradition and a bit of finesse. Asadores, the designated grill masters, understand that the fire’s quality directly influences the flavor of the meat. So, they typically use hardwoods like quebracho, carbón made of wood, and even piquillinto strike the perfect balance of embers and flames. A good asador would never use starters or lighter fluid to accelerate the process: instead, they shovel brasas under the grill. In contrast, in the US many grills are powered by gas or electricity. 

This fire-starting ritual takes a long time, so preparing an asado can be a lengthy process: you would spend 3-4 hours preparing everything. Because it’s not just steak you would prepare in an Argentine Asado, as many times happens in an American barbecue: achuras are served and enjoyed first. Some examples include: 

  • Chinchulines (intestine), 
  • Chorizo (sausage), 
  • Morcilla (blood sausage), 
  • Molleja (sweetbread)

After these achuras, Argentinians enjoy different cuts of meat like whole racks of ribs, flank steak, brisket, and even vegetables like potatoes or bell peppers. Special asados, like the ones that take place during someone’s birthday, can start at around 9 am and end at night, so get ready for an intense experience. And if you ever meet an Argentinian, don’t you dare suggest using a gas barbecue to prepare asado – you will surely offend them!

BBQ vs Tandoori 

bbq vs tandoori

Barbecue and Tandoori, while both centered around the art of cooking meat, also come from different culinary realms. While Barbecue, a heavyweight in the American culinary landscape, involves slow-cooking meat over an open flame, Tandoori is the star of Indian cuisine and has a different method. 

When using the Tandoori method, you’ll be marinating meats in a mixture of yogurt and spices, including garam masala and turmeric, before cooking them in a tandoor (a clay oven). The intense heat of the tandoor gives a delicious smokiness to the meat, creating an aromatic, earthy flavor that is also rich with spices.

So, barbecue relies on slow cooking over indirect heat, allowing the meat to absorb smoky nuances over an extended period of time. In contrast, Tandoori embraces high-heat, rapid cooking, resulting in the searing of spices into the meat and creating a unique crust – spices play a big role in ensuring food is tasty.

Conclusion

As smoke curtains descend on this BBQ guide, I’d like to emphasize that all of these cooking methods offer something unique. From the slow-cooked steaks of BBQ to the whole Argentine asado experience, you’ll discover whole new ways to cook your meat and even transform your backyard into a stage for a culinary ritual, and, who knows, new techniques that will make your beef even more tasty. 

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Join 2,000+ subscribers

:data: What's in it for You Every Month on Saturday?
  • Exclusive Recipes: Mouth-watering dishes that'll make your BBQ the talk of the town.
  • Expert Tips: From choosing the right cuts to mastering the "Asado" grill, I've got you covered.
  • Community Stories: Join a passionate community of grillers sharing tips, stories, and more!
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