Grill vs barbecue – do you know the difference?

A healthy way with fiery chicken and cooling salsa
Canadians love to cook outdoors. But many end up frustrated when the meat they're eagerly anticipating sticks to the grill or ends up charred. AP Photo/Matthew Mead

VICTORIA – When the warm weather arrives, Canadians love to head outdoors to cook. But many end up frustrated when the meat they’re eagerly anticipating sticks to the grill or ends up charred or undercooked.

One remedy is to know how long to cook different cuts of meat and what temperature to use. But it’s also important to have the proper tool to achieve the desired result, says Ken Hueston, owner of Smoken Bones Cookshack in Victoria.

“Most people don’t know the difference between barbecuing and grilling,” says Hueston.

“When you barbecue you are cooking with a slow circumvented unit of hot air with the lid closed. Grilling is done with the lid up and you’re cooking with direct heat on the bottom, instead of all around the source.

“You grill a steak and you barbecue a pork butt.”

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Hueston says not every grill is equipped to both grill and barbecue. If the device has one burner, Hueston says it is a grill, not a barbecue.

“When you are purchasing a barbecue you have to know what kind of foods you really like doing,” he says. “If you are more of a griller you need something with a lot of space and various heat components you can control.

“When you are barbecuing you are looking for a large space that you can put larger cuts in or a rotisserie attachment and the ability to control the different techniques you are going to use in the slow cooking process.”

Knowing what purpose a homeowner’s barbecue or grill will serve will also help in deciding what, if any, additional attachments are worth investing in.

Like many people, Jessica Pelland, a Chopped Canada winner, is in the market for a new grill.

“I’ve had a hand-me-down for about seven years now,” says the executive chef of Charbar in Calgary. “It’s not always the brand name that makes a great barbecue. You can find some good deals. But be realistic about what you’re going to use it for.

“There are lots of grills with fancy attachments like smoking things and side burners, but you have to think ‘are you really going to use that? Is it worth the extra $400 or whatever for that?”‘

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According to Pelland, an easy way to get an idea of the durability of a barbecue or grill is simply by touching it. She says if it feels light, flimsy and wobbly then it’s not going to last. Homeowners should look for something that is sturdy.

When it comes to the actual cooking, both Pelland and Hueston say the No. 1 thing people need to do to achieve the perfect grilled or barbecued meat is to not play with it or move it around as it cooks.

“They need to leave it be and get its grill marks,” says Pelland.

“If you are flipping it and it sticks a little to the grill it means it’s not ready.”

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