Grilling, Broiling and Barbecuing

Grilling, Broiling and Barbecuing

Broiling, barbecuing and pan-broiling are all forms of grilling. The difference between the methods lies in the source of the heat. Grilled foods are cooked by radiant heat from a source located below the food. They should have a smoky, slightly charred flavor resulting from the flaring of the juices and fats that are rendered out as the item cooks. The drippings that might have collected or reduced in a sauté pan are actually reducing directly on the food's surface. This creates an intensely flavored exterior.

Hardwoods such as grapevines, mesquite, hickory or apple are frequently used to introduce a special flavor. Branches of herbs may also be allowed to smolder on the fire to lend their distinct flavor. Broiled foods are generally considered to be those cooked by a heat source located above the food. The broiler is used to perform other types of cooking, however, and this can result in a little confusion.

Frequently, delicate items such as lean white fish are first brushed with butter and then placed on a heated sizzler platter before being placed on the rack below the heat source. This is not broiling in the strictest sense of the word. It is actually closer to baking. Items prepared in this manner may still be referred to as "broiled" on a menu.

Barbecuing is a term that can cause confusion. In some parts of the country, it signifies a food that has been basted repeated with a barbecue sauce during grilling. In others, it refers to pit-roasted items. On some menus, it may have little if anything to do with either a pit, spit or grill. A "barbecued meat sandwich" may simply be roasted meat that has been thinly sliced and simmered in a barbecue sauce.

Pan-broiled foods are cooked on top of the stove in a heavy cast-iron or other warp-resistant metal pan over intense heat. Any fat or juices released during cooking are removed as they accumulate. Otherwise the result is a sauté or a stew. Special pans made to simulate a grill's effect may be used. These pans have thick ridges that hold the food up and away from any juices or fat than might collect.

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