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9 Terms to Heat up your BBQ Vernacular

Brush up on your grill-side lingo to impress your guests when you expound on the nuances of barbecuing.

The origin of the word traces back to a framework of green sticks used by Indians of the Caribbean to cook game and fish. The Spanish explorers, drawing upon Taino, an Amerindian language, called the framework a barbacoa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines barbecue as meat cooked by the direct action of dry heat created from the burning of hardwood or hot coals until a brown crust is formed.

Dry wood
Aromatic wood such as mesquite, oak, or pecan burns hot generating the heat for cooking. It has been cut and allowed to dry for about 8 months before burning.

Fat cover
Surface fat on the top side of the brisket, which is shaved down close to the meat, leaving an even layer of a desired thickness - such as 1/8 or 1/4 inch - to protect and self-baste the meat while slow cooking.

Green wood
Freshly cut aromatic wood used in combination with dry wood for smoking meats. It creates more smoke for flavor and burns slower for longevity than dry wood.

Hand count
The amount of time you can hold your hand over the heat source to determine how hot it is for cooking. When cooking over direct heat, check the temperature of charcoal or wood coals by holding the palm of your hand at cooking height. Count the number of seconds until the heat causes you to pull away. Six seconds is the target time for low coals.

A blend of seasonings, peppers, spices, and salts blended and used to coat the surface of the meat forming a flavorful crust during cooking.

A basting sauce different from barbecue sauce that's mopped or sprayed periodically over true Texas barbecue throughout cooking to keep the meat moist. Sop may include a combination of ingredients such as beer, lemon juice, vinegar, butter, water, and onion or onion juice.

Surface fat on the top side of the brisket that's shaved down close to the lean meat with a sharp, smooth knife blade held parallel or at a close angle to the brisket surface.

Texas barbecue
Beef brisket, sausage, or ribs rubbed with dry spices and slow smoked in a covered pit by indirect heat to add flavor. The heat comes from smoldering embers or a mixture of Texas aromatic woods, such as mesquite, oak, or pecan.

Sliced brisket is typically served sliced thin across the grain with a tomato and vinegar-based sauce, potato salad, coleslaw, pinto beans, pickles, onions, and white bread. Barbecue is a way to celebrate special occasions like weddings or holidays. The Hill Country region makes up the barbecue belt of Texas, influenced by German settlers, their meat markets, and their old-world knowledge of smoking meats.

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