As summertime rolls around and everyone starts grilling up a storm, you’re probably wondering, how can I perfect my grilling skills? Follow this guide to learn how to become the best pitmaster, and wow your friends at your next barbeque.
What is a Pitmaster?
A pitmaster is someone who is an expert at all things barbeque.
How Do You Become an Expert?
To become an expert pitmaster, you first need to make sure you have a good grill or smoker. Also, you need to have all the pitmaster tools necessary to perfect your craft. Do lots of research to make sure you are investing in the right products.
After you have all the essential supplies, the best way to become an expert is practice! You aren’t going to become the best pitmaster overnight, so be patient. As you practice grilling and smoking different meats, you will be able to perfect your craft and become the pitmaster you’ve always wanted to be.
Choosing a Grill or Smoker
One of the most essential steps to becoming a pitmaster is choosing the right grill or smoker. Before making this investment, it is important to understand the difference between grills and smokers, so that you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Although you can become a pretty good grillmaster regardless of if you have a grill or smoker, take the time to do your research and make the right choice for you.
All About Grills
A grill is the most popular method to cook meat outdoors. This is the right choice for you if you want to cook your meat fast. Grills can reach very high temperatures, as high as 500 degrees. Because of this, grills are perfect for searing food and trapping in flavor.
Grills are also very versatile and have lots of options. There are gas, electric, and hybrid options available for purchase, each of which have various pros and cons depending on your needs. Also, you can use a smoker box on a grill to imitate the taste of the smoker, which can allow you to achieve the best of both worlds. Even without necessarily owning a smoker, it is still possible to replicate that smoky flavor.
All About Smokers
On the other hand, smokers are a great option for those who want to roast their food at a low temperature with a smoky flavor. Smokers are also known by a host of names, including pits, cookers, and rigs, to name a few. Although smokers will cook your meat at a much slower temperature than a grill, smokers have a very controlled environment, so that you have total power over how your meat is cooked.
Like grills, there are also many sizes and options of smokers available for purchase. Larger smokers are designed for cooking for a crowd outdoors and are the most conventional type of smoker. There are also smaller smokers available on the market today, even electric options that emit minimal smoke and can be used inside your home.
Smokers also come in a variety of fuel source options, including charcoal, woodchips, gas, and electric models. The fuel source that is best for you depends on the flavor you desire in your meat.
Although you can use a smoker box on a grill to get a smoky taste, if you want to be a true pitmaster, you need a smoker. Smokers are the only way to get the optimal control necessary to be the best pitmaster.
Just be sure to know your smoker inside and out. We’ve seen plenty of smoker malfunctions occur during important dinner events because a brand new smoker was being used. Be sure to test your smoker before you bring it to the big stage.
If you truly want to be a pitmaster, you need to make sure you have all the tools required. Although getting the right smoker or grill is important, there is a whole host of pitmaster tools that you need to be the best at your craft. Keep reading to learn about each of these pitmaster tools that will help you become a master.
Sharp knives are essential for every pitmaster. They can be used for cutting or chopping meat, depending on the type. A good set of knives will always be necessary, no matter what kind of meat you are dealing with.
A flavor injector is a great tool to help intensify the flavor of your meat. When you inject a marinade into the meat, it allows it to really soak in and enhance the flavor of your cut.
Basting brushes are used to apply thick sauces to meat. While picking a basting brush, keep in mind that synthetic bristles can melt if they touch a hot grate. If you are planning on using your basting brush near your grill or smoker, you likely will want to stray away from a synthetic brush.
Long-handled tongs are one of the most important tools to have when you’re working around a grill or smoker. They allow you to keep your hands at a safe distance from the hot surfaces, while also allowing you to handle and flip meat as it cooks. Make sure that you get a paid sturdy enough to flip all kinds of meat.
A pit thermometer is designed to give you the temperature in your cooking chamber. This is especially useful if you are using a smoker, so that you can keep track of the temperature your meat is smoking at. Most pit thermometers are made to mount inside the lid of your smoker. This is an essential pitmaster tool if you’re going to be smoking your meat.
Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
An instant-read meat thermometer is created to check the internal temperature of meats. These are perfect to ensure that your meat is cooked all the way through or to the optimal level that you would like. If you’d like to become the best pitmaster, a meat thermometer is a very important tool to have.
Often times you won’t need a meat thermometer for beef and fish, as these types of meat are generally safe to eat when not thoroughly cooked.
Chicken, on the other hand, requires an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit. Always check the temperature of your chicken to avoid nasty bacteria like salmonella.
Heat Proof Gloves
Heat proof gloves are essential if you’re going to be working around the hot surfaces of your grill or smoker. These gloves will allow you to handle hot meats at ease, while also making sure everything remains sanitary. A good pair of heat proof gloves will be perfect for protecting your hands and forearms.
Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter
Investing in a charcoal chimney fire starter can be a great choice to help you save a lot of time. A fire starter can help to light a fire in less than a minute, which can be a great tool while using your charcoal grill or smoker.
While using your charcoal chimney fire starter, place charcoal in the top, wad newspaper or some other type of tinder in the bottom of the starter, and ignite. Make sure you place the starter on a concrete surface for safety.
The right grill brush can help make the clean-up process much faster after cooking on a grill or smoker. The best grill brush to purchase is a still wire brush, because it is sturdy and will help you get the job done as efficiently as possible.
To clean your grill or smoker, use your grill brush to scrub down the grates before they cool.
If your grill is beyond cleaning with a brush, it might be time for a full grill makeover. In this case, turn your grill on low heat, the lowest it can go. After reaching around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, apply your favorite natural multi-purpose cleaner and wipe any dirty part of your grill down with a damp cloth.
Choosing the Right Meat
Choosing the right meat is critical to becoming a fantastic pitmaster. You want to use only the best quality ingredients, so that your meat tastes the best that it possibly can. A good tip is to buy meat from a reputable meat market or butcher, so that you can ensure that it is of the highest quality.
Incorporating a rub is a pitmaster’s signature touch on the meat. While using the right rub is very important, a good rule of thumb is to keep your rub simple. You don’t want to overcomplicate your rub, because then it may deter from the natural taste of the meat.
As a general rule of thumb, the more fat content in your meat, the cheaper it is. While fat is necessary for adding flavor and tenderness to your meat, an excess of fat could indicate a lower quality cut.
Be sure to cut any excess fat away. Most fat within meat is easily cooked, softened, and delicious upon eating, but large sections of fat are hard to render when grilling, and become gross and chewy upon eating.
Conclusion: Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you have learned almost everything you need to know about becoming a pitmaster, you’re well on your way to becoming one of the best. However, no matter how much you learn about being a pitmaster, the only way to improve your skills is through practice.
Becoming a pitmaster takes lots of time and patience. Make sure you practice with different kinds of meat, as some are more difficult. If you are patient, you can become a true pitmaster with time.
Before you go, be sure to check out our favorite pitmaster HowToBBQRight on Youtube. He’s got some great barbecuing and smoking skills, and there’s always something you can learn from him about becoming a great pitmaster.