There are many inconsistencies in the concepts and terms used in outdoor cooking. The most glaring of which is: does the word 'Grilling' apply to all outdoor cooking? The answer is: not really. However, 'Grilling' is often thrown around as a blanket concept or used interchangeably with 'BBQing' in the outdoor cooking world, despite these terms meaning different things to different regions, people, towns, and cooks.
Meanwhile, an underused term in outdoor cooking is 'Broiling.' 'Broiling' as both a term and a cooking style is rarely used among outdoor cooking enthusiasts and experts alike, despite its results often being sought after in the quest to create a perfectly seared, juicy piece of meat. Interestingly, many broiler manufacturers classify their products as grills. This deliberate mischaracterization further confuses those on the hunt for the particular outdoor cooking result broiling offers.
As champions of all outdoor cooking, we thought we would outline the definition and pros of Broiling & Grilling to correctly identify and describe each style and help outdoor cooks apply the best technique for any outdoor cooking demand.*
Grilling is a cooking style involving dry heat applied to food. Grilling usually involves direct, radiant heat. Grilled food is prepared on a grill, which applies heat from below. There are a variety of grills available today: gas-powered, charcoal, and electric. Because of the popularity of grilling, there is debate over which type of grill yields the best results.
If you want an all-day cooking experience, grilling is the way to go. Particularly true with charcoal or wood-fired grilling, getting and keeping your grill to the proper temperature is a dutiful and time-consuming process. Not paying close attention to your grate heat and heating source can often create disastrous results for your meat.
Tougher cuts of meat take on a new, delicious life when tenderized in a low and slow grilling process. Pork shoulder, leg meat, and beef cheek are highly flavorful but rather tough cuts. The slow grill process can break down tendon-y meat for a tasty meal.
All the cooking shows are doing it. Infusing and marinating meats for days to create a wholly unique and often unforgettable flavor profile is best accomplished on a grill.
Broiling is a style of cooking that exposes food to direct radiant heat. Broiling is similar to grilling in that it cooks one side of food at a time, but broilers reach much higher temperatures than grills.
As opposed to the aforementioned tough cuts ideal for grilling, more tender cuts of meat should not be subjected to a low and slow grill process, as they risk ruining their tender, easy to chew properties. On the cow, for example, the short loin, rib, and sirloin are tender cuts that require a quick, high-heat application to bring out the best flavors. Conversely, tough cuts don't cook as well with high-heat, as the quick sear process doesn't break down tough tendons.
You paid to get the best cut of meat, so you want to taste your meat. The best way to do that is with a top-fired, flash cooking process. This is best accomplished with a broiler. The ultra-high temperature that a broiler creates helps to seal in juices and flavors, so the final product is the exact flavor you were seeking.
Outdoor cooking doesn't have to be an odyssey. One of the biggest secrets to cooking a fabulous meal is that the length of time spent preparing a meal doesn't necessarily match the output quality. Put plainly, quick meals often taste as good or better than those that take all day to prepare. The keys, again, are simplicity and high-temperatures. Broilers - like the Samson Outdoor Uno ;) - reach their top temperature in minutes and can cook a steak from start to finish in under 15 minutes. And, given the much higher temperature a broiler can reach relative to the grill, the result is widely considered tastier and more consistent than its grill-cooked equivalent.
Chefs and outdoor cooking experts agree that achieving a good sear or crust on meat will lock in flavors and juices. The best way to accomplish this is through high heat. The broiler bests the grill in this regard.
Have you ever walked away from your grill for a minute and come back to a charred piece of meat? Unintended flare-ups can happen for a variety of different reasons. Mostly they occur when the heat source is stoked by dripping fats as the meat on the grill cooks. Flare-ups can be avoided entirely using a broiler, as the heat originates from above the protein.
In the end, grilling and broiling both use direct high-heat to create a caramelization effect on the meat. However, the result of a higher-heat, top-fired process (broiling) is often best for high-quality cuts where the cook wants the meat's taste to be central to the dish. Grilling is ideal when there is a longer-term commitment to creating a quality bark or enhancing or infusing the meat with flavors.
Until next time... See you outside!