Smoking is as old as time itself. When cave man figured out how to create fire they soon realized how tasty meat was cooked over an open flame. As time and man evolved they figured out how to cure meat for storage, beins` they haven’t invented a fridge yet. Seriously though this implies curing the meat in a mixture of salts & other spices & cooking at a low enough temperature to preserve the meat for long periods of time while not drying it out. Cold Smoking at 150-200 degrees will produce a tasty product that can be reheated, grilled or served cold.
When I tell folks “I’m going to Bar-B-Que today” this implies a different approach in my opinion. When I fire up the Big 40 cooker my target temps ranges from 200-225 degrees for the first few hours to allow for the smoke wood flavor to penetrate deep into the meat. At this time I will adjust the cooking temps to 250-275 degrees and apply a “Hot Smoke” technique by maintaining a small hot fire with a clean light blue colored smoke, watch the exhaust stacks and you will see that the smoke coming out is barely visible if only light blue-ish color. This is the “sweet spot” of the technique that creates wonderful flavor. This also sets the dry rub and creates what we barbque nuts call “Bark” which is the sweet, spicy crust that forms on the meat from the dry rub that is applied. At a hotter cooking temperature the sugars in the dry rub will caramelize also. True Bar-B-Que enthusiasts follow this technique to the letter. “Barbquing” is at temperatures of 200-225 degrees; “Hot Smoking” is from 250-275 degrees respectfully. As you can see there is more to it than just slapping a big ole hunk of meat on the cooker. Cooking temperatures, dry rubs & spices play a key role in the flavors produced along with the types of cooking wood used.
Grilling is cooking at temperatures of 350-450 degrees & up. “Grilling” is a fine technique, nothing better for a good choice cut steak but it does not create the flavor that smoking or barbquing will. I love grilled burgers, steaks, sausages or even an all beef hot dog but when you Bar-B-Que Ribs with an indirect fire with the right amount & type of smoke wood added it will elevate you to a new level of Bar-B-Que bliss.