Tuesday Tips: Barbecue Lingo

So you’ve entered into the world of barbecue. You’re cooking up some good shit. Your food has become the talk of the town. People are lining up to eat your ‘cue. Feels pretty good huh?  Sure, you can walk the walk – but can you talk the talk? Can you shoot the shit while working your pit?

Like any profession or hobby, we barbecue gurus – wait that’s probably trade marked – we BBQ pitmsaters have our own ways of speaking. Do you know the lingo?

This first appeared in 1998 in the book,  The Passion of Barbeque by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Don’t worry if some of these definitions contradict other lexicons you’ve seen. Barbecue slang is fluid. Enjoy.

  • Baby Back Ribs – the 13 smallest loin end ribs of a slab of pork ribs, the most tender ribs
  • Bamboo Skewers – long pins of wood soaked in water prior to using for kebabs on the grill
  • Banking Coals – stacking charcoal briquettes against the wall of the grill to one side in order to grill using the indirect method of cooking
  • Barbeque – to slowly cook meat/food over coals with aromatic woods in a covered cooker imparting smoke flavor (Boy, could this be argued!)
  • Baste – to pour liquids such as stock, juice, oils or marinades over meats while cooking retain moisture and/or impart flavor
  • Charcoal Chimney – a cylindrical metal container used to start charcoal fires without the use of petroleum products
  • Closed Pit – a covered barbeque grill
  • Dry Rub – a mixture of dry seasonings rubbed into meats prior to grilling or barbequeing
  • Glaze – a finishing sauce applied to meats during the final 15 minutes of cooking
  • Green Wood – usually refers to unseasoned hickory
  • Grilling – cooking over a hot open fire
  • Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes – most commonly made from hardwoods such as oak or hickory
  • Hoi Sin Sauce – also known as Chinese bean sauce, it is sweet and hot, primarily made from black beans
  • Indirect Heat – to cook meat away form the source of heat, i.e., the opposite side of the grill away from the hot coals
  • Indoor Barbequeing – cooking in the oven by broiling under red hot heating unit or slow covered cooking in the oven using barbeque sauce or liquid smoke to imitate outdoor barbecqueing (I think this may by my definition of crap or a travesty!)
  • Injecting Marinades – using a syringe with a needle to insert marinade into meats prior to cooking
  • KCBS Sanctioned Contests – contests that apply for and follow the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s criteria, rules and regulations
  • Mad Dog – insane canine .. moniker for the co-founder of the KCBS (now sadly deceased)
  • Marinate – to place food in an oil-acid mixture to tenderize or add flavor
  • Mop – to use a mop or large brush to apply baste to meat while cooking
  • Nom de Grills – imaginative names used by individuals or teams who compete in barbeque contests, i.e., The Rib Doctor, Baron of Barbeque, Sir Loin, Girll of my Dreams, to name a few. (Hey! They left out WhiteTrash BBQ and BrooklynQ)
  • Pit Barbeque – a large structure for barbequeing large pieces of meat or whole animals that can be closed for smoking. The pit can be a hold dug in the ground or a free standing cement or brick “oven” or a heavy metal structure such as a metal drum
  • Pit Boss – person in charge of the barbeque unit
  • Sear – to brown quickly over a very hot charcoal fire to seal in meat juices
  • Skewer – a long pin of wood or metal on which food is threaded/placed and held in place while cooking. To fasten meat with skewers to keep in shape while cooking
  • Slab of Ribs – most commonly refers to pork ribs (a side or slab of ribs)
  • Waterpan – a vessel for water placed inside covered barbeque units to provide moisture while cooking
  • Water Smoker – commercially manufactured cooking unit where the fire is separated from the meat by a water tray
  • Wood – large chunks of non-resinous wood used as a fuel a source as well as a smoke-flavoring agent. Varieties of woods used for barbequeing include apple, cherry, grape, hickory, mesquite, oak and pecan. (For more information on wood, click here.)
  • Wood Chips – small chips of hardwood or fruit wood added to barbeque fire to impart smoke flavor to meats.

Wow, so many terms there. I’d like to rewrite this list as so many seem to be out of date or confusing to say the least.  Talk to you soon. More lingo to come!

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4 Responses to Tuesday Tips: Barbecue Lingo

  1. Kevin says:

    Now this is what I'm talking about!

    So many BBQ newbies can't even get started because they don't even know what it means when some BBQ expert says "dry rub" or "indirect heat".

    I'll share this with my blog readers. I'm sure they'll find it very useful

  2. backyardchef says:

    I love this!

    The depth of your knowledge of BBQ lore and history never ceases to amaze me. That's one of the things that distinguishes you as a true authority and not just an enthusiast. Kudos, my friend….

  3. BBQ Billy says:

    Wikid post. Now, can you differentiate Pitmaster from Pit Boss for me?

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