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Is it smoked or barbecue meat ?

emglow101 Feb 24, 2012 09:30 PM

I had lunch with a friend in Castroville,CA at the Central Texan.Don Elkins has been serving up his barbecue for many years. He uses oak wood in his cooking. The meat's are cooked in a brick oven about four feet wide by fourteen feet long. With a large steel lid covering the oven held by a counter balance to help lift the lid. On one end of the oven is his fire pit with the smoke woking it's magic over the meat and exiting out to a flue on the other end. I reall like this place. My freind says to me, "it's not Barbecue it's Smoked Meat." What's the difference ?

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  1. JMF RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 09:06 AM

    Smoked meat is a regional term for slow, low temp, BBQ.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JMF
      JMF RE: JMF Feb 26, 2012 06:52 AM

      By low temp. I don't mean cold smoked, I mean at around 190-200 degrees.

      1. re: JMF
        PenskeFan RE: JMF Feb 26, 2012 07:48 AM

        Yes that is the key. Even low and slow Q is not quite as low and slow as cold smoking :)

        I get out the smoker to do my Q, just not as much as I used to. The cleanup is a PITA lol

    2. paulj RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 09:45 AM

      Didn't you ask your friend to explain himself. Maybe your friend is using Santa Maria style as reference for BBQ, which is tri-tip grilled over oak.

      1. tommy RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 03:48 PM

        The difference between barbecue and smoked meat is people seem to live to argue over what "real" barbecue might be, even though there are different definitions stemming from different cultures going back long before they figured out the "real" definition.

        You should ask your friend what he or she meant. I'm actually mildly curious.

        7 Replies
        1. re: tommy
          emglow101 RE: tommy Feb 25, 2012 05:51 PM

          It was his first time there. He has had other barbecue from some places that were cooked in a closed system. For air pollution control. Maybe he thought the meat was more rustic using the pit that the Central Texan has.Being in California the building code would never allow this now. He cooks his brisket more than a day .Thats my best guess

          1. re: emglow101
            tommy RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 06:06 PM

            Not sure what a closed system is in this case. Combustion cannot occur without oxygen. the smoke and byproducts of combustion have to go somewhere. Still wondering what he meant though. Maybe you could shoot him an email and let us know.

            The pit you describe is very much like many pits in hill country.

            1. re: tommy
              emglow101 RE: tommy Feb 25, 2012 06:38 PM

              It's a oven that has all the ducting and filter system for the smoke. His is just a pit with a open chimney flue. Don does some great barbecue. He says it has to do with the pit building up the creosote.He burns oak wood. Logs that slowly burn .So it's probably the oak he tastes.

              1. re: emglow101
                tommy RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 06:43 PM

                Cool. Sounds like he answered your question. But I can't say I agree.

                1. re: tommy
                  emglow101 RE: tommy Feb 25, 2012 07:35 PM

                  I have a question. If you take a salmon or other fish, cold smoke it over wood. Even put it it one of them smokey Joes. It's smoked fish. cook meat over wood and it would be barbecue or would it be called smoked.

                  1. re: emglow101
                    tommy RE: emglow101 Feb 26, 2012 04:18 AM

                    BBQ in the US isn't generally cold smoked. It's also not generally fish. Or vegetables. Or salt. In the context of US BBQ, I would say salt and vegetables and fish cooked with indirect heat with smoke are generally referred to as "smoked" rather than "barbecued." At least in my part of the world. Perhaps there are places in the US that would refe to those items as BBQ'd; it's as much a cultural issue as it is linguistic.

                    Either way, I don't agree with your friend's apparent assessment of the place you describe.

            2. re: emglow101
              MGZ RE: emglow101 Feb 26, 2012 08:02 AM

              I would almost think it should be the other way around. To my mind (and practice) barbecue is rustic, outdoors, beer in hand, more art than science. Smoking, on the other hand, is controlled, precise, not subject to the whims of climate, more science than art. Nevertheless, barbecue is a cooking process that involves smoking meat.

              Being that I've crossed to the downhill side of forty, life has given me the opportunity to learn a few truths. First, the necktie was a ludicrous invention serving no purpose. Second, unless they give it to you for free, never were a shirt advertising for someone else. Third, and most important, if there's no wood smoke, it's not barbecue.

          2. h
            hawkeyeui93 RE: emglow101 Feb 25, 2012 04:00 PM

            In my limited perspective, one can cook meat on a barbecue grill without smoking it. The addition of wood (chips) to the process would qualify as "smoked meat" ....

            6 Replies
            1. re: hawkeyeui93
              gingershelley RE: hawkeyeui93 Feb 26, 2012 08:17 AM


              I believe that cooking meat on a 'bbq' grill OVER fire, is considered grilling. Indirect heat, at a lower temp. where most of cooking is done by the smoke, is BBQ. Some would call this smoking, but I think technically, that is actually an even lower temp. process, and mainly the term is used for fish.

              The term BBQ is mostly used for ribs, brisket, pulled pork; often with a rub, with a mop or not, with sauce at the end or on the side. This food is smoked, yes, but reffered to as barbecue.

              1. re: gingershelley
                malibumike RE: gingershelley Feb 26, 2012 08:32 AM

                Ginger is absolutely correct, BBQ is low and slow, Grilling is hot and fast on what many including me incorrectly call a BBQ it is actually a Grill.

                1. re: malibumike
                  hawkeyeui93 RE: malibumike Feb 26, 2012 09:29 PM

                  I couldn't disagree more since I watched someone "smoke" a packer brisket at 450 degrees ...

                  1. re: hawkeyeui93
                    malibumike RE: hawkeyeui93 Feb 27, 2012 07:34 AM

                    Anybody can do anything, cut a slice of brisket put it in a hot frying pan and within a minute it will be "done" I guaranteen Itll be tough, if you want to learn about true barbeque go to cookshack.com forums.

                    1. re: malibumike
                      hawkeyeui93 RE: malibumike Feb 27, 2012 07:48 AM

                      Mike: Thanks for the advice. Had I not lived in Texas for over a decade and further having smoked/cooked over 100 "edible" packer briskets, I may take you up on your advice "to learn about true barbeque." If you would like a counter to your belief that you cannot make an excellent brisket using a higher temps over less time, I suggest a review of the following .. http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/be...

                2. re: gingershelley
                  MGZ RE: gingershelley Feb 26, 2012 08:55 AM

                  One can certainly cook meat on a gas grill and not "grill" it over a direct flame. It's an indirect heat technique that can be done at a pretty low temperature and is basically roasting. That being said, however, it is not barbecuing.

              2. bbqboy RE: emglow101 Feb 26, 2012 09:24 PM

                Traditionally, bbq is something cooked by indirect heat & smoke generated by coals of wood..
                That definition has expanded in different parts of the country, and gas or electricity are also used
                with pellets. Oak is used because it burns long and slow but fruitwood, hickory, or mesquite, in Texas, are (hopefully) added for flavor along with bbq spices-red pepper, garlic, cumin, etc.. I find oak by itself to not be .the highest form of the art,
                but you gotta run with the one that brung ya. Smoking is a more general term that doesn't have to include what might traditionally be called Q, especially the spice part.

                4 Replies
                1. re: bbqboy
                  tommy RE: bbqboy Feb 27, 2012 06:00 AM

                  Can you provide a reference for the traditional definition in your first sentence?

                  I'm pretty sure Salt Lick cooks over direct heat. They are making BBQ.

                  1. re: tommy
                    MGZ RE: tommy Feb 28, 2012 04:17 AM

                    I think that definition is pretty "traditional." Salt Lick appears to be the "exception that proves the rule." That being said, even they use indirect heat after searing. See, e.g., http://www.saltlickbbq.com/pages/Abou... ("searing it and then slow cooking") or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLnsXe....

                    I'm curious though, having never been there to taste it, what's it like texturally compared to other offerings?

                    1. re: MGZ
                      tommy RE: MGZ Feb 28, 2012 05:20 AM

                      Exceptions don't prove rules in the way you're suggesting. An example of an exception proving a rule is when you see a sign that says "no turn on red." While you may have no knowledge of local laws, the existence of that sign suggests that there is a rule that you can otherwise make a turn on red.

                      "exception that proves the rule" has a specific meaing when used correctly. Unlike "BBQ", which is a regional term, describing an array of cooking techniques, all of which produce tasty food.

                      Ed Mitchell cooks ribs with high heat. Not an exception that proves any rule, but an example proving the rule doesn't really existing to begin with. This one being the "low heat" rule.

                      1. re: tommy
                        MGZ RE: tommy Feb 28, 2012 06:34 AM

                        I understand your point concerning the idiom. Nevertheless, the colloquial, descriptivist application just seemed so appropriate to the instant thread. Too subtle?

                        Regardless, I've eaten at The Pit and used high heat barbecue approaches at home. It's still an indirect heat application and, to me, the meat benefited more from resting "sauced" in foil than when I try to keep the temperature lower for the cook. One can produce fine tasting barbecued meats at a range of temperatures, but I don't think that changes the fact that the most common, "traditional" definition falls back upon the phrase "low and slow."

                        More importantly (to me at least), is the barbecue at Salt Lick. Unless one counts campfire cooking of cornish hens, I've never tried a completely "open" grill for an entire cook. Regrettably, my trips to Texas were professional in nature and didn't permit time to detour from Houston or Dallas. Thus, I can't help but wonder what the flavor and texture of the meats are compared to those prepared with more commonly employed (if you will) techniques.

                2. s
                  Steve RE: emglow101 Feb 27, 2012 01:21 PM

                  Wood + Smoke + Time = BBQ.

                  1. JMF RE: emglow101 Feb 27, 2012 09:19 PM

                    Folks, it is just a regional term.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JMF
                      hawkeyeui93 RE: JMF Feb 28, 2012 05:29 AM

                      I tend to agree ....

                    2. e
                      emma77 RE: emglow101 Feb 28, 2012 01:38 PM

                      I'm from charlotte, nc...and when something is called BBQ..it means pig that has been smoked..nothing else is bbq..not cow..not chicken..nothing....

                      if it's salmon or a brisket..it's just smoked meat

                      this is a touchy subject here..we take bbq seriously :)

                      also..bbq is a noun..NOT a verb..you grill..you don't bbq

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: emma77
                        bbqboy RE: emma77 Feb 28, 2012 07:16 PM

                        too bad. you're missing out on a lot of good food. :)

                        1. re: bbqboy
                          emma77 RE: bbqboy Feb 29, 2012 05:43 AM

                          How so? I never said I didn't eat it..we're just very specific as to what we call it

                        2. re: emma77
                          MGZ RE: emma77 Feb 29, 2012 07:06 AM

                          Just curious then, given the fundamental theme of this thread, what is the verb used for the act of "cooking" barbecue?

                          1. re: MGZ
                            emma77 RE: MGZ Feb 29, 2012 07:24 AM


                            the couple times I've done it at home for parties I tell people "we're smoking a couple pork butts" ..which will turn into bbq

                            1. re: emma77
                              MGZ RE: emma77 Feb 29, 2012 07:37 AM

                              See how we've pretty much come full circle now?

                              1. re: MGZ
                                emma77 RE: MGZ Feb 29, 2012 07:50 AM

                                haha..hey, I didn't this stuff up..that's just the way it is here :) and it is mighty tasty!

                                1. re: emma77
                                  MGZ RE: emma77 Feb 29, 2012 08:02 AM

                                  I've spent a lot of time in Charlotte over the past 16 or so years. I know the regionalisms. I am also aware that there aren't really any good spots for barbecue in the city proper. Nevertheless, the semantic points are interesting given the topic.

                                  1. re: MGZ
                                    emma77 RE: MGZ Feb 29, 2012 08:45 AM

                                    you're correct..if you want good bbq you have to go outside the city..unfortunately.....Honestly, I thought I was on topic

                                    to me, bbq is smoked meat, but smoked meat isn't necessarily bbq

                                    so I answered her question, regionally anyways.. it's going to be different everywhere you ask..

                                    1. re: emma77
                                      bbqboy RE: emma77 Feb 29, 2012 09:56 AM

                                      Plenty on topic.If one takes BBQ as a style of cooking stuff, then it is easier to accept the idea of taking whatever is prevalent or native to an area and applying that method to make it wonderful. And smoked.:)

                                      1. re: emma77
                                        MGZ RE: emma77 Mar 1, 2012 04:29 AM

                                        I'm sorry, emma, to have given the impression you were off topic. That was not my intention. I suppose I was really trying to flesh out a bit of a consensus.

                                      2. re: MGZ
                                        Alan Sudo RE: MGZ Feb 29, 2012 11:16 AM

                                        Interesting how the word continues to evolve and change by region.

                                        I did a little research and found that the word barbeque itself is one of many words related to ranching adapted and transformed from their northern Mexican versions (just like the Tex-Mex cowboy AKA "vaquero" became "buckaroo").

                                        It didn't actually start with the Mexicans, but with the pre-Columbian Arawak indians located throughout the Caribbean. It was the Arawaks who used the green and fire resistant flexible limbs of the hanging branches of the giant Bearded Fig Tree (Los Barbadoes) to cook meats and fish over an open fire while first marinating their foods in tropical herbs and spices found naturally throughout the southern islands. Unlike latter variations, the original and most authentic "Barbacoa" used herbs and spices, such as island prepared "cassareep" (derived from the root of the cassava plant), not only to enhance the natural flavors of meats, fish and vegetables, but preserve their cooked foods from prematurely spoiling in the heat of the tropics.

                                        The Arawak Indians called their preparations "Barbacoa," accordingly. The term spread to Mexico, where barbacoa generally refers to meats or a whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground.

                                        Barbacoa was later adopted into the cuisine of the southwestern United States by way of Texas, which had formerly been a part of northern Mexico. The word transformed in time to "barbecue".

                                        1. re: Alan Sudo
                                          MGZ RE: Alan Sudo Mar 1, 2012 04:18 AM

                                          Very cool stuff, thanks Alan. I admit, though, my first thought was, "wonder what it tasted like?" Followed by, "what were pre-Columbian 'meats' in the Caribbean?" Fish, I get, but if sheep, pigs, and cattle were introduced by Europeans, . . . .

                                          It makes sense though as that region, being outside of the "ham belt," could not have simply relied upon curing and drying for preservation.

                                        2. re: MGZ
                                          carolinadawg RE: MGZ Mar 1, 2012 05:19 AM

                                          "I am also aware that there aren't really any good spots for barbecue in the city (Charlotte) proper." ____________________________________________________________________

                                          Not true. Olde Hickory House, Midwood Smokehouse and Dan the Pigman at 7th Street Public Market are very good.

                                          1. re: carolinadawg
                                            emma77 RE: carolinadawg Mar 1, 2012 08:30 AM

                                            thanks for those..never heard of them..I live by Carolina Place and am rarely on that side of town..will definitely check them out! :)

                                            1. re: emma77
                                              carolinadawg RE: emma77 Mar 1, 2012 08:34 AM

                                              Yeah, Olde Hickory is up off N. Tryon, so that would be a haul for you. Midwood is on Central Ave and the 7th Street Public Market is Uptown in the former Reid's space. Its a very cool farmers market/butcher/shop/bakery market. You could ride the light rail to it if you are so inclined.

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