Let's encourage the return of warm weather with a piece from thirteen years ago that needed little updating.
IT TURNS OUT THAT I didn’t know anything about grilling at all. Oh, sure, we’ve long had a nice kettle unit, and year after year would dump in charcoal briquets, squirt in some fluid, wait for white coals and sizzle away.
Then my cousin Billy Ray showed up. He’s from the south – suffice it to say I’m a Hatfield descendent – and he regarded my outdoor setup with an expression that shriveled my burgers in shame.
“You haven’t got a clue, now, have you?” he asked in a no-nonsense tone. “Tomorrow we’re going to git you started and have some barbecue.”
He intended it to be a celebration, which is, after all, the provenance of barbecue. When Spanish explorers first spotted Caribbeans grilling whole pigs in a lattice of green wood suspended over a smoking pit, they adapted the native word for it into barbacoa, whence our term. As near as anyone can figure, it’s always been a slow cooking process because tougher meats were usually being grilled into submission.