Barbecue Techniques

January 20, 2020
By Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet


In simplest terms, barbecuing is the art of cooking food slowly with wood smoke. The temperatures used are often as low as the desired internal temperature for the cooked meat. Typically, however, the smoking temperature is 225°F to 250°F. For larger cuts of meat, smoking times can be as long as 18 hours. Cooking meats in this manner leads to very tender and flavorful results, created from originally tough and undesirable cuts.

Barbecuing must be done with indirect heat. The food is not placed over the fire (or, if it is, it is far above the fire). Barbecue purists almost exclusively use southern hardwoods as the heat source.

When using barbecue sauces and rubs, the dry rub can be used throughout the cooking time, but sauce should only be added towards the end. Remember, barbecue sauce is not a marinade. Add the barbecue sauce at the end of cooking, and use higher heat to just begin to caramelize the sauce.

How to Cook Barbecue on a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill

The Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill is very capable of cooking delicious smoked foods because it has been designed to effortlessly maintain traditional barbecue temperatures using the gas ignition burner, while burning wood. The large deep firebox on a Kalamazoo grill aids in the circulation of both heat and smoke while allowing the grill to maintain the lower temperatures needed for traditional American barbecue. There are three methods for low temperature smoking on a Kalamazoo grill.

Option One

Use the ignition burner for heat with our new Smoker Pellet Grill Inserts filled with Premium Wood Pellets to generate smoke.

Place the Smoker Pellet Grill Inserts into the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer(s) valley(s). We recommend removing the left and right grill grates (in a K500, remove just one grate, and slide the remaining grate to the center). Place the inserts in the left and right channels of the drawer(s). Fill the inserts with the Premium Wood Pellets of your choice, according to the instructions.

Preheat the grill (hood closed) using the ignition burner plus any one main burner that is not below the pellets. The ignition burner runs across the entire width of the firebox below the front of the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer. Once the hood thermometer reads 300°F, turn off the main burner(s), leaving just the ignition burner running.

Use a torch to ignite the wood pellets at the front of the channels. Once you have a self-sustaining flame, blow out the fire. The pellets will now smolder, producing copious amounts of smoke as they slowly burn from the front of the channel to the back.

Place food on the warming rack or on the grill grate. It is best not to place the food above the pellets. We recommend placing an inexpensive oven thermometer next to the food to monitor the temperature. Because the hood thermometer is above the heat source (the ignition burner), it will typically register a higher temperature than you are actually maintaining at the rear of the grill.

Close the hood and relax while barbecue magic is made. The pellets will last for 5 to 6 hours. Once the fire reaches the rear of the grill, you can load more pellets and reverse the direction of the smoldering fire as it now burns from rear to front.

Option Two

In the same manner as Option One, use the ignition burner as your primary heat source, but use wood chips wrapped in foil instead of the wood smoker pellets. With this method, you do not need to remove any grill grates.

Preheat the grill to 300°F with the hood closed using the ignition burner on HIGH and the main burners on LOW. Then turn off the main burners, leaving the ignition burner on HIGH.

Place a layer of dry wood chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Add a layer of thoroughly soaked wet wood chips on top. Wrap and seal the wood chips in the foil, and then pierce the top in two or three places with a fork. Prepare one or two envelopes for every 30 minutes of smoking you plan to do.

Insert one or two smoking envelopes lying sideways across the front of the Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer so that the chips are above the ignition burner. Place the food on the warming rack, or on the grill grates toward the rear of the grill. Keep the grill hood and air vents closed. Add a new foil smoking envelope every 45 minutes to maintain the smoke. The great thing about the design of a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grill is that you can open the drawer to add more wood chips without having to open the grill hood. Simply use a pair of tongs to push expired packets back out of the way, then add new packets at the front.

Option Three

Remove the far left or far right grill grate. Load the area below the missing grate with premium Kalamazoo Quebracho Charcoal. Start the charcoal fire using the main burner below. Turn off the burner once the charcoal fire is strong and then wait for the coals to die down and ash over. Place thoroughly-soaked wet wood chips on top of the coals to generate smoke. The food should be placed at the opposite end of the grill. If the charcoal fire dies before your barbecue session is finished, you can simply fire up the burner below and set it to LOW to extend the cooking time, or use the ignition burner to sustain heat.