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The Difference Between BBQ and Grilling

Let’s take it back to the basics for a second and talk about the technical difference between grilling and barbecuing, since the two terms are often used interchangeably. Grilled foods are cooked over direct heat at high temperatures. While grilling is hot and fast, barbecuing is low and slow, cooking over indirect heat at low temperatures for a long period of time. Most grilling is done over gas or charcoal, where barbecuing is usually associated with wood smoke. The meats used for grilling should be small enough to be cooked thoroughly in a short period of time and be naturally tender. Low and slow cooking is necessary for meats with tough protein and high amounts of connective tissue. That’s why you grill a pork chop and barbecue a pork shoulder. If true barbecue is your game, focusing on trending ingredients or sides will help set you apart from the pack. If you’re looking to get into this for the first time, or simply offer some summer twists to your menu, there are many ways to bring the flavor of barbecue to your menu without the hassle.

Grilled Meat Skewers
Barbecue is the fastest growing preparation at breakfast, growing 90.9% in menu mentions year over year. Traditionally a lunch and dinner preparation, dishes such as Eggs Benedict are featuring barbecue brisket and pulled pork in place of ham and Canadian bacon.

- Technomic

Brining: Tender, Juicy Perfection

Nailing a consistently tender chicken breast or medium rare steak takes skill and precision. And these days, takeout and delivery makes it much more difficult. From the time that protein leaves your kitchen until it’s finally ready to be eaten at the diner’s home, 30 minutes or more may have gone by, transforming that juicy grilled ribeye into a lukewarm tragedy, with solid white fat that certainly doesn’t melt in your mouth.

Table-grilled meat with sides

Barbecue, on the other hand, is more travel-friendly. Because these larger cuts of meat are broken down over a long period of time, they are usually shredded or sliced and don’t rely on a precise internal temperature to taste their finest. Try adding wings to your menu; they are popular and travel well, and work with both grilling and barbecuing. But alas, a grilled chicken breast is essential on so many menus as an add-on for salads, bowls, sandwiches and more. So how do you make the best of both worlds? The answer is brining. A brine not only enhances flavor, it also helps produce a tender, juicy grilled protein. Using Knorr Professional Liquid Concentrated Bases as the base of the solution creates simplicity – the brine doesn’t need to be heated and cooled since the base dissolves in cold water. So whether your guests are dining in or taking out, you can rest assured that you won’t get one complaint of dried out chicken.

Grilling: The Healthier Cooking Method

Comfort food saw a rise in popularity last year due to the pandemic, as people leaned back on what felt familiar during such unprecedented times. Comfort food tastes like home, and it feeds the soul. Yet as we get back to the new “normal”, diners will be looking to shed a few quarantine pounds and focus on their diet again, including health and vitality, with a focus on functional foods to promote wellness. There is a place for this trend on every menu, from a classic barbecue joint to a chic French patisserie, and it will help you attract even more guests. By simply grilling proteins, you give them a health halo, and open them up to a world of endless flavor combinations. Marinades are a great way to retain moisture and add bold, global flavors that will excite guests, like incorporating Berbere spice for an Ethiopian flair for chicken, or lemongrass, fish sauce and ginger for a Thai style grilled salmon fillet.

When diners see the word “grilled” on a menu, they automatically associate it with a more nutritious alternative. Pair that with a flavorful salad full of interesting ingredients and diners don’t feel like they have to compromise. Nando’s PERi-PERi Chicken, a South African fast food chain in the US, offers a Marinated Tomato, Halloumi and Chicken Salad, featuring mixed greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, topped with flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken, marinated heirloom tomatoes, grilled halloumi cheese, grilled corn and house-made croutons. Forget the boring “grilled” section on the menu and entice guests with grilled dishes they’re eager to order.

Treat Vegetables and Plant Based Proteins Like Meat

News flash: Even veggies and plant-based proteins are making headlines at BBQ pits across the country. Have you seen the pit-smoked watermelon that carves like a ham on Instagram? Nothing is off limits anymore! Treating vegetables, fruits and plant-based proteins like their traditional meat counterparts is totally fun and inventive. Bonus: many of these immunity boosting foods enhance dishes with a palette of vibrant colors, like the bright yellow hue of golden beets or the deep ruby tone of purple sweet potatoes. These ingredients can be smoked, grilled, and yes, even barbecued to add visual and textural interest, in addition to their brilliant flavors. Robert Cho, owner of Kimchi Smoke, a Korean Texas BBQ spot in Westwood, NJ tells us: “We offer more items now that people can eat every day and not feel guilty about. As more people have been ordering takeout, we want Kimchi Smoke to be their go-to for whatever they’re in the mood for. So, we introduced the Brooklyn - Korean BBQ marinated and grilled tofu, that can be added to salads, bowls and tacos. We even have grilled Brussels sprouts now.”

Grilled vegetables

Whether you’ve been at this all year, or you’re brushing off the grates for the first time of the season, get sparked to make your grilled or barbecued offerings stand out. Decide if you want to be known for the juiciest, most flavorful, or most unique menu item in town. Maybe you already excel at all three, but in this everchanging industry, it’s always a good idea to carve out a little time for some creative experimentation.