Grilling has been around since pre-historic times. It is best described as a method of cooking with the use of dry heat. This heat is generated in many ways; using charcoal, hard woods, gas flame, and electric heat.
The word “grill” comes from the metal wire grid or rack on which the food is prepared and cooked. While grilling above a dry heat source is commonplace, it can also be done below the heat source. When food is grilled below the heat source in this manner, it’s called “broiling”. When you char broil grill, it usually involves cooking with charcoal.
So why is this form of cooking foods so popular? One reason is the atmosphere of the barbeque; another more primary reason is taste. Grilled foods, meats in particular, have a distinct taste and aroma. This is due largely to a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction.
The Maillard reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning similar to caramelization and occurs whenever meats are cooked using temperatures in excess of 310 degrees farenheit (156 degrees celcius). Meats cooked on a grill generally reach temperatures in excess of 500 degrees farenheit (260 degrees celcius).
There is a very long and drawn out description of this reaction but I will humbly attempt to provide you with a more understandable version.
The mouth-watering odors and aromas you inhale at any given barbeque are the result of a reaction between amino acids and sugars. The type of amino acid present determines the resulting flavor. Hence, when you add your favorite flavored sauce to meats, it produces an aroma consistent with what’s on the sauce or seasoning label.
Flavor scientists (called flavorists) know which ingredients contain the right amino acids needed to create a artificial flavors. Now when you add those sauces and seasonings to your meats, you get the desired taste and aroma.
Walk into any supermarket and you will find hundreds of different barbeque flavorings, sauces and seasonings that will yield an equal number of flavors. They range from Asian Sesame to Ginger Wasabi to Sweet Chipotle and thousands more.
Now, gear up for summer, get your char broil grill set up and select a good quality outdoor grill. Then you can start experimenting with wide selection of barbeque condiments; or maybe even develop your own unique flavor.