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From firing up a grill to barbecue mastery: A journey through cooking with fire and smoke

Here, Southern Kitchen has provided recipes, tips and tricks to make the most of cooking outdoors this summer.

Published Updated

Here, Southern Kitchen has provided recipes, tips and tricks to make the most of cooking outdoors this summer.

Published Updated

The all-American cookout. The South African braai. The deep, slow-smoked culture embedded in the so-called "Barbecue Belt." It's all born from heat, fire and smoke, and here at Southern Kitchen, we'll show you how to bring it all home with recipes, tips, tricks and even a curated playlist for your next backyard barbecue. 

Charcoal and gas grilling

Charcoal and gas grilling

Start here. This is the territory of the average backyard cook. Gas grills are perfect for managing precise temperatures. Charcoal grills take a while to heat up, but they can impart a smoky flavor that's hard to achieve with gas.

All-American grilling recipes, tips and tricks to level up your backyard barbecue

A grilled burger
Pit roasting

Pit roasting

Perhaps the oldest method of cooking, this is where ember-roasting happens. Dig a hole, burn some wood down to the coals, and then nestle the food inside. The circulating heat turns food supple, while the wood and smoke lend flavor.

A Cherokee chef works to crack the code of her people's food

A fire pit

In Oaxaca, Mexico, grilling and mezcal making go hand in hand

Mezal making and grilling
Live fire cooking

Live fire cooking

It's no wonder chefs are ditching the gas grill for the dramatic look of the live-fire kitchen. This method — think Argentinian live fire asados or convivial South African braais — cooks food with open flame and smoke, imparting char and flavor. 

A traditional South African braai unfolds on a Tennessee farm

A South African braai
Real-deal wood-fired barbecue

Real-deal wood-fired barbecue

The expert-level cooking method that's practically ignited culture wars, this is the storied technique of slow-smoking meat over indirect heat for hours until the fat and meat slowly meld into a soft and smoky mouthful of magic. Master this, and you're the king of the barbecue.

How barbecue became one of America's grandest cooking traditions

A man tends a BBQ

Spotlight on Memphis: What makes the barbecue here so good is a closely guarded secret

Memphis BBQ dishes

A taste of Alabama barbecue: Where pork, dry rub and white sauce are king

A man holds pulled pork

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me:  mlunsford@southernkitchen.com

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