Q: What is a Scoville unit?


A Scoville Measuring Unit was invented in 1912 by Wilbur L. Scoville, a pharmacologist for the Parke- Davis Company. Willie's original test consisted of a panel of tasters who would systematically taste for detectable "heat" in a solution of extract of chile and slightly sweetened water. The idea was to determine how far the chile extract could be diluted and still have a detectable burn. For example, a Jalapeno pepper rated at 4,500 Scoville units tells us that 4,500 parts sugar water are needed to dilute one part Jalapeno extract to the last point that hotness can be tasted. Add any more sugar water and according to this subjective test, you would not be able to taste any hotness. To give you an example of heat levels, Tabasco Hot Sauce is 2,500 Scoville Units; the hottest Mo Hotta Mo Betta carries is over a million!!!!!

Confused? You bet you are! That is why the food industry no longer uses this archaic test, but chile heat is still given in Scoville units. Today, machines use high- pressure liquid chromatography to measure chile heat. This method takes out the guesswork, but one should keep in mind that it only rates the heat of the sample being tested, and not the absolute firepower of every chile in that variety. Climate, soil, weather, geography and harvest time all affect how hot a pepper can be. Heck, even chiles on the same bush can have different heat levels.

So, when you're trying to grasp how hot that Red Savina is at 500,000 Scoville units, think of this: If you took a beer can full of Red Savina pepper extract and poured it into a large vat (it must be a very large vat), it would take 500,001 beers to dilute the extract to the point where there was no heat tasted. A bit mind boggling, isn't it?

Q: What are some techniques to cook barbecue?


The technique of varies depending on the medium.


The choice and combination of woods burned result in different flavors imparted to the meat. Different types of wood burn at different temperatures. The heat also varies by the amount of wood and controlling the rate of burn through careful venting.


This generally begins with purchasing a commercial bag of processed charcoal briquets. A charcoal chimney starter is a traditional (but generally underused) method for getting a consistent heat from your coals. Alternatively, they can be lit in a pyramid directly inside the charcoal grill after presoaking with lighter fluid (or using pre-treated briquets). Once all coals are ashed-over (generally 15-25 minutes), they are spread around the perimeter of the grill, and the meat is placed in the center for indirect cooking. For additional flavor and attractive appearance, thicker cuts of meat may optionally be seared over direct heat (outer perimeter of grill) prior to indirect cooking in the center. Water-soaked wood chips (such as mesquite, hickory, or fruit trees) are often added atop the coals for an extra smoky flavor. As with wood barbecuing, the temperature of the grill is controlled by the amount and distribution of coal within the grill and through careful venting.

Natural Gas/Propane

Gas grills are easy to light. The heat is easy to control (via knob-controlled gas valves on the burners), so the outcome is very predictable. They result in a very consistent and tasty result, although arguably much less flavorful. Many grills are equipped with thermometers, further simplifying the barbecuing experience.

Gas grills are significantly more expensive due to their added complexity, and higher heat. They are also considered much cleaner as they do not result in ashes of which must be disposed, and also in terms of air pollution. Extra maintenance may further help reduce pollution.

Q: How do I cook the different cuts of meat?


Tender cuts of meat are muscles that the animal uses infrequently. The rib and loin sections are the least exercised and therefore will be the most tender. Among these tender cuts is tenderloin steak, rib steak, T-bone steak and Top Sirloin Steak.

Dry cooking methods

Dry cooking methods (without liquid) such as roasting, broiling, pan-broiling or pan-frying, are generally used for tender meat cuts. Variations of dry methods include grilling and stir-frying.

Pan Broil / Pan Fry

Heat a heavy cast-iron or non-stick pan over medium heat for 5 min. Season only after meat has been seared. Turn the meat when juices appear in the un-seared side.


The term broil is usually used in reference to the broiler settings on a conventional oven. (Although, when a recipe calls for broiling and the weather is nice, you may want to try it on the grill for that summertime, grill flavor!) General guidelines for oven broiling are: Preheat your broiler and place your oven rack according to the recipe you are following. Place seasoned meat onto a broiler pan (if you do not have one, use a foil lined cookie sheet with a rack, to keep the meat out of the juices). If the meat is quite lean, you may want to lightly cover the cooking surface of the rack with cooking oil Follow the recipe instructions for how long to cook before turning meat and how long to broil on second side.


For gas grills, set the temperature between low and medium. For direct heat, charcoal grilling; follow the user instructions for your grill and the charcoal you are using. For 1-inch thick steaks and hamburgers, cook 7 to 9 minutes on the first side and another 7 minutes on the second side. (Times may vary depending on your grill and doneness preferences.) The steaks are best when cooked to an internal temperature of 140-150 (medium rare - very pink in center, to medium - lightly pink in center).

Less-tender cuts of meat are muscles that are used frequently, and they are more flavorful as a result. The shoulder (or chuck), rump, round and legs are the most exercised and therefore will be the least tender, yet most flavorful. Among these less tender cuts are short ribs, pot roasts (chuck or rump) and round roasts and steaks.

Moist heat methods (with steam or liquid), such as braising or cooking in liquid, are most often used for less tender cuts.


Braising refers to a method when the meat is seared on all sides in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet then covered and cooked over very low heat with simmering liquid (this may be on the stove top or in the oven). Depending on the size and thickness of your meat and the recipe you are using, cooking times will vary.