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To my mind BBQ pits are for cooking big pieces of meat long and slow, using smoke and radiant heat from the fire.
This is unlike the usual grilling where the meat is cooked directly above and close to the heat source - and therefore at higher temperature.
This is the original barbecue, a tradition that goes way back to early American history, and in fact way before Europeans appeared there..
So the story goes, barbecue pits originated with the indigenous Central and South Americans; it passed on to the Spanish in the 1500s, who used the method to cook their imported pigs.
The Spanish took it south to Brazil and Argentina where it was modified and renamed Churrasco and Asado respectively. The practice also spread to what became the USA.
Although the phrase BBQ pit is used interchangeably to refer to bigger and more serious gas grills, charcoal grills, or BBQ smokers, my idea of a pit BBQ is something more rugged and big enough to roast a whole pig or lamb - or at least two chickens or a turkey on a rotisserie.
Also to my mind it should use, not immediately charcoal, but local and suitable wood which is lit and left to burn down to embers, which are then used for cooking.
Structurally this could be done in something as simple as a hole in the ground, half a 55 gallon drum, or a fancy brick structure built to look like a garden feature.
If building a barbeque from scratch isn't your thing there are more civilized factory built pits that can be delivered to your door and be ready to use the same day.
Check out the grill in the picture at the top of the page
There are other designs like the La Caja China, pictured below, which is big and well capable of roasting a whole hog. It gets some great reviews. There is also a rotisserie attachment available for it from Amazon.
Edit - This model look great but there appears to be a design flaw on
the rotisserie motor on this model, I read that it can be rectified by
making a foil heat shield yourself.
The cooking implements used for pit cooking are slightly different to what you might use for a grill. In fact everything about this type of barbeque is heavy duty.
Once you have a usable fire pit you need equipment to be able to control the heat on the food. Here is a list of useful items:
The next two are more unusual to many people - primitive even to the uninitiated. But then this whole barbecue technique is a step away from the usual grilling or smoking.
Search Amazon.com for pit barbeques:||