Simple Tips to Make Your Weekend BBQ a Success

ow that springtime is taking a backseat and summer is quickly approaching, everyone is ready to fire up the grill for those fantastic weekend barbecues. Before your big day turns into a dud, here are a few tips to ensure a successful grilling event:

- Photo by Cripple Creek BBQ -

- When using charcoal, allow at least 30 mins for the charcoal to properly heat up. You want the coals to be turn white with some orange smoldering around the edges. This ensures even cooking with minimal flare ups. So don't get too eager, your patience will be rewarded.

- Try to flip meats only once. Not only does this encourage those photograph style grill marks, but it also allows the juices in the meat to distribute properly, making the meat more tender.

- Brush the grill with oil before putting any food on it. Olive oil is preferred. The oil will help the meat from sticking to the grill, and it also enhances those beautiful grill marks. Oil up a folded paper towel, and use your tongs to hold it while you coat the grill. You can also brush the food with olive oil instead of the grill, or both! The more lubrication and non-stick the better :)

- If you're using barbecue sauce, apply it on the meat just shy of removing the meat from the grill. When you baste them at the end of cooking, the sauce will stay moist and somewhat gooey, not evaporated and charred.

- Do NOT squish your burgers! You will force out all the good juices and have a dry meat patty when you're done. Another great burger tip is during assembly: when forming patties, make the center a little thinner than the outher edges. That way, when the burger cooks, the center doesn't poof out as much, making a nice and even patty that won't let the bun and fixin's run off.

- Let meats rest after cooking. On average, meats need to rest for at least 5 minutes so that the juices settle, and won't escape as much when you cut it. Again, your patience will be rewarded.

- Grills aren't use for meats. Cooking veggies and fruits on the grill gives some great flavors as well. Feel free to get creative.

- Fully cooked meats will reach the temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. If you don't get one, they only cost a few dollars, and takes the guesswork and old wives tales out of the picture to know when the meat is done. For beef however, around 130-140 degrees is better because 160 degrees is the designation for well done beef.

- Keep your hungry guests in mind. Hunger tends to overpower rational thinking. Making some quick appetizers on the grill keep your guests at bay, and let you concentrate on the bigger picture: making the main course the star! You can find the recipe for my grilled jalapeno poppers here.

- If you use wooden skewers for shrimp, kabobs, etc, make sure to soak the skewers in water for a few hours or overnight. Soaked skewers are less likely to splinter in the meat, and are also less likely to be burned while on the grill. Some people use metal skewers which eliminates those issues, however metal is a conductor of heat, so not only will the skewers be screaming hot, they will also start cooking the food from the inside, which may lead to uneven cooking. Wooden skewers are the better way to go as long as you take the proper precautions.

- If you'd like to use some wood for additional flavor, do not use any chemical treated wood, as the chemicals will transfer to your food- and that wouldn't be optimal. Choose hardwoods, such as hickory, applewood, mesquite, oak, etc, and be sure to soak the wood chips before use (for similar reasons as the wooden skewers).

- Marinades are your friend. Even store bought marinades play an important role in the cooking process. Remember, not only do marinades bring additional flavors to the meat, the acids in the marinade help break down the meat and make them much more tender.

Geez, all this talk about grilling is making me excited to fire up the pit! I hope these tips help you have a great gathering with family and friends. So pop open a cold one on that bright summer day and get grilling!

1 comment:

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