Can you believe this fantastic summer is coming to a close? Yes, we understand that “officially” we have until September 23, but everyone knows that the last record drops on the party side of summer when the sun sets on Labor Day. It’s our final chance to let loose and celebrate the sunshine so what better way to do it right than with a barbeque. Here’s are favorite tips for success.
BRINE / MARINATE
Most meats will benefit from some sort of treatment before the big event so don’t get stuck with unprepped product at go-time. Brining helps lock in moisture if you’re cooking low and slow. The solution can be as simple as water with salt and sugar but we found a great recipe for a pork brine on a meat smoking forum here. Marinating gives you the chance to create unique and amazing flavor profiles in your meats. Plus, as an added benefit that many of us don’t realize, it also inhibits the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCA when your meat is charred by an extremely hot flame. We came across more info on the science if you’re curious.
MASTER THE TEMP
Grill masters claim they can cook to order just by pushing the meat surface with their finger. You can probably do that too with burgers but no need to show off with anything else. Make your life simple and get a fork with an electric probe for testing. Or if you’re cooking something big, you can go fancy and get a remote probe that will sound an alarm when the meat hits your desired temp. While you don’t want to serve your guests anything undercooked, always remember there’s no fix for overdone and your meat will continue to cook even when it comes off the flame. Pay attention when it gets close to your desired temperature.
Step away from burgers, brats and dogs and get creative with your grill! Salmon grilled on cedar planks is always a favorite and easy way to add smoked flavor to fish. Shrimp skewers are amazing and super easy to do, but that might seem pedestrian when you have tofu and oysters to consider. Check out this this list of unusual foods to grill from the daily meal. (There’s a poundcake and banana split on there!) If you plan to break the mold with a new recipe or technique, consider a ‘rehearsal’ for practice so you feel more confident on the big day.
It’s easy to put all your energy into the main attraction, so don’t forget that side dishes can make or break a BBQ. Sides like asparagus, corn and potatoes are easily prepared on the grill. Light salads with summer vegetables and fruit are always popular. And this is the season for figs! Slice them up, add burrata and arugula, then top with a thick balsamic dressing. You can even throw the figs on the grill for a few seconds if you want to get fancy. Five minutes and only four ingredients later, you’ll have something guests will be talking about. Or if you don’t want to be bothered, make the party a pot-luck and leave the sides to your guests.
Best luck with your end of summer grilling! Let us know any tips or favorite recipes that you have in the comments!