Memorial Day weekend typically marks the unofficial, “official” start of barbecue season. Since you’re probably raring to spend as much time outdoors in the summer sun – which includes your meals, it’s time to study up on how to become the master of your backyard BBQ! If you’re ready to brush up on your grilling skills, keep reading for five easy steps. Or, if you’d rather delegate the responsibility to someone else in the household, just use that orange “Share” button for a not-so-subtle hint (it’s fun, we promise).
1. Know the Grill Essentials
From the proper way to clean a BBQ grill, to knowing when a steak is medium rare vs. medium well and ensuring your pork loin has reached the proper internal temperature, knowing the basics of barbecuing will make your backyard gatherings run that much smoother, plus, you’ll look, and feel, like a total pro.
Ready to study up? Peruse some of these grilling articles:
2. Realize it’s NOT All About the Meat
While steaks, burgers and hot dogs typically come to mind for summer grilling, don’t limit yourself to protein– hit your fridge’s vegetable crisper for new barbecuing options. Adding additional items to the grill lessens the amount of time spent over a hot stove or heating up your home by turning on the oven. Some tasty ideas:
Squashes – brush zucchini and summer squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before adding to the grill Peppers – jalapeños, red bell peppers and Anaheim chilies added right to the grill make zesty additions to salads and salsas Pineapple – delicious on kabobs or as an appetizer Avocado – great for a taco topper Potatoes – all types of potatoes can be added to the grill (including sweet potatoes), wrap them in foil and place directly on the coals or grate Peaches – the natural sugars caramelize and these fruits become the perfect topping for vanilla ice cream
If you have a hard time sticking to veggies while grilling, try putting on some prosciutto wrapped asparagus or bacon and Brussel sprout skewers.
3. Develop a Signature BBQ Recipe
We all remember “Dad’s Steak,” “Mom’s Hamburgers,” and “Uncle Ron’s Roasted Chicken.” So, once you’ve played around with a few different grilling items it’s time to create and claim your signature recipe and legacy! Whether you develop your own secret barbecue sauce recipe, become queen of the kabobs or discover a tender skirt steak formula, this recipe should become your go-to, what people expect (and want) you to make when they come for a visit and so easy to make for you that you don’t need to consult a recipe. In the meantime, print out the recipe card below to keep track of any recipe modifications you make. And, once your dish is perfected, you can share the recipe with family and friends (unless you’d prefer to keep it a secret).
4. Get the Right Gear
While all you really need for a tasty BBQ’d meal is charcoal/propane, food and some tongs, it’s always fun to add some of the newest gadgets to your apron. After all, what is an artist without his or her tools?
When it comes to your grill’s set up, an outdoor bar or fridge stocked with refreshments nixes the need to run inside for beverages (plus, no dirty shoes tracking dust back inside!). Bar sinks also allow for easy food prep so you’re not stuck inside while your guests enjoy your outdoor space.
In terms of grilling accessories, the LA Times recommended a few must-haves, including some of our favorites:
- Heat-resistant gloves, say “good-bye” to scorch-marked fingers
- A grill basket for all those veggies you’ll now be adding to the grill
- A reliable, digital meat thermometer so you can easily determine what the internal temperature of your food is
5. Plan Around Your Activities
The activities you have planned for the day should influence your BBQ menu. If a backyard baseball game is on the docket, simple fare like hotdogs or kielbasa may be ideal. Catching up with the families in your neighborhood at the table allows for slightly more elaborate, yet kid friendly, meals. Consider grilled chicken with a side of veggies and a chilled fruit salad for dessert.
If it is an adults-only invite, create an indoor-outdoor entertaining space guests can enjoy even as the evening cools. Set our sangria or margaritas with a few easy-to-eat apps in your inside dining area to keep bugs at bay while people mingle and create intimate conversation areas outdoors. Add to the ambiance by adding string lights and a few garden beds.
Do you already have a backyard barbecue master in the house (maybe it’s you)? Share some of the recipes or tips you’ve seen in the comments below so others can try them, too.