Monthly Archives: May 2013

Marinating Tips

Grilled_steak_marinade_290_294_c1_center_centerAccording to barbecue pro Chris Lilly, “the key to great barceque is sealing in flavor.” One of the best ways to seal in that flavor is to use a marinade.  Marinades season your meat or vegetables while locking in moisture.  Here are a few tips to getting the most out of your marinade.

Prepare the meat

The smaller and thinner the meat, the faster the marinade will be able to penetrate the meat.  Cut your larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces to make sure that every piece gets evenly marinated.

Soak It

Clear plastic containers or plastic bags are some of the best options for soaking the meat in the marinade.  Not only does this decrease the mess, but also by sealing out the air, you actually need less marinade on your meat.  You want to make sure that your meat is completely submerged in the marinade, which means that you need about two cups of marinade for every two pounds of meat.

Give it time

As a general rule of thumb, you want to leave your meat immersed in the marinade for at least thirty minutes. Generally, the longer you leave the meat in the marinade, the better the flavor. If you are using beef or any tough cuts, it is recommended to leave it in the marinade overnight.  This increased amount of time in the marinade will make your beef incredibly tender.  However, while beef is better the longer you leave it in the marinade, chicken can actually be over-marinated.  Over-marinated chicken becomes extremely tough and hard to eat.

Grill it

Once you place your meat on the grill, let the marinade do its work. In order to bring out the full flavor of the marinade on your meat, baste your meat with extra marinade in the last 10 minutes of cooking.  However, be careful that you baste your meat with a freshly made marinade instead of using the original marinade.  Basting the meat with your original marinade that contains raw meat juices can potentially contaminate your cooked meat.

Marinades give you all sorts of flavor potential with your BBQ.  We will share several different recipes on this blog over the next few months to help get you started, but feel free to let your culinary imagination run wild whenever you decide to incorporate a marinade into your meat.  If the process seems daunting, start with the prepared marinades in your local supermarket. As you discover what flavors you like the best, you can even try creating one of your own.

How to Throw a Fantastic Memorial Day Barbecue

Memorial Day weekend is usually the kick-off of the summer.  Not only is the weather starting to warm up, but the kids are getting ready to get out of school, and summer planning is in full swing. One great way to have a great Memorial Day weekend is to throw a fantastic barbecue for your family and friends.  Here are a few suggestions to help you in the planning and hosting a memorable Memorial Day party.

The first thing you need to do is to pick your venue.  If it’s a small gathering, consider your backyard, which can be a fun, yet intimate venue.  Memorial Day parties are also a great day to open up the pool.  If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, considering going to your community pool or local club.

Once you have your venue, the next thing to do is to pick a theme.  Themes will help you in your decorating, your menu, your invitations, and in picking your games.  Themes can be as simple or as elaborate as you want – you are only limited by your imagination. With the nature of the holiday, and as a great reminder that Memorial Day is to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in order for America to stay free, consider including patriotic colors and decorations in your theme, including an American flag. Make sure that you have plenty of festive decorations.  Balloons and streamers are a great way to get everyone into the party spirit. 

The next step is to create your guest list and send out the invitations. Make sure that the size of your guest list is appropriate for your venue. Invitations can either be sent through traditional paper invitations or, for a more causal feeling, consider using the ever more popular email or electronic invitations.

Things that you need to plan before the big day are your menu, your set-up, and your activities.  Traditionally, Memorial Day parties are a great excuse to break out the barbecue.  Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken are standard Memorial Day fare, along with chips and dip, salads (including fruit, macaroni, and potato), and corn.  And make sure that you don’t forget the drinks and desserts.

Once you know your menu, make sure that you have tables set up that will handle all the plates of food. Set up tables and chairs that will accommodate all your guests as well as leave space for any games or activities that you want to have available.  Some of the most traditional Memorial Day activities include volleyball, horseshoes, and baseball, as well as pool games such as Marco/Polo, sharks and minnows, or races.

Essential Grilling Utensils

When you’re planning the perfect BBQ, you always want to make sure that you have the right tools on hand.  In addition to having a great grill and useful accessories, good utensils will make your job easier and help you create delicious barbecued food. Here’s a look at some of the best utensils that you can add to your BBQ arsenal.

Grilling Tongs
Tongs are one of the most essential grilling utensils.  Grilling tongs have a longer body length than typical kitchen tongs, which keeps your hands far from the heat while allowing you to turn the different pieces of meat or vegetables with ease.

Meat Handlers
For the grilling chefs who want to create the most tender pulled pork, meat handlers are a great utensil to have in your BBQ arsenal. These two heat-resistant forks help pull and shred your pork perfectly and also help you transfer the meat to the plates of your guests with ease.

Marinade Turbocharger
If you are a lover of marinades, you can increase their potential through the use of a marinade turbocharger.  This spiky device is plunged into the meat, creating holes that prepare the meat to better soak up both wet and dry marinade.

Grill Fork
A grill fork is a special grill utensil that aids in the placement and flipping of your meat.  The extra long handle protects your hands from the heat while the sharp fork easily pierces the meat, giving you full control over its motions.

Silicone Basting Brush
A basting brush allows you to brush your meat and vegetables with the marinades that you have prepared. A silicone brush will last longer than a normal brush, cleans up easier, and will remain odor-free.

Thermometer
Thermometers allow you to monitor the temperature of your meat, making sure that you cook it to your desired level.  It also lets you know if your meat is cooking evenly, allowing you to either adjust the heat or the position of your meat on the grill.

Meat Cleaver
If you like cooking full pieces of meat (such as whole chickens) or ribs, then it is important to keep a meat cleaver in your tool kit.  A cleaver will let you hack through the bones of the meat without any issues.

Wide Spatula
Make sure that you get an extra wide stainless steel spatula to use on your grill. The sharp edge will allow you to slide easily under a piece of meat and the size will make sure that the full piece of meat gets picked up with ease.  Also look for a spatula with holes or perforations that will let the excess fat drip off and keep your food from getting soggy.

Visit our grill accessories section to see more great grilling utensils.

Grilling Essentials – Accessories

Chimney_starter_290_294_c1_center_centerWhen you’re planning the perfect BBQ, you always want to make sure that you have the right tools on hand.  Here’s a look at some of the best accessories that you can pair with your BBQ to help your food be amazing.

Chimney Starters
If you have a charcoal BBQ, you can shorten the lighting time with a chimney starter. Simply stuff the starter with kindling (such as old newspapers) and a layer of briquettes before lighting it. The starter helps heat up the coals to red hot in a matter of minutes.

Grilling Baskets
Grilling baskets (sometimes known as hamburger baskets) are great for food that has a tendency to stick to the grill – as well as for chefs who suffer with flipping anxiety. You simply place the food inside the basket and then, at the appropriate time, you flip the entire basket over.  This allows you to cook multiple burgers or other food perfectly even and prevents you from having to attack your grill with your spatula in an effort to scrape it off the BBQ in one piece.

Smoke Guns
For those of you who have electric or gas grills, one of the things that can be missing from your meat is that traditional smoky BBQ flavor. Smoke guns allow you to infuse your meat with the smoky flavor without having to use a charcoal grill or a smoker. Simply shoot your meat or vegetables with a zap of cold smoke and enjoy that woody flavor.

Smoking Sheets
Another great way to add a smoky flavor to your food – especially to your fish – is through the use of smoking sheets.  Simply soak the sheet in water, wrap the sheet around your piece of fish, tie it with twine, then set it on the grill.  The wood from the sheet (like cedar, for example) is transferred to the fish through the cooking process

Pizza Grill Pan
Expand your BBQ possibilities by adding a pizza grill pan to your repository of accessories.  The holes in the bottom of the pan keep the crust crisp while allowing the smoke flavor to come through.

Grill Wok
Another great way to open up your world of BBQ is with a grill wok.  The high sides of the wok allows you to stir fry vegetables, meat, and seafood on the grill without worrying about anything spilling over the sides.

LED Grill Light
If you like to grill after the sun goes down, an LED light is a great option.  The LED lights are weather resistant and can provide several different areas of light on the grill, allowing you to properly see your meat and vegetables.