It's Grilling Season

Whether you spell it barbecue, barbeque, or BBQ, grilling meats is a favorite summertime activity for Americans. You hardly need an excuse at all to gather up a bunch of friends and family and throw some dogs or steaks on the grill and get to it! Below are some delicious ideas for easy, casual BBQ get togethers!

Can’t decide which meat is your favorite for grilling? Why choose?

In North and South Carolina, the meat of choice is pork. Be it a shoulder or a butt, this cut of meat is slow roasted on low heat for 10-12 hours until the bone pulls out easily. If you’re in the mountains of North Carolina, your barbecue sauce will be tomato based; thick and ketchupy. Out in the eastern part of the state, the sauce is thinner, with a vinegar base. South Carolina’s barbecue pork sauce style is mustard based. In Kentucky, they use mutton and their sauce contains (what else?) Kentucky bourbon.

Gotta have ribs? Most grillmasters buy pork spare ribs, but have you considered short ribs? Short ribs are not pork, they’re beef. They’re also meatier with a bolder taste. You can top these with your favorite BBQ sauce or just eat them in all their glory with no sauce.

Don’t forget the brisket if you’re going to be talking about grilling. Simplicity and slow cooking is the key for this cut of meat. Rub a little salt and pepper on the meat in the morning, start up your grill, and by dinner time, your brisket will be fall-apart delicious. Red wine pairs well with beef, so grab a bottle of your favorite vintage.

You can’t grill without chicken! This versatile staple is delicious when marinated in Italian salad dressing and soy sauce for an hour before being grilled. The oil base of the dressing will help hold the moisture in the chicken, keeping it juicy.

Speaking of juicy… You know when you get a really expensive steak from a steakhouse and you cut into it and it’s the juiciest steak you ever ate? That’s not so hard to duplicate at home, if you just remember to rest your meats before serving. Even a rest of as short as three minutes can make a huge difference in the amount of juices that you’ll see leaking out onto your plate. So restrain yourself from tearing straight into that steak, chop, rib, or thigh and you’ll soon be eating juicier and more flavorful meats.

Maybe you prefer grilled fish? Salmon’s firm texture makes it a good fit for grilling. Make sure that your grill basket is well oiled, just in case. If you’ve got a salmon steak or are lucky enough to get a whole half fish, make sure when you grill it that you begin with the skin side down. You want to get the skin really crispy so that when you turn your fish halfway through cooking, the skin pulls away. Cook your salmon with the grill open, so you can test it easily. When it starts to flake, that’s the time to turn it.

You’re spending all that time at the grill, you don’t want to spend the rest of your day in the kitchen, do you? For a healthy and quick alternative to potato salad, make a cucumber salad. Chop two cucumbers into bite-size bits, throw in some finely sliced red onion and diced fresh tomatoes. Dress your vegetables with olive oil, white wine vinegar, oregano, and salt. Letting this salad rest in the fridge for an hour or so will let the flavors mingle for a more robust taste. This brightly colored salad will look beautiful in a white serving bowl.

Can’t make it to the BBQ but want to participate anyway? Why not send the hosts a BBQ Gift Basket and your regrets on having to miss their event?

Don’t forget your apron! Happy grilling!

Posted: Tuesday, July 07, 2015