With summer just around the corner, it's time to start planning your first cookout of the season. Keep everyone happy, full and entertained this summer with these tips for throwing an awesome BBQ.
Charcoal or Gas
The debate over grilling methods is fierce. While you may prefer the taste of food cooked over charcoal, you should know that propane burns cleaner, while charcoal emits carbon monoxide into the atmosphere.
Have you ever noticed how burger patties puff up in the middle as they cook? This weird shape can make adding toppings a little awkward. You can fix this mishap by pressing into the top of each raw patty with your thumb. This will help the patty stay level so your toppings stay in the bun where they belong.
If you like cooking fish or other small foods, it might be worth investing in a grill pan that is perforated to keep food from falling into the cooking grate.
Make sure to heat up your grill 15 minutes before you intend to start cooking, to give it time to reach the optimum temperature and to kill off any lingering bacteria.
Ribs are best cooked slow, on low heat for several hours. Low temperatures will help produce a softer meat, whereas higher temperatures might dry it out. Also, be careful not to apply sauce to the ribs too early; if the sugar burns, it can compromise the taste. Sauce is best applied during the final 30 minutes of cooking. If you are cooking ribs along with others meats that require different cook times, think about buying another standard grill.
After you marinate your steaks, make sure to pat them dry on both sides. If the steaks are too damp, they will steam, not sear as you want them to.
Boneless chicken should be grilled quickly over direct heat. Bone-in pieces take longer and direct heat alone would burn them, so you should cook with indirect heat.
Vegetarians attending? Not to worry — one need not sacrifice flavor or a hearty meal by not eating meat. Bon Appetit magazine has offers great tips for grilling a variety of veggies.
Are you frustrated that your grilled veggies often come out too dry? Soaking them in olive oil (even before a marinade if you use one) can help avoid this problem. This will also prevent sticking to the grill.
Are you looking for a great way to spruce up your yard and create an ideal oasis for guests? Try installing an outdoor television. Whether you give your guests the opportunity to watch the game or put on a movie to occupy the kids, it's a luxury worth having. You can even get HD television outdoors.
If you're looking for a way to spice up the spirit of your barbecue, why not choose a theme? It could be fun to have a luau theme if kids are attending, or perhaps a 'School's Out!' theme. A signature drink (or mocktail for the kids) will add some unexpected flair to a barbecue that your guests will be sure to remember.
An easy way to make your BBQ special is to invite them with an online invitation. Some have animation and music! Ask guests to bring items, poll your guests and allow them to easily check the weather and traffic.