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OTHER ITA SITES:
Burned On The Barbee
When winterís chill is gone in most parts of this country, itís time to get the old bar-b-que grill dusted off after a long stay in the garage or barn; where ever you have had it stored since last summerís cook out. If you left it outside in the weather all winter, like many of us have done, you just have to sweep off the spider webs and old leaves, throw out the old charcoal from last year and youíre ready to start cooking. Well almost!
Think that is all there is to getting ready to throw a slab of meat on glowing coals? Think again! Every ďmaster grillerĒ knows there are 12 steps that anyone attempting the perfect cookout has to follow in order to have the results expected of a grilling superstar!
You gotta have a plan! Nothing great has ever been accomplished without some kind of a plan! I like to have everything in order before I start, getting all my ducks in a row as it were. Outdoor grilling can be an awesome experience but you have to get it right the first time, because you only get one chance to become a backyard legend, known far and wide as ďthe master grillerĒ
The beginnings of any wonderful weekend grill fest starts with a quick look at The Weather Channel. You have to know what the weather will be for the weekend. Itís best to consult weather experts on such an important matter a couple of days before the big event. It wouldnít do to put in the time on strategic planning, then assembling the ingredients of a perfect cookout, only to be forced inside at the last minute by a steady rain. Us, who have survived many battles fighting the rain on Saturday afternoons, think of such things as this! The more you read this article and become familiar with the rules of the road us ďmaster grillersĒ live by, then you too can become a ďmaster grillerĒ!
Next you have to decide just who will be invited and how many there will be at your cook out. This is a critical part of the planning exercise. The number of people attending dictates whether you will have steaks, pork chops or chicken! It would cost a small fortune to provide enough steaks for twenty people. Odds are there would be someone in the crowd that you didnít really like, anyway, so why would you feed this person a sizzling, delicious and scrumptious steak? Bar-b-qued chicken is the answer. Chicken is cheap!
Hamburger meat is cheap also! Either chicken or a lot of burgers will satisfy a lot of people. There is no need to spend a lot of money on meat for someone you donít really like. Either one of these meat ideas will satisfy a crowd without breaking the budget.
Basically what it comes down to is this: Do you like the people in your party enough to buy at least twenty choice rib eye steaks or would it be better to have a lot of hamburger meat, a box chicken quarters or a few pork chops to throw on the coals. Whatever you decide, this is one of the first steps in planning for the backyard cookout.
After the difficult decision of deciding on the meat that the occasion deserves, you can then decide how much to buy at the market. Not many people now-a- days have enough meat in their freezer to supply a cook out without having to go to the market.
IMPORTANT! Before you get too far along in the planning, itís wise to decide on the appropriate time to serve beverages. Adult beverages should be left in the cooler until after the flames have died. Bar-b-cuing to us folks in the south is held in high regard, whether youíre cooking for a crowd of twenty or for just a few friends over on a Saturday evening. The festivities should never be interrupted by the sound of fire engines. Iíve heard that sound before at one of my cook outs and itís not pretty!
Youíve selected the meat and now you have to determine how much youíre going to buy. This is not really an easy thing to do. If you buy too little, your guests will think youíre a cheap skate. If you buy too much and have a lot left over, they will think youíre throwing money away and youíre just showing off.
Remember when youíre a ďmaster grillerĒ the old rule of one steak or one pork chop per person goes right out the window. The food you prepare is so good that it would almost be criminal to restrict each person to just one pork chop or one piece of steak!
Of course the amount of meat you buy depends on the number of people invited to your cook out. A rule of thumb I use is to multiply the number of people times one and a half if itís chicken. If itís pork chops or steaks, I multiply the number of people time one and a third. Sometimes there are leftovers. If such a thing actually happens, thatís great. Almost anything off the grill tastes great the next day, unless itís smoked sea urchin, but then no one in their right mind would serve smoked sea urchin in the first place. Yeech!
Getting back to the basics of a good cookout, you have to start with perfect sauces, rubs or marinates, depending on the meat youíre going to grill.
While there are many kinds of grills to choose from, I prefer to use the old fashioned charcoal type. I get a sense of history every time I smell the smoke emanating from burning charcoal. Maybe this was how they did it back in the old west when cowboys huddled around the campfire after a hard day on the range punching cows. The cook, who had cool nicknames like ďcookieĒ or ďbiscuitĒ would divvy out steaks, biscuits and scalding black coffee to the cowhands. Those were the good old days.
Hamburgers: I like to keep my burgers simple. I usually sprinkle a little salt, pepper and finely ground garlic on the meat about an hour before I start cooking. Although thatís exotic enough for me, some folks like to stuff them with all kinds of things such as onions, peppers and even cheese. Iím old fashioned. I think cheese should remain on the top of the burgers where they belong. Burgers can be cooked to all degrees of readiness, however, I like mine cooked well with just a hint of pink in the middle.
Pepper and salt to taste. (Try using garlic salt on the burgers instead of regular salt. It adds a little character to the meat.)
The rest is equally simple. If you want to get fancy, just cut little chunks or slices of whatever you want to stuff in the middle of the burger and stuff it! Just remember that whatever you choose, it has to be something that cooks in a hurry. Because it doesnít take long to cook burgers, you want to be sure that whatever you have crammed in that burger is also cooked. If itís not cooked well on the inside, you can get some funny looks from your guests, not to mention the threat of a law suit due to food poisoning. Cook each side 5-7 minutes over a medium high heat.
Chicken: For me, a good hot marinade on the chicken I cook on the grill is a must. Some folks however like it mild, so I always have some of both sauces ready to use after the cooking is ĺ done. You can make your own sauce or buy it at the store. The hotter marinades you usually have to make yourself. I know you canít please everyone but your friends will continue to come over for a free meal if you donít sear their esophagus with a fiery chicken leg hot off the grill! Give them a choice!
Cooking chicken over a charcoal grill is not difficult. The fire canít be extra hot because flames from the fat dropping onto the coals will burn your chicken to a crisp. Better to keep the fire at medium heat and add charcoal as you go along to maintain the proper temperature.
When a meat thermometer is stuck between the joints of a leg quarter reads 160 degrees, itís time to take the chicken off the grill. When the leg pulls easily away from the thigh, I say itís done. Thatís the lazy way of doing things.
Pork Chops: You can do many things with pork chops. Lemon pepper, Cajun spices or just plain salt and pepper or some of the marinades you can use to season pork chops. With red souses or great to use if you wait until the meat is almost done. If you donít mop the sauce onto the meat at the proper time, the chops will burn charcoal black because of the sugar in those sauces.
You can stuff them! You can grill them! You can smoke them! Anyway you cook a pork chop on the grill is good! Simply cook them on each side for about 6 minutes each until they are done. Larger chops should be cooked a little longer.
Steaks: Itís easy to mess up a good steak by cooking it too much. Donít do that! A good sprinkle of garlic salt, a little pepper and youíre off to the races. Throw the steaks on the grill and cook them one side for about two minutes them flip them, sealing in the juices, making the meat more tender and delicious. Depending on how thick the steaks are, cook them five to six minutes on one side. Leave them on longer if you want them well done.
Every cookout can be an adventure, but when you become a ďmaster grillerĒ every day you spend outdoors with your grill or smoker is a vacation day!
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