Every season holds its own special touches and summer is certainly no different! Close your eyes and reminisce as you sift the sands of time and see what you’ve collected in your memories. Chances are your senses are filled with the sweet smoky smells of BBQ grills swirling through the neighborhood. As a child, you hope the trail that’s calling your taste buds will lead you to your own backyard.
Fond memories tend to stick for a lifetime so fast-forwarding to the blank slate of summer 2022, your barbecue skills, or lack of, are likely beginning to surface. What better time than the present for bringing tasty techniques, money-saving tips, and new ideas to the table for experts and beginners alike? “Now” sounds good so let’s get cooking!
Select Your Menu
To save money and prevent waste, write down your menu choices. From there make your grocery list. Consider how many you’ll be serving with a little left over for those hoping for seconds. A half-pound of meat is a good portion size per person. Plan ahead to catch your meats on sale which is the bulk of the cost and star of the meal.
Perfect Your Recipe
If you fall under the pro category no changes are needed. But if you’re a beginner sharpening your chef skills, read up on some recipes to find the perfect, missing ingredient that you’ve been searching for. Pinterest is a great place to start but even better is joining forces with family, friends, and neighbors to serve up the magic that draws the crowds and puts you on the “best barbequer” charts!
Patience Is Everything
True barbecue is not cooked in the oven, it’s slowly smoked over real wood for up to 12 hours, depending on the size of your entree. Turning up the heat to speed things up only serves disappointment. You’ll have meat that’s burnt on the outside and the opposite inside. The day before smoking, trim the fat, inject your marinade and add your seasonings, then place in a large zip lock bag overnight. Day two, sit your meat out to take the chill off as you prepare your wood. Soak your wood chunks in water for at least 30 minutes as dry ones will simply burn instead of smoke. Some of the best woods for smoking are oak maple pecan alder, mesquite, apple, cherry, and hickory.
Prepare Your Grill
For best results, indirect heat will keep the meat moist. Use two pans, one as a drip pan and one as a steam pan. Drip pans go under the food while water pans go over the heat source. The drip pan collects the flavorful meat drippings to use for basting or sauces…and to keep them away from the flame to prevent flare-ups. The water pan keeps the meat surface moist and slows cooking. The grill temperature should be at 250° making sure it doesn't get above 275°. Position the meat above the drip pan leaving all vents half-open. Immediately close the lid. Continue adding wet wood chips for the first two hours.
A different way to barbecue is to do it the Japanese way which is called yakitori. To keep budgets lowered, each guest or family brings their own sauce and meat, sliced and preferably on wooden skewers to save time. Everyone cooks their own, though mixing and matching gives each participant a variety to enjoy. Adding a grate over your fire pit and surrounding with chairs provides a slow-paced, relaxing time to chat and enjoy this different way to barbecue. Be sure to check for gluten allergies as many sauces have wheat hidden inside.
Have a Cook-Off
Have fun with a friendly competition! This can be done by gathering the grills in one place or by creating your entry ahead of time. Place a number on each entry and tally the votes after the meal. Give the winner a humorous trophy to display for their proud and unforgettable victory! In the meantime, everyone gets to feast on several of the best tastes in barbecue!
Never Leave a Leftover
With all that goes into hours of slow roasting tenderness, throwing out the leftovers is simply not an option! Nor is wasting money! Use what’s left another day by keeping it moist with extra sauce and storing it in tightly sealed containers. Serve with chips and cold drinks and you’ll have the perfect option for a quick meal, beach picnic, ballpark dinner, or a fabulous lunch box surprise without spending another red hot cent.
Here is a bonus tip to make your BBQ dining experience easier than apple pie! Cover your table completely with culinary craft paper and serve directly on top of it. You’ll have no dishes to deal with and cleanup will be a quick rollup and a toss in the trash!