Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and that means it's time to start grilling. Whether you are hosting a barbecue for 30 or just grilling with a few friends, there are a few simple rules for outdoor cooking.
First, you need to make sure your grill is properly supplied. That means a full tank of propane for a gas grill or a bag of charcoal for a kettle grill. Once the fire has been started, another important (and oft neglected) factor is properly oiling your grill. If you don't do this, food will stick to the grill gates. Some people use olive oil and a pastry brush, while others take half an onion, dip it in olive oil, spear it with a large fork and scrape it across the grates. This method also flavors the grill slightly. Plus, it's easier on cleanup because you throw the onion out when you are done versus cleaning the pastry brush.
Timing is another important concern for a barbecue, especially if you have hungry guests. I had a barbecue last week and the corn on the cob took longer than I anticipated. Since the 20 foil-wrapped cobs (they were slathered in butter and cayenne pepper inside the foil) used up the entire grill surface, we had to wait 40 minutes for the corn to be done. The chicken skewers and turkey burgers came next, followed by quicker items like garlic-coated portobello mushroom caps and sausage. Shrimp is another example of a food that cooks rapidly, so do this last, too.
Make sure that none of your food is dripping in sugary marinades in the early stages of the grilling process or the outside will burn before the inside is cooked through. A pastry brush is essential through this process as you can add sauce to the protein as it cooks. For smaller items, a grill pan is a great way to add smokiness to cut up veggies without losing them through the grates. Speaking of cooking utensils, long-handled tongs are your friend in the fiery barbecue scenario.
I also find it helpful to prepare non-grilled side dishes in advance. Potato and pasta salads can be made a few hours ahead. And baked beans are more concentrated when held in the oven for several hours on a low temperature. Add some brown sugar and sautéed onions for more flavor.
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Barbecuing is a spectator sport. Undoubtedly, one of your guests will offer their opinion on the best way to grill. They may even jump in and man the Weber for a while. Ultimately, this is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday weekend with a fun group of friends. Just don't forget to clean the grill afterward.