Labor Day weekend is upon us and that means we’ll be grilling in the backyard, having a drink with friends and family, and getting that last swim in the pool. This is a time of year where we celebrate the end of summer.
For most people, Labor Day barbecues are a big deal with all kinds of different food to throw on the grill. For the backyard gourmet this provides the perfect opportunity to show off their best marinades, elaborate shish kabobs and many different varieties on the classic BBQ fare. The grill usually gets a good workout and often times it’s the last time it gets used before being put away for the winter.
While many of us are experienced in the art of grilling when it comes to food, there are some basics to proper grilling that are either forgotten or never learned. While the food still comes out tasting good, there are some subtle things you can do to really make your food stand out from the crowd to impress your friends and family.
Always clean your grill with a wire brush before cooking on it. There are some who believe that leaving some of the residue from previous cookouts adds flavor to the food, it simply is not true. More often that not, it adds a burnt taste to the food and causes it to stick to the grill. Even if you take a break between grilling for lunch and dinner, clean your grill before starting again. You’ll be glad you did.
Use oil on the grill to prevent sticking. Lightly brushing the grill with oil before grilling will prevent food from sticking to it.
Flare-ups. Yeah, it looks cool to see some high rising flames and for certain foods, this may be preferable (searing the outside of a steak for example, but leaving it rare in the middle), but for most food on the grill, this just leaves it overcooked on the outside and generally undercooked on the inside.
Basting your food while grilling can add some wonderful flavor, particularly if you’ve marinated it ahead of time. Try not to baste the food until the last 5-10 minutes of cooking however, else you run the risk of flare-ups and burning your food. This is particularly true if you used sweeteners such as brown sugar or honey in your marinade. Sugar tends to caramelize quickly and stick to the food and the grill.
Marinades are a wonderful way to introduce a variety of flavors to food. It’s best to marinade for at least 6 hours, but if you’re planning a big barbecue, it’d be a good idea to marinade your food the day before to really get the fullest flavor.
Safety First! Grills can get very, very hot and often there are children running around, whether it be to jump in the pool or playing a game in the backyard. Accidents happen of course, but there is the potential for serious injury. Make sure your grilling area is well away from the pool, deck, or any area where others will be sitting or playing. Be sure you know how to properly operate your grill, no matter what kind it is.
So, by following some simple rules, you can really make a big difference in the flavor and presentation of your food and everyone can enjoy a safe and happy Labor Day BBQ.
Check out some of these recipes to try for your own Labor Day BBQ:
Firewalker T-Bone Steak
Steak and Shrimp Kabobs
Cajun Chicken Kabobs
Grilled Salmon with Lemon Butter
Grilled Swordfish With Chipotle Cilantro Butter
Chef Newman’s BBQ Sauce
Easy Guacamole Dip