It’s official: summertime is here! Yay! Look forward to long days of warm summer weather, bright green gardens, lazy evenings on the porch, and – best of all – the opportunity to host the best BBQ parties in the tri-state area!
Hosting the next big barbeque is a task that requires a little more than simply slapping a little more ranch dressing on your steaks or ordering a bigger, meaner grill. Anybody with half a mind for cooking can cook a steak until it’s medium rare. If you truly want to wow your friends, neighbors and relations, then you need to start pushing the boat out. While you could spend time focusing on providing a little entertainment or razzle-dazzle, let’s be honest: these are mere distractions. The whole reason people are coming to your barbeque is for your food, so focus your attention there.
So what can you do to makeyour next barbeque a sizzling success?
Avoid Pressing Down on Your Meat
For the best results when cooking on the grill, try to avoid moving your meat as much as possible. Let it settle and soak in its own juices, as the real flavor of the meat comes from the fat. It also helps the meat to cook through more thoroughly, something that can be disturbed if you keep prodding it every five minutes. All you need to do is make sure your medium-rare steak doesn’t inadvertently turn well-done, and that’s a job for the eyes, not for the prongs.
Remember what was said about the juices giving the meat its flavor? If you press the meat too much, this will squeeze the juices out and into the fire. And with it, the taste of a good steak.
The Importance of Scoring
Scoring, before we go too far afield, is the practice of lightly carving lines across the meat before it’s cooked. You may have seen pictures of meat with crisscrossing lines across them. That’s scoring. The idea is that the scored lines become channels in the meat, which allow sauces and marinades to soak in rather than running off along the surface.
If you’re marinating your steaks or planning to use plenty of sauces, then remember the importance of these channels. This will significantly improve your barbeque fare.
Consider Adding a Wine List
Not everyone thinks of wine when it comes to barbeques, with beers and lagers being preferred. This is actually their loss, as a good wine selection can help make your next barbeque really something.
Careful consideration of accompanying drinks can allow you to sate your guests’ thirsts without distracting from the flavor of your steak — something that’s important if you want your efforts at the grill to be properly appreciated. For example, you might want to consider pairing a good, all-American Zinfandel with your burgers and steaks. Alternatively, for your barbequed chicken, why not pass around a nice Californian Chardonnay? Check out www.shopritewine.com next time you’re planning a barbeque and class it up a bit with a good bottle or two.
If you’re strategic and well versed in wines, you’re guaranteed to have a BBQ people will talk about for weeks, or even months, to come.
Don’t Cook While the Coals are Flaming
Remember that you want to cook the meat, not sear it. If you place your grills on while the coals are still flickering, then you’ll just end up with a carbonized, crispy exterior and very a raw centre. While this may be fine for some, many others would find it disappointing.
For the best results from your grill, wait until the coals are smouldering and have turned a satisfying shade of white. That’s the optimal condition for grilling and will ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly. The easiest way to do this is to light up your barbeque fairly early into the party and give your coal time to burn up. By the time everyone’s hungry and ready to eat, your grill should be ready to use.
Always Buy Quality Produce
Avoid pre-packaged meats, as you never really know how long they may have been sitting in the store. Instead, go straight to a local butcher and buy directly from them — the meat will be of a much higher quality, and have a greater chance of being fresh. You can also ask the butcher themselves for their suggestions on selections for your barbeque.
This’ll also help support a local independent business to boot, so you can feel a little better about hosting your barbeque too!
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and insights into family life and the challenges of the home, as well as ideas for making your next get-together a great success.