When warm weather rolls around and the days get longer, chances are, your calendar is marked with all kinds of BBQs—birthday celebrations, family parties or social gatherings. After all, nothing says summer like a backyard BBQ that allows you to enjoy cold beer, seasonal food and the great outdoors while mingling with your family and friends.
Most characterize backyard BBQ parties as a laid-back, summer casual gathering. However, those in charge of firing up the grill, cooking and final cleanup may not think of it this way. If you’re planning on hosting several BBQs this summer, don’t stress out. Below is the ultimate guide to BBQ and grilling that will make your backyard cookout a success, so you can have a good time like all your guests.
Step 1: Get A Grill - Charcoal or Gas?
When it comes to getting a new grill, there’s always a great debate between charcoal and gas. Most grillers believe that charcoal is the only true way to barbeque; on the other hand, gas advocates will tell you that charcoal is a waste of time. Nonetheless, does one heat source really outplay another? While we can’t settle the eternal debate, we can help you make the most important decision for your summer cookout by listing pros and cons of each grilling method.
- Cost: Less expensive.
- Flavor: Food will have a strong smoky flavor by grilling with high-quality wood chips, such as mesquite, apple and hickory.
- Heat: Charcoal grills can create a hotter flame that can get meat crisp on the outside and moisture inside.
- Preheat Time: Hard to light. Usually, charcoal grills take at least 20 minutes to get up to temperature.
- Temperature Control: Tough to keep a constant temperature. You need to replenish the coals every hour to avoid losing heat.
- Cleaning: More complicated due to ashes.
- Preheat Time: Can easily heat up in 10 minutes.
- Long-Lasting: A propane tank can provide fuel for 16 to 20 hours.
- Temperature Control: With only a twist of knob or a press of the button, you can maintain an even and consistent heat.
- Easy Cleanup: No ashes or coals to dispose of.
- Cost: Typically pricier than charcoal.
- Hard to Assemble: Takes about two hours to assemble a midrange model.
- Flavor: Need to invest in an additional smoke box if you want to get a charcoal taste.
- Maintenance: Although a gas grill is easy to clean up, it may require special care if some of the complex parts (venture tubes, valves…) are broken, which will cost a fortune.
Looking to build a BBQ station in your backyard? See how to DIY an outdoor BBQ.
Step 2: Your BBQ Checklist
Believe it or not, the shortage of food, paper plates and even a bottle of ketchup will keep your guests from having fun. Hence, as a thoughtful host, it’s your duty to make a shopping list before you head to the store.
That said, if you can’t find a time to write up your shopping list or don’t know how to start one, below is the essential BBQ checklist that should cover everything you need for your next BBQ.
Tools for the Grill
- Aluminum pans & foils
- Cooking spray
- Cutting board
- Tongs/slotted turners/basting brushes
- Instant-read thermometer
- Rubbish can/bags
- Paper towels
- Fire extinguisher
Tools for the Table
- Folding tables
- Napkins/wet wipes
- Paper plates and cups
- Bottle openers
- Food for Guests
- Meat for grilling
- Hamburger and hot dog buns
- Ice bucket
Misc. & Cleanup
- Hand sanitizer
- Storage containers for leftovers
(Image Credit: Valley City Supply)
Step 3: Summer Grilling Recipes
Steaks, hot dogs and burgers, without a doubt, are the highlights of any BBQ. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add other exciting dishes to surprise your guests. From romaine salad and seafood to pizza and fruit, your grill is great for more than just steaks, hot dogs and burgers.
Grilled Romaine Salad
Trust me. Once you try grilled romaine lettuce, you’ll never go back to raw lettuce. Romaine is sturdy enough that can stand up the heat, giving you a lightly wilted outer leaves and a distinctive smoky flavor with a crisp, juicy center.
*Get the recipe: Grilled romaine salad with buttermilk-chive dressing recipe
(Image Credit: DISHMAPS)
Shellfish: Oysters, Clams…
Compared to meat, seafood is a healthier, yet delicious grilling option. However, fish is notorious for sticking to the grates. More often than not, it will flake apart and become overdone. If you’re not a grill master, but still crave for seafood, consider shellfish instead.
Shellfish, like clams and oysters, are easy to grill. Simply place them on the grill for a few minutes until the shells pop open. The only laborious work you have to do is using a stiff brush to scrub the shells under cool running water before you throw them on the grill.
Tip: To extract any sand from clams, put them in a bowl with cool water and add cornmeal or black pepper to the water, so the clams will spit out more sand.
Forget about your oven. A regular conventional oven can never bake the perfect pizza with a mottled brown crust and dark spots. The extra-high heat of a grill, on the contrary, can ensure a crispy crust with a smokier flavor. Therefore, don’t miss the chance to make an incredible homemade pizza when your grill is already heated up.
*Get the recipe and see how to grill pizza on The Kitchn.
If you’re looking for a simple, delicious end to your hearty grilled meal, grilled peaches are it.
Halve and pit the peaches; brush both sides with butter. Place buttered-side down, cover the grill and cook each side until charred and softened (approximately 4-5 minutes for each side). This in-season fruit will yield an unbelievable fragrant aroma that goes perfectly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Step 4: Clean BBQ Grills Inside Out
No one likes to clean the messy, greasy grill after a BBQ. However, just like you would wipe up spills around your stove after cooking, your outdoor grill deserves the same level of care – cleaning it at least lightly. A light clean after every use will keep your grill in good, working condition. Most importantly, the better you care for it, the better your food will taste.
For charcoal grills:
- Clean the grates and use a good wire brush to sweep out the ashes and food residue.
- When the grill is still warm, wipe the lid with paper towels or mild soapy water solution to prevent future build-up.
- Wait until the grill is cold and the embers are out. Then, take out everything, such as the ashes and coals inside the grill.
- Wipe the grill down with a wet rag.
For gas grills:
- Spray vegetable oil over the grates, scrape with a wire brush and wipe down with paper towels.
- Use the clean setting to preheat your grill, which will help burn up food that has fallen down into the grill. Since it doesn’t really clean it, you may want to lift out the grates and pick up the burnt residue after the clean setting is completed and the grill is still warm enough. (Don’t forget to disconnect the gas before you lift up the grates.)
- In addition to the burnt residue, remember to clean the barrier above the burners.
- Use a rag or paper towels to wipe down the barrier and grates.
Hosting a BBQ can be a lot of fun, but also exhausting if you fail to plan. Whether you’re an expert or novice, this step-by-step grilling guide will surely come in handy and take your summer grilling party to the next level.
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