Between Memorial Day and Independence Day is the sweet spot of barbecue. That time of year before the dog days, when the nights come late and cool. This is the perfect time to gather around the grill, fire up dinner, pour yourself a cool drink, and enjoy the summer nights with friends and family. So, let's get started.
Buying a Grill: The first choice you have to make is charcoal versus gas. If you want the convenience of a kitchen appliance, go with gas.
If you want the experience of a smoky cookout, go with charcoal. Gas is fast and easy, charcoal takes patience and time, but gives you a more authentic flavor. Whether buying a gas grill or a charcoal grill don't get taken in by big grills with loads of features. Look for a grill big enough, but no bigger. With the features you need, and nothing more. Also look for brand names with good support and warranties. This will save you money today and tomorrow. The truth is that there are a lot of bad grills out there selling for dirt cheap in big stores. Do your research and get the grill that is right for you.
Maintaining your Grill: Grills are amongst the most neglected appliances people own. Left with burnt ashes, dripped grease, and fallen through foods; out in the heat and cold, rain and snow all year long, leading to rust, discoloration, and component failure. Your best defense is to keep your grill clean and covered.
This means cleaning your grill after each use, not before. Also, regularly inspect the interior of your grill. This is particularly important with gas grills. Cleaning burners, igniters, and other parts will extend their life expectancy and keep your grill working properly. This turns what can be a frustrating evening into the perfect summer party.
Using your Grill: The biggest tip I can give you when it comes to grilling is to use the temperature appropriate for the food you are cooking. Steaks, Hamburgers, pork chops, and thin cuts of meat should be cooked hot and fast over direct heat. Chicken pieces, fish, vegetables, and thicker cuts of meat should be grilled over a medium heat for longer periods. Whole Chickens and roasts should be grilled at lower temperatures over an indirect fire or on a rotisserie.
Save your Money: Many of the most popular foods we associate with a cookout, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salads, and coleslaw are inexpensive. It's when you turn to steaks that the bill starts going up, this is why I recommend trying a chuck steak. These may not be as tender, but if you hit them with a good marinade you won't notice the difference. Also consider the flat steaks (flank steak, skirt steak, or hanger steak). These should also be marinated but are loaded with flavor.
Try Something New: You've made the investment in a grill and to get the most out of it you should be prepared to try new things. Grills can be used to cook most anything from the appetizer to dessert. Just a few suggestions of things that will have your guests talking are: