With spring in the air and summer around the corner it’s time to start thinking about grilling outside. Nothing says summertime more than the smell of meat grilling on the barbecue.
To make your season even better and to certainly impress your friends, we put together the following BBQ hacks. Here are 18 great ways to improve your next gathering.
Photo credit: Flickr CC
Cook fish on lemons
Fish is always a tough one for the grill because it can tend to fall apart and stick to the grill. Barbecued fish can be delicious but it's also easy to dry out. To prevent sticking and to hold in freshness, try placing your fish on a row of lemons. The citrus will soak into the fish giving it a nice flavor and it won't stick to the grill or fall through the grates.
Clean grill with aluminum foil and onion
Stores sell all sorts of gimmicks to clean your grill, but the best solution is always a ball of tin foil. Crumble up the foil, spray it with a little oil and hold it with a pair of tongues to rub across a warm grill. Then to clean it even further and disinfect the surface, rub the great with a half-cut onion.
Spray pork with apple juice
Pork can be tricky on the grill because it needs to be cooked fully. But that means that it can easily be dry. Try spraying the meat with a bottle of apple sauce as a way of adding flavor and retaining moisture. You can try this with other meats, but it goes best with pork.
Veggie grill basket
Grilled vegetables are one of the great joys of barbecues. Who says you only have to grill meat? Many people like to use skewers, but these can become cumbersome and the veggies slide around. The best way to cook veggies on the barbecue is to invest in a grill basket. Coat the veggies in olive oil and spices and toss them in the basket.
Put cold butter on burger
You may have heard that pressing a small dimple in the middle of your burger patty will prevent it from rising in the middle and shrinking as much. Try placing a piece of water in the dimple for extra juiciness.
Use the thumb test
Anyone who's cooked in a restaurant knows the old tried and true method of checking the cook on a steak. Pressing against the bottom of your thumb is raw, connecting your thumb and forefinger feels like a rare steak, thumb to middle finger is medium rare, thumb to ring finger is medium and thumb to pinky is well done.
Make a smoker
One of the greatest turkeys I ever tasted was smoked in a Webber grill all afternoon. You can do this easily. It just takes patience. Start by soaking wood chips overnight. Next place a drip pan with water in the bottom of the grill. Line hot coals to one side to create indirect heat. Next put the wood chips directly on the coals and place your meet over the drip pan. The water in the pan will keep the meat tender while the smoke fills the grill. Stay attentive and replace coals and wood chips as time goes on. For a large turkey you want to smoke it for around 6 hours.
Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce
Sure there are lots of barbecue sauces on the market, but to make your own is really something special. Consider this special
recipe for Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce for a little extra tang. Flickr CC
Check propane with hot water
Running out of propane in the middle of a barbecue is the worst. A neat way to check the level of your propane tank is to pure a glass of warm water over the side. Where the water turns cold, there is propane. Where the water stays warm, the tank is empty.
Turn steaks to 10 and 2
To get those classic grill marks on your steaks, line them up facing first at 2 o'clock and then when you turn them put them at 10 o'clock. This will ensure you get that diagonal cross grill marks just like the best steak houses.
Put herbs on grill
As you're grilling simply throw some herbs on the grill. The aroma will add some extra flavor to your meat and generally freshen the air. Certain herbs like sage can also help
keep away mosquitoes. Flickr CC
Rosemary sprigs for skewers
Although we've already put down using skewers, if you really must, consider using rosemary sprigs. These firm herbs can be poked through even the toughest raw meat. As well as being convenient if you have a rosemary bush, it releases aromatics as it cooks.
Sure pizza is not supposed to be cooked on a barbecue but many people do it. It's actually pretty good. The problem is you need indirect heat to avoid burning the crust. Try placing a pizza stone in your grill and heating it up good beforehand. When your pizza is ready, just put it on the stone and it should cook like a world class brick oven.
Start coals with egg crate
If you don't have a charcoal lighting tower, the next best thing is a cardboard egg crate. Simply put the coals in the egg grate, place it in the grill and light it up. You'll have hot coals in no time.
Marinated meat is tasty meat. For the best flavored meat always marinade at least a few hours in advance and preferably overnight. You can buy any number of marinades in the store, but my favorite is always a homemade teriyaki combining soy sauce, white wine vinegar, maple syrup and brown sugar. Another great marinade is dark beer, and it reduces the
carcinogenic effects of BBQ. Flickr CC
Brining is a great way to keep white meat moist and tender, working especially well on chicken or turkey breasts. Soak the meat in a bath of saltwater, sugar, lemon and spices for at least an hour before grilling. Brining can also help fish from falling apart.
Rub your meat
Another great way to prepare your meat is a spice rub. You can buy many great rubs from the store or combine your homemade spices for your own concoction. One seasoning I espeically like to rub on any meat is Old Bay.
No one says you have to be slaving over the grill while your guests enjoy themselves. Go ahead and get those burgers. steaks and chicken started early. Take them off the grill just before they're finished, and when your guests arrive throw them on again to finish them off.