Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May) kicks off the summer BBQ season for millions of Americans. Grills are pulled out, scrubbed and lit in anticipation of charbroiling everything from fish to hot dogs. According to the beef industry, Memorial Day is the biggest beef day of the year with steaks and burgers topping the list of BBQ favorites. We want you to have a wonderful and stress-free time at your Memorial Day celebration so we’ve compiled some tips and advice to help you have a safe and delicious time this year.
- Prep your grill. Light your fire and get the grate nice and hot. Use a wire brush to scrub any residue left from the last fire. Once it’s clean, lubricate it with a brush of oil or sizzle some steak fat on it (depending upon what you plan to grill) to keep food from sticking. This also adds a bit of flavor to your food.
- Be Mindful of Safety. You are playing with fire, so make sure your BBQ area is clear. Keep starter fluids and oils away from the fire and make sure you roll up your sleeves and tuck loose clothing away. Use long handled utensils to handle food, and teach children about BBQ safety.
- Use a meat thermometer instead of slicing into food to check for doneness. This preserves the natural juices in the meat and keeps it from drying out. Optimum temperatures are 145F for fish and beef, and 165F for chicken.
- Pull meat out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before grilling to avoid it being cold in the center. 2 hours is usually enough time.
- Invite your guests to bring side dishes and desserts. If you’re in charge of everything you won’t have time to enjoy your party. If you host and grill, others can contribute to the meal for a fun variety and more relaxing time for everyone.
- Re-use utensils that have touched raw meats. This applies to plastic and metal BBQ tools and flatware. Be sure to avoid cross -contamination by prepping your food with one set, and serving with another.
- Undercook your food. See #3 above. Use a lot of coals and make a very hot fire. If you are in doubt about the timing of steaks versus. chicken, you can pre-boil your chicken for 15 minutes before grilling to ensure doneness.
- Pour water over flame ups on the BBQ. This will cause ash to fly up and cover your food. While we want that charbroiled taste, we don’t want our guests to eat ash. When flare ups occur, simply move the food to a part of the grill with less heat.
- Squish your burgers. Shape the raw hamburgers before grilling and simply flip them once.Avoid the temptation to flatten them with a spatula. Squashing burgers lets out all the oils and juices in the meats and dries them out. You don’t want to eat a hockey puck, and neither does your family! Remember that burgers do shrink while cooking so allow for that when you’re forming the burgers to let them shrink to the size of the buns you’re serving.
- Leave foods (cooked or uncooked) sitting out too long. Pick up leftovers and refrigerate. You can still invite your guests to have seconds, but once that second go round is over, clean up the food and take it inside. This makes room for the cold dishes and desserts, but preserves the food from insects and bacteria that can get in if left open to the air.
Memphis BBQ Sauce
This sauce is easy and quick to make, and goes great with chicken, beef or pork.
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- 2 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 TBSP prepared mustard
- ½ TSP black pepper
- ¼ TSP salt
- ⅛ TSP ground red pepper
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, serve warm. Can also be brushed on the tops of meat before taking the meat off the grill.
Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce
This recipe is a bit more complex, but so are the flavors in the sauce. A little spicy and sweet w/ that deep molasses undertone, this sauce is a hit at any BBQ.
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 6 Cloves garlic smashed
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 heaping TSP chili powder
- 1 TSP paprika
- 1 TSP crushed red pepper
- ½ TSP allspice
- Pinch ground cloves
- 2 cups ketchup
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup dark molasses
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 TBSP Kosher or coarse salt
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
- 2 TSP dried mustard
- 1 TSP freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
Put the oil in a pan and add garlic, tomato paste,paprika, chili powder, red pepper, allspice and cloves. Stir until combined and paste is a dark brick red.About 3 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, combine and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.