Since Americans in the South began roasting pigs publicly, Barbecues have been a staple of North American living. For many, grilling becomes a routine mealtime activity, while for the most devoted grillers, summer is ruled by massive barbecue parties. But grillers do not have to choose between boring repetition and outrageous get-togethers: every barbecue can and should be an exciting family event. Here are 5 ways to make your routine evening barbecue a more unique experience:
1) Who said you have to stick to meat? Much can be done with bread and fruits over an open flame. To make this into a fun activity with your kids, use cookie cutters to make the bread and fruit into shapes. You can decide on themes like “animals” and “letters” or ask that each shape be different from the others! Then, let your kids decide which toppings they would like to put on. Add cheese, onion and various spices to bread and cinnamon and honey to fruit.
2) Try foil-wrapped surprise meals. Place different combinations of chicken, fish and vegetables with sauces and spices in foil packets. These cook in less than 20 minutes and lead to no-mess, lip-smacking results. Children will love the surprise element and can easily switch packets. You can even ask your family for combo suggestions before the barbecue, or draw ingredient names out of a hat to create new meal ideas.
3) A little variety goes a long way. If you tend to stick to the same old beef burgers and pork wieners, why not try grilled pizza or salmon steaks? Similarly, try to mix it up with condiments and seasoning. Sick of ketchup? Try salsa instead. Look online where you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes for barbecue rubs. These give your food that extra pizzazz and prevent the mess and drip that comes with barbecue sauces.
4) Barbecues don’t have to be rushed. In fact, barbecue devotees will tell you that today’s quick broiling is an insult to the term, which should represent a process of slow cooking on low heat. You can find many slow cooker recipes online, and the wait is a great opportunity to pass some quality time with your family and friends. Entertaining backyard activities include creating an outdoor canvas to paint on or playing backyard bowling with household items.
5) Mom said not to play with your food, but there’s always an exception! Barbecue games are great fun and tasty at the same time. In the game Glutton, each player gets a certain amount of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or any other side dish. Various kitchen utensils are put in a box and the players blindly pick a few. On the go, they begin to eat their dish with the items that they took out. The first to finish his or her food wins the prize!
Finally, don’t fret! Far too many people get lost in the details of planning the perfect barbecue party and forget to enjoy the social atmosphere and delicious food. So kick back, bask in the relaxing sun and prepare for a summer of unforgettable barbecues!
It's a trite, but often repeated saying: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. So why, when Father's Day rolls around, do we buy endless ties and "message" T shirts? Is the way to his heart through his clothes? Not likely. It's the stomach, people, and that means good food. For many men, good food comes in the form of a great steak.
So what if you're not a steak eater, or you eat it only in restaurants and the thought of purchasing a raw slab scares you to death? Fear not. It's not that complicated, really. Even a caveman can handle this job.
It's important to know your cuts of meat before planning the menu. You don't want to cook the dad in your life a tasteless, tough piece of leather. You might not notice the difference, but let's face it - he will. Since you'll likely be grilling, it's important to know the best cuts of meat for the grill.
You want to choose the most tender portions of meat for grilling. Experts generally consider these cuts of beef to be the best for grilling:
If there is the word "loin" on the package, you're in good shape, though most grill experts agree the T-bone is the most superior cut of beef for grilling. It stays tender and juicy, and is thick enough to withstand a fair amount of time on the grill without overcooking. Stay away from top round or anything with "round" or "chuck" in the name. These will not cook well on the grill. Flank steak and London broil can also be tough.
Next, it's important to know how to choose a steak. Don't just grab the first package that looks good to you. Look for some good marbling in the steak. Yes, this is another word for fat. But we're not cooking for the dieter in the family on this special day, we're trying to give dad a good steak, remember? Those little bits of fat scattered about the steak will essentially melt while the meat is cooking, giving the meat a rich and more tender flavor.
In that same vein, don't trim the fat from your steak before cooking. It might be the diet book author in you coming out, but that thick layer of fat around your steak is what will give the steak a wonderful juicy quality and rich flavor. You can cook the steak, and then trim the fat, but cook the steak while it's still dressed in its fat clothes. It's worth it.
Do you need to buy a "name brand" steak? Experts say it's not necessary, even though branded meat is a new commodity and becoming more widely available. Nor is it necessary to choose a steak from a butcher shop or from behind the glass window in the meat department at your local grocery store. Usually the pre-packaged steaks are the same you would get from behind the glass, and since the butcher is a dying breed, you could certainly go that route if you have a neighborhood butcher, but if not, a good quality grocery store will provide what you need.
Finally, it's important to know your grades of steak.
Prime is the top grade, and it features the most marbling and is the most tender, but most of us don't have access to this grade in mainstream grocery stores. This is often what you get in a restaurant.
Choice is the best grade most of us can get in the grocery store. But choice does not guarantee high quality as this grade encompasses meat that can be almost as good as prime, or almost as bad as select, our next grade.
Select beef is the most lean and least expensive beef and is the grade of beef most commonly found in your grocery store meat case. Since this is Father's Day, try to find choice and splurge a little.
If you are unsure about your ability to pick up a good steak locally, consider ordering online and having fresh, high-quality steaks delivered to your door.
At OmahaSteaks.com, you can buy a large variety pack of meat, grill some for dad, and then send him home with a few spares for another day. KansasCitySteaks.com offers prime quality steaks for a restaurant-quality dad's meal.
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