Whether it's a small gathering of family members or an invitation extended to friends and neighbors, entertaining can take on a delightfully casual approach when it's done outdoors.
Add instant sophistication to a casual atmosphere with these entertaining and grilling tips guaranteed to impress every guest.
Be Courteous to Your Guests
Be sure to note any food restrictions or allergies and prepare alternate options.
Prepare ahead. Cut meats and vegetables, set the table, and toss the salad before the guests arrive. This will give you more time to relax and enjoy your company.
Create an Ambiance
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep and serving pieces, such as rustic wood cutting boards for an outdoor meal.
Add instant elegance to your casual get-together with flowers. Just trim a few stems from the garden and arrange them in glasses or bowls.
Offer a few different bottles of wine at the table for a great conversation starter. The best wines to serve are ones that pair well with all types of food and do not require additional aging once purchased. For example, Rioja, one of Spain's oldest and most renowned wines, includes reds, whites and rose at all price ranges, aged to be ready to drink at purchase and complement meat, fish and vegetables.
Efficiency Is Key
To speed up grilling time, partially precook chicken, red meat, potatoes, carrots and other slow-cooking food in the oven or microwave. When grilling, if you need more than one cooking temperature, mound some coals on one side to create a hot section and spread coals out on the other side for a cooler section.
When grilling food on skewers, cut pieces into chunks that are too large to fall through the grate. Or for easy cleanup, consider using foil packets to grill onion rings, slices of zucchini and squash or even pineapple rings.
When basting, use two brushes - one green and one red. Use the green brush to baste raw meat. Once the meat has begun to cook, switch to the red brush to continue the process. This will help to avoid contamination.
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As humans, we all make mistakes. It is human nature to do so, and cannot be prevented each and every time. When it comes to barbequing, this rule is no different. We often make mistakes that we do not even realize until we taste our food, or something potentially dangerous happens.
Some mistakes just mean that the food you cook is not going to taste very good, while others could potentially mean a trip to the hospital, or a visit from your claims representative on your home insurance policy. No matter the severity of the mistake, you should do your best to try to avoid them whenever possible.
You must properly prepare the meat you are cooking, before cooking it. You should never attempt to cook meat on a grill when it is still frozen, or even partially frozen. Thaw your meat by sitting it out about 12 to 24 hours before you plan on cooking it, or by thawing it in a microwave.
Once meat is cooked, never put it back in on the same plate you had it on when it was raw. This could cause the spread of many unwanted illnesses.
Cooking with charcoal lighter fluid can be good or bad. The lighter fluid will cause the food you are cooking to taste different then with other types of grills. Alternatively, attempting to not use lighter fluid may cause a lot of frustration due to the fact that charcoal can be difficult if not impossible to light without lighter fluid.
Never poke you meat while it is cooking. Poking holes in meat will cause the juice inside to leak out into the bottom of the grill. Not only will this make your food dry and unappealing in the end, but it also could potentially ruin your barbeque grill. At the very least, it will cause a buildup of unwanted grease and juices on your grill, which will make cleanup harder.
Once the meat is on the grill, try not to open the lid to many times. Each time you open the lid, you change the temperature in the grill. The constant change in temperature and the air flow will cause your meat to dry up quickly.
Remember that the higher the heat is not always the better. While it is okay to quickly cook food, turning the heat up will just cause the meat to dry up and potentially burn.
While using tin foil or aluminum foil will make cleaning easier, it will cause your food to have more of a fried taste then a grilled taste.
Never, under any circumstance, should you leave a grill alone when it is in use. Grilling does have fire involved, and accidents can happen. Fire spreads quickly, so being aware of your grill could mean the difference between a small fire that is quickly extinguished, and a visit from the fire department.
Never place a hot grill against a wall, even if the fire is already completely out. A hot grill can heat up an exterior wall to the point of combustion. Also, do not put the grill cover back on until you are sure that the grill is completely cool.
You grill should be cleaned after each and every use, no exceptions. While no one likes cleaning the grill, it is essential for the life and safety of your grill. If you allow your grill to sit dirty, not only are you causing a potential fire and health hazard, but you are ultimately making it harder on yourself when it does come time to clean your grill.
Make sure that your grill is completely cold before cleaning it. Spraying oil and cleaning agents on a hot surface could cause it to ignite. Be careful, because the grill may seem cool, but may still be hot in certain areas. You do not want to sustain a burn.
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