Tag: bbq

Fourth of July Barbecue Essentials

The 4th of July is fast approaching and revelers across the nation are preparing to toast their independence with family and friends. For many Americans, backyard barbecues are synonymous with the Fourth of July, a day that, in the United States of America, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Precious few Americans can say they have not been present at a 4th of July barbecue or witnessed a fireworks display honoring America’s official declaration of independence from Great Britain. Hosting a July 4th barbecue for the first time may have some hosts anxious about throwing a summer soirée to remember, but fun is sure to be had if hosts remember to include the following backyard barbecue essentials this Independence Day.

Food

No Fourth of July barbecue is complete without food, so hosts should be sure to stock up on popular barbecue fare like hot dogs and hamburgers. Though such foods likely won’t be mistaken for gourmet fare anytime soon, Fourth of July revelers often embrace the tradition of grilling up some hot dogs and hamburgers even if they tend to avoid such foods throughout the rest of the year. Hosts should not feel pressured to provide gourmet fare on July 4th, but it is a thoughtful gesture to ask guests in advance if they have any food allergies or need to avoid certain foods for other reasons.

Beverages

It goes without saying that guests will need refreshing beverages at parties held in early July, but be sure to stock up on a variety of beverages so guests are not forced to consume drinks they don’t want. Be sure to have plenty of water available to guests, and provide sodas, iced tea and lemonade as well. Offer alcoholic beverages to adult guests, but don’t go overboard stocking up on alcohol, as that might encourage guests to overindulge.

Games

Backyard barbecues are most fun when guests are entertained, so plan to have some games available for guests of all ages. Encourage guests to bring a change of clothes or swimsuits if games will involve water or something that might soil their clothing. If you have a pool, purchase some pool games so swimmers can do more than just wade in the water or take a few laps. Plan a Wiffle® ball game for kids and dig some horseshoe pits or buy a ring toss set so adults can engage in some friendly competition as well.

Safety

Though no one wants to think of a 4th of July celebration taking a turn for the worst, hosts must prepare for emergencies. Restock the first-aid kit if necessary and keep a constant eye on guests, especially children, to ensure everyone is having a safe and happy time. Program a list of local taxi companies into your phone so you can easily call for transportation should any guests have too much to drink during the festivities. Hosts should abstain from alcohol so they can serve as designated driver should the need arise at the end of the night.

Backyard barbecues are a staple of July 4th, and there’s no reason your summer soirée can’t be one to remember for years to come.

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Tips for Grilling the Perfect Burger

Hamburgers are a staple at backyard barbecues. Though burgers are a relatively simple food, mastering the technique to grill burgers is no small feat, as there is more to great grilled burgers than simply firing up the grill and dropping down a patty.

· Choose fresh ground beef that has a decent percentage of fat. The fat-to-lean meat ratio should be around 20 percent fat to 80 percent meat. Spend a little more to get freshly ground meat that has not been previously frozen.

· Don’t overwork the burgers with a lot of handling. This will warm up the fat in the burger, which causes it to emulsify and could make the meat rubbery.

· Reconsider adding a lot of herbs, spices or add-ins to the burgers, as such items can detract from the flavor of the meat. Extra herbs and spices also may require extra mixing, which can lead overhandling.

· Push a dimple into the top of the burger, which will help prevent the burger from expanding upward and out while cooking and rounding out in the process. The dimple will keep the top of the burger flat, which facilitates easy topping.

· Make sure the grill is hot. Burgers do well with high heat and will cook relatively quickly.

· Resist the urge to push down on the patty with your spatula. This will cause the juices to spill out and may result in a dry, tough burger.

· Let burgers rest before serving. This lets the juices redistribute throughout and makes for a moist and tasty first bite.


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Master Magical Marinades

Grilled foods boast inviting flavors that put many diners on the lookout for second helpings. Quite often the magic behind grilled meals lies in the marinade used to give foods that flavorful kick.

Marinades can be used to enhance the flavor of meats, vegetables and poultry. While marinades add flavor, they also may be responsible for some other benefits in grilled foods.

Marinades add flavor

Defined as a savory acidic sauce in which food is soaked to enrich its flavor, marinades help break down fiber and tenderize certain foods. The base of many marinades include vinegar, lemon juice or wine, and marinades can be enhanced with spices, oil and herbs.

It’s important not to let foods sit in marinades for too long, as any alcohol, acid or salt in the mixture can chemically “cook” the food in a process known as “denaturing.” Adhere to timing recommendations when using store-bought marinades, and keep such guidelines in mind when using homemade marinades as well. Many may tell you to let foods sit no longer than four hours. Marinades with citrus juices may require even less time for flavor to penetrate.

The timing of marinade use also will depend on the foods being marinated. Delicate items, such as seafood, may change with regard to texture or color in a matter of minutes.

It’s important to always marinate foods in the refrigerator. Food left sitting out on a counter – even when it’s in a marinade – invites the growth of bacteria. If a recipe calls for marinating at room temperature, continue to marinate in the refrigerator, but extend the length of time you marinate. This helps to prevent foodborne illnesses.

When marinating, use plastic or glass containers so the marinade does not cause a chemical reaction, which may occur if you marinate foods in metal containers. Discard all marinades for raw meats and poultry when the time comes to cook the foods, as leftover marinades may contain bacteria that makes them unsafe to reuse on other foods.

The nutritional benefits of marinating

In addition to flavor, marinades may improve the nutritional value of grilled foods. In 2008, researchers at Kansas State University discovered that marinating meat in antioxidant-rich spice blends can reduce the risk of forming heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, by more than 80 percent. HCAs are harmful, cancer-causing compounds that form when food chars over an open flame at high temperatures. Marinades must be rich in spices to have any HCA-busting properties.

Marinades are a secret weapon in the creation of tasty, tender and healthy foods. They come in quite handy when grilling, and add an extra dose of flavor when cooking over high heat. TF167209

Tips for Safe Home Grilling

Millions of grilling enthusiasts take to their backyards each year to cook delicious foods over an open flame. Grilling is embedded in the history of many cultures, and to this day many people feel nothing beats the savory flavor characteristic of grilled meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables.

Although many people safely enjoy outdoor barbecues every day, accidents can happen. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, roughly 6,000 grill fires take place on residential property every year in the United States alone. Many grilling accidents can be prevented with some safety precautions and a little common sense.

When grilling, place the grill in a safe location. Grills should be at least 10 feet away from the house when they are in use. Also, keep the grill away from wooden overhangs or other structures attached to the house, such as garages and porches.

Before using a gas grill, inspect it to make sure there are no gas leaks. Ensure hoses are properly connected and that the grill looks in good repair.

Use propane and charcoal grills outdoors only. Never bring such grills into your house, even if it seems like there is ample ventilation. Potentially fatal carbon monoxide can build up quickly.

Keep children and pets away from the grill area. Grills can be knocked over easily, and kids and pets may burn themselves if they bump into a hot grill.

Clean the grill regularly. Grease and fat buildup forms in the tray below the grill and can be quite flammable. By brushing off the grates after each use and periodically removing food and grease buildup, you can prevent flare-ups that may ignite the grill.

Always tend the grill while cooking. Walking away for even a minute may lead to accidents.

Store unused propane tanks upright at all times to prevent leakage. Keep them outdoors and beyond the reach of children. Never smoke near propane cylinders and never move a lit grill.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the event of a flare-up. A hose may not prove effective on a grease fire.

It’s also important to emphasize food safety when grilling. Invest in a food thermometer so you can test the internal temperature of foods and prevent foodborne illnesses.

Grilling is a great and flavorful way to cook. But safety must remain a priority when grilling.


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