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Food & Drink

Top tips for cooking the perfect barbeque

As summer rolls around once again, cooks all over the country are dusting off their old grills to celebrate the barbeque season. While most cooks know the basics for cooking a barbeque, few go above and beyond to make their meal a memorable one. Here are five tips to help your barbeque stand out this summer:

Gas or charcoal?
The tossup between gas and barbeque grilling is an issue that has long been debated among barbeque aficionados. The core difference between the two fuels comes down to flavor - charcoal provides the meat with a distinctive smoky flavor, while gas will allow the food to retain its natural flavors. If using charcoal, Rick Gresh, executive chef at David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago, recommends including some charred fruit peels from oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits to add a fresh citrus flavor to your food.

Use a thick cut of meat
When barbequing meat, most cooks strive to attain the perfect balance between a gently browned outside and a tender and juicy center. To avoid overcooking your meat, Chef Gresh recommends cooking thicker cuts of meat. "The thicker cut of meat will allow you to get a properly browned outside with more grill flavor. A thin cut overcooks by the time the browning is achieved on most home grills." By using a thicker cut, you can achieve the proper color - which means better flavor - and then slice it for multiple people to share.

Prep the meat
Correct preparation, while not absolutely essential, will help enhance the flavor of the meat. Try dry-rubbing some fresh herbs, olive oil or animal fat onto the meat, or simply let it marinate for a few hours in a barbeque sauce. Perhaps most importantly, chef Gresh says, remember to dry the product before placing it on the grill to help ensure proper browning.

Don't forget veggies
Grilled vegetables make for a perfect addition to any barbeque meal. Corn, parsnips and onions are all excellent accompaniments on a barbeque grill. For sides, Gresh's personal favorites include red onions, grilled and tossed in pesto, and carrots, blackened on the grill and then mixed with sherry vinegar, olive oil and goat's cheese. You might consider adding a light marinade or a coat of oil to your vegetables before cooking, and cook until they are crisp.

Cook more than you need
After going through all the effort of hosting a cookout, it's important to make the most of your meal. Barbequed food makes for delicious leftovers, so next time you're manning the grill, be sure to cook plenty more than you intend to eat. The following day, leftover food can be used to make delicious soups, sandwiches or salads. Barbeque meat also freezes remarkably well. In fact, some experts even believe that the cooked meat becomes more flavorful over time.