It’s summer, it’s summer! Long live summer. How we count down the days towards summer when everything seems to slow down, without any homework pressure and the morning rush to get the children off to school. How we look forward to the hours saved not having to bundle up in a hat, scarf, gloves, jacket, etc.
With all this time saved, there’s nothing more American than firing up the barbeque. In my circles, manning the barbeque is traditionally a male job, but there is a lot more to a successful barbeque than dropping the meat onto the grill.
Here are some tips to make the best barbeque possible.
- Check your supplies! If you have a gas grill, make sure you have gas in the tank. If you need charcoal, double check that you have enough to last you throughout the meal. Nothing is more annoying than having to stop and make a trip to the gas station or store because you ran out of heating elements.
- Buy a little extra. Nothing brings out a hearty appetite like eating outside. You might be shocked by your little ones, and not so little ones, asking for doubles or triples. Normally, when I plan a meal, in the efforts of minimizing leftovers and waste, I make less than one serving per dish assuming that some people will try some options, and others will try different ones. However, a BBQ and the novelty of eating al fresco encourages even the most picky eater to try new dishes. So, if you are making hot dogs, buy enough for all. Same with the wings, and especially with the steaks. Everyone wants a piece of steak.
- Don’t forget the marinade. The longer the meat or chicken sits in the flavor the better, so take the phrase “leave for a few hours, ideally overnight” to heart. The easiest marinade is some salt and black pepper, brushed on with a little oil. But feel free to experiment, adding different spices, salad dressings, lemon juice, mustard, beer, fruit juices… the options are literally endless.
- There’s more to BBQ than meat! A freshly-grilled whole fish tastes light and juicy, absolutely perfect in my opinion. You can try adding some sliced zucchini, onions, peppers, corns… even fruit such as watermelon, peaches and pineapple. No need for dressing; these fruit and vegetables taste great right off the grill.
- Don’t forget the drinks! A smoky grill makes you extra thirsty. This is the perfect opportunity to get your children to drink water instead of sugary drinks. I like to prepare lots of iced water, flavored with sliced cucumbers, lemons, and/or oranges. Pretty and flavorful!
- Buy cleaning supplies by the cartload. Nothing says BBQ like messy faces and drippy hands – baby wipes, paper towels, cleaning spray and plenty of garbage bags are a must. We all have our preferences, but I, for one, am not willing to clean grease-caked dishes and cups. I always make sure to have plenty of cheap paper goods that can be thrown straight into the trash.
- Allocate enough time. When you plan on eating chicken or meat for dinner, you plan ahead, right? You wouldn’t stick the chicken in a pan into the oven, take it out ten minutes later, and expect it to be ready. It’s definitely quicker to cook over an open fire, but it still takes time. Start early enough that the food will be ready at your approximate regular dinnertime to avoid your family members and guests filling up on snacks instead of the food you slaved over.
- Repel those bugs! There you are, munching on your fully-loaded hot dog, when you start to feel something munching on you! Remember, spray when you are outside, on your clothes, not on your skin. It’s also helpful to light citronella-scented candles, and they are pretty to look at, too!
- Assign clean-up jobs before the BBQ gets underway. You don’t want to be the only one stuck outside picking up chicken bones while everyone is back inside, relaxing in the air conditioning. This way, as the BBQ finishes up, you can remind everyone what he or she committed to doing, thereby limiting the grumbling to a minimum.
- Last but definitely not least: Grill safely. A responsible adult should always be watching the grill, making sure there aren’t any little bodies too close to the hot fire. When you’re finished with the barbeque, make sure the grill has completely cooled off before storing.