As promised, I’m devoting my column to the art and pleasure of barbequing. I certainly can’t cover the topic with just one column. There are hundreds of books on the topic and several television shows. I can only offer you my perspective, favorite tricks, tools and techniques.
I have been grilling since I rented my first house after getting married three decades ago. That was way back when ARKLA, now Centerpoint, would let you put a gas grill on your gas bill and pay it off over a year or two. All you had to do was call them and they would come out and run a gas line and hook it up for you.
Through the years, I have had several grills, mostly charcoal. And I can clearly say that food grilled on charcoal is superior, but then you have the challenge of getting your coals ready and then disposing of the coals. So I made the permanent switch to gas. I’m all about easy.
The first big, pricey grill I bought cost almost $1,000. I don’t know what I thinking, but I did it anyway. But that grill served me well for about 10 years.
Then last year, I bought a Viking grill at an auction and it definitely was the “mother ship” of grills featuring a rotisserie, smoke box and lights. I think it will be my last one unless I’m fortunate enough to hit the mother lode and get a fancy, outside kitchen.
I like to cook beef primarily, probably because it is the easiest meat to cook. The worst you can do is overcook it. I have learned that the rarer the meat, the better it tastes. Try this tip: Get your grill to about medium heat, sear both sides and then cook it about 5 minutes per side and that’s it. Take it off. Cover it with foil for a few minutes and then eat it.
They say the price of beef will not come down until next year, so you may have to stick with pork and chicken.
When it comes to cooking chicken and pork, do some research on the process of brining, soaking the meat in a salt-water solution for several hours, even overnight. There are several ways to do it and it’s a little bit of trouble, but it is worth it. You won’t have that dried-out chicken breast or pork chop that we’ve all grilled so many times.
I love cooking veggies on the grill. My favorite is asparagus, because it so easy. Just buy one of those grilling baskets and start experimenting with the veggies you like. For asparagus, marinate with olive oil, salt and pepper and it’s ready to go in your grill basket. And it only takes a few minutes to cook.
I love to put different rubs on different meats. There are hundreds of rubs; so again, you’ll have to experiment. Here’s one sauce tip if you’re doing barbequed chicken. Wait until the chicken is almost done before adding the sauce. You’ll get a much prettier product in the end and you’ll avoid burning the bird.
Another trick that my friend, Keith Cheney, taught me was how to make “fool-proof” ribs. I don’t know how many racks of ribs I have ruined through the years, but he gave me a process that ‘s easy and almost idiot-proof.
Put your favorite rub on the baby-backs and let marinate for about an hour in the fridge. Set the oven to about 250 degrees and let the ribs sit for about an hour to two hours. Finish it off on the grill by adding some burn marks and adding some BBQ sauce and you’re ready to eat. The main thing is getting the meat temperature to around 150- 160 degrees. Oh yeah, you have to have a meat thermometer. Your poultry should be 160 degrees.
A few other must-haves: buy some “long tongs,” and a long-handled spatula. That saves you a lot of arm hair.
See you on the Boulevard. Now get out there and burn some meat!
Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter, @kneelmore.