BBQ tips and tricks — How to plan a cookout

Summer BBQNo matter how old you are, summertime makes you feel like a kid again while you’re free for three months to relax and enjoy the great weather. Sure, you may still have summer school classes or a job, but June, July and August’s longer days offer the perfect opportunity to kick back and have a good time—and nothing says fun quite like firing up the grill. Make the most of your summer this year with these BBQ tips and tricks you can use when you plan a cookout with your friends.

Be a good host

Nothing derails a BBQ faster than not having a good plan. After all, who wants to sit down to a stack of big juicy burgers, only to discover the drinks aren’t cold, you are out of plates, or half your guests are vegetarian? Part of your cookout plan has to involve having a plan!

On the blog, BBQ Showdown, Manilyn Moreno posted “5 Tips On Hosting a Barbecue Party” on February 5, 2013, highlighting what you need to do:

Create a guest list — This lets you know how much food to plan for. This is also the time to ask if anyone has any diet restrictions so you know if you need boca burgers, gluten-free buns, etc.
Chill those drinks — Nobody wants a warm soda or beer, so keep your guests happy with perfectly chilled bottles and cans.
Pick a good location — You want a little sun, a little shade and plenty of space for the grill away from plants or wooden structures.
Plan something fun — Now’s the time to break out the volleyball net or the bean bag toss set.
Buy in bulk — Take advantage of discount stores because buying your meat, plates and drinks in bulk can save you money.

Prep your grill

When it comes to planning a cookout, don’t forget the grill. The experts on all things meat-and-fire-related at grilling.com offered their comprehensive “Tips From The Pros: Grill Cleaning & Maintenance” on March 22, 2013. They recommend a quick grill clean up prior to each use and a more thorough cleaning and maintenance check at least once a year to ensure that your cookout achieves maximum tastiness.

What you should do:

  • Before any meat goes on the fire, get the grill grates hot.
  • Once they are screamin’ hot, close the grill hood.
  • Wait about 10 minutes or until the smoke subsides.
  • Use a good grill scraper and brush to remove any remaining stuck-on food bits.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want the surface of the grate to be smooth.
  • Now you are ready to grill.

But first you need fire, right? Here are the insider tips and tricks to starting a charcoal grill:

  • Remove the lid and cooking grate.
  • Open the bottom grill vent.
  • Create a mound of charcoal in the center of your grill. (You might want to invest in a chimney starter to help get your fire going.)
  • Burn the charcoal for about 15 minutes until a layer of white ash forms on all the coals.
  • Spread the coals out into an even surface.
  • Replace the cooking grate, open the vents on the lid and cover the grill until you are ready to cook.

For the ladies

All too often, grilling and BBQ gets left to the guys, but women shouldn’t be afraid to mix it up over an open flame. Impress your friends by knowing your way around the grill when you avoid these rookie mistakes, offered by Matthew G. Kadey in “Girl’s Guide: How To Grill Meat” for Women’s Health magazine:

Know your beef—which cuts are best, like top-, eye-, and bottom-round.

  • Skip the BBQ sauce, it will only burn.
  • Marinate meat instead for up to 12 hours.
  • Turn up the heat, beef is best cooked over high heat. Then let it rest before cutting.
  • If you opt for chicken, make sure you cook it through and if it is boneless don’t over-grill it or it will be dry.
  • Grilling fish? Consider a fish basket to make sure your filet stays intact.
  • See, there’s no need to fear a BBQ with these tips and tricks. How to plan a cookout where you AND your guests can kick back, relax, soak up the summertime and eat some great food is easy when you know what to do.

What did you do to make your last BBQ the best? Share your tricks, tips and tantalizing tidbits in the comments below.

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