The 4th of July is one of the top three grilling weekends of the year. If you’re reading this site, there’s about a 99.5% chance that you’ll be either throwing a 4th of July BBQ or attending one. Here are my top ten tips (plus some bonus tips) for you this 4th of July
1) Burgers – Mix in all sorts of flavorizers into your ground beef including but not limited to: grated asiago; adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers; the adobo peppers themselves; Worstershire sauce; black, white and red pepper; garlic; onions; buffalo sauce; BBQ sauce; pesto; or whatever else you see in the cabinet or the fridge that looks interesting to eat, even if there is a pumpkin behind these ingredients because I made these burgers in October.
2) Chicken – When grilling chicken, save yourself a ton of work and use two zone grilling with the coals on one side and the chicken on the other so you don’t have to play fireman all day with the squirt bottle or, heaven forbid, you douse those grease fires with beer. Bonus Tip ~ Do not put the chicken on all at once or by size order (biggest to smallest) or the breasts will be done and the thighs will be raw. Place the thighs on first and close the lid. A few minutes later place the legs on and close the lid. Finally, place the breasts and wings on so everything grills evenly and is done at the same time.
3) Brine – I don’t care what you are grilling, pretty much anything can be improved with a brine. Sure, brats, dogs, burgers, and steak don’t need a brine, but just about anything else will be improved. Hell, I brined steaks once and did a blind taste test with 8 guys and 6 of them liked the brined steaks better. Just know that brining is good and I can prove it.
4) Aluminum Pans – When grilling for the masses, these things aren’t just your friends. They’re your saving grace. They allow the food to stay hot, but not get dried out because the aluminum deflects the heat. They’re cheap. Buy a stack of them and keep them on hand.
5) Corn – Boiling anything in water leaches the flavor out of the thing being boiled and transfers it into the water. Don’t make corn soup. Grill the corn and add in some caramelized sugars to the flavor profile when some of the kernels brown. Bonus Tip ~ slather the grilled corn with sour cream, your favorite BBQ rub, and grated queso cheese.
6) Brats – Never buy mass produced brats. Never boil them for any reason. Never poke holes in them. Never cook them over high heat. That is all.
7) Sauce – While some love sauce, other’s don’t. Make whatever you are serving great without sauce with a good marinade or brine and a fantastic rub. Then serve the sauce on the side. That way everyone gets what they want.
8) Take It Easy on the Seasoning – I see this all the time with competition grillers and people cooking for a crowd. The pitmaster wants to wow his/her guests and kicks everything up but over does it. Too much seasoning is added, too much salt, too much spice, whatever. Don’t mess with success. Stick to the tried and true and NEVER try a brand new recipe on a crowd without testing it on a smaller group or even just yourself.
9) Take It Easy on the Sauce – I’m not talking about BBQ sauce. I’m talking about alcohol. If you’re grilling on the 4th of July, you’re probably doing it at your house. Not many of us are invited to a BBQ and then handed the tongs. Sure it happens to me from time to time, but I’m a Grillin’ Fool. So you might be inclined to over indulge on a holiday weekend since you aren’t driving. You may not be driving, but you are running a grill and while you probably won’t kill anyone by drinking too much and grilling, you may kill your entree. My dad has a saying, “Too much chillin’ can mess up yo’ grillin’!” Go easy on the sauce, at least until the meat is resting 😉
10) Enjoy the BBQ – If you’re slaving away at the grill every 4th of July, then pick a different menu. There are all sorts of low maintenance ways to feed a crowd. I grill a whole hog every year for Memorial Day. After I put it on the grill, I go take a nap. So simple to do, but people are intimidated by the size. Don’t be. Keep it simple and enjoy yourself.
Happy 4th everyone, and as always, try to remember the reason for the season. It’s not fireworks or beer or even BBQ. It’s the birthday of our country that allows us to enjoy those things and so much more. Thank a veteran or active duty soldier for protecting the freedoms our forefathers fought for from foreign aggressors. Appreciate the police officers for protecting our freedoms from those in this country. These men and women, like the soldiers that defend this country, would take a bullet for you and never met you. Rather than seeing them as angry teachers slapping our knuckles with rulers when we get out of line, stay inside that line and thank them for what they do. Because this is the reason for the season so respect the people that defend out freedoms whether within these borders or without:
If you have any questions, comments or tips of your own, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email. This Grillin’ Fool is always looking for tips, so please share!