Great Grilling Secrets For Summer

Grilling season is upon us. Fire up the grill and enjoy outdoor meals -- everything from dinner on the backyard patio to a picnic in the park. Grilling is great because it is a delicious way to cook a variety of recipes, involves fairly easy clean up and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

Nowadays almost everything can be made on the grill including pizza and dessert; however, meat is still the top choice for what to grill. Whatever your tastes, there are a variety of types and cuts of meat to select from and prepare to one’s preference.

“When I grill, I like the meat to have a rich, full flavor,” says Dan Conroy, pit master and research and development chef for Famous Dave’s, an award-winning BBQ restaurant. “I recommend having a variety of spices on hand to season as needed, but if you aren’t comfortable with that there are a number of pre-mixed rubs and sauces that you can buy at the local grocery store that are delicious.”

Want to sample some of Conroy’s award-winning BBQ? Take part in the “World’s Biggest Backyard BBQ” happening May 20th in Famous Dave’s communities across the country. A meal of St. Louis-style spare ribs, a side dish and a beverage will be served for $5. Half of the meal price will be donated to Share Our Strength, the nation’s leading anti-hunger organization.

This summer, great grilling is within your grasp. Conroy offers some helpful tips to make you the neighborhood’s top grill master:

* Be prepared. First, if you don’t have one, get a digital meat thermometer -- it’s the griller’s best friend and your guests will be impressed when you ask them “How would you like that cooked?” Other items for the master griller’s utility belt: hot pads, tongs, a metal grill brush for cleaning, separate preparation and serving platters, and a cloth for oiling the grill grates.

* Select your meat. If you are a beginning griller, Conroy recommends hamburgers and pre-cooked meats such as sausages or hotdogs because they just need to be cooked through. Chicken breasts and pork chops are other cuts that can be grilled with a fairly high success rate. Just don’t overcook--a common mistake! Poultry should be cooked to an internal temp of 165º and pork to an internal temp of 150º.

* Add some flavor. A novice? Try pre-mixed seasonings, rubs, marinades or sauces. Traditional BBQ sauces like Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy or Texas Pit can be added to the meat during grilling or for added flavor when serving. Pick a flavor that is right for the meat. There are a variety of options for chicken, beef and pork.

* Serve tender meat. “Slow and low” is the trick to grilling cuts like whole roasts, flank steaks, top round steaks, ribs, and briskets. Time and patience get the best results. Marinating these cuts before cooking will add flavor and help to make them tender.

* Fix overcooking. Sometimes overcooked meats can be saved. Try chopping or shredding cooked beef or pork and mix it with BBQ sauce for sandwiches. You could also try dicing it for soup or chili. Overcooked meat is dry, so if you can figure out a way to use it in a sauce or gravy to add moisture, go for it.


Lip Smackin’ Good BBQ Sauce

2 thick strips hickory-smoked bacon
1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup peach schnapps
1/2 cup baking raisins
1 large jalapeno, finely diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup aged Alessi balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped sweet apple
1/4 cup frozen tangerine juice concentrate
1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 1/4 cups dark corn syrup
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke

Fry bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Eat the bacon. Fry the onion in the reserved drippings over medium-high heat until caramelized or dark golden brown; do not burn.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Deglaze saucepan with the water. Stir in peach schnapps, raisins, jalapeno and garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture is of a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and place the mixture in a blender with the balsamic vinegar, apple, tangerine juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, molasses, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and lime juice. Process until pureed and return to the saucepan.

Add corn syrup, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, Maggie Seasoning, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and cayenne and mix well. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Stir in Kahlua and liquid smoke. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Alternative option: 1 bottle Famous Dave’s Rib Rub, 1 bottle Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy BBQ Sauce. Embellish the sauce by adding 1/8 cup Kahlua, 3/8 cup of Peach Schnapps, and 1/4 cup apricot preserves.

Serve as a sauce on your favorite cooked meat.

Yield: four cups

Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Barbeque Ribs

2 (4- to 5-pound) racks spareribs
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup minced diced onion
1 cup Famous Dave’s Rib Rub
1 (20-ounce) bottle Famous Dave’s BBQ sauce

The night before smoking, trim your ribs of all excess fat. Place them in a large plastic bag and pour in Italian dressing to coat. Seal bag well. Refrigerate for four hours, turning occasionally. Remove and wipe off excess dressing. Sprinkle each rib with pepper, then 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the onion. Wrap each rib in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove the wrap and wipe the sludge off the ribs. Generously coat front and back of ribs with Rib Rub and, using your hands, rub the seasoning into the meat. Set the ribs aside. The smoking process will take six hours.

Using a chimney charcoal starter, get 15 briquettes red hot. Place coals on one end of grill and place 1 pound of green hickory around the coals. If you can’t get fresh-cut hickory, use water-soaked hickory chunks instead. Keep the internal temperature of the grill at 200 to 225 degrees. Add more charcoal and hickory chunks every hour as needed.

Place ribs bone side down, but not directly over hot coals. After three hours, remove the ribs from the grill and wrap them in aluminum foil. Hold the ribs in a covered grill at 180 to 200 degrees for 90 minutes to two hours, or until they are fork tender.

Next, build a very hot bed of coals over the entire bottom of the grill. Be careful, because this next step goes quickly. Remove the foil and place the ribs back on the grill to add char flavor. When the meat becomes bubbly, it is done. Make sure to char off bone side membrane until it becomes papery and disintegrates. Slather with BBQ sauce. Let heat caramelize sauce.

Yield: five to six servings.

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About The Author, Morris Collins
For grilling inspiration and to support a worthy cause, attend Famous Dave’s World’s Biggest Backyard BBQ on May 20th. To find a location near you and to learn more about the fundraiser, visit - ARA