Memorial Day is approaching. It’s time to pay respect and remember those who gave their lives for our country. It’s a time to gather with friends and family to appreciate our freedom, enjoy some festivities and savor delicious foods that bring us together. Typically, that means firing up the grill and cooking up an array of mouthwatering barbecued foods. Here at PS Seasoning we are no slackers when it comes to the grill. We love barbecue just as much as the next guy and believe in cooking great food that will leave your taste buds shrieking with excitement. So from our backyards to yours, here are some tips to get you the most flavor out of this Memorial Day!
#1: Plan Your Meal But Choose Wisely
You may think there is no such thing, but we assure you there is. Know your guests preferences, diet restrictions, spice levels and offer a variety of options that suite your crowd. Remember kid friendly options too, like seasoned french fry style potatoes or classic chips & dip. Do some research, gather some recipe ideas and take the time to plan a meal that fits everyone. All too often people assume that whatever they serve will be fine, but especially these days, that just isn't true. If you know someone can't have much salt, give them a salt-free or low-salt option. Some people are sensitive to spices or prone to food allergies. Take some time to strategize your get-together. Find recipes that all your guests can enjoy. Not only will that show better hospitality on your part, but your guests will appreciate that you took the time and effort to be so considerate of their needs. Once you gather all your information and recipes, get your shopping done a couple days in advance to give plenty of time for prepping. Don't forget snacks and appetizers!
#2: Prepare Your Meats
We all have our top choice for what goes on grill. Whether it's a variation of pork, beef, chicken or whatever your favorite. No matter what meat you choose, make sure they are "grill ready" the day of your gathering. Make sure meats are not frozen! Most meats you will want at room temperature before grilling for more even cooking, so allow your meats time to thaw and reach the right temp. Soak meats a few hours in advance or the night before in BBQ sauce, a liquid marinade or simply add water to a dry marinade. If you use BBQ sauce or a liquid marinade, be sure to reserve some for basting and dipping. If don't have time to marinate your meats, use a rub or seasoning blend and massage it thoroughly onto the meat surface before grilling. Make homemade brats or sausages days ahead of time (or weeks if you're an avid sausage maker) and thaw before it's time to grill. If you're preparing slow cooked or smoked meats, be sure to plan accordingly. Chances are you will need an extra day or two to prepare. The bottom line being that when it comes to this portion of your BBQ, you know how much time you'll need, so give yourself that time and then some. (If you're not a meat eater, it's still just as important to prepare and season vegetarian or vegan proteins such as tofu or veggie burgers before cooking).
#3: Prep Your Sides: Seasoning is the Key
Precooking or assembling your sides the night before is a great way to avoid having to rush the day of your gathering. When preparing your sides, don't forget the seasoning! If you refrigerate or soak any ingredients the night before, it's a great opportunity to allow the seasonings time to "mingle" with the ingredients. Trust us, we know a lot about this. For various salads or dishes where ingredients might settle or separate, be sure to stir them every so often and again before serving. You could also take some time to show off by making your own dressings, spreads or sauces using any variety of seasoning blends. Note: Going back to tip #1, be sure not to OVER season. Keep in mind that just because you like something more heavily seasoned, doesn't mean your guests will agree. Use seasonings that compliment the flavor of your foods, not suffocate them. Once you put too much seasoning in, you can't take it out and that's just wasteful. Begin by sprinkling small amounts into your dishes and gradually work your way up to an ideal taste. As we said before, let the flavors mingle overnight and give them a taste before serving. If the flavor seems to have gotten "lost", add a touch more seasoning to freshen your dishes before putting them out. *Consider creating a garnish bar that includes various seasonings for your guests to try on their own.
#4: Fire Up The Grill
Assuming that you've used your grill before, make sure to start by properly preparing your grill at least the day before. Ensure that it is well cleaned and follow proper techniques when firing up your grill. Preheat it at least 15 to 25 minutes before your ready to start cooking. You may also want to determined how much of the cooking surface you can use at one time. By doing this, it will help you to better plan the time to serve your meal. If you are cooking for a fairly large crowd, be sure to estimate how long each type of food needs to cook and give yourself extra time on top of that. Don't leave your guests hanging when you know they are waiting to dive into some smoky, charred goodness. If you're new to grilling, be sure to do some research before you begin and follow the instruction given in your grill's manual.
#5: Let's Get Cookin'!
Once you've got the grill preheated, meat and sides are prepped and waiting, it's time to get cookin'! Have a plan of action to ensure everything gets cooked properly. After you have placed foods on the grill, give them some time to cook before trying to flip them. Turning certain foods too soon can lead to sticking to the grill grate. If you are basting meats, lightly brush the surface and allow the sauce or marinade to be slightly absorbed. You want meats to absorb the flavor for intensity when you take your first bite. Do not "drench" the meat. Always ensure that certain meats are cooked through. For meats that have various cooking stages, such as red meats, cook to the degree your guests prefer. Don't overload your grill with too many items at once. If you are working with a large amount of food, cook them by time or in groups (as much as your grill allows), wrap cooked foods in foil and place in a warm oven until everything is completed. Vegetables tend to take the least amount of time to cook, so place them on the grill toward the end of your cooking. Be sure to give meats time to rest after you pull them from the grill. At least 5 to 10 minutes depending on preferred temp. Note: Charcoal grills have various zones for getting the best flavor into various foods. You can even use charcoal grills to smoke foods. No matter what type of grill you use, be sure to utilize it to it's full ability to get the best flavor infusion.