May 15, 2018
Two of the best things in life are good friends and delicious food, and there is no better way to welcome summer than by having a celebratory barbecue.
Before you buy some steaks, make sure your grill and your menu are ready. Regardless what kind of grill you have, maintaining it and having the essential accessories to make a great meal is extremely important.
Before deciding what to cook, you’ll need to get your BBQ ready. A fresh, clean grill makes the best food, so you should clean your grill and your tools first.
For the inside of your grill, using a non-scratch sponge or a sturdy brush is one of the best ways to get the gunk off of it, and once that’s gone you can simply use dish soap and water to shine it all up.
Pro tip: If there is lingering residue that just won’t come off, use a mix of vinegar and water in equal parts and spray it onto the dirt. Let it sit for an hour, and then it should scrub off easily
The outside of your grill needs love, too, but there’s no need to get crazy—using a sponge with dish soap and water to wash it down will work just fine, though investing in an inexpensive cover can keep things tidy all season long.
Don’t Forget Propane & Charcoal
Obviously, if you have a gas grill, you need propane. Make sure you have enough propane in your tank by investing in a gauge that will measure it for you. These are inexpensive but very important. It is also always wise to have a spare propane tank—nothing ruins grilling as much as running out of propane!
As with everything in life, safety is crucial. It’s necessary to always check that your propane tank is not cracked and/or leaking and that there are not insects or debris caught anywhere in the tubes. If you notice buildup, a toothpick or paperclip will do the trick to clear it out.
If you prefer the smoky goodness of a charcoal grill, now is the time to stock up on extra charcoal, and to watch for sales.
Tools of the BBQ Trade
In order to get food on and off the grill, you need the right grilling tools and accessories. There are countless fancy tool sets available, but no worries if you’re on a budget—simple ones work just fine. A flipper, large fork, and pair of long-handled tongs make up the core trio of grilling tools. If your tools have residue on them, dish soap and water will usually do the trick. Use a toothbrush to reach places that won’t seem to budge, or you can also soak them in your own cleaning solution made up of 4 cups of water, ¼ cup of baking soda, and juice from half of a lemon.
Of course you don’t want your food making your guests sick, so get a quick-read digital thermometer and check the temperature of the meat you are cooking before you serve it.
Other accessories to consider? Getting a basting brush to apply sauce when you are grilling meat might be a good investment. There’s also light to think about. Many newer models of grills have solar-powered technology and can give you extra light where you need it. If yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to get a flashlight or even a headlamp for hands-free illumination, in case you’re grilling after dark.
Plan a BBQ menu
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to pick your menu! Your main course can be as simple as flame grilled hamburgers or hotdogs, but don’t forget you can swap in healthy ground turkey too. This month at Co-op we’re featuring recipes including a Spicy Thai Turkey burger.
Adding things like cucumber slices, minced garlic and ginger, chopped jalapeño, onions, salt, sriracha sauce, basil and mint leaves, and even fish sauce adds a lot of flavour while keeping it healthy.
Obviously, you need a side dish, too. Baked beans are a staple of barbecues, but sometimes they’re boring. A great tip to overcoming this is by using none other than fried chopped bacon! It adds a kick of flavour (and protein!) and you can use brown sugar to give your beans some sweetness. You can also add other ingredients including garlic, ketchup, carrots, and even apples!
Try Barbecuing Dessert
We all know the favourite part of every meal is dessert. S’mores are great to roast over a fire, but did you know about s’mores dip? There are many variations, but a great one only requires bananas, maple syrup, chocolate, and marshmallows. Combine these simple ingredients in a pan, use your shiny clean grill to cook the mixture, and finally add graham cracker pieces into it—this treat is guaranteed to leave all guests satisfied.
Alberta is known for its high quality wheat—and Calgary is a city that loves its pancakes, par-ticularly during the first week of July.
Sometimes on a hot summer day, or after a job well done, you just want to crack open a cold one to feel truly refreshed.
Sometimes it’s the finishing touch that makes all the difference to a dish—an extra sprinkle or drizzle can add texture and balance flavours.