Backyard Barbecue Basics - U of I Extension

News Release

Backyard Barbecue Basics

This article was originally published on May 31, 2006 and expired on June 30, 2006. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Though many people grill year round, nice warm days makes most any family want to bring out the grill especially if they can smell their neighbors grill! More and more cooks are turning to grilling as it can be a great low-fat cooking method with positive effects on health.

While many outdoor grillers still prefer barbecue sauce as their favorite grill topper, marinades and rubs are at the top of the list. More people are choosing marinades and rubs because they add flavor without fat. A marinade is a meat or vegetable soak that contains an acid, flavorings, and sometimes a little oil. The combinations for such are only limited by the cook's imagination. Rubs are really a dry marinade – blends of herbs and spices rubbed onto the meat before grilling.

To get you off on the right foot this season extension shares some backyard barbecue basics to consider:

Choose the right grilling method – Smaller, quick-cooking cuts of meat should be cooked directly over the heat source and turned as needed to cook and brown. Larger cuts of meat and bony pieces like ribs should be cooked over indirect heat, which is similar to oven roasting. Indirect heat settings on gas and electric grills will provide the slower cooking needed. Make a charcoal grill into an outdoor oven by banking coals around the edge and centering a drip pan in the middle. Placing the meat over the pan rather than the coals and covering the grill allows the slow roasting needed for the large or bony cuts of meat.

Know when to start cooking – Coals should be ash-covered and glowing before starting meats on a charcoal grill. Gas and electric grills should be ignited and covered for 5 to 10 minutes for "preheating".

Don't overcook – Hot grills can quickly overcook smaller cuts of meat. Watch carefully to prevent charring. Juice should run clear on thin cuts of meat and burgers. For larger cuts of meat, outdoor cooks should use a meat thermometer and cook to 160 degrees. For some types of meats, grilling experts parboil and precook the meat and then put it on the grill just to finish cooking and to gain that smoky, grilled flavor.

Savor the sizzle season – Look beyond potato salad and baked beans. Team grilled meats with fresh fruits, fresh or grilled vegetables, whole grains/breads, and interesting salads. Try serving meats with salsas or chutneys for new taste adventures.

Pull date: June 30, 2006