Grilling season in the Lake Oconee area fortunately is all year round – whether you're smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving, grilling a prime rib for Christmas, putting a ham on for Easter, or hot dogs, hamburgers, and ribs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The unique flavors of sizzling meat on a hot grill are loved by Americans young and old. Whether you're an enthusiastic foodie or a simple family chef, it's time to get outside and perfect the art of the barbecue.
If you're new to grilling, it's easy to make some wrong turns. No one wants to end up with dried out chicken, burnt steak or flavorless ribs. When you're cooking, keep in mind a few tips from the pros from the WETSU BBQ Crew, a competitive barbecue team sponsored by Tree Top.
* Get to know your butcher. At Lake Oconee we are partial to the meat department of Publix and Pounders, our favorite local butcher. They can help you pick out the best cuts of meat for your intended use. For example, fat marbling is one of the most important things to look for when selecting a steak, but too much or too little can ruin the cut. Chicken and pork are leaner meat options. Be ready to answer questions about preparation and cooking, because this information will guide his or her suggestions.
* Think about spices. Once you have your meat, it's time to visit your spice rack. A harmonious blend of spices will bring out the natural flavor as it cooks on the grill. Some traditional grilling spices include paprika, salt, pepper and garlic, but more exotic spices like cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning can be used too if you're feeling adventurous.
* Enhance your flavors. Barbecue pros around the country have a secret that takes their spice mixtures to the next level: fruit juice like Tree Top Apple Juice, made from 100 percent U.S.A. apples. Using juice, you can enhance the flavors of the spices and meat during the grilling process. Apple is a great juice option because the flavor pairs well with sweet, savory or hot spices. Tree Top Apple Juice can also be injected into the meat to keep it juicy and tender. My personal favorite "secret" flavor we put on just about everything is soy sauce with maybe a little lime juice.
* Learn how to cook on a grill. When your meat is fully prepped, warm up the grill and get ready to cook. But before you start, keep in mind cooking on a grill is different than cooking on your stove or in your oven. Thin-cut meats cook better with direct heat like a charcoal or gas fire. Chicken, thinly-cut steak and pork chops will cook quickly and evenly. On a gas grill, use all the burners to ensure the heat is even throughout the grill, and grill with the hood down as much as possible. When turning meat, use a spatula or tongs. Don't poke it, because this allows juices to escape and can result in a tough, dry main dish.
These tips should help you get the perfect grilled foods; but remember: if at first you don't get it right, try again. With so many different steps and factors to consider, it takes practice to get the perfect succulent barbecue. Why not try this recipe for a tasty start to your grilling season? Your family and friends won't mind being the taste-testers, and with so many wonderful scents floating through the summer air, your neighbors might be knocking on your door, as well.
Here's one of favorite's to try – Doc's Beef or Brisket Rub
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
1/4 cup kosher salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon oriental mustard (dry)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons course ground black pepper
Mix all dry ingredients well. Rub thoroughly on brisket or heavy beef. Use fresh spray bottle with Tree Top Apple Juice to spray down all dry ingredients on meat. Rub in thoroughly again because the apple juice activates the dry spices. Allow to marinate 4 to 6 hours or overnight if possible. Keep refrigerated.
Cook on smoker or any indirect heat for 6 to 8 hours or until internal temperature reaches 192 F. Smoker or grill temperature 225 F to 240 F.
Courtesy of ARA