Editor's note: From time to time, we like to feature the voices of ManMade readers on the site. We love hearing what you're up to, what you're making, and how you stay creative. When ManMade reader Scott Huntington wrote in to share how he hadn't fired up his grill once for the entire summer and it revolutionized his cooking, I asked him to share his experience.
My life changed forever this summer. It was the summer I didn’t grill a single time. It was also the summer I made the best meats I’ve ever had, all because of a simple backyard ssmoker. It took my cooking level from “yeah I’ll eat that” to “I need to share this with the world.” And it couldn’t be easier.
During summer, it's my goal to bust out the charcoal and chimney starter as much as possible. Call it a masculine stereotype if you must, but I never miss an opportunity to take advantage of extended daylight to cook dinner outside. It avoids heating up the house with the oven, and, of course, makes everything taste amazing.
And, if you want you grilled food to taste even better, here's my tip. It takes all of five seconds to set up, and takes your meal up to the next level:
Turning out perfectly grilled foods in your own backyard requires balancing two important variables: time and temperature. Too hot, and the food gets overly blackened and burnt before it's cooked through. Too short, and the surfaces don't have enough time to caramelize, brown, and develop that characteristic charred flavor that makes grilling worth the effort in the first place.
A solid grill thermometer can help, but here's the bad news: standard bi-metal dial thermometers, the kind present in almost all backyard grills and smokers, can be off by as much as 75° F in either direction. Which, if you're going for low and slow cooked flavors of barbecue, is enough to totally ruin your meal and your day. Here's how to fix it.
In the summer, it's easy to get those deep, blackened and charred flavors in your weeknight meals. During grill season, you simply head outside, and cook your meal over an open flame.
And then comes January, where the produce is poor, and everything lacks that certain zing that the warm sun and fire-seared foods provide.
I love s'mores. I hate getting sticky.* Which I mention only to point out how much I truly love s'mores since they nearly always get your hands/face/everything sticky. It's the perfect smoky and sweet desert to finish off any night's worth of camping and hiking or simply sitting around the campfire with friends. But here's a suggestion that takes the s'mores game to a whole new level...
It turns out, we may have been slicing up that steak wrong all these years. Here's a case for switching it up and getting a better experience out of your meal.
Looking for something beyond burgers and dogs to toss over the coals and infuse with the flavors of summer? How about grilling up some seriously tasty oysters? It's easier than you think.
Pesto is a mighty Mediterranean-style sauce and condiment that’s super versatile and easy to make. It's amazing all warm weather season long, when the fresh ingredients are bountiful, and tastes fantastic on anything from the grill, on pizza or fresh pasta, or, as many will confess, a spoon.
Perhaps you've heard - it's suuuuummmmmmeeeerrrr!!!! That means the evenings stretch out seemingly forever, and every dinnertime is an opportunity to get the grill going. I love it. But I got tired of trying to cook dinner for my family in a space that is, objectively speaking, not a kitchen. I mean, where am I supposed to set plates, cooking tools, and seasonings, fill pots, and chop veg and everything else I need to fashion a fantastic BBQ?
So I finally decided to go for it, and build my own outdoor cooking space, complete with a durable concrete countertop, lots of storage, and a convenient outdoor sink. Here's how I did it:
With grilling season in full force, I thought it was time to expand a bit from my well-used staple tomato/vinegar/brown-sugar BBQ sauce.
With a list like this, there's no reason to be grilling with a store-bought sauce. Most will take about an hour total to make, and it will last for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
The southeast has a lot of great things about it -- beaches, mountains, iced tea, southern hospitality -- but it isn’t necessarily considered a hotbed of the craft beer world. There are great craft beer cities, sure, but it doesn’t have the respect of a Michigan, Oregon, or upstate New York. The past decade has seen an explosion of breweries in the southeast, though, and these folks have mastered brewing for summertime. These breweries don’t just know heat. They live it, and they make beer that suits it. With that in mind, here are ten favorites to help you beat the heat next time you’re having friends or family over this summer.
It's officially BBQ season and the question now is, "What will you bring?" How will you up the ante and add a special touch to the occasion that will leave an impression? How about some homemade Beer Pretzel Hot Dog Buns?
Last weekend I grilled in a public park for a friend's birthday and my buddy remembered all of the necessary ingredients... except for the grill. Someone dashed out to pick up a cheap grill from Target ($16!) and I began scouring the internet for cool ways to good meat on a cheap grill. And that's how I learned about the Snake Method...
With the temps warming up, it is most certainly time to get mouths a-watering for barbecue season. Whether gas or charcoal, most of us have a backyard grill, but a dedicated smoker can be a luxury. They take up space, can cost a lot, and while they make sense for true smoked food fans, might not be necessary for the average grill fan.
In fact, they're not necessary at all. Cause with a little creativity and DIY ingenuity, you can turn the grill you already own in a smoker that can turn out tender, fall apart food fused with the flavor of fire.
There are times when you need a large outdoor cooker: big hunks of protein cooked low and slow, hosting for a crowd, cold smoking some seasonal goodies. But some times, you just want to get your food as hot and as close to the fire as possible to create the crust and depth of flavor that only cooking over an open flame can provide.
If you've ever watched an old school pitmaster, or read a single book or recipe on slow smoking and barbecue technique, you're no doubt familiar with "the mop." It's a flavorful combo of liquids that gets regularly added during a slow cook to help aid smoke absorption and the creation of a great bark.
Some will add the mop with a spray bottle, but the mop, the liquid ingredient, comes, of course, from its application - an actual mop.
Looking for something new to grill for the next backyard gathering? Grab a Watermelon and try out this sweet and savory pizza recipe.
I like smoked foods. More than the average bear, I think. I mean, sure, slow smoked barbecue meats like ribs and brisket, but I particularly like other proteins (like fish or turkey), vegetables (leafy greens, beets, carrots), and snacks (nuts, cheeses, olives). Even cocktails.