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:
In wintertime, I'll gladly take a complicated cocktail. Something made with rich spirits, amber brown from barrel aging, made more tasty with fortified syrups, flavorful modifiers, and just-so preparation. These drinks are imbibe-abble equivalent of a long simmered soup or stew, designed to make you feel warm inside when the weather is not.
But summer is a whole different beast. It's already warm — too warm — and your drink's job is to cool you down while keeping everything easygoing. You need something that works while standing next to the grill, or for sipping on the deck with your feet up.
Enter the vodka soda. It's deceptively
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.
The burger is usually thought of as summer fare — the progeny of some spatula-wielding self-appointed grill master. But true burger fans know that the very best are not cooked over grill grates, but on screaming hot solid surfaces, where the rendering fat and juices stay near the patty, creating not only a crispy exterior, but the deep, caramelized, confit-like richness that defines the flavor of a great burger.
Which means, of course, that burgers are actually year-round food, and armed with a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, a great way to spend an dark, cold evening stuck inside. If we're gonna have January, than let us always have burgers.
Building a strong, sturdy fire is one of those basic skills everyone should have. When I'm out camping, I like to challenge myself to carefully prepare a perfect stack of kindling, tinder, and fuel, and see if I can get my bonfire started with just one match. But at home, in the backyard, when I'm grilling, what I really want is a perfect bed of coals that I can confidently cook on, and fast. For years, my preferred method of starting a perfect grilling fire has been to use a blowtorch. Sounds easy, right? It is. Here's how I do it:
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.
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.
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...
If you had to name a manly flavor offhand, chances are your first thought would be barbecue. It’s a pretty universally loved flavor by both sexes so chances are you have some on hand, but why not branch out a little and try making some of your own?
There's no better way to say it: we're big fans of the Biolite stove technology. We like the wide variety of local, found fuel sources it can accept, and we really love the mission to bring efficient, clean combustion cooking options to homes in developing countries where smoky indoor fires are the norm. And, it can charge your portable electronics while boiling your water or grilling your dinner? Done!
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.
Grilling and barbecuing meals is one of modern life's true great privileges. Earlier communities cooked over the open flame out of necessity, but we choose to adds layers of smoke, fire, char, and salt because some foods just deserve it. To light a fire and cook your meal upon it is a ritual of gratitude that honors the ingredients, the technique, and the time it requires to make it work. It is, in every way, an opportunity to make food special again.
Great Cooking is All About Good Technique and Ingredients. Here are Two Solid, Standby Recipes to Win Dinner Every Time
By the time you're thirty, there are a few things you really should know how to do, like fixing a flat tire, fixing a leaky faucet ... and fixing a meal. You don’t have to be an amazing cook, but every man definitely needs some standbys to pull out when guests are coming around. A dish or two he knows well, with ingredients and techniques he understands.
Don't let all the back-to-school sales fool you. We've still got weeks of summer left, and plenty of late evenings and warm weather to embrace. Keep the spirit going well into early autumn with these picks to prolong the season.
Food writer Sherry Rujikarn calls this technique for getting tender, well-seasoned meat "the best steak grilling trick you haven't heard of." It's simple, takes about twenty extra seconds, and looks to be pretty promising.
Looking for something new to grill for the next backyard gathering? Grab a Watermelon and try out this sweet and savory pizza recipe.