The Fourth of July definitely means sparklers and fireworks, but it also means putting that barbeque to good use. After all, you don’t want to be the only one in the neighborhood not grilling something up for your friends and family. If you want to fly solo this year—without any help from that overachieving know-it-all friend—take the below kernels of wisdom from chefs Russell Bry (of Yalla Mediterranean restaurant) and Steven Lindner (executive chef and founder of Zone Manhattan) to heart—they just may be what keeps you from burning everything.
According to Russell, the first thing you must do before even putting food on the grill, is establish the proper-sized flame. He also advises to make sure you have everything you need beforehand, like a good probe thermometer. Once you’re ready to grill, the top challenge is to avoid burning overcooking the food. You should always make sure to put whatever will take the longest to cook on the grill first. “Half way through, throw on the items that cook more quickly. This way, you can ensure that everything is cooked properly and off the grill at the same time,” advises Russell.
While beef definitely reigns supreme when it comes to backyard celebrations, don’t forget about the leaner options, like fish and veggies. Maybe try processing some shrimp to make a burger patty or grill an entire fish (which keeps it from falling apart). Lindner says “Coho Salmon or Arctic Char are two great options for grilling. Stuffing the bellies with your favorite herbs and citrus, and rubbing the outside with [...] onion and garlic powder can really add to the flavor of the fish.” Make sure you give yourself enough time for this though, since a 3-pound fish could take up to 45 minutes to cook.
Corn, Portobello mushrooms (especially after marinated) and whole bell peppers are a great grilling staple and can be a sneaky way to trick everyone into adding a little more “green” to their plates. Lindner recommends throwing some jumbo asparagus, tomatoes, Cipollini onion, and Elephant garlic on the grill. If you’re craving something sweet, try fruit—like apricots, peaches and pineapples. “For the adventurous adult, you can marinade the fruit the night before in your favorite liquor, such as a tequila or rum,” says Lindner.
Speaking of marinades, just because you’re using a barbecue doesn’t mean that what you enjoy in your in-door kitchen can’t apply to your Fourth of July BBQ. Feel free to experiment with spices and rubs. For example, for an authentic Mediterranean flavor, Russell suggests using “coriander, cumin, cardamom, a pinch of cinnamon and a touch of fresh mint.” If you plan on marinating overnight (and you should), use a yogurt-based sauce to keep the meat tender. Once you start grilling, adding citrus is a good idea, but Russell advises not to do it beforehand, since the acidity will toughen the meat if left too long.
Now that you have the basics down—plus some tricks and suggestions—there’s no way you mess this weekend up!