Welcome ladies (and any gents that may be visiting). Today’s post is something special; something unique. I was chosen to be among the few, the proud, the many — to be one of 24 bloggers to participate in Foodbuzz’s 24 x 24 x 24. That’s 24 meals, in 24 locations in 24 hours.
I am excited to present to you: The Girls Guide to Grilling!
Who says grilling is a man’s sport? Well, over the past couple of weeks, this barbecue virgin took on the charcoal and the flame so I could provide for you, my faithful readers, a beginner’s-style guide to grilling.
I’ve researched. I’ve practiced. And I’ve executed a very sucessful barbecue cookout right in my own backyard. The menu included a Greek Turkey Burger that would knock your knickers off, and a Teriyaki Burger worthy of putting the grilling gods to shame.
But first, the research…
Turns out, in the barbecue world, you ought to be careful with your terminology (is it weird that I am thinking in a southern accent right now? I thought ought’n and yur…hm?). Grilling is a term that should not be flung around and used promiscuously. Use it with delicacy, or don’t use it at all!
According the “The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining” written by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, grilling only refers to cooking over direct heat, or open flame. We must not refer to other outdoor cooking methods as grilling. For the purposes of this post, I only researched and practiced one cooking method, direct-heat grilling.
Grilling is my method and charcoal briquettes is my source of fuel. I loved this quote from “Weber’s Charcoal Grilling: The Art of Cooking with Live Fire” by Jamie Purviance, “In the charcoal world, we prefer timeless methods to push-button convenience. We prefer the fickleness of a live fire to the predictability of propane. We prefer rustic smoky flavors to clean-burning gas” (pg. 6).
Lessons About Outdoor Entertaining:
1.) Don’t be a Perfectionist! “Don’t fret if you’re flower beds aren’t freshly weeded, the deck needs staining, your cloth napkins don’t match, or you don’t even have cloth napkins…You want to spoil your friends and you do that by putting your energy into pleasing them at the table” (Jaminson, pg 3).
2.) Keep your abilities and equipment in mind. Don’t try to do what your abilities and equipment won’t allow you to do.
3.) Remember the 3 P’s: PREP, PREP, PREP! Do as much of the work as you can in advance. It will save you from panicking when guests arrive! On a personal note, I stayed up prepping until midnight the night before. I am so glad I did!
Lighting the Grill:
1.) Clean out the previous soot and ashes.
2.) Use one of those fancy-pants chimney lighters, or do it my way: Wad up some newspaper and pile briquettes around newspaper. You will want enough briquettes to spread out tightly, yet evenly on the bottom grate. One tip says to leave 3-4 inches of a border surrounding the food you’ll be cooking. Now light the newspaper, use lighter fluid if needed. I used a lot. 🙂
4.) Clean your cooking grate. This can be done while you are waiting for the charcoal.
5.) Administer the hand test. What is the hand test you ask? Well, according to all three books I researched from, the hand test is the best method for checking the heat. I watched a cooking show that explained it this way: hold your hand a few inches above where you would be cooking and count, “One, two, thr-damn that’s hot!” When you get to that point you pretty much know it’s ready. As a general rule: 1-2 seconds is high heat, 3 seconds is medium high, 4 seconds is medium and 5+ is low.
I practiced this method with turkey burgers, asperegus and pineapple (at my “Getting to Know You Party”); and with chicken and sweet corn.
Other tips for successful barbecuing:
1.) Avoid fat dripping into the fire, which creates an undesired smoke. This smoke from the fats gives the meat a charred flavor rather than a wood-smoked flavor.
2.) Lay out everything that you are going to need for grilling, before you get started.
3.) Use Kingsford Briquettes with Ceadar planks pieces. I am not getting paid to say this or anything, I just really enjoyed the flavor they produced.
Now to the Main Event:
The main event was supposed to be a Girls Only BBQ Party. Unfortunately, many of my girlfriends where out of town, on vacation or had other plans! So I improvised, I invited my husband’s (the youth pastor) entire youth group to come and sample my recipes! After working with teenagers for 5+ years (and being one before that), I feel like they are some of the toughest critics. On the menu:
The Opa! Burger, Dan the Man’s Teriyaki Special, grilled asparagus, and lots of potato chips. For dessert, Strawberry Shortcake.
My idea was to give the kids a “menu” of sorts, so they could choose what to eat. The menu listed each burger and the ingredients in order to create my recipe. I also provided regular old burger fixings for my little picky ones. I figured one or two of them would try my recipes, but surprisingly most of them tried one or both burgers!
The Opa! Burger:
If you closed your eyes and took a bite of this burger, you might be transported to Greece, or maybe a section of New York that is highly populated by the Greek. The burger patty includes turkey burger mixed with smoked bacon and Greek spices. It’s topped with melted mozzarella and stuffed in a pita along with feta, Greek relish and hummus!
Ingredients for the burger (serves 12-15):
- 2lbs lean ground turkey
- 1/2 pound chopped smoked bacon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp red curry powder
- 1/2 c. diced cucumber
- 1/2 c. diced tomatoes
- 1/4 diced red onions
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 c. Greek Yogurt
- Pita Pockets
Directions: For the meat, chop the bacon and mix together with meat, dry ingredients and Worcestershire Sauce. For the Greek Relish chop up veggies and mix with spices and yogurt. Cook the burger patties through, top with a slice of mozzarella and let cook until mozzarella is melted. Stuff a pita with the burger (cut in half), hummus, Greek relish and feta cheese.
Dan the Man’s Teriyaki SpecialI named this one after my dad. You see, my cousins owned a restaurant. I am pretty sure every member of my family (me being the last) has worked there at some point, including my dad, who is an amazing cook! On the menu was the Teriyaki Burger. That’s where I got my inspiration for this creation. It’s a beef patty, Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon, grilled pineapple, teriyaki sauce, tomato, lettuce and mayo, all on a sesame seed bun!
Ingredients for the sauce (serves a lot):
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Corn Starch to thicken
- Canadian bacon
- Swiss cheese
- Lean ground beef
- Sesame seed bun
Directions: Mix together in a small sauce pan, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic powder, water and corn starch (first mix corn starch with a little cold water). Cook over medium heat and stir periodically, until sauce thickens.
Cook the burger and through on the grill. When the burger is half way cooked, grill the pineapple. While still on the grill, top the burger with a little teriyaki sauce, Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon and grilled pineapple. Place on a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo!
The Mostly Girls Barbecue Party:
The majority of the kids loved the burgers. I tried to get them to yell Opa! but I only had one taker. One teen told me my teriyaki burger was better than Carls Junior’s!
Overall my research, practice and barbecue was a success! Below are some more photos from the Barbecue. Enjoy!
–Shawnee, The Ex-Perfectionist
‘Cause life isn’t perfect, but with a little planning and preparation, you can almost come close!