Don?t Poke the Chicken at Your Backyard Barbecue

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You might be planning a home remodeling project and it includes an outdoor kitchen. A big part of that plan will be the type of grill you introduce. There are a lot of things to think about and options to research before investing in equipment. I am not a gourmet chef, but I think it is helpful to know what you enjoy grilling the most for your family. Are you carnivores or do you enjoy fish and poultry?

Don't forget about the veggies and fruit. Anything can safely and deliciously be cooked on a grill of your choice so be open to the possibilities. For the brevity, let's concentrate on the meat portion. Beef can be economical if you purchase cheaper cuts such as brisket, but most everyone loves a good steak. Take a good cut of meat, add a little salt and pepper and you're done. You don't have to go in for the fancy flavors of marinade etc. Try ribs on the grill. If you want them falling off the bone I suggest you boil them before grilling. Try your hand at your own barbecue recipe and slather it on. You can easily look like an expert. Have you ever tried making your own burgers out of meat you have ground yourself? There is nothing like it.

If you don't have a meat grinder, you can do a small portion at a time in the food processor. If it's pork you favor there are very few limits as well. If you are working with a large piece of meat, follow the rule of thumb that it should be cooked more slowly. Pulled pork is my favorite with a good barbecue sauce. I live in Wisconsin so a good brat is enjoyed by many. Try grilling brats and cutting them up for a spicy chili soup. It's fantastic. Seafood is quick and can get away from you in a hurry. Shrimp are easy on a skewer or put the fish in a basket so it won't fall apart on you. I have also done filets in a foil with lemon juice and they are great. Chicken have a few cuts for you to grill, just do it more slowly so it won't dry out.

What kinds of tools are best for grilling? Some of the best grilling you will ever have can be done on a "cheap" grill. You have that new outdoor kitchen in mind, but you don't need to spend a fortune unless you want to. You can keep up with the best of them on those fancy monstrosities. Look for something that has ample surface space because you never know when a party is going to happen and you need room to feed a hoard. You do not need the long handled fork because it only pokes holes in the meat and all of the juices drip out. Your meat will be dry and chewy. Use tongs instead so you can easily turn the meat. You might also benefit from a good wire brush for cleaning, a bag of your favorite chips, a thermometer and you're set.

For any style of grill you have, one main point is to keep it clean. You don't want to wow your guest with last week's barbecue that is stuck on the grill plate. A good steel wool will take care of this too. Oil the grates to keep the meat from sticking. This is especially necessary for chicken and fish. You can season your food with a rub or marinade, or just the salt and pepper. Turn the food once and baste it late. Don't forget the non-piercing issue. Try not to peek too much as you will let out steam and the temperature of the grill automatically goes down for lopsided cooking. It can also be dangerous to open the grill too much as the steam is incredibly hot. You might want to store it in the garage for the winter, or at least cover it with a large grill cover. It doesn't matter if your grill purchase is out of a high end catalog or from your local Kmart, just get out there and grill. Before you know it you will be dipping, marinading,rubbing and saucing up a storm. Your friends will wonder why you didn't do this sooner.

Bev Hlavka is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers buying patio furniture, gas grills, picnic tables and more. Her many articles can be found at She gives information and tips at to help you save money and make informed buying decisions.

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