Grilled Paiche Tacos with Pickled VeggiesThere are not many things I love more than having friends over for a backyard barbecue. The simplicity of backyard gatherings puts everyone at ease – even me, the host. The menu doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, letting seasonal superstars like berries, tomatoes and stone fruit shine along side a fillet of fish or a steak and green salad is my only requirement.
Make Some, Buy Some
Backyard barbecues are casual by nature, so don’t spend hours cooking in preparation. However, it would be a shame not to get a little adventurous and try grilling a less common cut of meat or mixing a new cocktail. The solution is to get the best of both worlds.
Find time-saving shortcuts like ready-to-cook frozen patties (Hilary’s Eat Well Veggie Burgers are a winner) or grill-ready kabobs at our meat and seafood counters. Also, our butchers will grind, season, cube and filet, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with people you love. Or make the prepared foods department your secret weapon for salads and sides.
Your New Favorite Recipe
Now what should you make? Something delicious. Here are a few recipes that hit the mark.
Grilled Paiche Tacos with Pickled Veggies. Paiche (pronounced PIE-chay) is a deliciously thick and meaty, lean fish, which grills up great in a grill basket or foil.
Chicken Burgers with Corn Relish. Flavorful chicken burgers and a classic Southern-style corn relish ramp up your regular cookout fare. (Tip: the relish makes a great side dish too.)
Marinated Summer Squash Grilling Packs. With this recipe for tender marinated squash you can minimize the stress of hosting by doing a little prep ahead of time.
Grilled Potato Salad. Give your summer potato salad a new twist by grilling precooked potatoes for a crisp texture and smoky flavor. Greek yogurt gives the salad its familiar creaminess with a delicious tang.
Strawberry Smash Parfait. This light and delicious parfait is perfect for a summertime dessert on the patio. You can even make the cashew cream a day or two in advance and keep refrigerated. (Harried hosts rejoice!)
Gluten-Free Grilled Stone Fruit Trifle. When you want to make the most of summer grilling, grill your dinner and dessert too like in this scrumptious treat.
We’re all looking for that little something that wows, so here are a few simple tricks that can elevate your backyard bash from burgers and beers to burgers, beers and boom!
Foil. It can be your best buddy when you’re cooking over a grill. Before guests arrive, prepare individually portioned meal packets of parchment paper wrapped in foil, like in this recipe for Marinated Summer Squash Grilling Packs. Assemble and season to taste:
Halibut fillet + diced tomatoes + olives + capers + chopped shallot
Portobello mushroom cap + diced garlic + chile flakes + extra-virgin olive oil
Sliced sausage + bell peppers + onions
Carrot sticks + honey mustard + extra-virgin olive oil
Peaches + brown sugar + cinnamon
Put a lemon on it. Grilling halved citrus makes it easy to squeeze over freshly grilled meats and veggies for extra flavor, or to give a smoky kick to your favorite cocktail. Oh, yeah!
Secret sauce. Serve grilled items with a sauce you created yourself. Think: herbaceous chimichurri, zingy pesto, spicy peanut or creamy avocado. Search for more sauce inspiration on our website.
Tell the pests to bug off and keep sunburns at bay by having insect repellent and sunscreen nearby. When everything is easily accessible, your guests (and you) can sit back and relax.
Grilling is pretty simple, right? Make a fire, cook food over it. Perhaps that's why those grill-gone-wrong experiences are so humbling. Here are a few of our favorite tips and we’ve got lots more in our Guide to Grilling.
Clean your grill, especially the rack, before each use.
Oil the rack prior to heating to prevent sticking.
The area of the fire needs to be wider than the area of the food you're grilling.
Preheat your charcoal grill and don't skimp on the charcoal. Light the coals at least 30 minutes before you plan to begin cooking. Do not put foods on the grill until the fire dies down to glowing coals. (Real hardwood charcoal will always have a small flame, even when ready.)
Even gas grills need to preheat. Turn on the flame at least 15 minutes before putting food over the fire.
Veggies and Fruits
Use a light brushing of canola oil on vegetables and fruits to help prevent sticking. The use of non-stick grates, foil packets or a grilling basket lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
As a general rule, don't peel vegetables before grilling—you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to act as a natural insulator, keeping the steam in and preventing the corn from drying out.
Thin pieces of poultry can be cooked over direct heat; larger pieces of chicken should be cooked over indirect heat.
Pick up a butterflied whole chicken (backbone removed) from the meat counter. Flatten chicken and grill about 15 minutes per side. Check out our detailed recipe for Whole Grilled Chicken.
Use direct heat for sausages, chops, steaks and hamburgers.
Use indirect heat for roasts and larger cuts of meat.
Slash the edges of steaks and chops on the diagonal, about ¼ inch into the center to prevent the edges from curling.
Start sausage off on high heat to get a really nice char on the outside, then move sausage to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking through.
Oil fish well with a neutral-flavored oil such as canola to help keep it moist.
Once you put fish on the grill, don't touch it for at least three minutes. A crust needs to form on the outside, which will allow the fish to naturally pull away from the grates.
Fish is naturally tender and should not sit in an acid-based marinade (like lemon juice) for longer than 20 minutes, or it will start to "cook" the fish, turning it mushy.
Quick Tip: Wait to brush on any sugar-based barbecue sauce or other ingredients until the final 5-10 minutes of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate your food first, and prevents the sauce from becoming charred black.Looking for grilling inspiration? Check out our recipes for the grill. Recipe search results for “grilled”Confession time: What was your worst grilling nightmare? Was the food edible? Did your guests revolt? Please share!