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How to Throw a Great BBQ

Tips on How To Prepare a Summer BBQ

The beginning of BBQ season is almost upon us as Memorial Day and its introduction to the summer season is under two weeks away. (Unless you live in Southern California where we have been grilling since January. Sometimes while wearing long sleeves, but grilling nonetheless.) What are the keys to a good BBQ? Pull up a lawn chair, grab your favorite brew and I’ll let you know.

The ultimate lure?

The ultimate lure?

Grill: Yes, you can go the gas route and have a smooth flame for the entire length of the barbecue, but what’s the fun in that? I mean is it really a compliment to have the BBQ known for people getting their burgers on time? So, do the charcoal thing, but make sure the charcoal is high quality because the only thing worse than a totalitarian BBQ schedule is no fire.

Fire: Speaking of fire, this is important, for the love of all that is holy, take it easy on the lighter fluid. Yes, it is fun to see a fireball that reaches 1,000 feet. Yes, it is fun to continually squirt the grill to recreate the last fireball. But, it is not necessary. Get a coffee can with a handle (or, the technical term “charcoal chimney starter”), load all your charcoal into it with a couple of well-placed pieces of newspaper and light the paper. The fire builds to all of your coals, you dump the chimney and you’re ready to go and you don’t have a grill that smells like the Gulf of Mexico.

People: Yes, it is tempting to invite every single solitary person you know. Big groups are fun, I know. Keeping a grill going for the whole day while lighting new coals is not a great way to spend the day, unless you just like hanging out barefoot in your outdoor kitchen. Maybe you’ll become the second guy to be pregnant and Arnold Schwarzenegger can talk about you in the documentary about your life.

Meat: Start simple – burgers and brats. Not prepackaged burgers either, go and grab a couple pounds of hamburger and take the time to make the patties. On the theme of staying simple, just use salt and black pepper to season them. If you can find a butcher shop or grocery store that has bratwurst, take the time to boil them in beer before putting them on the grill. If you can’t find plain brats to boil, do the simple thing and buy Johnsonville brats as they have done the work for you. If you want to go a little healthier, get a few garden burgers for the vegetarian folks. You don’t need fancy meats (though they are tasty) it’s the simple stuff that makes a BBQ great.

Sides: Again, keep it simple. Chips and homemade guacamole for a snack while you wait for the grill. Then grill some sweet corn to go with the brats. If you want to go crazy, buy some potato salad. Really, after eating a brat and a burger, will you really need all of those vegetables? Your mom isn’t watching, you know.

Drinks: A big ol’ cooler with lots of beer. If you have guests that don’t like beer, get some red wine and make sangria with a bunch of fresh summer fruit. Now everyone has a cold drink to keep them warm on the inside.

Now, you are completely relaxed and surrounded with friends as the fire dies down with a beer by your side and a brat on your plate. If that’s not how you want to spend a summer night, there’s always McDonald’s. Have fun in the playpen, while I have another beer.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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