One of the surest signs that summer is on its way is the smell of grilling meat wafting through the air. Whether you use a smoker, some charcoal, or a shiny gas grill, cooking outside can be easier and is definitely cooler than cooking indoors. Cookouts are also a great way to get friends and family together for a fun afternoon. Here are some tips that will help you celebrate National BBQ Month using delicious, locally-raised Arizona beef, pork, and poultry.
1. Host a Pot-Luck Picnic
Many of us think of picnicking as something we do away from home but you can also have a picnic in your own backyard. Round up your friends and family members and have everyone sign up to bring something. This helps stretch your food dollar while also making sure you don’t end up with 50 hot dog buns and no hot dogs. Looking for a great potluck picnic recipe? Try Grilled Chicken Breasts marinated with some great Arizona flavors like prickly pear cactus, grapefruit, and hot sauce.
2. Veg Out
Although grilling is traditionally associated with meat, you can also make delicious vegetables as well. Summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and corn on the cob are all excellent examples of locally grown veggies that are great on the grill. Some veggies do best when open roasted in tin foil with a little olive oil. Others do best when wrapped in foil and left to cook slowly right on the grill. For a delicious vegetable dish try Garlic Roasted Summer Squash.
3. Stay Safe
Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Make sure you use the internal temperature of the meat you are cooking as your guide when determining doneness rather than the outer appearance. As a reminder, always use a meat thermometer and make sure to follow the USDA’s recommendations on internal temperature specific to the type of meat.
- Poultry – 165° F
- Ground Meat – 160° F
- Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Veal – 145° F
4. Have a BBQ-Off
Think bake-off, with BBQ instead of baked goods. This can be a great way to get friends and neighbors together for some fun competition. It can also form the foundation of a fabulous block party. Since BBQ styles can differ based on your personal tastes, where you grew up, or your family tradition, not everyone BBQs the same way. Let participants create their own BBQ masterpiece and then invite everyone to sample each selection and vote for the one they like best. This can also be a great way to raise funds for a local charity or homeowner’s association.
5. Try Something New
Another great way to really get into National BBQ month is to branch out and try some new flavors, styles, or techniques. You may have been making pork ribs in a smoker since you were a teenager but that doesn’t mean you can’t try cold smoking or even just grilling. You might also try a different kind of meat or incorporating some vegetables.