By: Sara Eggerton
Around nine out of 10 days are dry in California, making it the ideal state for enjoying the quintessential American barbecue. Julian is known for its plethora of restaurants serving barbecued food (think Lake Cuyamaca or the Julian Beer Company) but if you want to throw a grilled bash of your own, your friends and family will probably be delighted. It is estimated that around 80 million Americans feast on a barbecued meal at home at least once a year, and around 75% own an outdoor grill or smoker. When it comes to throwing a truly memorable barbecue event, five key steps must be taken. These include choosing the right grill, making safety a priority, marinating the meat, preparing tempting sides and desserts, and getting the ambience right.
Which Grill To Choose?
There are two methods to barbecuing – one relies on gas, and the other on charcoal. There are pluses and minuses to both methods. For instance, charcoals grills lend meat a beautiful smoky flavor and they burn hotter (and are lighter) than gas grills. However, gas grills are cleaner, and therefore require less work afterwards. They also ensure that no ash gets into food, and for many, they are easier and quicker to use. As a whole, it is best to choose the grill you are most comfortable with, although if you really want to impress guests, going for charcoal will probably score you a few points in the flavor department.
Safety should come first when it comes to grilling food. To keep your barbecue danger-free, use the right tools (such as tongs with long handles and long basting brushes), wear heat resistant gloves, and clear off excess grease to avoid oil popping off your ingredients. Wear fitting clothes so nothing gets caught on the grill, and leave a three-foot space around the grill to avoid objects catching fire. Food should also be safely stored prior to cooking, and everything should have a minimum internal temperature once cooked. This varies across the ingredient spectrum. Poultry, for instance, should have a minimum temperature of 165º, while fresh beef or lamb should be cooked to 145º.
Marinating The Meat
Marinate meat the night before your barbecue so there is time enough for the meat to absorb all the flavorful goodness. Just a few ingredients to consider include honey and mustard, soy sauce, oil, herbs, barbecue sauce, and specialized marinades. Try something new every time in addition to your traditional favorites. One beautiful marinade for pork, for instance, is the classic Filipino marinade comprising dark brown sugar, kumquat or lemon juice, banana ketchup, garlic powder, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and lemon or lime soda.
Enticing Guests With Sides And Desserts
Ensure that guests are offered more than grilled goods and bread. There should be a variety of colors and textures on the buffet table – think seasonal salads, grilled corn and greens, a fresh burst of wakame, a bowl of edamame beans, and a host of healthy desserts. Sliced fruit, raw apple pie, or a warm fruit crumble will all make your guests’ mouths water.
Setting The Ambience
Enjoyment is more than about the food you serve your guests. Make them feel cozy and content by working on the ambience. Everything from fairy lights in the garden to candles, warm throws for cool nights, and beautiful table arrangements can work a special kind of magic. Make a great playlist in the days leading up to your event, ensuring a few dancey tunes make their way into your list so that people can enjoy dancing beneath the moonlight after the terrific feast.
The barbecue is a traditional American feast that is associated with great food and a cracking time. Make sure your next event is up to scratch by getting all the details right. Make safety your number one priority and flavor your second. Finally, work on all the tiny details that make an event memorable and good fun.