Summertime comes with some guarantees. Chief among them (at least for Editor Brook) are the desire to avoid cooking anything that will heat up the kitchen and to eat meals that consist of more than just salads or cereal. Enter that bewitching thing of eternal beauty: the backyard barbecue.
Whether you’re throwing a socially distant celebration or you’re prepping a simple supper, grilling is a great way to cook a meal. And because it’s always good to have some expert pointers, today we’re highlighting tips from a bona fide BBQ master: Jeff Miller, owner of Luella’s Bar-B-Que.
Grill of choice
There are a lot of options when it comes to grills, and each has its own perks. Jeff loves the classic Weber charcoal grill because “It’s perfect for cooking at home, and there are a lot of different ways you can cook with it.” Conversely, gas grills get high scores for efficiency + ease. “You can cook your entire meal on a gas grill,” he says. A true pitmaster with 13+ years in the game, Jeff says “cooking with live fire is the best, but it’s a lot harder.”
“You have to have a good set of grill tongs to lift + flip your food, since you won’t be using your hands,” Jeff says, laughing. He also stresses the importance of a good meat thermometer, for both animal proteins and vegan meats like Beyond burgers + sausages. He says, “I only cook to the temperature it should be and no more, because I want to retain the moisture of the meat.” Protip: Jeff says bluetooth meat thermometers are a great option for real-time meat updates on your phone, so you don’t have to stand by the grill, sweating.
A frosty beverage
When it comes to backyard grilling, “you need a really good fruity cocktail to sip on,” says Jeff. Grab your blender and toss in whatever floats your boat, or follow Jeff’s lead and go with the drink he’s been enjoying this summer: a refreshing mix of watermelon, peaches, coconut milk, fresh lime juice, and some fresh mint or basil from the garden. As is, it’s perfect for both kids and clean + sober cuties — but if you want to add some alcohol, Jeff suggests rum.
Go sweet + savory
“If you can make a condiment like grilled fruit salsa to go along with your proteins, it’s the best thing,” Jeff says. “I love grilling peaches and onions long enough to get them charred + smoky. Then rough chop them and add in some red pepper and jalapenos. Maybe throw in some rosemary, too. Put that on your meats for a sweet + savory flavor that makes everything taste great.”
Don’t forget the veggies
Sure, a BBQ master like Jeff loves all the meats, but he also loves summer’s bountiful veggies, too. “Grilling vegetables imbues them with this terrific flavor,” he says, “and some items, like corn, are ideal for cooking on the grill, because they come in this perfect wrapper.” Eggplant, zucchini, and squash are all great on the grill, but don’t limit yourself. “If you want to cook it, chances are it will be great grilled,” he says.