For the vast majority of the Gregorian calendar, John Rote is a mild-mannered professional with the mildest of penchants for carnivorous fare. But once a year, usually around the time of world-class barbecue contests, he transforms, quite majestically we might add, into nothing short of a champion grill-master. For John Rote, native of Memphis, has a secret: he is a member of the infamous "People's Republic of Swina," a competitive BBQ team that refuses to take second place as an answer. We asked John for some everyday grilling tips we could use this holiday weekend, and lucky for us, he was happy to oblige.
1. Know Your Meat
Get your meat from someone you trust. Could be a local butcher, or just an upscale chain supermarket, but you should be sure it's freshly cut, with a healthy red or pink color, never grey. Grey means it's been sitting out, possibly for days, and you certainly do not want that. Unless you're into that sort of thing. Hey, no judgment.
2. Start Yesterday
Marinating can really make the difference between a good piece of meat and a great one. Doesn't matter if it's red wine, worcestershire, teriyaki, or a bourbon honey concoction, time is key. You bought good meat, so give it the time it deserves to be great.
3. Know Your Temperature
Different meats and cuts cook at different temperatures. Looking to make some melt-in-your-mouth pork shoulder? You want low and slow. After some bloody-middled, char-coated steaks? Hot and fast is the way to go. And should you venture into seafood, that stuff usually cooks in a flash.
4. Lid vs. No Lid
For something less than 3/4 inch, no lid is needed, but flip every minute or so heat doesn't build up on just one side. Over an inch, leave the lid on as much as you can. Like all things, it's open to interpretation, experimentation, improvisation, etc. But generally speaking, if it's skinny, let it breathe.
5. Keep Sides Simple, Stupid
Unless you're on the paleo diet, or trapped in a meat locker, you're probably going to want something on the side. The hardest ones to screw up are in-husk corn and watermelon. If you're feeling overwhelmed, limit your variables. It doesn't take much to make a meal. Great meat and a butter-slathered corncob will do nicely.
Photo by Dschwen