Summertime is made for grilling and chilling, so we tapped our own Annette Jett, a 30Second Mom contributor who’s also a former caterer and all-around food goddess, to share some of her best tips to make this summer grilling season your best one yet! Check out these smart – and delicious! – ideas for your next grill-n-chill barbecue!
Q) Before you get the grill going, any tips on safety, cleaning or seasoning your grill?
A) Before you grill, check your gas line to make sure it hasn’t been damaged and there are no leaks in the line. Make sure that your tank is full (keep a backup on-hand). Turn it on one to two days before your guests arrive to check for clogs. Before turning the gas on, spray the grill with an organic cleaner. Once the grill is hot, remove debris with a brush and season with olive oil. Cover drip pans with foil this year for easier clean up. You can also add mesquite chips to the pan for more flavor. Remember that closing the lid on a gas grill will only increase the flames, while closing the lid on a charcoal grill will decrease the flames. Turn the gas off in two places before you call it a night – both on the dials and at the main valve.
Q) What is your go-to grill meal?
A) Two choices of meats or seafood, Caesar salad, corn, potatoes, green veggies, bread, peaches – all grilled! Garlic-thyme chicken or pork with lemon and garlic are great on the grill. Make extra and keep it in the fridge to top salads all week. Flank steak is less money than tenderloin, and both are great for grilling! Grill it whole and let it rest 15 minutes before you slice it for moister meat. Remember that meat keeps cooking even after it comes off the grill, so take it off with 10 degrees to go. Seafood cooks quickly. Try shrimp kabobs, tuna steaks, swordfish or other hearty fish that won’t flake.
Q) As a former caterer, how do you plan for large groups?
A) Make your list and shop well in advance. Figure on 1/4 pound of each type of meat, salads and veggies per person. Slice meats and veggies then marinate them in plastic bags. Make sure your grill is ready to go and that you know where your tools and platters are. Anything you can do prior to cooking will help! Prepare a drink station, roll cutlery in napkins and tie with ribbon, put tablecloths on, etc.
A) Must-have ingredients for summer marinades: salt and pepper, lemon, fresh thyme and garlic, olive oil – mix and match! Cover steaks with olive oil and top generously with my favorite rub: mix equal parts salt, pepper, dry mustard and parsley. Mix this rub into hamburger meat and make patties. Poke a hole in the side and stuff with a mix of cheese, bacon, etc., for a variation! The longer the marinade sits in the meat, the better. Allow two hours or add it the night before for extra flavor. Let meat get to room temp before grilling. After it’s done, allow it to rest 15 minutes before cutting. Keeps the juices inside!
Q) What tips do you have for grilling fresh veggies? Do you ever grill fruits?
A) Potatoes and onions grill well when cut into coins. Cook whole garlic on the top burner while you’re cooking the rest of the meal. Soak corn in water for two hours. Pull husks back and tie in a knot at end of cob, as if it were a handle. Grill and brush with salt and butter. Grill whole pieces of Romaine lettuce for a tasty twist on Caesar salad. Top with croutons, shaved Parmesan and dressing. Cut zucchini, squash and peppers into lengthwise strips. Lightly marinate and flash on the grill for two minutes each side. Great grilled dessert: Peach halves or slices and pineapple spears go well over ice cream – their natural sugars caramelize during the grilling process!
Q) Any good summer cocktail or mock-tail ideas to go with this amazing grill-n-chill menu?
A) Absolutely! Try the following easy recipes:
1) Mojitos: Muddle five mint leaves, lime wedge and one tablespoon sugar in a 10-ounce glass. Fill with ice and top with 2 ounces of rum and soda water. Garnish with mint!
2) Mango Margaritas: Add one mango (no peel) and one cup each of lime and orange juice and tequila. Blend with ice until smooth, and serve in sugar-rimmed glasses.
3) Fruit Tea: Steep five large teabags and pour into a pitcher over cut peaches, melon or berries. Add water and garnish with a pineapple spear!
4) Mint Lemonade: Slice three lemons into wheels. Place in a pitcher and fill with one cup of sweetener (or to taste) and mint sprigs. Add ice and stir!