Let’s chat about grilling for a moment. Barbecue gets most of the attention these days, from Franklin’s BBQ to Ed Mitchell’s Q. Simply throwing some meat on the grill over a flame is often considered the lesser option for outdoor cookery. It’s bush league. But the truth is more nuanced. Cooking a piece of meat on a dry flame without over-cooking it is an art. Too high of flame and you burn the outside while leaving the inside uncooked. Too low of a flame and by the time your meat is cooked through it’ll be dry as a bone (unless you’re going low and slow). It’s all about balance and precision.
So what’s the best food to cook over the fire? Ranker wanted to know, so they asked their users to rank their favorite items to grill in their backyards. A solid list formed with some great options and some baffling misfires. Salmon and chicken thighs are in the teens and twenties? Save that noise!
10. PORK CHOPS
The Other White Meat seems perfectly suited to a number ten slot. The pork can dry out quickly and doesn’t have a ton of fat to amp up the flavors. The chops are great with a nice tropical fruit pico or salsa and you get a bone to gnaw on at the end.
This seemed like an odd ranking. Potatoes are good and all. And we all love good and smokey baked potato. But, are they better than, say, salmon from the grill? Hell and no.
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For potent garlic flavor in our grilled potato recipe, without bitterness or charring, we needed to introduce the potatoes to the garlic-oil mixture not once but three times. Tap the link in our profile to access our Grilled Potatoes with Oregano and Lemon recipe for free today. ⠀
8. CHICKEN BREASTS
The choice of chicken breast over thighs is a noggin’ scratcher. But, okay. There is an art to cooking a perfect chicken breast without drying it out. When it’s done right… it’s still not chicken thighs! Although, some nice grilled chicken breast doused in a chili peanut sauce and squirt of lime does get the job done.
7. HOT DOGS
Here’s a classic that we’re kinda shocked is ranked so low. Hot dogs are the cornerstone of any great backyard grill feast. Once you get a nice char going, drop it in a soft white bread roll, add a little pickle and mustard — hell, you can even throw on some ketchup, sauerkraut, and onions and you’re still talking about a great sandwich food item for any backyard BBQ party.
So many options here. Meat and veg on a stick is such a great combination. It’s versatile; easy. It’s a meal on a stick. It’s delicious when done right. This is a great option since you can really do any combination and it also allows you to easily satisfy pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan party-goers with more than just some portobellos thrown on the grill.
5. CORN ON THE COB
Okay, sure. Corn on the cob over the flame is great — to a point. Melted butter, lots of salt, and maybe some parmesan all make for a great side dish. But be prepared for spending the next half-an-hour picking corn bits from your teeth. You wouldn’t have to worry about that if, say, salmon was in the number five slot. Just sayin’.
4. SPARE RIBS
This pick is a little hazy. Spare ribs require a long slow cook. So we’re getting out of grilling and more into barbecue territory here. But, we’ll allow it. A great, low and slow rack of spare ribs with the sauce smoked right into the surface is hard to beat — especially when the meat is falling off the bone and the sauce has the perfect balance of molasses sweet and paprika spice.
Aren’t hot dogs sausages? #TwitterErupts. Okay, okay, we know that when we say sausages we mean a (very slightly) less processed meat in a tubular form. Brats, Italians, Kielbasas, and Smokeys are all grilling mainstays. The spices, the fats, and the crack of a great sausage can’t be beat.
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To grill a steak or to sear and cook it in a cast-iron skillet — that’s the question of the ages. Some love that smoke and char that comes from a blazing hot grill. Some love the preservation of fats and aromatics that comes from a cast-iron skillet. Our solution is to put the skillet on the grill. You’ll get the best of both worlds by preserving the fats necessary to flavor the meat and you’ll get plenty of smoke from the fire.
We always knew deep down in our hearts that the burger was going to be number one. This sandwich wins because it’s simply meat in bread (or iceberg lettuce if you want) that can be anything you want — if your topping game is on point. Grill up some thick cut bacon, onions, and mushrooms, get some good pickles brining, whip up a killer hamburger sauce, and don’t skimp on the cheeses. Burgers are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.