Life

Here Are The Keys To A Successful 4th Of July BBQ


Uproxx

We want so much for you at Uproxx Life. We want you to eat well, we want you to travel often, and we want you to drink the best beers on earth. But more than any of that, we want you to not poison all of your friends and family at the 4th of July BBQ. We really want that.

Instead, we want to help you look like a goddamn cookout god. So we’re making it really, really easy. Just follow these rules!

FIRE

Grilling is about the fire. If you’re using a gas grill, this is pretty easy to control and manipulate to your cooking whims. If you’re using coal or wood or some combination of both, you’re going to have to A) be more patient and B) be more attentive. Now, we’re not saying that if you’re cooking with gas you can just throw some meat on the grill and go play a little touch football. That shit’s going to need your attention too.

If you’re using coals and wood, start you fire early. You want the coals to be burning red and producing good, steady heat before anything touches the grill. Some say start those coals a good hour before you put any meat to the flame. That’s probably not the worst advice out there. Likewise, with gas, let your grill preheat properly. If you don’t have a temperature gauge on the grill hood, run down to the hardware store and buy one. Which leads us to… -ZJ

KNOW YOUR COOKING TEMPERATURES

Take the guesswork out of grilling with a little pre-loaded knowledge. Steaks are rare at 120F, medium rare at 130F, and medium at 140F. If you’re serving different foods, FoodSafety.gov has a handy chart that lets you know the safe temp for most meat that’s going to be hitting the grill.

Another option here would be to sous vide your food in advance — assuring that the correct temperatures are reached — and then sear or smoke the items in your backyard before resting and serving. Also, make sure to rest your meat if you’re making steaks or chops. The internal temperature will continue to rise and help assure your meat is just right. Either way, make sure you don’t get anyone sick by under-cooking meat, especially if it’s ground beef or chicken.

If you’re making burgers, put a pat of butter in the middle of the meat when you’re forming patties. This will provide an extra layer of lush moisture. -ZJ

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BUT ALSO… GRILL HOT DOGS

Look, everyone thinks they know food, everyone thinks they’re the goddamn Dr. BBQ, but the fact is: We’re not. None of us is, except Tampa’s finest, Ray Lampe. We make mistakes, especially if we’re trying to pump out good food at a high volume. Meanwhile, the first act of dumb food snobbery is to say a certain thing is “unarguably trash” and be wrong about it. We’ve seen this with ketchup, which actually has a nice flavor profile when done right; meanwhile, people will think you’re knowledgeable if you take them to a place that drenches fries in truffle oil. That’s how upside down 2017 is.

This brings us to hot dogs, which:

  1. You won’t screw up.
  2. Are legit good, regardless of what some neophyte foodie says.

That said, while you don’t have to run to the butcher for a good frank, you do have to pay a little more. Go for Boars’ Head skinless franks or Wellshire Farms skinless franks. You want a good “snap” on the bite.

Grilling is simple for this: Keep it on medium until the casing splits in two places. Done. -SB

SIDES

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A good, simple side executed well is always a big win. But some things should be store bought and others made at home. Here’s how to not ruin July 4th for all of America:

Make yourself

  1. Mac & Cheese. That’s not to say don’t keep it simple, you should! Just make it yourself. Noodles under a warmer never stay al dente. I make organic rotini and add Hoosier Hill Cheese Powder and some real sharp, along with browned butter and whole milk. Except when I forget that and get laughed out of cooking contests.
  2. Baked Beans. This is a “half made from scratch” item. I don’t expect you to bake beans yourself. I just want you to open some good canned ones, fry some bacon, squeeze in a little maple syrup and a dollop of BBQ and let them render. Store baked beans are mushy.

Let the store make

  1. Coleslaw. Unless you said “Fuck that, I make the best coleslaw” the second you read that, I’ll wager the store makes better coleslaw than you. If only because they’re more fearless with the mayo than you’ll be. Same goes for “Asian slaw” — which Wholefoods and their ilk is pretty damn good at.
  2. Deviled Eggs. Here again: If you can nail Deviled Eggs, have at it. Also, please send me some. But if you can’t, stores are pretty solid at these (again, due to their approach to mayo). – SB

MAKE SURE YOUR DRINKS GAME IS ON POINT

You don’t want to spend the whole day and night mixing drinks for everyone. That’s not fun. That’s work.

Beer is always a winner at any backyard party. Grab a clean wheelbarrow, fill it with a nice selection of shitty beer and your local craft beer, and then top with ice. As guests bring more beer, they can just toss it in the wheelbarrow. Keeps things easy.

There are a couple great summer cocktails and mixes you can make by the gallon in advance. Pimm’s Cup requires a lot of fruit and herb chopping but it’s basically just Pimm’s and ginger ale poured into pitchers with ice.

A nice White Sangria is always a crowd pleaser, too. Plan ahead a little and chop a few peaches, apples, and oranges a day early and then freeze along with a medley of berries. The next day, add the frozen fruit to a big jug with a liter of crisp white wine, a cup of Cointreau, and a can of San Pelligrino lime soda. You’ve got yourself a hell of a refreshing drink that everyone will love.

Lastly, you can never go wrong with some gin over ice and a nice splash of tonic. -ZJ

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DESSERTS!

If you have an open flame, do s’mores. Ice cream is also a win. Be a little edgy and go with salted caramel. You want to be a real American Hero? Make milkshakes in the blender with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Everyone will adore you. They’ll write odes about your glories.

Also: Brownies. Brownies deserve more credit than they get and if they had to be pigeonholed to one holiday, the 4th would probably be it. Brownies, slightly undercooked, slightly over-oiled, majorly gooey = true patriotism.

Last note: If you can find whatever the hell our EIC Brett Michael Dykes is eating below, order that thing twice. -SB

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