Friday, August 2, 2019

Grillin & Chillin

Coming in hot from the dog days of summer here on the East Coast - perfect weather for busting out the tongs and grilling for framily. The summer barbecue is the perfect way to spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest. The dinner party is too formal and the picnic in the park can be a pain with lugging everything there and back. The barbecue at home in the back garden is the ideal food oriented event to bring the people closest to you together in one spot.

Barbecues have surge in popularity in the summers - everyone wants to be outside and people have a penchant for grilled cuisine rather than the fatty fried equivalents. If you have friends eating healthier, you can cater for them with some lean grilled meat. If you have vegetarian pals, you can  rustle up some grilled halloumi skewers marinated with your very own barbecue sauce or my favorite Sweet Baby Ray's. Grilling is so versatile and a great way to eat collectively. Let's talk grilling and recipes, shall we?

Hot Dogs
The humble hot dog has been around for decades. From the street carts in the cities to the catering boxes at the ball parks, people can't help their love for the hot dog. I mean, I certainly can't. There is no scenario on earth in which I turn down a hot dog which is why this is first. People are into the high quality, fancy hot dogs in 2019: they have taken on a more gourmet appeal. The hot dog you use needs to have a high meat content and needs to have the perfect blend of pork and beef to maintain its juiciness. The real gourmet element comes in the buns and toppings you serve your hot dog with. You could go wholemeal and spelt for those health conscious guests, but for those throwing caution to the wind, there’s nothing better than a potato roll or brioche style bun. Soft, luxurious and rich, these hot dog buns complement the salty nature of the hot dog perfectly.

Toppings wise, you could opt for pickled red cabbage and slaw, or perhaps a simple grilled red pepper and artichokes will suffice, or perhaps something hot and spicy like jalapenos and sour cream floats your boat. For the more sedate diner in your midst, the classic mustard with onions and a dab of relish always goes down like a tasty treat. The possibilities of hot dog personalization are endless, so experiment at your next barbecue and maybe do a hot dog bar.

If you're a meat eater, the king of all barbecues is the beef that you serve. You could choose a succulent filet to serve up to the fine folks at your table, or perhaps you fancy something a little more sophisticated and want to experiment with a sous vide corned beef recipe. With your smoky marinated meat on the grill and your veggies on top, this is the perfect meal.

You can always go traditional and whip up some fantastic hamburgers.Go for the simple sesame seed bun or if you're like me, no bun, and load your burgers with your choice of toppings - never any cheese for me, but I do love ketchup/mustard/pickles/onions/tomatoes/lettuce slopped all over a lovely medium rare burger. These traditional burgers are perfect for kids who don’t fancy experimenting with their flavors too much. You could do a hamburger topping bar too. 

Skillet Time
To really see what your barbecue can do, why not get yourself a skillet and throw some beans or veggies in there? Cast iron pots direct the heat from your barbecue directly into whatever food is currently in the skillet. This could be anything from a homemade smoky baked beans with brown sugar and bacon recipe to a unique grilled broccoli or cauliflower cheese side. Don’t think that you always need an oven for these types of dishes. Your grill is versatile enough to cook it all.

Cast iron skillets help you do your main meal and side on the grill also - place some chicken on the grill, put some refried beans into your skillet, heat up some tortillas on your little top rack and you have chicken and black bean enchiladas ready to be constructed and eaten. Delicious! 

You can also melt some honey butter (I like Downey's) in your skillet and dip in some big wedges of cornbread. Place these on the grill and you have the perfect accompaniment to salads, hot dogs, burgers, and larger meat dishes. Your skillet can cook everything, including marinades and butters, or it can keep your bread warm if you cover it and place it out of direct heat.

Barbecues are the perfect way to spend time with your framily this summer. I swear the best gatherings are the ones that we have at home in the comfort of our own yard. 

When's your next barbecue and what's on your menu? We'll be grillin and chillin with friends tomorrow at Frank & Amanda's - see Frank's annual birthday blog here. Happy birthday to our BFF Evan today!

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