Rising temperatures and sunny skies can only mean one thing: summer’s here. Marked by long days at the beach working on the perfect tan and late-afternoon bike rides through the neighborhood, the dog days offer the chance to ditch suits for shorts and let your hair down for some fun in the sun.
Summer also means something else. Grilling. Whether throwing a backyard BBQ with your friends or just giving your winter-worn oven a rest, the smoky flavors from dishes adorned with grill marks are a staple of the season. We’ve gathered some of Charleston’s top pitmasters to find out how you can take your BBQ from boring to badass. Aaron Siegel of Home Team BBQ, Anthony DiBernardo of Swig & Swine, and John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue are sharing their tips + tricks to become a BBQ Boss in your own right.
What is your best advice for someone looking to beef up their home barbecue?
Anthony: Keep it simple. Do as much preparation in advance as you can.
John: Order take out from Lewis Barbecue! Just kidding… In all seriousness, I like to keep it simple and have everything prepped beforehand. My number one advice for smoked meats is starting with a quality product. Invest in premium meat and you won’t have to do much besides cooking it properly to make it taste good. Buddy up to your local butcher or even go to Costco or Sam’s Club and splurge on USDA Prime Cut from the Certified Angus Beef.
Aaron: Balance the meat with lighter, fresh sides to compliment the spread. Summer is great for fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs. Oh, and cold beer.
So, what are your must-have sides?
Aaron: Can't go wrong with some mac n’ cheese somebody's mama made, or something light like cucumber and tomato salad to balance out the meat sweats.
Anthony: Some of my must-have side dishes are corn on the cob, tomato cucumber salad, pickled shrimp, and some type of coleslaw or potato salad.
John: Green Chile Corn Pudding is our signature side dish. It’s got a little heat and is super creamy. I also love putting out pickled red onions, pickles, and white bread to soak up the sauce.
What are the most common grilling mistakes people make at home? And how can you avoid them?
John: The most common mistake I see is slicing the meat right after it’s pulled off the grill. You have to let meat rest - especially beef - before cutting into or you’ll lose all that juice and flavor you’ve worked so hard on cultivating. Be patient!
Aaron: The great thing about cooking and more specifically grilling at home, is there really are no mistakes. You're experimenting. If you liked what you made, write it down so you remember it for next time. If even the dog turned up its nose, try again.
Anthony: Rushing the process of charcoal. Light your grill an hour before you plan to use it.
Can you cook other things on the grill besides meat?
Anthony: I like to take potatoes and onions and wrap them in aluminum foil and put them directly into the coals as I cook. Another thing I like to do on the grill is making a cobbler in a Dutch oven over the charcoal.
Aaron: At Home Team BBQ we love to grill and smoke vegetables. One of our favorite items is a salsa verde which uses grilled tomatillos, poblano peppers, and jalapeños. It's fresh, smokey, and delicious on anything from nachos to pork chops. We've also been known to grill fruit, like pineapples, that go great in making cocktails.
John: I love grilled corn on the cob. It’s an easy side and everyone thinks it’s impressive looking, but it’s super easy!
Final question, what do you do with the leftovers?
Aaron: What leftovers? Yesterday's meats are just tomorrow's tacos.
Anthony: I usually take the leftovers and just distribute them to the neighbors or buy a package of to go boxes from the grocery store and have them available for my guests to take any leftovers home
There you have it. Say goodbye to basic barbecues and get ready to be the rockstar of your next summertime celebration. Let us know what your favorite grill recipes and hacks are on social media using #chswff. Cheers!
-Chris Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager