Friday, February 8, 2008

Surf and Turf: Products for Your Pool and Patio


Many serious barbeque lovers know how to improve or alter the taste of the meats they grill. This can be done in a few different fashions. The fuel that is used to burn is one point to consider. Charcoal or wood is the main form of flavor. Gas typically is a sure way to get the burn started faster, but the taste is arguably less favorable.

Wood is a great way to impart a unique flavor to the meat by circulating its smoke within the bbq grill. There are many wood types to use with the bbq grill, but all of them should be deciduous hard woods rather than coniferous (like pine wood). Woods like pine contain tars and resins that impart a chemical taste to the meat.

Such types of wood that are used in barbeques are:

Maple
Mesquite
Cherry Wood
Apple Wood
Oak

Charcoal is another fuel source that is enjoyed by barbeque enthusiasts. This comes in several forms, but it is nearly all carbon. It is actually made from wood that was burned. Occasionally additives, like clay and nitrates are included to make the burn stay longer in your bbq grill.

Charcoal, like wood, imparts the flavor from the smoke it produces. Charcoal and wood are often combined in the grill to do this. It's debatable what type of smoke create the flavor, white smoke or the thin blue smoke, but some will use water to create a thicker smoke or use a smoker separately for a deeper taste.

In addition to fuel types for flavor, meat marinades and flavor rubs are used for enhancement. The assortment of flavors and combinations are endless. The flavors are often geographical and culturally based, everything from Jamaican Jerk marinade, to Mexican Chipotle salt rub, the flavor emanates into the meat as it hits the bbq grill.

Grilling is not Barbeque; Taste the Difference

Many think that barbeque is simply putting flame to a bbq grill and searing steaks up within a 15 minute span. The actual method and flavor is rarely experienced, especially in the northern states.

American style barbeque was initially developed in the south, and if you ask most cooks in Texas how to define the difference between the two, they would explain there is a world of difference in taste.

Barbeque is simply a much more enriching smoke flavor. The difference is the heat source and intensity. With grilling is simply cooking food over the flame directly; it maybe takes about 15 minutes or so for a steak. Barbeque is a much lower heat, using indirect heat and tons of smoke.

Meats that are cooked this way can take several hours, a full day even. This time allows the wood smoke to fully penetrate the meat, which makes a remarkable different end result.

By: Art Gib

Vegetarians at the BBQ


It would seem that nowadays there are a lot of options for vegetarians. Meatless alternatives seem to abound everywhere, from the neighborhood deli, to the sushi shop, to the hamburger joint. The hamburger joint? Yes, you heard correctly. With the introduction of several brands of meatless “burgers,” vegetarians can brave the very den of carnivorous pleasure. Once viewed as an eccentric oddity, vegetarians have moved from the fringe to the mainstream. However, the truth is, all too often the meatless menu option isn’t vegetarian at all…it’s just a menu item, minus the meat. Unfortunately, a white hoagie bun topped with iceberg lettuce, pickles, onions, mayonnaise, and mustard is about as unappealing to the vegetarian as it is to the carnivore counterpart.

So what about the vegetarian at the barbecue?

With its increased popularity, it’s highly likely you have friends or family members who’ve adopted this lifestyle. Don’t let this cause you angst the next time you invite them over for barbecue. With the tips below, you can be assured they’ll be licking their fingers and singing your praise as enthusiastically as your steak-loving comrades.

The first rule of thumb when barbecuing for vegetarians is that veggies are not just a sideshow anymore. Don’t doom your vegetarian guests to pick and choose among the sides to make their meals. Potato salad, relish plates, and devilled eggs? Consider. You offer steak, chicken, and fish to your meat-loving friends, but the vegetarian in attendance is offered only corn on the cob? Lame! If you want to really impress your vegetarian guests, you want to offer at least one meat-free main dish. While there are a few meat substitutions out there I advise you to think outside the box. A quick search on the internet will reveal literally hundreds of recipes for preparing veggies on the grill. A short-list of the easiest to prepare, and most popular vegetables would include potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and zucchini. If you’re willing to put in a little more effort, you can prepare a bowl of pasta to serve with the grilled veggies. Don’t blame me if your meat-loving friends fill up on this entrée and you have to make more!

The second tip to hosting a vegetarian-friendly barbecue is presentation. While a pile of juicy steaks thrown on a platter straight from the grill may look tempting, a pound of potatoes doesn’t quite have the same appeal. Take a few minutes to peruse a few vegetarian cookbooks, or preview the photographs of the recipes you check out on line. You may be surprised how tempting a plate of Stuffed Tomatoes looks with a sprig of fresh herbs and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, grated cheese, or drizzled oil. Let your creative juices flow freely, and watch how mouth-watering the vegetarian alternative suddenly becomes.

This article wouldn’t be complete without a word on quality. Time after time I’ve found this to be the big difference between a veggie-lover and a veggie-hater. Usually the veggie-hater has never been exposed to good quality vegetables. If you want your vegetarian entrée to come out tasting like a champ, it’s worth the effort to find the freshest produce available. Barbecue season also happens to be the best season for vegetables—so check out your local farmer’s market or neighborhood vegetable stand. Of course, the best place to get vegetables is straight out of the garden, and there are great recipes that even use the veggies you may otherwise throw away. (For example, the green tomatoes that get knocked off the vine grill up firm and tangy!) Trust me, everyone will love a vegetable that has been ripened by the sun, and picked in season.

There you have it! Take these tips with you to the grocery store and the vegetable stand, and I have no doubt your barbecue will be a big hit—for everyone!

About The Author-- About the Author Emma Snow is contributing author and publisher to http://www.bbq-shop.net
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