Easy BBQ Tips for the Grillmaster
You don't have to be a carnivore to love a good barbecue. Plenty of vegetarians also partake and many in both factions surely lay claim to BBQ tips that often involve BBQ sauce. So for those who shy away from outdoor cooking because of the perceived fuss and expense, here are a few simple and cheap barbecue tips that should get your fires burning.
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(A quick note on terminology: For the Southerners in the crowd, we're technically focusing here on grilling as opposed to barbecue. Barbecue calls for slow cooking meat at low temperatures, often enhanced by BBQ sauce, whereas grilling is flash cooking over very hot coals. The terms are broadly used interchangeably outside the South.)
Meaty BBQ Tips.Our first BBQ tip involves ground beef. There's a cost benefit analysis worth doing in order to determine how lean the meat should be. Fattier blends are less expensive, but leaner is healthier. However, when preparing meat on a grill, the fat is cooked out, so do the math. You wind up with less edible meat with the cheaper, fattier blend and must therefore buy more than you need when buying the pricier, leaner blend. Chances are the best deal for a cheap BBQ is the ground beef with more fat. One inexpensive cut of meat that qualifies as BBQ fodder is chuck eye steak, slightly tougher than a rib eye but still delicious.
Pork is another relatively low-cost meat, and pork butt or shoulder cuts are particularly good, cheap BBQ options. A pork steak also fits the bill and takes less time to prepare. Hot dogs are an all-time budget favorite but experiencing some pushback from consumers who wonder just what's inside.
Remember this BBQ tip when meat is on the menu: Many supermarkets offer discounted prepackaged meat that's about to hit its expiration date. If you buy and grill on the same day, you'll have a delicious meal that conserves your cash.
Don't Forget Your Veggies.Vegetarians offer a few BBQ tips of their own. Ears of corn go for two bits or so in many locales, and are super easy to prepare on a grill. Leave on the husk and throw the entire ear into coals or set on top of the grill. Rotate occasionally (with tongs) and then peel off the blackened husk (with an oven mitt). Slather on a little butter and a sprinkle of salt and you've got a delicious main dish or side.
Other vegetables that take well to grilling include Vidalia and red onions, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, green beans (wrapped in foil), asparagus, and bell pepper. A pound of vegetables often costs less than a pound of meat, and they're good for you. One not so cheap, but amazingly delicious BBQ tip calls for coating a whole portobello mushroom with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper and placing on the grill. It takes longer to cook than a hamburger but is delicious on its own or as an add-on to a regular burger.
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A Cheap BBQ Sauce Recipe.Although barbecue sauces by the dozen line the grocery shelves, you can make your own and save money while also avoiding the preservatives and high fructose corn syrup used In their production. Homemade barbecue sauces generally begin with a combination of ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, and spices.
One Carolina Style sauce posted on About.com is especially simple to prepare. Mix 1.5 cups cider vinegar, a half cup ketchup, half cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes; let the flavors blend in the refrigerator for several days Common additions include Worcestershire sauce, garlic, molasses, onion powder, and liquid smoke. The benefit of this BBQ sauce recipe? You probably have most of the ingredients on hand (and none are expensive to buy, plus you'll have enough to make several batches) and you'll know exactly what's inside the sauce and can tweak it until you find the perfect flavor combination.