Summer and sunshine bring out the best in a lot of people – but if you really want some summer excitement, you’ve got to pull out the grill.
Backyard barbecues are a staple for many families during summer, but the humble hamburger and grilled hot dogs can get a wee bit boring after a while. So, how do you ratchet up your grill game and think outside the standard?
We’ve got ideas – and we’re going to share them! Here’s your guide to elevating the family barbecue night to the next level:
Best Grilled Veggies
Veggies are a great starter or complement to your main course, so consider these:
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Would any summer grilling list be complete without corn on the list? Of course not! If you want to get the perfect grilled corn, soak the corn first in a little salted water – but don’t pull those husks. Throw the corn on the hot grill intact and turn every few minutes until the husks are charred (but not black) for maximum sweetness and flavor.
Go-to Grilled Zucchini
Every gardener knows the perils of planting zucchini: You end up with much more than you usually anticipate and have to constantly find new ways to prepare it. Well, whether you grew your own, were gifted some by a neighbor or bought some in a store, grilling this veggie brings out its best flavor. Cut the zucchini into ¼” ribbons, brush them with oil and add a little bit of salt and pepper to taste. Once the char marks form on one side, flip them to the other. As soon as you have marks on both sides, your veggies are ready to eat.
Glazed and Grilled Carrots
Carrots are a wonderful vegetable that only get sweeter when you grill them – especially when you use these tricks. Mix a little balsamic vinegar with a little soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and set it aside until your carrots are ready. Coat the carrots with a little oil and salt and throw them on the grill for 20-25 minutes (or until tender). When they’re ready, immediately toss them with your glaze and serve.
Best Grilled Meats
If the veggies are a great starter, the meat is the star of the show. Try these:
Forget the burger: Go with steak. When you want real flavor from a choice cut of beef, the grill is the best way to bring it out (which is why so many restaurants rely on this trick). There’s really no trick to making the perfect grilled steak, except to be liberal with whatever dry rub you prefer before you start and watching your times so that you accommodate everyone’s preferences.
Sausage or Kielbasa
If you’re tired of hot dogs but you want something that’s easy to hold in your hands, substitute sandwich-sized sausage or kielbasa instead. These require zero prep work and can be tossed on the grill and cooked in a matter of minutes – making them perfect for those nights when everybody is starving and you’re in a hurry.
If you’re trying to eat healthier and incorporate fish into your diet, why not throw it on the grill? Salmon, halibut, tuna and Mahi-Mahi are all excellent and can cook to perfection in minutes. The key to perfect grilled fish (of any variety) is making sure that you coat the fish in an oil and put them down on a clean grate to prevent sticking.
Grilled crab legs are something that you have to experience to understand exactly what you’ve been missing all this time. Simply soak the crab legs in salted water before you break them apart, split them and throw them on the grill for about 10 minutes (or until you can see that the crab meat is opaque and cooked through). Serve hot with your favorite melted butter concoction and you have a meal that people won’t easily forget.
Best Grilled Desserts
Dessert on a grill? Impossible, you say? Not at all! In fact, you have more choices than you probably realize:
Apple Pie a la Mode
This is probably one of the easiest grilled treats you can make. Just wrap thin slices of apples in tin foil with a generous amount of sugar and cinnamon and let the grill do its magic, leaving them soft and silky to the taste. When it comes time for dessert, tear open the top of the tinfoil and add a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to the top for a sweet surprise your family or guest won’t be expecting.
Grilled Bananas Foster
Grab a bunch of bananas and cut each one lengthwise. Grill them open side down for just a few minutes until you get the char marks you want, then flip and grill them for another four or five minutes to make sure the banana is properly softened. Scoop the bananas out of the peels and drizzle the pieces with caramel sauce and (for the adults) a little rum.
Pineapple isn’t just for decoration – it’s one of the best tangy-sweet things you can throw on the grill. Start with slices of fresh pineapple and coat each slice with a thin coat of oil and salt to bring out its flavor. Grill each side for 3 or 4 minutes to get those lovely char lines and then pull them off. Generously sprinkle each slice with honey and toasted coconut for an absolutely perfect dessert.
Watermelon is one of the highlights of any summer menu, and it’s a great way to finish your barbecue. It only takes about 30 seconds to get the perfect grill on each slice and add a touch of crispness, so put those slices down and lift them back up fairly quickly. Mix a little chili paste, salt and lime juice in a bowl and drizzle it over each slice before serving.
Hopefully, this list has helped you breathe new life into your grilling menu, but don’t be afraid to explore on your own. Almost anything can be cooked on the grill with a little ingenuity!