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Perfect weekend for a barbecue

First summer grillin'
First summer grillin'
Sean Colburn

It’s 74ºF outside and the weekend is looking to be SO FANTASTIC it requires a mandatory ‘good ole barbecue’. The grill has been cleaned and you’ve invited a crowd of folks to the house, but, you’re a little perplexed as to what you should be serving.

Do you bust out some chicken wings? Does anything on a skewer sound appetizing? What about burgers and dogs? Or do you spend the money for surf and turf?

How about YES to all of them?!

Chicken wings are great appetizers and these little bundles of joy can be manipulated easily just by using the endless flavor combinations you’ve got stored in your head! Barbecue, honey drenched, chipotle, bourbon soaked, teriyaki, lemon pepper, garlic butter, and of course those bathed in Franks Red Hot® for spicy chicken wings.

A few basic instructions:

  • Remember that fresh wings are always better than frozen, but thawing those to room temperature makes for a nice grilled wing as well.
  • Use a good marinade or dust the wings with a great rub to help add specific flavors.
  • Be sure to sear the outer skin on a nice flame (2-3 minutes each side), then, put the wings on the top rack of your grill to cook through slowly as other foods are grilled.
  • Time management for parties is important.

This is where the sauce comes into play. Keep in mind that sugary sauces (Honey based, maple glazed, and molasses type sauces, etc.) will burn near an open flame giving your wings that black and charred look, so ONLY add those sauces right before serving to heat through. Other tomato and oil based sauces can be brushed on during the entire cooking process. Wings should take 2-3 minutes for the searing portion and then 12-15 on the top rack. Crack one open to make sure the juices run clear. Serve with any one of the million dips available.

Skewers have always been a favorite of barbecue gurus. Easily prepped, quickly cooked and these handy little gadgets don’t even need a plate! Shrimp, steak, chicken, venison, sausage are just few things that can be skewered. Be sure to soak wooden skewers in some water to help prevent burning.

Recipe: Try slicing up a package of Sweet Italian Sausages into 1 inch chunks. Also cut up a Vidalia onion and some green, red and yellow peppers to roughly the same size. Alternate an onion slice, sausage chunk, pepper slice, sausage chunk, onion slice, sausage chunk, and a pepper slice half way down the skewer. Be sure to only grill the food end over high heat. Leave the other end of the skewer to hang off the grill for grabbing and turning. Rotate as not to burn and baste with a sweet barbecue sauce right before hitting the serving platter. Walk around and pass out those meat popsicles and watch the smiles come around.

Or, try wrapping a ½ slice of bacon around a large shrimp and secure using the skewer and alternate with a pineapple chunk. Start these on a nice flame to sear the bacon and then toss on the top rack to cook through slowly. Check them often and finish with a basting of sweet barbecue sauce!

Burgers and dogs are great for the kids, but why can’t they be jacked up a bit for flavor? Try mixing in a ¼ cup steak sauce, or a dry packet of onion soup, or even just some ranch dressing to two pounds of ground round before the patties are formed. Some folks even go as far as making two thin patties of burger, adding cheese to the top of one and covering that with the other patty to create a cheese stuffed burger! Furthermore, flavor lies within the meat used and there is ground beef, turkey, venison, buffalo, ostrich, alligator and the list goes on for burger creations.

As far as hot dogs go, there are many types to choose from including; bun length dogs, cheese stuffed dogs, bratwursts, sweet and spicy sausages, and even some made from other animals like turkey dogs. Maybe try wrapping the hot dogs with a slice of bacon before grilling. Slice dogs in half lengthwise, leaving a hinge and grill that way! Or slice a few up and toss into your beans for ‘Beanie Wienies’…..kids dig those!

Whichever of these you make, be sure to have all the fixin’s like slaw, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayo and relish.

Surf and Turf lets your peeps know you mean business this summer! Lobster tails on the grill, rib-eye steaks dusted with a great rub, and a few tin-foil wrapped baked potatoes never hurt anyone!

Wash some potatoes and stab with a fork a lot to help cook quicker. Season with plenty of salt, a slab of butter and wrap tight in foil. Toss these on an open flame for a good 20 minutes. Move to top rack.

Season the steaks with a generous portion of salt and pepper or your favorite rub and sear on a hot flame for 2 minutes and then rotate 90º for the perfect crosshatch grill marks. Flip and repeat. Move to top rack.

The seafood will cook the fastest so start the lobsters last. Be sure you‘ve cleaned them and split along the back to open up the meat for the grill. Coat shell with some good olive oil and be sure to baste with butter, salt and pepper as the cook. Skewer the tail to keep it from curling up during grilling. Once the meat has turned white (8-12 minutes), move to top shelf and check everything else on the grill for doneness.

Craving grilled food has been ongoing for the past 6 months here in Detroit. Winter is finally over and pleasing a crowd on a great weekend never came so easy. Chicken wings, burgers, dogs, skewers and surf and turf…are you kidding me? Here’s another great time management tip: Make your buddies bring all the sides and the booze! Have a great summer everyone.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib!