This is another instalment in my (sixth) Week of Lists: one fun and awesome list posted every day for seven days on a variety of topics.
I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, especially as you’re just wiping the winter dust off your grill and planning the bounty of barbecued delights that await you this summer. We grill nearly every opportunity we get. In fact, we go out to restaurants far less in the summertime than in the wintertime because I love to barbecue, and I can char up an awesome steak to blow away any restaurant slab you order, any day.
Personally, I plan to try out a few new things this barbecue season because — who knows — maybe I’ll find something better than the near-perfection (or some my drooling family would imply) we already seem to have achieved. Thus…
Five Ways to Break the Barbecue Boredom Before it Begins
1 : Perfect a New Burger Recipe
a very burger-experimental-icious summer
I dabble in the occasional dash of new spices, but the basic formula we tend to follow for our grilled burgers is this: ground beef, onion soup and a bit of Worchester Sauce (for flavour), a scoop of oatmeal (for heartiness) and a single egg (as a binder.) Form patty. Grill. Add some cheese and sauce. And add to a bun. Standard. But not only are there a ton of interesting spices (curry is apparently pretty awesome) but any one of those other parts can be mixed and matched: different meats, different binding agents, different sauces, cheese blended in or traded up as a topper. The possibilities revealed by this simple epiphany open a door to a very burger-experimental-icious summer.
2 : Experiment with Home-made Sauces
Not just on burgers, but at multiple grilling opportunities. Grilling sauces tend to follow a basic recipe as I understand them: a base (like tomato sauce), a flavour (like a spice mix or smokey things), and a sweet (like sugar, honey, soda or even beer– but something to caramelize). Everything else is up to your imagination. Spicy. Gooey. Smokey. Rich. Exotic. The possibilities are endless. I’m given to trying to perfect my own secret grilling sauce recipe this summer: should we have a competition?
The problem with falling into a grilling routine tends to be — in my opinion — a narrowing of your grilling focus. Take me for example: I’ll admit I’ve fallen into a bit of a grilling rut. We do burgers (see point 1). We cook steaks (the same way almost every time). We cook chops (just so.) And I’ll throw one of usually only three types of veggies (always wrapped in some foil with the same dash of oil, salt, and spices.) Part of this is my comfort zone grilling, I’ll take that. But part of it is having a fussy six year old living at the house. So… what about straying: yeah, new sauces and new recipes. But this summer maybe I’ll try a beer can chicken (which I’ve never done) or a seafood bake (if you can even do that on a gass grill… I don’t know.) I’m thinking it’s time to open my barbecue field of vision a little wider. How about you?
a zillion awesome grill-able veggies
4 : Go Weird or Wild
Along the same lines, we tend to focus on the same three meats every time we grill: beef, pork, or (occasionally) chicken. Sure, that’s all local-industry meat, but there is a whole range of grill-able fauna and flora that have never graced my ‘cue. The seafood section at our local grocery is pretty good, there is an Asian food market fifteen minutes from my house, we have relatives who hunt, and that doesn’t even take into account just taking a few extra steps and browsing the regular butcher cooler at our own grocery store. I also understand that there are a zillion awesome grill-able veggies to explore, many weird and wonderful, be it your main dish or just an interesting side. The game is on…
5 : Grill the Ungrillable
You can grill that? I don’t know. Maybe not. But (apart from possibly being a bit wasteful when you fail) I think turning your brain on to this particular question as you wander down your grocery aisle this summer… hey… you never know what new family favourite you may invent.