Saturday, June 27, 2009

What to Grill or Barbecue for the 4th of July

The 4th of July is the biggest grilling day of the year, and this year should be no exception. With the economy so bad, people are finding that it's much cheaper to vacation at home and also to do meals from scratch rather than buying all the heat-and-heat meals or drive through.

Simple and Traditional - Grilled Burgers and Dogs

If you're a new griller (go you!) or have a big group to feed, then I'd suggest hamburgers and hot dogs. It's hard to go wrong on those.

One tip I'd give is to buy the meat and hand pat the burgers. Better yet, if someone offers to give you a hand, put them to making up the burgers.

Want to keep it super simple? Then, add chips and have watermelon or other fruit for dessert.

Brats are Easy and Make a Nice 4th of July Meal

Some people avoid brats, because there's a lot of confusing information about how to grill brats. Are they raw or pre-cooked? Do you poke them or not? If you're just not sure, check out my basic Brats Guide at Yes You Can Grill.

Can't Go Wrong with Steak

Yes. It's expensive, but most stores run specials on steak for the 4th of July. If you have deep pockets or a smaller group, then by all means, stick that steak on the grill. But, be sure to do it right. See my basic Steak Grill Guide if you need a bursh up.

Lighten Up but Don't Feel Any Pain

If you've had overcooked chicken on the grill, then you may not be keen on that for your 4th of July grill out. But, chicken and be very moist and delicious off the grill.

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts on the Grill

Grilled Chicken Legs

And, this is a fun one, but you probably don't want to try it for a large group, since it takes a while to cook and takes a lot of grill space.

Beer Butt Chicken

Don't Let Grilled Seafood Scare You Off

One the quickest and easiest things to do on the grill is seafood. A lot of folks think they can't do it. They're probably either never tried, or they cooked the seafood too long.

Basic Shrimp Grill Guide

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp on the Grill

Fresh Clams on the Barbecue Grill

Snow Crab Legs on the Barbie

Grilled Lobster

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mug Root Beer Cooler and BBQ Sauce Kit Contest Winners - June 2009

My sons are here with their Dad who enjoyed the Mug Root Beer sauce on ham and country style smoked pork ribs on the Traeger.

The guys drew the names for the contest before leaving for a week long kayaking trip on the coast.

Drum Roll please . . .

Here are the winners and entries. All the memories shared were fabulous, and you can see the full list and all the stories in the contest entry post.


My dad was a great griller in his day. At 92, he just supervises my brother who is a pretty fine griller himself as is his son in law. Grilling is a family tradition around here.

I remember my dad grilling tomatoes when my mother was in the hospital having my brother. That would have been over 60 years ago. His grill was homemade, of course, but served us well until we both went off to college.


awesome idea for a contest. chef matt sent me. anways, i normally wouldn't consider nominating myself as the best griller. but boy do my kids do. there is nothing in the world ( next to taking them fishing) that my 4 boys, 9, 4(twins), and 2 love more than when dad (me) fires up the grill. they love the way i make them burgers and hotdogs in all different ways. mom even gets in on the action when i make her favorite chicken. tendy, juicy, and with the right spices. so thanks for coming up with this contest. thanks for letting me share my story.


I guess my "grilling dad hero" for the weekend would be one of my longest-term friends (~35 years) Reggie Smyre ... This father's day weekend he drove all the way down to NC from PA to attend his daughter's high school graduation, and at the large family cookout afterwards (100+ people) the cook didn't show up, so he volunteered to do all the cooking ... this involved burgers & dogs, deep-fried fish, and shish-kabobs (with his own special sauce), grilled veggies & sweet potatoes, etc. He had 2 grills going, and a kettle of oil to deep fry the fish - he went through two bottles of gas!

So, if this one wins the drawing, send the cooler to Reggie please! :)


I nominate my oldest son, Jonathan.

After my good fortune to participate in the Weber TV ad campaign, they left the new weber gas grill that was used for filming. That was in addition to the new Weber grill of my choice per the original agreement with Weber. So, I gave him that "once used" grill.

He was delighted and began to expand/extend his repertoire beyond just grilling steaks and burgers. I had taught him the basics of high heat searing and the art of judging the various degrees beyond rare through well-done. That was the easy part.

He uses marinades and dry rubs well beyond hiw dad's experience level. He has the creativity to experiment and has hit some home runs.

One was a dry rub mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, fennel and garlic. Another was marinating beef tri tip overnight in Italian Dressing spiced up with Coleman's Dry Mustard!

So I am proud to say that he is not just a "chip off the old block," but has gone beyond his dad in the use of the grill.

However, he still can't do the low/slow, genuine smoked BBQ ribs or pork butt like his father!!! :)

Thanks for the opportunity to appear on your site!


I'd nominate my son Buck for the Hot griller! He's a father of 3, weighs 240, stands 6'3" and is a pussycat- except when grilling! Stand back and drool he says! LOL He likes doing roasts on indirect heat for hours...and the smell is amazing. His fav is a garlic/butter rub that he came up with (can't share the recipe cause he won't)! He also says kabobs are for sissys...but he makes them just to get the kids to eat veggies! Dang I'm tickled I raised a great griller! Now all I have to do is the corn on the cob! WooHoo!

Congratulations and thanks to everyone for entering the contest. Thanks also to Mug Root Beer for providing the coolers and barbecue sauce sets to help celebrate Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Last Call - Win a Free Mug Cooler and BBQ Sauce Pack (June 20, 2009)

Today is the last day to enter the Mug Root Beer Father's Day Contest. Just click to the giveaway page and leave a comment. That's it. Very simple.

Tomorrow, the boys will shake up the names, and their Dad will pull the five (5) lucky winners who will all get the cooler you see above along with a Mug apron and the ingredients to make a root beer barbecue sauce.

I'll post the winners once I email the ones the boys' Dad pulls and let them know. Don't you just hate to be the last to know when you win something (-: So, the emails first . . . then the winners go up.

If you've been reading along here at Barbecue Master (the title at the top clicks you to the newest content), then you'll see where I made up a batch of the barbecue sauce and had a grilled ham and country ribs.

Know someone who rocks the grill or just enjoys grilling? Or, does this describe you? Feel free to enter. You can nominate your father or any other special man or woman in your life.

The contest wraps up at midnight tonight (June 20, 2009). That's EST, since I'm in NC.

Again - here's the page to enter and GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Giveaway for Father's Day 2009 - Thanks to Mug Root Beer - Cooler and BBQ Sauce Supplies

Mug Root Beer generously offered five giveaway packs for readers of Barbecue Master. And, for the record, they didn't ask for anything in return (not even a link - although I'll provide one so readers can check out more recipes and also see where the gifts came from).

Above, you'll see the cooler, apron, and the ingredients for the Mug Root Beer barbecue sauce which is listed at Mug Root Beer (under the recipe link). It all fits in there neatly. I'd just been jumbling in the kit and getting ready to make up some root beer barbeque sauce.

If you haven't entered to win one of the Mug Root Beer cooler packs, be sure to check the giveaway entry post. The deadline is June 20, 2009. You can always make up the sauce on your own, but getting the ingredients plus a cooler to keep is a sweet deal.

I got all the ingredients out to make the Mug Root Beer barbecue sauce. As you can see, they combine quite a few ingredients to come up with a unique and tasty barbecue sauce. Also, the amounts are generous, so we've had extras with the boys enjoying glasses of root beer all day.

The base for the barbcue sauce is . . . root beer . . . of course. Root beer, for anyone who doesn't know, is a soft drink. The name comes from the fact that it looks like a dark ale. The flavor is sweet with a herbal kind of bite.

This is also a soft drink that does not have caffeine, and it's also gluten free.

Although there are a number of ingredients in the sauce, the recipe is simple. Simply put all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced. In other words, you steam it down a bit until it thickens a bit. Do note that this is not a real thick sauce. It's a little thicker than what we call a barbecue mop around here.

Today I cranked up the Traeger wood pellet smoker grill. I put a small Hormel ham on for earlier in the day and some ribs on for later. The ham was pre-cooked, so I just spritzed it with apple juice for moisture and then sauced it about 10 minutes on each side right near the end of the grilling time. All total, the ham smoked on medium for around an hour.

We had two very nice barbecue meals today - first ham and then country style pork ribs.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grilled Dinner on the Portable Kitchen Grill - PK Barbecue Grill is a Top Rated Charcoal Grill

I've written about my Dad's great old grill and how it's still going strong years later. I really don't know when he got it or where. We just grew up with the PK cast aluminum grill, so I'd say it must be 35 to 40 years old.

I didn't think they "made them like they used to," and they didn't. Portable Kitchen was off the market for a long time. Then, Paul and Sarah James got tired of the poor quality grills and shopped yard sales and found an old PK grill.

The James family decided that there were people out there who did want to invest in quality instead of buying a new grill every year, so they talked to Meigs family and worked it out to put the PK grill back on the market.

My new Portable Kitchen grill above is the Sportsman model. My Dad's PK is called Executive and is a little bigger with the hinges on the back rather than the side. Otherwise the grills are alike other than the old one has mellowed to a dark gray and black with loads of use over the years.

Cast aluminum means that the grills are made in one big piece. When new and out of the stand, they look kind of like huge tin foiled wrapped baked potatoes.

While most grills are made of thin grade metal, the PKs are thick and heavy. Like cast iron, they retain the heat. But, they don't rust like cast iron. Yippee! That's a huge problem with most grills, and even my Dad's ancient PK grill shows no signs of rust.

With the heat retention and with wider grates, you can sear nicely on the PK grills and can also close the lid and adjust the dampers to smoke meats. Portable Kitchen grills really crank once they get going, so below you will see how I offset for dinner last night.

Offsetting the coals means just burning on one side. That gives me room to sear the steaks but a cooler area to finish them off and also to work on the side dishes.

This is the same set up you'd use to smoke meats on the Portable Kitchen grill, but you'd close the lid and have the vents closed most of the way.

Our dinner last night included rib eye steaks, grilled corn on the cob, and grilled hash browns and also Texas Toast which we put on right at the end, since it doesn't take much time at all to heat bread on a grill.

The hash browned potatoes went on early to get started, but we do start out with tin foil on top. They are basically steamed on the grill. The boys love them, so we do those pretty often.

We then put the marinated steak on the hot side of the grill to sear and had the grilled corn on the cob on the cooler end of the grill. Those were rotated once the steaks were seared on the outside and then finished off to medium.

It's hard to beat a PK. Portable Kitchen is one of the best charcoal grills on the market. I'm glad they brought it back.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Father's Day Brew-B-Q Contest - Five Lucky Barbecue Kit Winners

What Fun! Mug Root Beer has donated barbecue baskets (well - coolers actually) for five Grill Girl fans in celebration of Father's Day.

The Mug Root Beer gift packs are bundled in a neat, soft-sided cooler with the company logo on the side - the MRB bull dog. All the fixings to make a delicious, homemade barbecue sauce are in the cooler along with the secret recipe.

OK. The recipe isn't really a secret. You can find the barbecue sauce at the Mug Root Beer page, but then you have to go to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients. If you win, the cooler and supplies arrive right at your front door. Can't beat that.

How to Enter the Barbecue Master Mug Root Beer Barbecue Sauce Cooler Contest

The Father's Day barbecue contest is really simple.

Just post a comment telling everyone why your Dad (or another dad-person in your life) is one hot griller (or not).

Yes. You can nominate your husband, boyfriend, brother, neighbor, or yourself. That's fine. If you know someone who is good on the grill or if you're good, then feel free to tell us (-:

Comment Entries - Very Easy

Comments are moderated (to avoid spam), so don't sweat it if you don't see your entry pop up immediately. I'd have to be online and looking at that the very instant you posted (and then click as well) to have the entry come up on the spot.

Also, remember to let me know how to get in touch. I can contact you at your blog or site if you have a contact form, or post an email, and I'll shoot you a note if the home guys draw your entry.

Really, don't forget to give me some clue as to how to get in touch! If you aren't comfortable doing that, then you can email me at I'll put you in and have some way of getting in touch to get a mailing address.

Heck No - I Won't Spam You (hardly have time to do the dishes around here folks)

Don't worry about me using or sharing your information (other than for the mailing of the prizes). I'm just a girl with a grill(s), and I don't even have a mailing list. If I did, I wouldn't put anyone on there without permission anyway. Not cool - that. If you want site updates, there's a place to sign up on the right side - both an email option and various site feeds. But, that's on your end - not mine.

How the Prize Drawing Goes Down

This will be a low tech drawing. I'll write down each entry. My sons will fold and shake them in a bucket. Their Dad will draw the 5 winners. I would have my Dad draw, but he is no longer with us. He was a great griller though, and he got me started grilling.

Don't Miss the Grill Party and the Great Free Gift for 5 Lucky Winners

I'll take entries through midnight June 20, 2009 EST and then do the drawing on Father's Day.

You can surprise your Dad or invite him over and make up a tasty barbecue sauce with the kit. Your call and fun either way.

And the winners are in! Thanks to everyone for such great stories. You're all terrific. Here are the prize package winners pulled on the Mug Root Beer Contest. Congratulations and let me know how you like the sauce.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dan's Southern Barbecue Sauce - Sweet or Sweet and Hot - Yum

I bought a bottle of Dan's Sweet n' Hot Southern Sauce at the Cleveland Spring Festival. The elementary school was selling bbq sauce to raise funds for extra projects which is sure better than wrapping paper and knickknacks they sell. I vote for barbecue sauce, and Dan's is a really good one.

Actually, Dan bills his mixtures as general sauces, and they are more versatile than most North Carolina barbecue sauces which are generally designed to be mopped on pork or chicken. But, you can certainly use Dan's as you would your favorite barbeque sauce plus also for general dipping or as a base for stir fry with a Southern twang.

Dan's sauces are tomato based, but there's some vinegar in there and spices. You can taste the Carolina influence, but his sauces are different than others from the area.

I got the Sweet 'n Hot Southern Sauce, since I love spicy foods. I tried a little taste sample first to be sure it wouldn't be too hot for my son who is not a big "hot" fan. The sauce comes on pleasantly sweet with a nice back kick. There's some heat, but the sauce would not be too hot for most folks.

We used Dan's BBQ Sauce on some chicken last night. As you can see, we grilled the chicken close to done (below) and then lathered on some Dan's. With the tomato base, it needs to go on close the end of the grilling time as do other sauces that are thicker and with sugar.

Yum. That was some good chicken. Dan's Southern Sauce was a great contrast to the chicken and added some punch with the hot version.

Sharon Phillips, as in Mrs. Dan, of Dan's Southern Sauce sent a really nice email. She said they are small and sell local at both Fresh Market stores in Greensboro, at "The Extra Ingredient" also in Greensboro, as well as the Greensboro Farmer's Market.

You can also find Dan's Sauce at the Winston Salem Fresh Market and "A Southern Season" in Chapel Hill.

If you can't road trip it to NC, then head back to the web site. That's one thing I love about the Internet, I can get small, local sauces that are full of flavor and history. I look for those when I travel, but I can't hit every state and find every sauce. Can't do that online either - but it does expand my sauce habit.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Our Family Favorite Grilled Brats Recipe

Simmering Brats Sausages to Go on the Barbecue Grill

Bratswurth or brats are easy to grill, but there are different types of brats. See my brats guide at Yes You Can Grill if you don't know your sausages.

Our favorite brats are the raw type which take longer to prepare but really taste great. We get Johnsonville Brats or the Food Lion brand but uncooked. If you're not sure if the ones you're looking at are pre-cooked or not, just ask the meat guy at the grocery.

Since we get uncooked bratswurth to grill, we simmer them before putting them on the grill.

Grilled Brats Beer Simmer Sauce

1 to 2 cans of beer (any type you like and enough to cover the brats)
1/2 stick butter
1 onion sliced thick

Just put the beer, butter, and onion in a pan on top of the stove and heat until the butter is melted.

Add the brats.

We like to stick holes in each end of the brats with a fork. If the casing is intestine, then it will absorb. But, it seems to give more flavor to add a couple of holes to the casing. Also, it helps keeps the brats from squirting on you when you bite in later. Some people like all that meat juice. Some people (like me) hate to get brats burn.

Simmmer the brats for 20 minutes at medium or 45 minutes or so on low on top of the stove. I tend to go with the low temp and get other items ready for the cook out as the brats slowly cook.

Remove the brats and then put on the grill. With the simmer beforehand, you grill these sausages just like hot dogs - until hot and with grill strips. Very easy.

Serve on brats buns or sub sandwich buns with mustand (bold is good).

This is another of my super simple recipes, but it sure is good. I have people ask me my secret for making such delicious grilled brats. So, there it is.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Grilled Pork Loin with Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce

Pork Loin on Weber Kettle Grill

Last night I decided to smoke a pork loin on our Weber Kettle. The kettle design and air vents work well for low and slow as well as traditional high heat grilling. We have some smokers too, but I know pork loin doesn't take a long times especially since I cut it in half and saved the other half for later.

First I rubbed the pork loin down with some Traeger dry rub for pork. They have some really great rubs. I have the variety sample pack, and when it arrived and I opened up the box, yum. These Traeger rubs are fresh and very wonderful smelling. They taste really super too. You can, of course, use any rub you like (Emeril is good from the grocery) or make your own. I just enjoy playing around with different brands and recipes on rubs and barbecue sauces.

Normally I grill by sight and touch, but it's kind of hard to tell on bigger cuts of meat. I finally did what I should have done long ago and got a grill thermometer. It's a Maverick Redi Chek Remote. It makes sense to use a thermometer, because you can't really tell about the center of a bigger piece of smoked meat.

My Maverick meat thermometer has two probes to check either two types of meat cooking (one in a steak and one in a piece of chicken etc), or (in my case) one on each end of the pork loin just out of curiosity. In additon to the two probes, the unit has a remote beeper. So, I just plugged in the Redi Check and went inside where it was cool and did other fun things like laundry.

There are auto setting for types of meat on the thermometer, but I used the manual setting and pressed in 140 degrees F. That's low for pork, but I wanted to be sure I didn't overcook the meat. I just wanted to check at 140F.

Around 40 minutes, the beeper went off. It is definately loud enough to hear. The two ends were about 8 degrees apart on temp. So, I respositioned the pork loin and brought it on up to 150 degrees F.

Really, you want it about 160 degrees F on pork to be on the safe side, but I knew I'd sauce it and put the lid on to smoke it down about 10 more minutes. Also, I'd rest the pork loin for a half hour. It continues to cook while wrapped in aluminum foil, so you go lower on the off-the-grill temp when letting the meat rest (which allows the flavors to meld).

Generally my pork loins run closer an hour to get up to temp, but since I had the thermometer probes in and the lid cracked a bit so as not to crimp them, the fire ran hotter than usual.

Note also in the top photo that the coals are offset. In other words, I had hot coals on one side and one side with no coals. The meat went over the side without coals - the cool side. The heat and smoke then circulate for slow cooking on bigger pieces of meat like the loin. You can do similar with a gas grill by having one side on and one side off and the meat on the side that's not lit. Then, grill low with the lid down.

Pork Loin off Grill and Ready to be Wrapped in Aluminum Foil to Rest

Once the pork loin was close, I lathered on some Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce. This is a brand name from the grocery store. It's a thick tomato based sauce but darker than most with a little zip from the whiskey flavor.

Once the sauce was on the pork loin, I put the lid on the Weber and shut down the vents to cap the fire. There was plenty of heat to kind of bake on the sauce without burning it. If you put sauce on too early, then the outside of your meat burns. Sauce is always a last step. Mop or marinade (thinner products) can go on before, during, and after - but not barbecue sauce.

The guys loved the pork loin. They had some last week made by the Leonard brothers. My guys asked why I never made pork loin. Well, when they were little, I made one. My oldest thought it was a pig leg. Sigh. He doesn't get out to the farm often. Can you imagine the size of a pig with legs that big? Anyway, the boys were suspicious of that "leg," so I gave it a rest for a while. Glad they discovered that they do like pork loin. When it's not overcooked, it's like a good steak - very moist, juicy and full of flavor.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How to Grill Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - Grilled Chicken Recipe

Boneless, skinless, chicken breasts on the grill.

One of my buddies saw my chicken photo and wanted the chicken breast recipe. It's a super simple grilled chicken recipe that I started doing last year when cooking for larger groups.

What I do is either buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them in two or three pieces all close in size, or Food Lion here sells them cut like that and called chicken tenders or strips I think.

There are several reasons for doing the chicken in small strips on the grill:

1. The chicken strips cook faster than full chicken breasts or bone in chicken. The time is in the same range as hot dogs.

2. Since the chicken grills quick, it stays moister (unless cooked too long).

3. The chicken has less fat and is healthier with no skin (which can be a problem though with larger pieces which can get dry).

4. The small grilled strips really can be finger foods - just a little messy with the sauce but not bad.

How to Make Boneless, Skinless Grilled Chicken

Before grilling marinate the chicken for an hour or so or do that in the morning or the night before. You can use your favorite marinade, but I generally use bottled Italian dressing - the oil based type and not the creamy. This just adds moisture and also keeps the chicken from sticking to the grill.

Heat the grill to medium hot or with coals burned down well if using charcoal. Let the grates heat too, because cold grates make foods stick. You can also spry Pam on the grates, but with the marinade, the chicken is not bad to stick.

Grill for around 4 minutes and flip the chicken strips. Put barbecue sauce on top and grill again around 4 minutes (or a little less). One last flip of the chicken to sauce the other side if you like and just enough time to heat.

Times vary on grills and the size of the chicken pieces. The chicken will look white and not pink. And, it really does not take long with the chicken cut this way.

As far as the barbecue sauce, we used John Boy and Bill's Original BBQ sauce here. It's excellent. We also like Stubbs. Kraft or any other type you like works well. One favorite here at our house is Chef Hymie Grande bbq sauce. It just happens to be diabetic sealed, but it tastes fabulous. I get that when my parents eat over. Just try some different barbeque sauces and see what you and family and friends like.

This is one of my many quick and easy barbecue recipes and tricks for rocking the grill. You can find more articles here at the blog and at my web site Yes You Can Grill. It really doesn't have to be hard to make and take forever to cook to be delicious, although I do have some more labor intensive and time consuming grill recipes that are worth the extra effort for sure.