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Published: Friday, 6/18/2010

Turn the Typical Backyard Barbecue into a Hot Spot for Fun and Flavor

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(ARA) - Many American families will forego the traditional summer vacation travel this year and spend more time than ever making home-spun fun in the sun at the backyard barbecue. But if your version of barbecuing involves the same old fare and familiar flavors, it's time to spice up your old standby.

Here are some simple ways to add just the right amount of sizzle and style to any standard backyard barbecue.

Create a Fun Toppings Bar

Americans love familiar fare, but it's important to infuse your own style. Add a toppings bar to make ordinary barbecue staples like burgers and steaks a little more extraordinary. Stock your toppings bar with all of the usual suspects, like ketchup and mustard, and be sure to include a variety of out-of-the-box toppings to spice things up. Chili, hummus, mango salsa, horseradish and caramelized onions are a few options that add an extra kick.

Infuse the Flavor In Advance

Marinating your meat ahead of time is a simple step you can take to boost flavor in a big way. Consider the following steps to create a marinade that's simple and sure to satisfy. Combine a half cup of Worcestershire Sauce, three tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil, one-fourth teaspoon salt, and three tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a baking dish or plastic bag and pour it over your meat. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

You can also add flavor in advance with a variety of flavorful rubs. Many grill jockeys massage their meat with a spicy rub, while others content themselves with a light sprinkling. Whether you massage it in or sprinkle on top, these savory spice rubs have the ability to transform ordinary grilled meat into a barbecue of distinction.

Hit a Home Run with Savory Side Dishes

Offer an array of summer sides as yet another way to tantalize the taste buds. Consider a grilled vegetable medley over couscous or cut sweet potatoes grilled in foil with a touch of brown sugar and apple butter. For fruit inspired sides, fresh pineapple and a barbecue pit make a perfect pair. Or, place halved mangoes, peaches, plums, or apricots flesh-side down on an oiled grate until they look caramelized and serve with a scoop of ice cream. By offering a variety of sides, you're appealing to various palates and creating a grilling extravaganza everyone will enjoy.

Turn up the Heat with Open-Fire Cooking

An open flame barbecue pit is a sure-fire way to unleash flavor. With a little know-how, even a novice can cook creatively at the open-fire barbecue. Begin the fire at least two to three hours in advance so the coals are sufficiently hot. The cooking fire can be built in a portable charcoal grill, a fire ring, or simply a trench dug in the ground. Top it with a piece of wire mesh or create a cooking grate with the metal grid from your existing grill.

Because the food absorbs flavor from the smoke below, you'll want to use a good-smelling hard wood such as hickory, white oak, mesquite, or fruit woods. The key is to create a low bed of coals so that you don't overcook the meat or cook it too fast. Also, keep in mind cooking on an open flame takes a bit more time and patience, so the best tip is to simply slow down, relax and enjoy!

Keep it Fun with Flavors for Everyone

The backyard barbecue is as much about family time as it is about the food. Be sure to include flavorful options that everyone in the family will enjoy. To lure the kids, try grilling pre-cooked meatballs and offer toothpicks and pasta sauce for dipping. Or, change up their typical hot dog by serving it wrapped in a tortilla shell with melted cheese and diced tomatoes. For the adults, add an element of interest to burgers and steaks with options such as Greek-style lamb burgers or grilled London broil sandwiches. Whatever you decide, just be sure to keep it interesting and fun for everyone.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



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