Things to do the day before your big holiday BBQ!
Things to do the day before your big Holiday BBQ!
A lot of preparation goes into throwing a great holiday barbecue, and there are always things that you forget and have to rush at the last minute. Here is my short list of things I always try to remember the day before the big BBQ.
Clean that Grill!
A clean cooking surface is a definite requirement, and can have a big effect on the flavor of your meal. Nothing scares away holiday grazers like having to burn off last weeks burnt sauce before the cooking begins. Clean that grill grate the day before, so when your guests arrive it is clean and ready for food.
- Heat up the grill and burn off the remnants.
- Use a scraper, brush, or even a wad of tinfoil to clean off the leftover char.
- Take a paper towel, add oil, and give the grate a light coating of oil.
Prepare the Smoker.
If you are going to be using a smoker, there are a few items I always end up rushing to complete. Once the cooking surfaces are clean, you must also remember to clean out the fire pit and water tray. Check the firebox or wood tray and clean out any excess ash, one dropped log during cooking can cover your food in charcoal dust. If your smoker has a water tray, make sure to clean and wash that out as well, the last run will have left a residue that can affect flavor.
- Clean the smoker grates and food surfaces.
- Empty out the firebox.
- Clean the water tray.
Fuel for the fire
Don't forget the fuel! Double check your propane levels, charcoal supply, and wood pile for the essentials. Charcoal and wood are easy to estimate visually, if it looks like almost enough make a run to the store anyway. Trying to get propane right before the party on a Sunday can be an adventure, and it's best done when you are not in a hurry. You can check your propane tank level by weight, the tanks are marked with an TW empty weight near the top.
The instructions to calculate it are here: http://www.wikihow.com/Measure-the-Remaining-Propane
- Check the propane tank rim for the TW stamp, measure weight, and calculate time needed.
- Check your charcoal supply.
- Check your wood pile, chunk, chip supply.
- Wet down some of the wood, the smaller the pieces the more water helps it smoke instead of burn.
Soak those beans.
Baked beans are a holiday BBQ staple, make sure yours are ready for cooking on the big day. Most types of dry beans can benefit from overnight soaking, rumor has it that an overnight soak removes some of the firepower they are famous for. A good soak also make sure your beans will be soft and soak up all the flavor from your favorite recipe.
- Wash the dry beans to clean off any dust and dirt from processing.
- Fill the pot with water, the beans will soak it up and double in size.
- Add salt and cover overnight, then rinse again before cooking.
The main difference between dry beans and canned beans, is that the overnight soak saves you enough money for an extra sixpack of beer. Here is a recipe to give you some ideas for your bbq baked beans:
- Smoker Style Beans - http://noexcusesbbq.com/recipes/bbq-beans-smoker-style
Thaw it out!
If you are cooking meat that is more than 1 inch thick like chicken, turkey, beef, or pork. Take it out of the freezer the day before and separate the cuts for easier thawing. If you need it fast because you want to brine or add a rub a metal thawing tray can speed up the process or you can place the meat in a ziplock bag in a sink full of water.
- Wash the cuts off to remove ice, and clean off any extra skin or fat.
- Separate the cuts to insure the centers thaw out.
- Place in a ziplock bag and soak in the sink for a fast thaw.
- Thaw thicker meats and full birds in the refrigerator overnight .
Brine that Bird!
If you are cooking poultry, soaking your bird in a brine overnight can make a huge difference in flavor. A brine is a spicy salty mix that will soak into the meat and infuse it with flavor. The salt and sugar replace some of the water in the meat, and keep it tender and juicy during the long smoking\grilling process.
- Thaw and clean the bird, don't forget to take out the bag of giblets.
- Place it inside a ziplock or garbage bag and fill that bag with the brine.
- Place that bag inside a container\cooler, and then place that in the refrigerator overnight.
Here are a few recipes to give you some ideas for your brine:
- Poultry - http://www.smoking-meat.com/june-11-2015-beer-brined-smoked-chicken
- Pork - http://www.smoking-meat.com/october-9-2014-apple-juice-brined-smoked-pork-tenderloin
- Roast beef - http://www.smokingpit.com/recipes/Smoked-Roast.htm
Spice that Meat!
A dry rub is essential for adding good flavor to your favorite cuts of meat. Letting the spices soak in overnight will add extra flavor that you cannot get with a light covering of sauce. You can also use a tenderizer to force the spices inside, which the meat will absorb during the night. Here are a few recipes to give you some ideas for your dry rub:
- Beef Dry rub - http://intentionalhospitality.com/bbq-coffee-dry-rub/
- Poultry Dry rub - http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/07/slow-and-low-dry-rub-oven-chicken/
With BBQ timing is everything! Hopefully this list helps to put less fear and more beer into your festivities!