This week’s Bulldogs game against the Georgia Southern Eagles cries out for some All-American tailgating traditions. Read on for some useful grilling tips to ensure your tailgating soars above the competition.
Prep at home the night before. Do all your chopping, dicing and slicing ahead of time. Prepping ahead saves you time on game day and ensures you have as much fun as every other hungry fan. Slice tomatoes and onions and wash lettuce to store in individual containers. Skewer and marinate kebabs the night before. Shape and store hamburger patties using waxed paper between layers. Organize condiments in a six-pack container.
Pack extra grilling essentials. Whether you are using a charcoal or gas grill, plan on extra fuel. Nothing is worse than running out of fire when your burgers or dogs are popular. Bring an extra bag of charcoal or 1 lb. gas tank. You’ll also need two sets of tongs, one for raw meat and one for everything else.
Prep your grill. A pile of ash in the bottom of your grill can obstruct vents and make temperatures difficult to control. Remove leftover ash from the last time you cooked. Use a stiff bristled wire brush to clean away any rust or residue from your grill grates. To prevent food from sticking, pre-heat your grill grates before putting food on them. For charcoal grills, put the grates on once your coals are lit, then let them heat up for a few minutes. For even more stick-proof cooking, use your tongs and a paper towel dipped in some cooking oil to thoroughly coat the cooking grates.
Lighting the grill. If you prefer that smoky, charcoal taste arrange the coals into a neat mound or pyramid to increase coal-to-coal contact and help the fire spread. Then carefully add lighter fluid to the top and sides of the pile of unlit coals and light immediately. Never squirt lighter fluid onto flaming or hot coals. After the fluid burns off, the edges of your charcoal will turn gray and spread to each briquette. Once mostly covered in ash, the coals are ready to be spread out and used. Plan on about 15 minutes to get the perfect glowing coals.
Need more heat? Simply place unlit coals on top of the already smoldering coals when you need hotter temps. The already burning coals will start the new ones — no need to add more lighter fluid.
Control the temperature. Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, the key to controlling your cooking temperature is to control airflow. Vents on the top and bottom of your grill allow oxygen to increase, decrease or maintain your grill temperature. For high-heat grilling, open the vents wide. Cool things down a bit and slow the cooking process by gradually closing down the vents.
Control flare-ups. Unless cooking space is at a premium, leave at least a small area with no coals to manage flare-ups caused by fat dripping from your food. Don’t attempt to put these flare-ups out with water. This will cause ash to fly up onto your food. Manage flare-ups by moving food away from the flames to an area of the grill without coals or direct heat. When the flames subside, move the food back to the hot side and continue cooking.
Avoid smoke in your eyes. On windy days, bring a little extra charcoal since the wind can make your coals burn faster. Point the front leg of your grill into the wind to minimize wind coming into the bottom vents. If you have a gas grill, turn the grill perpendicular to where the wind is coming from to minimize its effect on your food. And be considerate. If your food is smoking out your neighbor, try to relocate the grill to a more neutral spot.
Make cleanup easier. Bring a small metal bucket for smoldering coals and remove cooled ashes to the trash.
Have a little fun with your grilling by experimenting with your recipes. Hot dogs come in a wide variety of flavors these days — everything from cheese filled and smoked sausage to jalapeno and cheddar flavored wieners. Many are gluten free, and you can even look for chicken, turkey or beef alternatives. Veggie burgers made with black beans can be a healthy alternative for many.
Explore a variety of kebab options. Try beef, chicken, lamb and even seafood. Consider grilling veggies on separate skewers since they often cook faster.
Experiment with your hamburger and hot dog toppings as well. Cole slaw, jalapenos, cheese and pickle relish are always welcome additions. Consider preparing the delicious chili recipe below to serve on your dogs, buns or simply in a bowl with cheese and sour cream. Your Georgia fans will be ready to cheer on the team as the score climbs to new heights this weekend. Go Dawgs!
Beat the Eagles Chili – Adapted from UGA fan Linda Broyles’ recipe
2 lbs. ground beef (for lower fat version use ground turkey)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
4-6 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa