Mastering Marinades Secret to Great Barbecuing

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The definition of a marinade is a seasoned liquid in which meat, seafood or even vegetables are soaked to provide increased flavor and/or tenderization. Marinades vary from recipe to recipe but they generally contain three basic components – oils, acids, and seasonings. Marinades are oil-based to help retain moisture, acid-based to help break down or tenderize the product.  

The general rule when using a marinade is: Any marinade that contains acid, alcohol, or salt should not be used for very long, because it will chemically “cook” the food in it. Marinate food in these marinades for no more than 4 hours.

Marinades that contain citrus juices, especially lemon or lime juice, should be used for only 2 hours or less. Be careful when using acidic marinades. Foods left too long in these blends can change color and texture. Fish fillets, for example, can change in a matter of minutes.

Marinades that contain no salt, acid, or alcohol can be marinated overnight or, in some cases, longer.

You can make a marinade using any number of spices and herbs. Remember that your goal is to use the seasonings to produce a good flavor impact.  Be careful not to entirely obliterate the meat’s natural flavor.   

A marinade should be thin enough in consistency to penetrate the meat. A general rule of marinade-to-meat ration is 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat. If you use a little more marinade, it will be OK.

It is best to follow the particular recipe which should inform you of the time limits required for the meats you are marinating.  Each meat or vegetable is different for its requirements.

Marinades are cultural and a couple of them come to mind, such as German sauerbraten which is made by marinating beef roast in a sweet-and-sour marinade for two to three days. And of course in the Caribbean, chilies and various herbs and spices are added to fruit juices to make Jamaican Jerk marinade.  Asian cooking makes frequent use of soy sauce, sugar, ginger and teriyaki sauce.

The French also often use melted butter or cream to keep the meat moist. Our favorite oils include;

  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Sunflower oil


Limitless flavors

When making a marinade you can use just about any medium or ingredient. You can, think everything is a marinade – fruit juice, vegetable juices, soft drinks, beer,  wines, flavored or infused oils, and even dairy products such as milk and yogurt. All these products, when mixed with herbs and spices, can be combined to produce a signature flavor. 

Beyond the basics, there’s a veritable cornucopia of ingredients that can give a marinated product a special character.The sky is the limit when it comes to flavoring marinade. One of my favorite flavorings is simply fresh garlic, chopped extra fine in a base of olive oil and vinegar.

Dairy products bring creamy notes to marinades, and buttermilk, sour cream and yogurt can also produce an acidic tang. However, marinades with dairy products are difficult to keep shelf-stable. The best way to use dairy products is to add them just before beginning the marinating process.

Some other flavorings you might want to consider include: herbs such as Rosemary or Thyme, Tamari or Soy sauce (though the more we find out about the hazard of soy products, the more we try to stay away from them), tomato – which can also serve as the acid base, Ginger, wine, and the list goes on.Specialty mustards such as tarragon-and-honey, lime-and-chipotle and beer-flavored varieties, bring a unique profile to marinades.

Various wines such as Chianti, Madeira and port lend special attributes to sweet and savory marinades. Colas and citrus-flavored soft drink syrups make a perfect marinade for barbecued and roasted meats.Also, think of the liquor bar as a complete chemistry set of flavors. Rum, flavored liqueurs, whiskey, bourbon and sake are just some of alcohol-based marinades possible.


How to mix and use a marinade

Marinades should be mixed in a nonreactive container, such as stainless steel, porcelain, clay, or plastic.. Plastic containers may pick up residual flavors of the marinade, and should be reserved only for the making of marinade in the future.

A tenderizing marinade is used with less tender beef cuts, usually the chuck, round, flank and skirt. Tenderizing marinades contain a food acid or a tenderizing enzyme. Acidic ingredients include lemon or lime juice, vinegar, Italian dressing, salsa, yogurt and wine. Tenderizing enzymes are present in fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and figs.

Marinating times vary depending on the type, cut, and size of the meat. All meats have a refrigerated shelf life and marinating does not extend that shelf life (shelf life includes the day of purchase and thawing time). Frozen meat will not absorb a marinade, so don’t waste your time.

Less tender steaks should be marinated at least 6 hours, but no more than 24 hours. If you marinade for longer than 24 hours this could result in the meat becoming a mushy texture. Tenderizing marinades penetrate about ¼ inch into the meat.

Approximate Marinating Times

Type of Meat

Cut of Meat

Approximate Marinating Time

Lamb, Beef, and Pork

Steak, Chops

2 to 4 hours


Beef Flank Steak

2 hours to overnight


Whole Roast

4 to 6 hours (to overnight)



24 hours


Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless Chicken thighs

2 hours to overnight


Whole Roast or Chicken

4 to 6 hours



15 to 30 minutes



5 minutes


Steaks and Fillets

15 to 30 minutes


Basic Marinade for Pork, Chicken, and Steak

This is really good if you’re looking to bring out the natural flavors of a meat without imparting too many additional components to overpower that natural flavor. If you don’t own a blender or food processor, just finely chop everything. I recommend blending it however because it really allows the flavors to come together with the oil, and flavor the meat you’re using. Grilling the meats will impart an even better flavor although you can roast or sauté as well.

Basic Marinade   Yield: 1 cup of marinade


3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil   

1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
Juice of one fresh lemon

kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (Do not add into marinade; see below)


Combine in food processor or blender and blend until all ingredients are incorporated. In a ziploc bag or shallow marinating dish, rub marinade into meat and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Right before cooking, season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.


Note: Marinating should always be done at refrigeration temperatures. Never marinate at room temperature or outdoors when barbecuing as bacteria can quickly multiply on raw meat if it is warm. Marinating at room temperature causes meat to enter the danger zone (between 40 degrees F. and 140 degrees F.) where bacteria multiply rapidly.




Injecting Marinade


Another way to marinate is to inject a marinade, needles or probes are inserted and the liquid is injected as the probe or needles are withdrawn, spreading the marinade throughout the entire piece of meat. If seasonings are used, they must be small enough to pass through the needles.

Injecting is a sure fire way to get the flavor and the marinade deep down into the meat. Unlike traditional marinades which take time to fully penetrate the meat, injections are a quick way to introduce marinades to bigger cuts of meat such as brisket and pork butts.

There’s no waiting time in the refrigerator and you don’t have to worry about over salting. Injecting can be done at the last minute before cooking. 

There is one drawback when using an injection marinade. When using dry ingredients such as rubs or ground peppers and spices, make sure that they are fully dissolved before injecting in to the meat as they can clog the injection needle.

Marinade injectors come in various sizes and can be found in cooking supply stores and online. When you get a minute check out the eShoppin’ page on the FPBS website for injectors.When you are injecting chicken, the 4 oz. capacity injectors are best as the higher capacity injectors are made for things like brisket or pork butt and can result in over injecting marinade into the chicken. Injecting marinade into meats is pretty simple and doesn’t require extensive cooking experience.

Here’s a recipe for a basic pork shoulder or brisket injection.

  • 3 cups Apple Juice
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ tbsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cubes pork bouillon for pork or beef cubes for brisket

Mix ingredients in a pot over medium high heat and bring to a simmer while stirring frequently to blend.  Remove from the heat and allow the injection to cool completely before injecting in to raw meat.

Note: If you would like to know more about injecting marinade go to:

Reusing Marinades – Discard any unused marinate

If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. To avoid bacterial contamination of cooked meat, make two batches of marinade. Use one batch on the raw meat before grilling, then toss. Use a fresh batch as a finishing sauce or dip after the meat is fully cooked.

Because the marinade will have been in contact with raw meat juices, if you do want to use some of the marinade, boil the marinade first to destroy any harmful bacteria for at least 5 minutes before using it to baste the cooking meat or serving it as a sauce. Food borne bacteria dies at 165 degrees F.


Destin Rodeo – Grilling Seafood



With the Destin Seafood Rodeo this month some lucky fishermen have some catches to cook. Fresh Seafood is meant to be grilled; it’s quite flavorful and juicy. Basically, getting grilled fish right isn’t that hard. The main thing is not to overcook the fish. The big thing here is to not get distracted by concentrating on something and leave the fish on the grill for too long.

Here in the Panhandle we have the luxury of getting our hands on the freshest fish. The best way to cook seafood is by direct heat it cooks fast, easy and without removing moisture. Get that barbeque really hot. If using a charcoal grill, use plenty of charcoal to build a really good fire that will retain plenty of heat. Let the flames die down until you can see that the charcoal has become white and you have a medium fire, it can take a few minutes – this is where many people make a critical mistake. You know what they say – Patience is a Virtue – or in this case Patience will help you grill the best seafood!

The number one rule about grilling fish is to make sure it doesn’t stick. Make sure that the grill is clean. There’s nothing worse than old bits of food burnt on the grill bars, not only does it leave a horrible taste but it will make the fish stick.

When the grill is well oiled it won’t stick (I like to use Olive Oil). Now you are ready to lay the fish upon the grate. Lay the fish down on the grill with the tail facing farthest away from the heat. Do not move it until it is seared! It helps if you don’t poke it and move it around every few minutes. Cook about 3-5 minutes each side. “10 minutes per inch” is the rule of thumb. When fish is cooked the meat will flake easily with a fork and will appear opaque all the way through. If any part of the meat is still glossy and partially translucent then it’s not done.

Recipes will give you precise time. Only turn it over once. The best utensil for this is a wide, thin spatula; big enough to lift the whole fillet in one go. 

When grilling fillets with skin on one side, cook fish skin side down for the first part of the cooking time. The skin protects the fish from burning and drying out. It also can  provide natural oils to your grill, so when you flip the fish it will not stick.



Seafood Grilling with Planks

A frustrating fact while grilling seafood on our grills is how dry the seafood can become.  When I discovered plank cooking it changed forever the way you prepare many foods on the grill.  Fish whether whole, fillets or steaks a well as shell fish can be prepared on the grill and still remain moist and tender with an abundance of flavor just by switching cooking methods to planking.

You must purchase a food quality aromatic wood plank from a trusted source.  Your local lumber yard cannot supply food quality woods.  Cedar for seafood is the most common, however there is also alder, mesquite, cherry, hickory and more.  Fish cooks quickly so thin cut planks are quite sufficient for planking fish. 

If you are interested in cooking with planks check out the subject on the internet at here is the link for this subject: To purchase planks go to and click on e-shoppin’ on top of page and when the page comes up click on Shop Now – Grill Life, when this page comes up search for planks. All proceeds for the e-shoppin’ store help to support the Fla Panhandle BBQ Society.

Here is a great recipe for Bay Scallops ce Grilling Planks™ 2011

Herb Buttered Scallops Ingredients: 

12-16oz. Bay Scallops, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and real butter.  

Melt the butter and add the herb powders and thyme, heat until well blended. 

Slip the scallops onto kabob stick and baste with the butter blend. 

Lay the scallop kabobs on a prepared hot thin cut grilling plank and cook at medium to high cooked (5-10 min.) basting and turning several times. 

Serve with lemon wedge and a side of fresh herb butter blend.

Submission by Art, Bangor, Maine 5


Using a Grill Basket

You may want to invest in a fish grilling basket, they are inexpensive. A grill basket can be adjusted to hold fish of varying thickness. When it’s time to flip the fish on the grill, flip the basket instead.


This unique hinged device keeps the fish off the grate (where it can stick), enabling you to turn the fish. Generously oil the grate or hinged fish grilling basket. Brush both sides of the fish with oil or melted butter. To keep from burning yourself as you turn the grill basket, use an oven mitt to hold the basket’s metal handle.


Another great use for the basket is to grill veggies, which of course is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled seafood. The smoke seasons the veggies; and also with the heat gives a great look to the veggies. Some veggies break apart when they are cooking and the basket will keep them together.   


Tips for Preparation and Grilling

  1. Keep the fish refrigerated until ready to grill.
  2. If skin has not been removed, keep it intact while      grilling. The skin will prevent the fish from curling up and flaking      apart. The skin is easily removed after grilling.
  3. Rinse the fish thoroughly and pat dry with paper      towels.
  4. Brush the fish and grill grate with a thin coat of      cooking oil to prevent sticking on the grill. Oil the grill grate before      starting the grill.
  5. If a grill basket is used to hold the fish, be sure to      oil that also.
  6. Place the fish      skin side up on the grill grate over the direct heat source.
  7. Cook the fish      for 4 to 6 minutes and then turn to grill on the other side for      approximately same amount of time.
  8. Insert the tip      of a knife in thickest area of the fish to check for doneness. The meat      should be flakey and opaque in appearance. The internal temperature of the      fish should be at least 145°F.


In finishing I have prepared a Fish Grilling Guide with Tips and Recipes for the Destin Fishing Rodeo, which is free for you to download. All you have to do is email me at  and I will send you the link for you to download a copy.



Cooking Fish On Lemons


This article discusses Salmon but you can use any local gulf fish. 



I don’t remember where I picked up this trick, but I am so glad I did!  Whether you are grilling or baking fish, cooking it on lemons is the way to go.  Fish tends to want to stick to whatever surface it is cooking on, making it difficult to keep it in one piece when taking it off.  I find this especially the case when grilling, because keeping the grill bars greased isn’t easy.  But fish cooks on top of lemons beautifully, soaking up lemon flavors, and comes off in one piece.  Did I mention easy clean up?  You have to try this, so easy!

Just slice the lemons and place them on the surface to be cooked.  If you are grilling, put them on the grill bars.  If you are baking, put them on the baking sheet.  In our case, we had one large piece of salmon, so we wanted to place all the lemons close together to ensure even cooking.  If you have portions, just place two lemon slices under each piece. You will cook at the same temperature as usual.

Then just place the fish right on top.  Close the grill lid, or toss it in the oven, and cook until it flakes easily with a fork.  You don’t want to turn the fish, just leave it alone.  When it is done just toss the lemons.  No messy clean-up, and no extra oil to cook with!

Now for my favorite way with salmon.  I had picked up a can of Potlatch Seasoning in Williams-Sonoma about six years ago, and have bought two cans since.  It is the only spice I have paid shipping for, and it is so worth it!  Even dinner guests that said they don’t like salmon, loved it with this seasoning.  It gives the salmon a spicy kick with just the right blend of herbs and spices.

I squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fish, then sprinkle a generous amount of the potlatch seasoning over the top.  I do leave it off the portion that my kids eat, it tends to be a bit spicy for them.  Throw it on the grill over the lemons, and your dinner guests will think you are a culinary genius.  And it couldn’t be easier, takes only a few minutes to prepare.

How about you, do you have any grilling tips?  Favorite ways to cook fish?  Do share!



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Rules of the Bottle “Barbecue & Wine”

By Colin Richards


Until I tried wine with barbecue a few years ago, I always thought beer was the only real partner up to the job. When friends and family were showing-up with bottles of wine to the cook-out I started taking wine and barbecue pairing seriously.

For most of us red necks on the Riviera, a holiday barbecue means its beer time. Teetotalers are stuck with soda, lemonade, or iced tea. Our south of the border amigos favor margaritas; daiquiris don’t hurt either. But only a few people seem to think of wine when they fire up the grill.  That’s a real shame, because wine is a true accompaniment to barbecued fare.

After a long and arduous task of tracking rumors and sampling, I gathered my final research and came to the conclusion with a little help from my friends, “a line stolen from Paul”; the results of our research yielded a few surprises…

If you have been around awhile, you will remember the ole golden rule that told us white wine with fish, red wine with meat. Well I’m here to tell you take this information and just experiment. 

The first rule is important and must never, ever be broken. Commit it to memory and you will always succeed at wine and food pairing. The rule is: There are no rules!

Some of us use the Heavy vs. Light theory, consider whether a dish is “heavy” or “light” in nature; the difference between a meal consisting of steak and potatoes or one that tends toward a chicken and vegetable stir-fry. In general, most people seem to prefer heartier foods paired with fuller-bodied red wines and lighter fare to be complimented by more delicate white wines.

If you like to bring out a 20 year old French burgundy and drink it with burger and fries, then go for it. On the other hand, I would save that bottle of 1993 Chateaux de La Dee Daa for a special occasion with a special friend and a good grilled steak. The wines you have with steak should have good structure and firm tannins. Syrah-based wines are not as harsh as those of Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah is also more complex, gamier and has more richness than Cabernet.

Here on the gulf coast we eat a lot of local seafood, grouper and red snapper
can take reds or whites. Sauvignon Blanc an aromatic high-acid white wine (sometimes called Fumé Blanc) is great with grilled seafood, shrimp & vegetables. Grilled tuna is often touted as holding up to red wines, I think light to medium bodied red work best. I particularly think that a Zinfandel, California Pinot Noir and Shiraz are more appropriate for spicier seafood dishes.

When you coat your barbecued offering with a smoky, sweet or spicy barbecue sauce this could pose a challenge for wine pairings; a fruity bold and spicy red wine such an American Syrah, or Aussie Shiraz, or a French Cotes du Rhone or my favorite a nice Red Zinfandel. These wines can stand-up to barbecue sauce spices very well.  Also, an Italian Chianti with a higher acidity will handle all tomato-based sauces very well.   

Most Chardonnays tend to be shorter on acidity and sweeter (too sweet for my taste). Sauvignon Blanc has more acidity than Chardonnay. So it made sense that a barrel-fermented and oak-aged Fume Blanc was a good match for grilled chicken.

Like a good marriage, wine and food were meant for each other. Each enhances and strengthens the experience of the whole. Grilled meats, like steak, can work with a wider range of reds, including Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in the wine combine with the protein in the meat to create a lush, wonderful taste. Remember open the wine 30 minutes prior to mealtime to allow for the flavors in the wine to fully develop.

Rieslings and Gewurztraminers should pair nicely with spicier and sweeter barbecue flavors. Chardonnay, however, is probably not your best bet.

As for those blush wines, if they are what you enjoy, don’t let anyone stop you. Cheeseburgers in White Zinfandel paradise is a natural combination for many people!





Tailgating Tips for Gulf Coast Fans!!!

By Colin Richards – 


Well now that we are well in to the football season have you had your first tailgating party yet? Whether you root for Alabama, Fla State, Auburn or Florida; or maybe local High School if football is your passion, you’re probably have already tailgated this season. If not that means you may have been planning parties or it’s time to start planning, for an awesome tailgate party.

Start shopping early to stock up on things you’ll need to have on hand for your party, so you’ll be ready for the first big game. Ziploc baggies are great for marinating meats on the go and storing veggies, dips, and other snacks. Aluminum foil is great for lining your portable grill so clean up is easy.


Never place grilled meat on a plate that has had raw meat on it. When grilling meat, chicken or fish at the tailgate, add extra flavor by marinating the meat in the refrigerator before you go. Use resealable plastic bags for easy transport and clean-up. (I recommend Ziploc brand bags.) Simply discard the bag after use. Keep marinated meats in the cooler until ready to cook.


Always Cook meat, fish and poultry thoroughly. See the following guidelines from the USDA on proper meat temperatures to ensure safety, make sure you have your thermometer with you:


Poultry (170° F for white meat and 180° F for dark meat, juices should run clear)

Beef (145° F in the center)

Pork (160° F, with the center remaining slightly pink)

Ground Meat and Poultry (160° F, measured through the patty)

If grilling’s your specialty, remember — safety first — and when it comes to storing chicken, hamburger meat, hot dogs, and steaks be sure to keep everything in the cooler until it’s time to fire up the barbecue grill. Also think about side dishes like guacamole, potato salad, cole slaw and keep those properly wrapped and stored until chow time. Check-out the cole slaw recipe, go to the BackYard Page and click on More Tips and Recipes of the FPBS website.  

Recipe: A delicious and easy recipe that’s always a hit is chicken buffalo dip. To make this, simply spread two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese in the bottom of a slow cooker. Spread two 10-ounce cans of drained chunk chicken on top. (Be sure to break up the chunks of chicken a bit.) Cover the chicken with 1 cup ranch dressing and 3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese on top and warm in your slow cooker. As it warms, mix all the ingredients together. Serve with tortilla chips.

Other than checking out the tips and recipes in the Fla Panhandle BBQ website here are some other websites you may enjoy. with Joe Cahn the self-proclaimed Commissioner of Tailgating, Joe may have the best job in America. He invented it. In 1996, he sold his business, the New Orleans School of Cooking, sold his house, bought a motor home and hit the road to explore what he calls “the new American community” Tailgate Parties. was founded four years ago by two passionate tailgaters. Though it started as a printed Magazine at first, it has grown into a first class information source with both print and digital versions, e-newsletters, tailgate tours, sponsored events, custom surveying, list development and product sales. Their mission is to be the primary source of information and entertainment for all things tailgate.

Here is a great little tip for the Tailgate. Whether you use reusable water containers or store bought water bottles, freezing your water the night before means you don’t need as much ice in your cooler and you’ll always have cold water to drink. Plus the frozen bottles themselves can act as ice packs.

Have a great time cheering on the local team this year!  



The membrane is a very thin piece of cartilage that is attached to a rack of ribs. This will add time to your preparation time, but it is worth the time to get the membrane off. You can remove the membrane by peeling it off.

OK for those grillers that don’t know the membrane on pork ribs which lies on the interior side of the rack. It is edible, and some barbecue cooks do leave it on when they prepare the ribs. Most cooks including myself will remove the membrane because seasoning will not penetrate the tough membrane. The best way is to use a sharp knife “Be very careful with it” and slip it under the membrane at one end of the rack of ribs and peal back enough to get a good grip on the membrane. This takes some practice so just keep working at it.


Detailed Instructions on removal of the Membrane


1. Slide the tip of a paring knife underneath the membrane along the widest end of the ribs, right next to the first bone. If you are working with baby back ribs, start underneath the second bone of the rack.

2. Carefully rock the paring knife back and forth until there is a space big enough to insert a thumb. With a piece of paper toweling in your hand, grasp the membrane gently pull up the membrane until you can insert two fingers.

3. Pull the membrane off of each bone until you reach the end. The membrane should come off in one piece. If the membrane breaks, slide the knife tip underneath the next bone, and start again until all the membrane is removed.


Once again the main reason for membrane removal is that spices and smoke cannot penetrate the membrane so you lose some of the flavor you are trying to get into the meat. So, once the membrane is removed season your ribs with a good rib rub.

“Barbecue Rib Rub”

Do you want to prepare your own barbecue rib rub?  “Also a Great Smoked Pork Rub” Any leftover rib rub can be left in air tight container.


1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of onion powder

2 tablespoons of chili powder                                                            

1 tablespoon of salt

 1 tablespoon ground black pepper


Mix ingredients together thoroughly and rub on your ribs. Fully coat the ribs with the rub.

Smoking Ribs slowly is in my opinion an art form. One of the most distinctive differences between cooking styles is the rub that is used. Rubs can be sweet, savory, spicy, hot, and of course, perfectly suited to your tastes. Finding the rub that is right for you can seem like a daunting task but it is well worth the time.

I am big on experimenting with your own recipes. This is no different with rib rubs. Start with the basic recipe above then try adding some of your favorite spices like Oregano, Garlic, Cumin, Cinnamon or ground Lemon Peel, etc.

Write down the ingredients of your barbecue rubs in a notepad. Believe me, you will not remember later exactly what you put in and in what amounts. Besides, if you want to increase or decrease amounts of something later you will have to know how much you used originally.

 Tip:   I coat my meat with yellow mustard before sprinkling on my barbecue dry rub to help it stick better. The mustard loses its flavor during smoking and creates a really nice crust.


See you at the Triple-B BBQ Festival and Cook-Off on Saturday – In Downtown Crestview Fl.  For a Great Day of Family Fun and BBQ “Starts at 10 am”

Things to look for when buying a Grill

By Colin Richards


Well we are coming up on another spring time, and to many that means getting the ole grill out of the garage or buying a new one. If you are one of those that need to buy a new grill here are some tips for you. Outdoor BBQ grills include gas grills, charcoal grills and electric grills. There is a very large selection of stainless steel gas grills for your outdoor kitchen, portable charcoal grills which are great for tailgating and patio electric grills for your apartment or home.

Personally I have two grills that I use, My PK (Portable Kitchen) Grill which I use for grilling steaks, hot dogs and burgers.   I also have a smoker, this I use for smoking pork and ribs. This is my preference, but you may look at it different.  


Whatever fuel you like to use be it electric, gas or charcoal, there are a set of general features which you have to take into consideration whenever you plan on shopping for a grill. If this is your first time to own a grill, then the more important it is for you to follow these guidelines so that you can have a long lasting, memorable experience when it comes to grilling dishes for your own meals as well as when hosting parties for family and friends.


1. Price: The first thing on most people’s minds is price. Always remember this:  You get what you pay for! If you drop in your local specialty store or hardware store you will see Gas Grills in the price range of around $150 to $500. You will also see grills that cost over $1,000 or much more.  So you need decide how much you want to spend before you shop because you can spend as much as you want. There are literally hundreds of grills on the market each year, though your local stores may only carry a few, so having an idea of how much you want to spend will help narrow your search.  


Tip: Take a look at some grill stores on line, to get a feel for what’s out there. The Florida Panhandle BBQ Society has an On-Line store  Look for a link to the store on the home page. Also you have other store just google Grills.  Compare prices, find out whether or not a propane tank is included. This can add about $20USD to $30USD dollars to your total cost if you have to buy it separately.


2. Grid Size: The size of the grid is a very important factor to look for when checking out a grill. The grid is the cooking surface, and it must be wide enough to accommodate your pots, pans and such, especially when you’re preparing for a big meal. A grid size 350 by 450 square inches is enough for you to cook a variety of dishes to serve to a big number of guests.


3. Transport Convenience: Are you the type who cooks not just in the backyard but goes to other places to conduct parties and tailgating? If so, then you will need a grill that is easy to transport. Look for a grill that’s easy to assemble and pack up, the type that can hold a good amount of dishes for cooking, and the kind that’s easy to clean up afterwards.  


4. Gas or Charcoal: OK, the big question is the choice between charcoal or gas.

Gas  When we talk gas grills this includes propane tanks – as well as built-in grills with natural gas hookups. The most common on the market, gas grills come with many options. Overall, LP gas tanks are readily available. Down falls to propane tanks are the exchanging, and running out of fuel while cooking. Now if you are going to have your grill in a stationary place, one clear benefit of a fixed grill is the option of connecting to a natural gas line. Plus, natural gas costs less and can cook hotter.

Charcoal  If you ask a grill purist you will be told that the best smoky taste comes from charcoal grills. That’s a matter of opinion and heated debate. In the past few years charcoals grills aren’t like your grandfather’s grill. Historically, the charcoal grill meant almost an hour of prep time before the first steak could hit the grill.

Today’s models cut this time significantly. You can have your grill up and running in very short time. Most are less than 20 minutes. If you don’t want to commit to only charcoal, there are charcoal grills that can use an LP cylinder when you need to get cooking faster, the gas ignition system. Using the igniter button, the attached gas tank brings charcoal up to temperature fast.

Today’s charcoal grills also offer easier cleanup, with easy-to-clean ash catchers.

Look for named or branded Grills with a good warranty that can assure you of better, longer more reliable usage. If you think you just need a grill for primary grilling practice, then you may first opt for a cheaper, unbranded grill; once you know the ins and outs of grilling, then it’s time to invest on a branded, more durable kind.


So there you have it my four priorities for selecting a new grill, we hope you find the right grill for you.


Outdoor Cooking Tips for the Upcoming Barbecue Season

With the new Barbecue season coming on, with the grills and smokers coming out again, I am going over some tips that have come up from replies to my Gulf Coast Post column which I do twice a month and other questions that come my way. If you are one of those that replied to me about my article, thanks for taking the time and your question.

1. Don’t let those barbecue flare-ups put out the flame in your heart for outdoor grilling. There are several reasons why barbecues will suddenly flare up, turning your meat to ashes. Luckily, there are also several ways to fight back. Here are some suggestions: Move your meat away from the fire by raising the level of your grill. Some flare-ups are natural. By keeping your meat a bit higher, the flames may not reach the grill.

Use a grade of meat with a bit less fat. Most of the time, it’s the dripping fat that causes the flare-ups.

Use a marinade or barbecue sauce with less sugar.  Sugar in the marinade not only attracts the flames, but will burn on the surface of the meat.

Give the fire a bit less air to feed on by closing the vents down a bit.

2. Use an enclosed barbecue with a removable lid. This will allow you to both grill and smoke. Keep it covered: When cooking larger cuts of meat and poultry, use indirect grilling or barbecuing. Keep the grill lightly covered and resist the temptation to peek – every time you lift the lid, you add five to ten minutes to the cooking time! 

Resist the temptation to lift the grill lid, unless you’re turning or adding items, to keep heat from escaping.  Just remember that every time you lift the lid, you lose heat.

3. If you want your grill to multitask, bank up the fire on one side and leave the other half of the grill charcoal-free.  You can regulate the temperature of the interior by opening and closing the flue on the top. Closing completely will result in a slow-burning fire and a low temperature – perfect for smoking.  Using Indirect Heat for tougher meats that need to be cooked slower, like roasts, whole chickens and slabs of ribs. You cook the meat indirectly by placing it away from the charcoal or burner.  You then cover the grill so the meat cooks slowly and the heat stays in the grill. 

4. Working the vents on your barbeque grill is an important aspect of controlling the temperature.  The vents on both the top and bottom are used to control airflow into the grill.  The more air allowed into the grill the hotter it will be.  Generally you want to always leave the bottom vent open to allow air for your fire and control the temperature by manipulating the top vent.

We will be publishing more tips throw-out the year, here in the Gulf Coast Post.

Grilled Brats Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups sliced peppers
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • Favorite barbecue rub
  • 10 brats (good quality)

Lay the brats on your grill grate and season them with your favorite rub. Grill the brats over direct heat until they are well browned on two sides.

Once the brats are cooking on the grill, put a skillet on the stovetop or an outdoor burner, such as your grill side burner. Brown the butter in the skillet, then add the peppers and onions. Stir these often to keep them from burning. After it cooks down add a liberal sprinkling of rub. Mix it well.

Serve the grilled brats on hotdog buns with the topping and sliced cheese. You may also enjoy ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce and other condiments with your sandwiches.

Extremely easy and edible!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.