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Revisiting the Backyard Barbecue

culinary11The arrival of summer arouses many senses. From the sounds of wildlife to the brilliance of floral displays, the undeniable sensory celebration is upon us. For those with a passion for the culinary benefits of warm weather, nothing compares to the awakening aromas of the barbecue. Smoky varieties of savory meats and sweet scents of glazed fruit proudly proclaim that summer is here! 
Anything but ordinary, meals from the grill are ever-evolving as more and more recipes are being adapted from the oven to the open racks of the barbecue. A variety of foods once reserved for the cook top or baking dish have made their way into the repertoire of flavorful outdoor favorites. Grab those tongs and meat thermometers as we embark on the journey of a complete outdoor meal from start to finish!
Safety First
Using proper grilling tools and methods is essential to your personal safety. Equally important are safe food-handling practices. Always adhere to the same preparation and handling methods as you would inside your home—paying attention to proper cooking temperatures and avoiding cross-contamination. Be certain to assess meats for appropriate temperatures with a meat thermometer. Though it would be convenient to handle all the food atop the racks with the same utensil, resist the urge and assign individual utensils to each food group. 

Familiarizing yourself with the performance of your grill is crucial to successful grilling. Just like an oven, each grill has its own “personality.” Although most modern gas grills are equipped with temperature settings, “hot spots” do exist, and learning these on your grill is critical. While flames often indicate areas of high concentrations of heat, learning areas of lower heat is equally important for foods requiring less cooking time and indirect heat. For charcoal varieties, it is safe to assume that racks located closest to larger quantities of coals or in tighter proximity will deliver more heat. Keep these points in mind when placing your items on the grill. 
Before igniting, it is important to lightly grease your grill racks with a coating of oil. Peanut oil works well; it has a higher smoke point, making it more tolerant to high and less predictable temperatures. 
The premise of grilling meat is that the technique of quickly searing the food in contact with the rack quickly browns the outer portions and captures the natural moisture inside—resulting in flavor-packed outcomes. Marinating your meat enhances these inherent qualities—but use care when selecting your marinades. For sweeter marinades containing natural or added sugars, introduce your mixture in the latter minutes of cooking, as the carmelization that occurs could quickly burn, leaving you with less-than-favorable results and unpredictable levels of doneness. A variety of ready-made rubs and marinades are on the market; however, putting your signature on a dish is simple with an original, homemade version of your own. Start with simple combinations of complementing flavors, and then experiment with additions of herbs and spices. There is no substitute for fresh ingredients. Use your imagination and concoct your own “secret recipe.” 
Enjoying a terrific meal outdoors is as simple as it is tasty. Whether your grilling occasion be a quaint meal on the patio among friends, a neighborhood block party or a grandiose family affair, only your imagination will limit your culinary capabilities. Don’t be intimidated by the stereotypical “mysteries” of the grill. Grab your tongs and meat thermometers and consider the possibility of creating a complete meal on the grill this summer!
culinary2Basic Marinade
A great starter for a versatile meat marinade, this combination of ingredients allows for overnight marination. Replace the oregano with your herb of choice for a variation.

1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled corn has always reigned supreme on the grill; however, with a simple spiced butter, this classic will never be the same!  
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
6 ears of corn, husks attached and soaked in water overnight
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with butter. Peel back husks from each ear of corn exposing the kernels. Distribute butter evenly over corn and recover kernels with the husks. Place corn on grill rack and cook for 20–30 minutes or until fork tender, turning occasionally.
Bananas Foster on the Barbie
For an irresistible approach to dessert on the grill, this classic combination of flavors is a snap to prepare and cooks up even faster! 

4 whole bananas
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Place a medium cast iron skillet on grill rack. Melt butter and add brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Carefully slice bananas on the diagonal in large slices over skillet. Toss bananas to coat. Serve over vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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