Ready for the summer sizzle

Warm days bring thoughts of firing up the patio grill
By: Susie Iventosch, Special to Home & Garden
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You know summer’s coming when the aroma of barbecuing steaks fills the air. No matter where you are, that smell is a harbinger of outdoor fun and good eating with family and friends gathered around the grill. While some individuals are hard-core grillers, neither rain nor snow will deter them; for others, it’s a seasonal pastime. And, there are lots of helpful products on the market to pique their enthusiasm — new grills with searing burners, cleaning products, cookbooks, wood planks, rubs, sauces and even exotic meats. Looking for something a little different? You need travel no further than Longhorn Meats in Auburn. “We have buffalo tri-tip, New York and top sirloin cuts, all prepared in a Wild Turkey marinade,” meat cutter Ashley Coughran said. “They’re a lot leaner than beef and better for you. You cook them just like a normal piece of beef, but not quite as long. Due to the leanness, they don’t take as long to cook.” Longhorn also has kangaroo medallions — excellent for kebabs, frog legs, rabbit, venison, elk and python. “Python can be grilled in any kind of marinade you like,” Coughran said. “We also have crocodile and alligator — both are white meat. They can be a little chewy if overcooked. These you want to eat on the rarer side.” Linda Mason, co-owner of Drooling Dog BarBQ in Colfax, is the first-place winner of the 2007 National Barbecue Association contest for her Tee-Bone’s Chipotle-Raspberry Puree BarBQ sauce. This and other sauces, including the mandarin and mustard sauces, are excellent for pork, ribs, chicken and beef and may be purchased at the store in Colfax. In the way of gas and propane grills, Barbeques Galore in Roseville stocks new models with infrared burners. “These burners get super-hot,” assistant store manager Mark Cartwright said. “They cook meat without extracting juices, so it stays really moist and tender. This is great for searing fish like ahi.” According to Cartwright, a normal flame reaches roughly 550 degrees, but infrared burners can get as high as 1,200 degrees. Barbeques Galore carries several barbecue makes and models, but the Lynx in particular has an excellent infrared burner. “A normal burner has 88 ports and you’re basically cooking with heated air,” Barbeques Galore store manager James Mabry said. “The infrared burner has millions of ports and it heats much quicker and saves fuel in the long run.” Mabry says Weber grills cook very evenly due to the curvature of the hood and the burners, which run from right to left as opposed to many other models, where they run front to back. “Both designs have their advantages,” he said. “The left-right burners produce more even cooking, but those that run front to back are also nice, because the back burners cook at a lower temperature, so you can place your quicker cooking foods in the back while those that require more time can be placed in the front.” The Weber’s infrared burner is in a separate pod much like the side burners. Webers, Mabry says, are great for accessibility of parts and labor, and Barbeques Galore offers parts and warranty services. Tracy Klendworth, owner of Colfax Ace Hardware, loves to cook on the grill. She says Weber grills are her favorite and normally the only brand she carries in the store, because “they’re unmatched in the market when comparing price to quality.” “The Weber Summit 470 and 670 are new stainless steel models with lighted control knobs and sear stations,” she noted. “The lights are great for people who want to grill all year long, even when it’s dark outside.” She makes homemade rubs in her Vita Mixer, a blender-like piece of equipment, and she finds most of her marinade recipes in ‘Weber’s Real Grilling’ cookbook, available at the store. For cooking accessories, Klendworth sells cedar planks, which infuse a smoky flavor “like nothing else can.” Food will not stick to the cedar plank, but she warns, “don’t go use any old piece of cedar, be sure to use one especially made for food.” Another cooking accessory she recommends is Weber’s wireless timer, a battery-operated device that sells for about $41. “Because meat is so expensive, it’s a shame to overcook it,” she commented. “I carry the timer around with me and it beeps when the meat reaches the selected internal temperature. You can preprogram any level of doneness.” For those who prefer charcoal grills, the Big Green Egg smoker and grill is a modern version of the ancient clay kamado-style cookers. It heats quickly like a gas grill, but uses charcoal to give meat the traditional barbecued flavor. Because the ceramic walls create and retain ambient heat, the unit requires less charcoal than a standard grill. Temperature controls allow for even cooking and accurate temperatures and ceramic retains moisture better than stainless steel grills. Meats and veggies can be grilled, smoked or baked in the Big Green Egg, and Cartwright says a pizza can be baked in it. The Auburn Home Show, scheduled for May 16, 17 and 18 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, will feature custom barbecue island and outdoor kitchen exhibitors for those interested in permanent grilling centers. -------- Tips from a grilling expert Dan Tustin of Colfax enjoys cooking and especially barbecuing. His secret to good tri-tip is to first season it with a combination of Montreal Steak Seasoning, Lawry’s salt and garlic salt. He then grills it over medium heat for 45-50 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the cut. He starts with the lean side down, for about 20 minutes, flips it for just five to 10 minutes, and then back to the lean side down for the remainder of the cooking. This reduces flame up and he believes gravity has a way of trickling the juices from the fat side down, making the meat more flavorful and preventing it from drying out, he said. --------- For more information on suppliers featured in this article please visit: Longhorn Meat Company 13131 Lincoln Way Auburn, CA. 95603 530/823-0257 Barbeques Galore 6756 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite 1 Roseville, CA. 95678 916/781-9022 Colfax Ace Hardware 130 N. Main Street Colfax, CA. 95713 530/346-7878 Drooling Dog BarBQ 212 N. Canyon Way Colfax, CA. 95713 530/346-8883 or 888-331-BONE Auburn Home Shows 530/887-3616