We like Independence Day because it marks a time when the Founding Fathers were badasses, unafraid to tell the king of Great Britain to shove off. In their honor, we forget about rules. We blow things up and grill giant slabs of protein over flame, putting down loads of great American food that we may not usually let ourselves eat. We let the kids light sparklers while trying not to worry about little burned digits. We stay up too late, drinking beer on the lawn and watching the fireflies and fireworks flicker.
Think of the Fourth, and you conjure the smell, sizzle and smoke of the grill. And even though it's a holiday that celebrates rebellion, there are some simple rules that you'll need to follow (you don't need to be a total caveman about it). Here are some tips from the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (which, you won’t be surprised to learn, also advises you to purchase a new grill this summer):
Do thaw frozen food and marinate foods in the refrigerator and never on the counter. [Or the bed or bathtub.]
Do sanitize cutting boards and counter tops with chlorine bleach. [Notice they don’t say Dr. Bronner’s, hippie.]
Do marinate meats at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before cooking to add flavor and coat the meat. [Again‚ not in the bathtub.]
Do position your grill, fryer or smoker in an open area away from buildings and high traffic areas. [So, not on the highway?]
Do use a meat thermometer or an “instant read” digital thermometer inserted horizontally into the side of meat, poultry and seafood to check doneness. [Check here for a handy temperature chart: http://avl.mx/gq.]
See? Safety is fun, right?
We've also asked a few local grill-masters to share some of their own tricks of the trade, with a few recipes thrown in. Read some of the tips for grilling and have plenty of fun — but please take it easy with the lighter fluid. May all of your fingers make it through the Fourth intact.