An Ingredient Often Overlooked

If you have about an hour, you can whip up a nice marinade, Texas style, suitable for the family barbecue. We pride ourselves on our tasty sauces made with spicy ingredients and distilled or filtered water. Yup, you heard right. Don’t let those chemicals and chlorine mix in like they think they are required ingredients. No sir, they are not wanted. A better taste comes with a better quality of water. The Home Water Center has plenty of great water filtration products that you can check out. Buy it or make it yourself if you have a water filtering system and store it in the fridge for drinking or cooking. You don’t have to be a weird purist to want the full flavor to come out. We all do.

Barbecue Marinade

Ingredients for 8 servings

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, large rack of ribs (pork or beef as you like it)

3 tbsp packaged brown sugar (a must to sweeten the tang)

1 tbsp ground paprika (adds interest and sparkle)

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 tsp dry powdered mustard

½ tsp chili powder (this is the heat!)

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more heat!)

¼ cup water (filtered)

¼ cup distilled vinegar

2 cloves of minced garlic (optional but recommended)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (the flavor)

1 ½ cups tomato vegetable cocktail (juice that comes in a can or bottle)

½ cup catsup (favorite brand of your choice)

You can mix everything together in a big bowl and let it fester (stew in its juices) for a while before you are ready to light the grill. The longer you let it sit, the more the flavor enriches itself. Apply it to your meat liberally on both sides, but brush the bottom off so it doesn’t fall into the flames and create and infernal havoc. It would be better to reapply it than overdo the first time. Cook as usual making sure the sauce has baked on nicely and is even a tad crusty if you like. Enjoy with your favorite beer or alternative beverage.

This is a typical recipe and there are a thousand variations and secret ingredients. For steak, people often add together soy sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, black pepper, minced onion, salad oil, filtered water (here we go again), mashed garlic, powdered or creamy mustard, and the inevitable Worcestershire sauce to taste. This is a Texas standard and you can’t go wrong. Be sure to coat both sides for lip-smacking good results.

I can vouch for these ingredients and would love to hear individual variances and substitutions. The portions also make a difference so watch what you do. There is absolutely nothing like the smell of a BBQ on a hot summer day. You can sip your ice-cold lemonade, iced tea, or favorite beer. The neighbors are sure to get friendlier (equals nosier) once they have taken a gander over the backyard fence! Are you willing to share a rib or two? In the interest of good relationships, we say make plenty of them. Then you can count on the neighbors to bring homemade pecan pie for dessert.


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Cooling the Cook

It can get pretty hot and humid in Houston in the summer, but it would never deter us from our BBQ. No, not for one blazing second. This is a sacred warm-weather pastime that everyone enjoys and looks forward to every year. We all get into the act. Great meats (lamb, chicken, steak, ribs, hotdogs, burgers and more) produce enticing aromas and guests always come clamoring for more. We pride ourselves on the best local sauce in the country, or the world, the most innovative side dishes, and the best snacks and treats. Beer goes with this culinary art to be sure. You all know what is right!

BBQ takes some time and effort so you want to invite a group of admirers who also enjoy helping. This could be friends or family, kids included. When the chief chef start to pour beads of sweat that threaten to flavor the sauce, maybe one of them can fan him or her or move the portable outdoor fan a little closer. Do not forget this handy and essential item. Your cook will stay at the task longer, and we need a steady stream of production from the grill to keep us satisfied. The hot weather is part of the fun, and if you have a backyard pool, it will take care of any overheating. Even a garden hose will do.

The fire can get quite hot, however, and a heat fan may be a constant relief for anyone standing nearby. You want a good grilling fire, so this is par for the course. The chef is usually wearing an apron and mitts, so they add to his or her clothing layers. Shorts have become the attire of choice as are t-shirts and tank tops (and flip flops). Some people like long-sleeve to ward off the effects of the blaze, so again, get out that fan for sure. Have some mercy. There are heaps of value-for-money fans out there on firstratefans.com. A battery operated unit would be ideal so no cord to trip over or get in the way (and get singed). They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are stand alone and tall so they get everyone in the immediate vicinity. Why not have an extra one like this at the main dining table or general eating area if guests are sitting about?

I keep a couple of such fans in the garage. While I have home central air conditioning, I can save money by having a floor or ceiling device in the spring and summer so I don’t have to turn it on milder days. A few pennies here and there can add up. I then use these fans as double duty for BBQ time at night or on weekends. I suggest you do the same. Everyone will appreciate the little extra breeze they provide. You can get used ones if you are a super economic type, or discount models. Nothing fancy is required. Your grill master will be the first to thank you, be it Uncle Bob or brother Joe.


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