As we go through life we tend to learn some pretty hard lessons. Hopefully these lessons will teach us instead of break us, but even tailgating can dish out its share of pretty harsh lessons. My goal in this piece is to help keep you from any of these hard learned lessons…or as I call them Whoopings! With the start of College and NFL football season you will want to make sure to avoid these tailgating No No’s.
Don’t let your environment surprise you: One of the biggest lessons I have learned while doing barbecue competitions deals with preparedness. On the BBQ circuit it is not too big of a deal if you leave your jacket or pop up tent at home as your neighbor more then likely can help you out. Tailgating is indeed much different because most times we have no idea who our neighbors will be. Always try and know weather conditions, space configurations, and any other obstacles that may hinder your plans. The obstacles can ruin a great time if not handled properly. Also know that sometimes planning around these obstacles can also be an addition if they are accounted for!
Understand that your grill may not like certain things: It is hard to beat the flavor of a cooking with real wood charcoal. It is also really easy to ruin some great recipes by not using certain chemicals and items properly. Lighter fluid is a great way to start charcoal but some ceramic type grills will absorb chemicals to the point where they will never be the same. A charcoal chimney used with the same fluid is a much wiser choice as long as you let the fluid totally burn off the charcoal before adding to the grill or pit.
Another nasty item can be the common steel bristle brush used to clean your grates. These tiny bristles can break off and actually end up on your plate. Once digested they can puncture your insides and even cause death! Now that could be a party stopper that no one wants to have happen. A much cheaper and safer grate cleaner is a simple piece of tin foil that is made into the shape of a ball. As you scrub your grates with the ball it will harden up as the foil compresses but simply tuning it over from side to side will create a surface scraper that is very effective and disposable.
Time and cooking temperature doesn’t equal done: This one may be a repeat for me but it probably is the most important advice I share with anyone who is grilling or barbecuing. Never assume that any thing you cook is done by touching, poking or timing it. There is only one true way to ever know that anything is ever truly done and that is by the internal temperature of the item. A cheap quick read thermometer can save lives also while insuring your tailgating dishes are never served raw or burnt.
Never burn your taste buds: It is a proven fact that food has more taste when it is cooler versus flaming hot off the grill. In a published article from 2011 Dr. Linda Bartoshuk said that, “burning your tongue on hot foods can also kill taste buds but they grow right back.” From experience we all know this will ruin that particular meal as our taste buds regenerate. The No No here is to always allow your foods a rest period before serving them up. Just be careful to never let the internal temperature fall below 140 degrees as that mark could actually be the start of bacterial growth.
Until Next time…Keep It Smokin’