For all the industries that have been hurt by the recent health concerns and suffered declines in popularity, there are a few that are glowing like the hot coals in an outdoor grill. Outdoor entertainment equipment and cooking outside, while being surrounded by fresh air, sweet smoke and good friends, have become a positive “obsession” for millions of people.
This “megatrend” toward outdoor entertaining has led to a dramatic increase in the variety of equipment options available to homeowners, across all levels of cooking. Products such as grills, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, and countless others, along with a demand for recipes and food preparation “hacks” that were once only the domain of professional chefs, can now be found in today’s homes. And they are discussed with the same frequency as last weekend’s football games!
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Adding to the outdoor cooking fun is the long-acknowledged and decidedly colorful tendency for personal grilling to mirror that of the local cooking traditions, meats, and vegetables. Yes, there is a difference between barbecue and grilling from one region of the U.S. and another, and (fortunately) they are all mouth-watering.
In a delicious discussion about the regional differences of local “barbecue” The Daily Meal notes, “If you define ‘barbecue’ as meat that’s been smoked over wood or charcoal, you’ll discover that there’s literally an entire world of barbecue out there. Even if you have only a passing interest in grilled foods, you probably know a few of barbecue’s fundamental regional differences.”
What are some other “local” favorites?
- In Memphis, “Pork ribs are the most common barbecue cut served either wet (slathered with a sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce before and after cooking) or dry (rubbed with spice mix that usually contains salt, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder before cooking and served without sauce).”
- “Kansas City barbecue offers a little bit of everything thanks to the city being a major meatpacking hub. Smoked low and slow over hickory, you’ll find ribs, brisket, chicken, lamb and fish and just about any other protein you can think of, all served with a thick, sweet, tomato- and molasses-based sauce.”
- Of course, Texas is too big to have just one style of BBQ. “Central Texas barbecue is all about the brisket, usually seasoned with just salt and pepper (and maybe some cayenne) before being smoked with pecan or post oak. A couple of sausage links and some white bread are served on the side.” Over in East Texas, the brisket “generally takes a back seat to chopped beef and pork ribs, usually smoked over hickory then simmered in sauce until falling off the bone.
In the Southeastern U.S., the proximity to fresh seafood changes everything. This is reflected in both the commercial barbecue menus and what the local grill masters decide to prepare in their backyard. To explain the nuances of this unique culinary oasis, two grilling experts from the Gulf Coast area of Alabama were tapped for their considerable expertise. Plus, since they are associates of Acme Brick, they know a thing or two about grills, recipes, and the intoxicating smell of meat and vegetables cooking over a hot fire.
In addition to manufacturing world-class brick and selling the best-in-class home improvement products, Acme Brick has some serious grill masters. Click here to read about a couple of men who have won awards for their cooking and who shared their tips and tricks on outdoor cooking a few months ago.
Meet Two More (Acme) Grill Masters
To get a flavor for the savory seafood from the Gulf Coast area, we tapped into another duo who have probably forgotten more about grilling than we mere mortals will ever know! Stillman Lyons Bousson Sr. is the Residential Sales Manager for the Acme Brick locations in Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. His cooking compadre is Terry Snow, who is the Branch Sales Manager for the Gadsden and Albertville, Alabama sales offices.
“Mobile Bay provides us locals some of the best table-fare that nature has to offer,” Bousson said. “When prepared correctly, there is nothing as good as fresh seafood, cooked on a grill.”
“Living in Alabama,” Snow added, “it’s my experience that most of the rest of the country think of barbecue in the southeast as primarily pork, whereas the Midwest and West are known for their beef. We do cook a lot of pork here, but we also cook a lot of beef as well.
“One of my favorite meats to smoke is actually brisket. I know our Texas folks are the experts when it comes to brisket and I respect that, but after my first taste of brisket in Texas years ago, I knew this was something that I wanted to learn to cook. It took a few failed attempts, but I finally found a rub and process that we like and can consistently produce great flavor. And don’t forget that Alabama is a coastal state, so we grill a ton of fish, as well.”
Ready, Set, Prep
The Acme Brick Grill Masters - Southeast Division, point to the importance of proper preparation and understanding grill capabilities, long before a match is struck.
“Preparation is the key,” they cautioned. “Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to proper prep. If you do, it’ll show up in your finished product. You’ll typically spend more time and effort in preparation than cooking. You need to prepare your rub or marinade, then apply it to your meat. Allow yourself plenty of time for the meat to absorb the marinade and for it to do its job. This is not only for flavor, but also to tenderize the meat. We suggest that you experiment with different rubs to find the one that best suits your taste.”
The type of grill is also important for the final presentation. Some cooks prefer the traditional gas-powered and highly “tricked-out” grills like the RCS grills. These two sons of the South favor the relatively new ceramic grills, such as the Saffire Grill, available from Acme Brick, Tile & Stone.
“In my opinion, these ceramic grills are much better than the traditional grills,” Snow said. 'However, they do take some getting used to. They are good at keeping the meat moist and not drying it out. I rarely overcook anything on this type of grill. That being noted, I think you should cook on what you are familiar and most comfortable with.”
Turn it Up!
The air in “Sweet Home Alabama” has never smelled better than when these two fire up a grill! Want proof? Here are some sure-fire recipes that will let you channel your inner Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In referencing two of his favorite recipes, Lyons Bousson said, “These dishes are decadent, savory, and a breeze to make.”
Grilled Redfish on the Half Shell
- 4 Fat Redfish ( 8 Filets)
- Cajun Seasoning
Directions for Grilling:
- Make a trip to my favorite “grocery store,” Mobile Bay, and catch four fat redfish.
- Clean and prepare the redfish by filleting each side, leaving the skin and scales on. Wash each filet with fresh water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Preheat your grill of choice to 400 degrees.
- Season your Redfish filets with salt, pepper, and your favorite Cajun Seasoning to taste.
- Place fillets on the grill with the scales down and top each filet with 3 pats of butter and onion slices.
- Grill the redfish for 15 minutes without flipping.
- Get ready for a few well-earned slaps on the back from your grateful guests!
Big Bob’s Cajun Grilled Oysters
- 2 dozen oysters shucked
- ½ cup of butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon favorite Cajun seasoning
- 1 lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne
- 2 stalks of green diced onions
- Heat grill to 450 degrees.
- Shuck oysters and leave oysters on the half shell.
- Combine butter, minced garlic, salt, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper in a small pan and heat until butter is melted.
- Place oysters on grill and baste several times until oysters become shriveled on the ends. This normally takes 4-5 minutes.
- Garnish with green onion
These are slap-yo-mama good!
Not to be outdone by his buddy and Acme colleague, Terry Snow has a little grill magic of his own.
- 1 or 2 boneless pork chops, each cut into three strips, lengthwise
- Pork rub (your choice)
- Brown sugar
- The strips are rubbed with a pork rub.
- Use a cookie sheet and cover it with brown sugar.
- Take the bacon and pat it into the brown sugar, covering both sides.
- Wrap each pork chop strip spirally with a strip of bacon, pinning it at the end with a toothpick.
- Cover with plastic wrap then refrigerate overnight.
- Cook these on a convection grill at 250°F for about 90 minutes.
- Your choice of off-the-shelf or made-from-scratch sauce can be used after the pork chops are cooked. Don’t apply the sauce too early. Sauce should typically be applied at serving or used for dipping.
The result is a perfect balance of sweet and heat!
Cooler Weather, No Problem
Even if the seasons are cooler, the grilling must go on! In the late fall or winter, when the weather turns a little chilly an outdoor fireplace or patio heater might be great additions to the outdoor entertainment area.
For more information on the best outdoor entertainment products, click here and talk to experts like Terry and Lyles. They know what you need because they enjoy grilling as much as you do!