Break out the BBQ!

Metro Service
Memorial Day is when many people start to grill outside again, now that warmer weather is upon us.

■ Newsroom

To many Americans, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Though summer does not actually begin until later in June, Memorial Day weekend has become synonymous with backyard barbecues and trips to the beach.
Backyard barbecues, in particular, have become a staple of Memorial Day weekend and the focus of many people’s festivities. This year, consider the following tips to make your Memorial Day barbecue safe and memorable.
Place the grill in a safe spot. Before any guests arrive or any fires are lit, make sure the grill is safely located on flat ground. Ideally, the grill should not be on the grass and should be away from trees or shrubs and any other flammable materials. If you need lighter fluid to start a fire, promptly put the fluid back in storage, away from the grill, once the fire has been lit.
Clean the grill. Memorial Day marks the opening of grilling season for many grillmasters. Make sure the grill has been thoroughly cleaned and that there are no leftover ashes from last season clogging the vents. Even if you thoroughly cleaned the grill at the end of last season, give it a once-over with a soapy sponge to clean any cobwebs or dirt and grime that might have accumulated over the winter. Droppings from rodents can be dangerous, and spiders can bite unsuspecting grillmasters. Clean patio furniture before putting it out as well.
Stock up on cooking tools. Take inventory of your supplies, making sure you have a spatula, tongs, oven mitts, a sturdy grill brush, and other accessories you may need during grilling season. Check each item to make sure it’s not worse for wear and do the same with the grill as well. Replace supplies that have too much wear-and-tear in advance of Memorial Day weekend so you have one less item on your to-do list come barbecue day.
Stock up on charcoal or liquid propane. Falling short in the charcoal or propane department is a backyard barbecue faux pas that can bring festivities to a halt. Because the weather in late May can sometimes be unpredictable, make sure you have extra charcoal on hand or ensure your propane tank is full.
Spice things up. Why not use this year’s Memorial Day barbecue to add a little extra flavor to traditional barbecue fare? Soak some dried herbs like rosemary, bay leaves or oregano in water and add them to the grill. These flavorful herbs will make the food taste better, and the grill will likely emit a more pleasant fragrance as well.
Prepare foods for guests with varying palates. Vegetarians and vegans love a good backyard barbecue just as much as their carnivorous friends and family members. Cook some vegetable kabobs and prepare some salads for guests who don’t eat meat. Consider purchasing a smaller grill for veggies only, as vegetarians and vegans might not prefer to eat kabobs grilled on the same grill as meat.
Keep the forks in the utensil drawer. Never use a fork to do job of a spatula. Poking foods on the grill with a fork allows the juices that make grilled foods so delicious to escape, resulting in drier meat that’s not nearly as flavorful. Use a spatula or tongs to flip foods, including burgers, steaks, and chicken – even hot dogs.
Take proper precautions with meat. Make sure foods have completely defrosted before placing them on the grill. When cold meat is placed on the grill, it reduces the grill’s temperature and prevents juices from getting seared in the food. So make sure all foods have been safely defrosted and are at room temperature to ensure your foods are flavorful and the grill stays hot.
Get guests home safe. Memorial Day gatherings tend to be festive, but keep an eye on guests to ensure that no one consumes an excessive amount of alcohol. Keep a list of local cab companies on hand or download a car service app to your smartphone so safe means of transportation are always within reach.
This year, welcome the unofficial start of summer with a successful Memorial Day barbecue in the backyard with family, friends and great food. (MS)

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