Memorial Day BBQ

PictureMemorial Day is on Monday and I would really like to take a moment to thank our troops for their sacrifices for our country. So many men and women are not home with their loved ones because they are, or were, at war. So many men and women will not be returning home because of those same wars. I just want to recognize their contribution to our freedom and way of life. Let’s hear it for our troops!


For most people, Memorial Day indicates the end of the school year and beginning of Summer fun! It is also synonymous with grilling. I’m going to guess that where ever you are in the country, the weather is going to be warm. (At last!) That means you should be in the outdoors enjoying it with friends. What better way to do all of the above than at a grill-out?

One of the best things about grilling is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Of course it’s always nice to offer steaks and seafood, but in these economic times, frugality is necessary. Some easy ways to cut costs, without sacrificing quality and quantity are to be smart about your choice of proteins that you plan on offering. So instead of NY strips and shrimp, how about grilling up some beer-can chicken and tri-tip?


Tri-tip? That’s right. It is a delicious cut that is the triangular muscle that is actually the tip of the sirloin.  There are only two per cow, which can make them difficult to find depending on your location. But I have had great success with my local butchers and even Costco where I can buy an entire tri-tip or I can find it cut into steaks. This is a well-marbled, very flavorful cut of steak that is considerably cheaper than the top of the line ribeye or NY strip.

The Tri Tip is a perfect party steak because: (a) it’s fairly large, and (b) the steak will vary in thickness from fairly thin to very thick, so by cooking the steak to a medium rare in the center, people who enjoy their meat more on the medium-well side can cut at one end, while the rare lovers can cut at the other end. The grain is fairly obvious in this muscle, so be sure to cut against the grain.

Try to get this cut with the fat slab on one side. This will aid in keeping it moist. Don’t fear the fat!!! If you find that you have trouble getting your hands on this cut, you should try a flank steak.


For my favorite grilled pièce de résistance I really like to make 2 or 3 beer can chickens (depending on the size of the crowd). There are NEVER left overs. This is the easiest way to grill chicken and I find it pretty fool proof. The number one thing you must have to pull this off is a grill with a pretty high lid. Otherwise, it will be propped open and the chicken will take forever to finish.

You can get the gist of the process by looking at the picture. Yes, it is just what it looks like, a chicken sitting on a can of beer on the grill. There are a few schools of opinion on the best way to achieve the perfect chicken. Some of them include seasoning the beer with whatever you rub the chicken with. Some include pouring beer under the skin of the chicken. But if you can get your well-seasoned bird on that beer can on the grill, you win. Once it’s there, just let it do its thing. You won’t be disappointed.


As for picnic sides, I love to leave those up to the guests. But if you are a total control freak and don’t like to leave anything to chance, some of my favorite sides are grilled sweet corn, potato salad, pasta salad with broccoli grape tomatoes and feta, or grilled marinated veggies such as zuccini, eggplant, mushrooms or whatever are your favorite veggies. Of course, fruit salad is a nice way to take advantage of the spring bounty and potato chips always have a home at any grill-out with dip being optional.

Here are some recipes to get you on your way to enjoying the great outdoors with your friends and family.  Happy Memorial Day!


Beer Can Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

1 can (12 ounces) beer
1 chicken (31/2 to 4 pounds)
2 Tbsp (or more) of your favorite dry rub or Essence*
2 tsp vegetable oil
(* see below for recipe)

Pop the tab off the beer can. Drink half of the beer (~1/2 cup). Using a church key-style can opener, make 2 additional holes in the beer can top. Set the can aside.

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rub inside the body cavity and 1/2 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the oil over the outside of the bird and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon of rub and rub it all over the skin. Spoon the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons of rub into the beer through a hole in the top of the can. Don’t worry if it foams up: This is normal.

Hold the bird upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the can so the can fits into the cavity. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the can.

Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back to prevent burning. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center.

When ready to cook, stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180 degrees F. on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching the bone), 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.

Using tongs, hold the bird by the can and carefully transfer it in an upright position to a platter.

Present the bird to your guests. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift it off its support. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Halve, quarter, or carve the bird and serve.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Yields about 2/3 cup
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

PictureGrilled Tri Tip w/ Garlic Mustard Glaze

3 1/2 lbs beef tri tip

Garlic Mustard Glaze:
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For garlic-mustard glaze:
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl,cover,and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before using.

For grilled beef:
1. Heat your grill to high.

2. Place the meat in a baking dish or on a baking sheet, pour half of the glaze over the meat, and turn to coat.

3. Sear both sides of the trip tip by placing the tri tip directly over high heat source. This is an important step to sear in the natural juices for a tender and juicy tri tip. Sear both sides of the trip for 4 to 5 minutes. Watch for flare-ups, especially with the fat side down on grill grates. If flare-ups occur, move tri tip to cooler part of the grill until flare up subsides.

5. Once the tri tip is seared, turn off the middle burner(s) and place trip tip, fat side down in the middle of the grill for indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, place trip tip on the cool side of the grill for indirect cooking. Continue cooking tri tip with grill lid closed for approximately 1 hour for rare, 1 hour and 15 minutes for medium rare at 350 degrees.

6. Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness, 140 degrees for rare, 150 degrees for medium-rare Let tri tip stand for 5 minutes before serving.

7. When the tri tip is ready to be served, carve tri tip into ¼” slices and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

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