By Dave Lobeck
CNHI News Service
Labor Day has come and gone, and judging by the high amount of traffic on my website, many of you were looking for ideas and/or direction on grilling and barbecuing.
This isn't surprising. Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer, just as Memorial Day tends to be the start of summertime activities. Labor Day is sometimes the last time many outdoor cooks are serious about grilling or barbecuing.
The purpose of today's column is to encourage you to think a bit out of the box. Some of the most rewarding and appreciated barbecued, smoked or grilled dishes I have served have taken place in cooler/cold weather.
Fall, winter and early spring offer opportunities and menu options I couldn't imagine passing up. You will also notice your family and friends will have a higher-than-normal appreciation for these smoke-kissed dishes.
Allow me to lay out an outdoor menu for you. And don't worry, I will time future columns to give you detailed instructions on how to pull off these great dishes, as well as provide you with complimentary side dishes and drinks.
Don't let snow scare you away. I have shoveled a path through a foot of snow on Christmas to get the meal done. It's not as bad as you might think, and actually, kind of fun.
Halloween: This time of year reminds me of beautiful colors, crunchy leaves, crisp air and clear blue skies. What a perfect time to prepare beer can chicken or bratwursts soaked in beer. A perfect time to be outdoors while the kids stop by to trick-or-treat.
Thanksgiving: You will make the ladies in your house happy by moving the main course outdoors. As you know, the kitchen is a hotbed of stressful activity, and by moving the main course to the grill, you free up space and give the guys a place to congregate to talk “guy talk.” You guessed the main dish: a grilled or smoked turkey. You can also prepare side dishes outdoors as well.
Christmas: This holiday provides a lot of options. Our traditional dish has become bone-in prime rib cooked over hickory with a creamy horseradish sauce. You could also prepare a beef tenderloin, and there are some great bone-in pork entree’s that could be prepared outdoors. The drippings can be captured to create a wonderful sauce or gravy. My father-in-law is a master at this, and I will be sure to report on his secrets as we lead up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
New Year's: This holiday gives you tons of options. We have smoked a brined brisket, and it is awesome. Serve it with some boiled cabbage with boiled red potatoes and you are in for a real treat.
Super Bowl: In my family, this is a holiday. Meatballs done on the grill or chicken wings slowly smoked will make for a real show stopper when halftime hits. Barbecued beef brisket on small sandwich buns are also appreciated.
Easter: This is the only time of the year that I prepare lamb on the BBQ or grill, and it is really well received. If you've never had lamb, the taste is rich and unique, and worth a try. If you aren't a fan of lamb, a cured ham is quite popular.
The point is grilling and barbecuing season is not over. In may ways, it has just begun.