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Three Secrets for Better Backyard Barbecues: Sshhhh!


There is a mystique around barbecue that fascinates and terrifies. The aroma and flavors of a well executed barbecue are exquisite. The pressure to perform at the grill can be crushing.

Many a griller has questioned their worthiness when they burned the chicken or served an unintentionally bloody burger. I know I did...until I learned some secrets.

1. It's about your guests, not you.

This sounds trite. I don't care. The point of 99% of all backyard barbecues is for people to have a great time. Your guests want to eat, drink and visit with friends. They want to have a pleasant atmosphere; fun music, a gentle breeze, plenty of shade. They do not care if your dry rub has seventeen ingredients or three. They do not care if you slow smoked for fifteen hours or grilled for ten minutes. Your guests want to have fun. That's it.

How many times have we messed up this simple equation by trying to be a "Grill Master"? Your guests would much rather interact with a host that was relaxed and social than deal with a freaked out amateur chef who is stressed out over the perfect burger temperature.

Invest your time and energy into entertaining your guests and not into your ego.

2. Less is more.

This still sounds trite. I still don't care. Most people screw up their barbecue by doing too much. If they are grilling then they use too much heat. If they are slow smoking then they use too much smoke. Want to experiment with sauces, rubs and injections? Go ahead; just go easy. Your barbecue skills will improve immensely if you can turn everything DOWN a notch.

People talk about putting love into their barbecue; I am on board with the concept as long as we add some clarification.

3. Low and Slow = Nice and Easy

The biggest secret of all is that, with the proper equipment, low and slow barbecuing is ten times easier than high heat grilling. The popularity of televised competition barbecue has given the impression that smoking a pork butt for 12 hours is a task best left to a Pit Master. This is unfortunate.

When you are cooking "low and slow" your food service window is on the order of hours. Show us what you're firing up this summer by posting your food pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks using the hashtag #123BBQ.

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