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7 Tips to Making Scrumptious Grilled Chicken

Grilled ChickenGrilled chicken is a wonderful, healthy addition to almost any meal. When chicken is grilled right, it’s moist, tender, flavorful, and juicy. However, when chicken is grilled wrong, it can end up dry, tough and tasteless. In order to make sure your grilled chicken ends up scrumptious, make sure you follow these 7 easy tips.

Tip #1: Pick the Right Chicken

For the absolute best grilled chicken, pick bone-in and skin-on chicken. These pieces are the best for flavor and juiciness.

Tip #2: Keep the Small

One common problem with grilled chicken is that it cooks unevenly.To help all your pieces cook quickly and evenly, cut them into smaller pieces.

Tip #3: Warm It Up

Another way to help your chicken cook quickly and evenly it to make sure that it’s at room temperature before you put it on the grill. If you take it straight out of the refrigerator, the cold temperature will wreck havoc on the way the chicken cooks. Let your chicken sit outside the fridge for 45 minutes before putting it on the grill.

Tip #4: Give it a Good Rub Down

Rubbing your chicken with spices is a perfect way to pack it with flavor. Simply rub your spices onto the chicken before placing it on the grill. To keep your chicken moist, mix those spices with a little oil before applying.

Tip #5: Experiment with Marinade

Marinating your chicken for at least 30 minutes is a great way to infuse an intense amount of flavor into the meat while ensuring that it stays juicy while cooking. Citrus is one of the best ingredients to add into a marinade but your can experiment with all sorts of recipes

Tip #6: Baste it Up

Basting is great to add flavor to any part of the chicken, but particularly the wings. You can baste your chicken throughout the cooking process unless your sauce is sugar based. The sugar can quickly over caramelize and burn, so it’s best to only baste during the last 5 minutes.

Tip #7 Let it Rest

Like all meat, chicken needs a little time to settle in-between taking it off the grill and landing on your plate. By giving it this rest time, you will help lock the juices into the bird. All you need is 5-10 minutes, but it makes all the difference.

Four Tips to Catering Your Office Holiday Party

partyThe holidays are a great time to show appreciation for your employees. One of the most common ways is through throwing an office holiday party. This time, designated to celebrating, socializing, and relaxing, is a great way to let your employees know the work they do is appreciated.

To make your party planning that much easier, one of the best things you can do is hire a caterer. With a caterer, your party will stay classy, you’ll have scrumptious food to consume, and you’ll cut down most of the work of the party planners. To get the best out of your catered experience, here are four easy few tips to follow.

Tip #1 Book Early

The best caterers will book up fast during the holiday season, so you want to make sure you call them early. That way you can be sure to get the date you want. Many catering pros recommend booking as early as January for the following holidays. If that’s not possible with your schedule, make sure you call as soon as your date and location is confirmed.

Tip #2: Get Creative With Your Dates

The most common time for a holiday party is a Friday or Saturday night. Consequently, many caterers have the ability to be selective on which parties they choose as well as charge premium prices. If you pick an off-night, such as a weeknight or even a Sunday afternoon, you have a better chance of getting the caterer you want at a reduced price.

Tip #3: Know Your Attendees

One important step in having a successfully catered party is knowing what type of food you can and can’t serve. Are there food allergies in the group? Vegetarians? Vegans? Celiac disease? Send out an office email poll before talking to your caterer to know what sorts of dietary restrictions or limitations your attendees have. Let your caterer know these restrictions or limitations up front so a proper menu can be planned.

Tip #4: Have Clear Expectations

There is a wide range of catering companies that provide a wide array of services. Make sure the details of your contract are completely clear as far as what the company will provide (i.e. food, service options, service equipment, decorations, etc.) and when. The last thing you want is to have the food arrive too early or too late and to not have the proper serving utensils. By having everything clearly laid out you can ensure that the event will be a success.

After this, all you really have to do is sit back and enjoy the holidays (and the food!).

Memphis Style BBQ

Memphis BBQAs we mentioned in our last post, when barbecue developed in the United States, it developed into four unique and distinctive regional styles: Memphis, North Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas. Each type of barbecue has different sauce preparation and focuses on different styles of meat to create truly individual culinary experiences. In this article we’ll take a look at the Memphis style of barbecuing.

Memphis takes great pride in its barbecue style and taste – even claiming to have the best barbecue in the world. Traditional Memphis barbecue focuses on pork, and usually uses either ribs or pulled pork. This pork is cooked in a smoker and can be prepared either in a “dry” or “wet” style.

Most Memphis barbecue masters claim the smoking process is an integral part of the flavor and quality of a true Memphis barbecue. The slow smoking process creates meat that is tender and juicy on its own, which is then heightened by the rub or sauce.

The dry style barbecue is the most popular way for Memphis style meat. This means the meat is seasoned with a dry rub – a mixture of herbs and spices such as paprika, onion, cumin, and garlic. The raw meat is coated with the rub before being placed in the smoker. After smoking the meat to the point that it almost falls of the bone, the meat is served, usually with a sauce on the side. The dry rub is most often used on ribs, and is usually much less messy to eat.

The wet style barbecue is when the meat is prepared with a sauce. Memphis style barbecue features a sauce that is tomato and vinegar based, resulting in a tangy and slightly sweet taste. In the case of ribs, the sauce is put on the meat before it goes in the smoker, and is added several times throughout the smoking process. For pulled pork, the meat is cooked within the sauce. This is also the sauce that is served on the side of a dry style ribs.

There is no one accepted recipe for Memphis style sauce. Each restaurant, barbecue master, and home cook has his or her own variation. However, each one stays true to the tomato, vinegar, and spice base that distinguishes Memphis style barbecue from the other four regions.

Marinade or Rub? What’s the Difference?

Marinades and RubsEver gone to a grill and wondered about the differences between “marinades” and “rubs”? While both types of meat preparation are definitely delicious, not everyone understands the differences between them. In order to make the best possible ordering decisions, let’s take a quick look at the difference between these two types of meat preparation.

Marinades

Marinades are an extremely popular way to prepare meats for the grill. A marinade is always a liquid, and usually consists of herbs, spices, and at least one acid. In general, a marinade has two purposes. The first is to infuse the meat with delicious flavor. The combination of ingredients within a marinade can vary widely in order to produce the desired flavor of the meat. The meat is generally placed within the marinade while it is still raw and left to soak up its flavors from anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

The second purpose of marinade is to tenderize the meat. This is why the acid (whether it’s a vinegar, a citrus, or alcohol) is one of the most important parts of a marinade. The acid in the marinade interacts with the connective tissues in the meat. This interaction causes the tissues to break down, tenderizing the meat.

With marinade, extremely tough cuts of meat can be marinated for hours in order to create a tender, juicy cut of meat. However, it is possible to over marinate a cut of meat (especially cuts that are already on the tender side, such as chicken or fish) so it’s important to keep an eye on the clock.

Rubs

Unlike a marinade, rubs only have one purpose: to give flavor to the meat. A rub is a mixture of spices, herbs, and seasonings. In general, rubs are dry and are mixed with a liquid ingredient (such as oil) in order to stick to the meat. Rubs are placed on the meat when it’s still raw, and can be either put on directly before cooking or, like a marinade, be left on for a period of time to intensify the flavor. Because rubs do not have an acid in them, they don’t break down the meat like a marinade.

Both rubs and marinades are delicious additions to any meat. But they make a big difference in the level of tenderness and flavor you’re looking for. Now the next time you go out with your friends to the grill, you’ll be more prepared.

A BBQ Story

A BBQ StoryBarbecued food is a favorite choice for many occasions, whether it’s a family dinner, a wedding, or a holiday party. While a staple in modern American cuisine, the story of barbecue food, and how it came to our dinner plates, is an international tale.

 The word barbecue appears in the culinary language of many different countries, including Mongolia, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Korea, and Greece. Each country has a slightly different way of preparing and serving barbecued food. For the story of American barbecue – in particular Southern and Texan barbecue – we actually have to go off the coast of America and into the islands of the Atlantic.

 The classic tale of where American barbecue started actually takes place in the Caribbean. The natives of those islands had a tradition of slow cooking their meat over small, smoky fires.  The smoke from the fire had a two-fold purpose: it helped preserve the meat so that it wouldn’t spoil and it would help ward off the insects.  When the Spanish arrived in the Caribbean, they were intrigued by this process, which the natives called barbacoa. Whether or not the word barbecue is a derivative of that native name is a topic under constant debate.  But, nevertheless, the colonizers took note of this cooking method.

 As the Spanish, and other European countries, began to settle in the new world, they also began to transport pigs and cattle. Without refrigeration, pits and smokehouses were often used in order to preserve the meat. As the colonies evolved, the slow cooking process the Spanish had seen in the Caribbean was used mostly for the inexpensive cuts of meat that were eaten by low-income people and slaves. In the South, pigs were the most common choice of meat, which lead to pork (especially pulled pork) being the most commonly barbecued food.

 Over time, the different regions of the South started to develop their own barbecue styles. The four main types in include Memphis barbecue, North Carolina barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, and Texas barbecue. Each region prepares the meat with different ingredients, leading to widely different flavors. Over the next few articles, as we continue our barbecue story, we’ll take a look at what defines each of these different styles of barbecue. You may just need to go out and sample each type in order to determine your personal favorite.