JEFF TIEDEMAN: Fire up the grillsNice weather signals the start of barbecue season.
I’m a fair-weather grilling guy, and one who’s not going to win any barbecue competition. Temperatures have to be at least 60 degrees before I slap anything on the grate.
But there are probably more than a few people out there who’ll say that they cook outdoors year-round, and I tip my hat to them.
And I bet you can count among them nearly everyone associated with the 22 teams that are entered in what being billed as UND football’s 1st Annual Spring Cook-Off this weekend.
The cook-off is being held before UND’s annual spring game in the Alerus Center and is just one of many events, including live music, that are planned for Saturday by the university’s athletic department. (For a complete list of activities, go to www.fightingsioux.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID58640&SPID6399&DB_LANGC&ATCLID205108764&DB_OEM_ID13500.)
In addition to the ribs and burger cook-off, which I gladly agreed to help judge, a dozen area food vendors and restaurants (Green Mill, Al’s Grill, Blue Moose, Jake’s, Joe Blacks, Italian Moon, Boardwalk Bar & Grill, Alerus Center, L&M Meats, Happy Joe’s Pizza, Speedway Grill and Bar, First State Bank and Sand Hill River BBQ) will provide samples for a People’s Choice competition for fans.
They’ll probably have some real tasty entrees, but I’m pretty excited to sink my teeth into either ribs or burgers that will served to judges in the cook-off. That’s because most of the entrants are veteran tailgaters who’ve perfected some pretty delicious recipes.
In fact, I’ve tasted food from two of those cooks, Jon Dorner and Pat Healey, both part of the Black Bus Crew that has been cooking for the tailgating crowd before every UND home football game since the Alerus Center opened. Jon said their group — which also includes Gregg Ehreth and Linn Hodgson — will be making ribs and burgers. (Another member, Clark Cvancara, is entering on his own.)
I asked Jon what his strategy was for the contest, and he said, “do what you know is good, and don’t worry about being too fancy.”
Here are a few other barbecuing tips:
— Celebrity chef and best-selling author Bobby Flay says don’t move food the minute you put it on the heat. Let it sear on the bottom so that it naturally pulls away from the grates.
— When grilling chicken, you can save much time and fuel (gas or charcoal) by first partially cooking the chicken in a microwave.
— Cook delicate foods such as sliced vegetables and fish fillets in a grilling basket or grid.
—Never use a fork to turn over meat. Flay prefers regular kitchen tongs for picking up, turning and moving just about everything, except fish, which he turns with a spatula.
— Steven Raichlen, award-winning chef, TV host and cookbook author, says you should let grilled meat rest 3 or 4 minutes before slicing to allow the juices redistribute and thicken.
Some of us will take all the help we can get.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.