If you pay attention to the calendar (not the one that says summer ends when school starts and temperatures are hovering near 90), the end of summer is finally near. For those interested in such facts, summer officially begins at the June solstice and ends on the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22. But for many, the season will end as the sun descends on Sept. 5 at the end of what I hope is a leisurely Labor Day weekend.
For me, when all-American smells of lighter fluid, glowing charcoal briquettes and sizzling meat waft gently into the night, that’s my cue that summer’s history.
If, also like me, you follow the axiom that in the south, fall is the perfect time of year to grill out, I have just the thing for you. It was actually one of the biggest scoops of my journalism career. I uncovered the secret to great grilled meat.
It started innocently enough. Several years ago, the city of Madison hosted a regional barbecue cook-off. Over 30 teams from eight southern states located along the barbecue belt gathered to compete in a prestigious grilling contest. I’ll omit the name and here’s why.
Wandering up to one of the cooking team sites, I met a member who’ll remain nameless after he received a severe scolding when other members discovered he’d shared some of the top secret grilling recipes with me. In the spirit of anonymity, I’ll share them without divulging his identity.
For great burgers, take a pound of ground sirloin or turkey, mix in a package of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix and crushed Ritz crackers and form patties. Coat with Tony Chachere’s Seasoning and grill to desired doneness.
Steak-lovers who desire something different should try hand-made filet mignons, which can be cut to order at any service meat counter. Coat with Tony’s or other favorite seasoning and grill to perfection.
And the top secret of all the secret recipes? It involves great ribs, the perfect end to summer’s grilling season. Full disclosure: this is the recipe that was supposed to be a closely-guarded secret. Since several years have passed, I feel comfortable sharing it.
Trim off all fat and soak in — here’s the secret part — pineapple juice with a splash of lemon juice for about five hours. For the all-important rub, sprinkle with Tony’s, then roll in brown sugar to coat. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, shake off excess sugar and grill at a low heat. Five minutes before they’re done, coat with your favorite barbecue sauce.
Yes, it’s somewhat sad that summer is almost over but I’ll be grilling until frost bites. Until then, enjoy my journalistic scoop as well as the recipe for the most unusual, but possibly the tastiest, burgers of the summer.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“WHAT’S IN THESE BURGERS?” BURGERS
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup paprika
1/4 cup coarse salt
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck
■ Combine the ingredients well and add (vary amount according to taste) to meat. Refrigerate for 2 hours and form patties, then grill.
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