Father’s Day often gets less attention than Mother’s Day, especially in terms of advertising and gift-giving. But just because the holiday is more low-key doesn’t mean that it should be ignored. If you’re lucky enough to live within traveling distance of your dad’s home or retirement community, make the trip and enjoy one of the quintessential Father’s Day activities – the barbecue.
Everyone with a backyard grill and a spatula thinks that their cookout techniques are world-class, but to really make this Father’s Day a hit, consider some tips from the pros.
Cook less, savor more
Joe Sasso, of the Great American Barbecue catering company, shared some seemingly heretical advice with The Journal News, suggesting that your barbecue could do with a little less meat. Though burgers are usually the star of the show, Sasso said that quality should trump quantity. Using grass-fed beef and other specialty cuts can give you the best flavor without throwing off Dad’s senior care plans with a ton of red meat.
“Not only does it taste better, it’s better for you,” Sasso told the news source.
Make time for taste
Once you’ve stepped up to quality cuts of meat, you’ll have to adjust your cooking technique to match. There’s no point in buying a pricey batch of grass-fed burgers if you’re just going to burn them over charcoal at home. Food scientist Guy Crosby confirmed the common wisdom of cooking “slow and low” to Vox. According to Crosby, cooking meat at a low temperature causes the muscle fibers to shrink less so it loses less moisture. Of course, this means that it will have to stay on the grill for much longer.
While you’re waiting for your perfect burgers to finish, Sasso recommended snacking on some veggies. Charred vegetables can make up the bulk of a barbecue’s menu, while any in-season fruit can be grilled for dessert.
If you want to keep Dad grilling even after Father’s Day, a cookbook might be the best gift. The Oregonian recommended “Fire and Smoke” by Chris Lilly, who offers tips and recipes for both slow-cooked barbecue meals and faster grilled grub.
Watch your water weight
Crosby warned against following the common advice to sear your meat. Apparently arising from a 19th-century chemistry book, the myth that searing locks in moisture has likely ruined countless steaks over time. According to Crosby, the crust formed by searing does nothing to block moisture from sneaking out. Alton Brown of the Food Network found that a seared steak lost 6 percent more weight, consisting of water, than one left unseared.
To actually keep the most moisture in your meal, the best thing to do is leave it alone. After you’ve spent hours cooking slow and low, you may not want to waste any more time before you dig in to your dinner. Patience has its benefits, though, especially when it comes to barbecue. Just 10 more meatless minutes can make sure that all your hard work results in the juiciest burger you can get. Once a cut of meat is taken off the grill, its muscle fibers begin to expand again, trapping in the moisture that was trying to escape during cooking. Giving the fibers a chance to stretch will keep you from squeezing water out when you cut into them.
Serious Eats tested the sit-and-wait hypothesis and found that letting a cut of meat cool for 10 minutes did in fact lock in moisture. Steaks fresh off the grill lost 9 percent of their water weight just from being cut, but a brief pause before digging in meant that only 2 percent went to waste.