The closer we get to May, the more I can taste freedom.
And it tastes a lot like barbecue.
It’s finally getting warmer outside, and nothing brings in the summer better than an outdoor cookout. This 100 percent American tradition is perhaps my favorite part of living in the land of the free and is the perfect way to celebrate graduation, Memorial Day or the weekend.
Or the week. Or life in general.
And the best part is, anyone can do it.
There are two basic kinds of barbecuing: grilling and smoking. Smoking involves cooking the meat on low (around 200 degrees), indirect heat over a long period of time. Grilling, the more common, direct heating method, uses the big black thing growing rust in your backyard.
Ideally, we’d always slow-cook when we barbecued, but it can take up to 12 hours, and lets face it, most kegs won’t last that long.
Kelly Green, owner of BBQ Bob’s in Loveland, said the key to cooking good barbecue is cooking it low and slow, and “with a lot of love.”
Green recommends prepping your meat with a “dry rub” — spices and seasoning added for flavor — 24 hours before putting it in the smoker or on the grill.
If you didn’t plan ahead or don’t want to put anything called “dry rub” near your mouth, pick up some grilling spices at the local grocery store. After a couple PBRs, no one will know the difference.
There are several things you can grill including chicken, beef, pork, ribs and more. You can get creative and make kabobs with sliced peppers, mushrooms, onions and zucchini.
But Green only slow cooks with one food group.
“If you don’t want meat, you can move to Boulder,” he said. “I’m not putting any tofu in my smoker. And you can keep your hummus sandwich.”
When vegetarian customers come into Bob’s, Green recommends trying their homemade coleslaw or the cornbread (the beans are made the traditional way with pork).
If you want your meat to have the slow cooked flavor but don’t have the slow cook time, try baking the meat first and then throwing it on the grill for the last couple minutes to get that smoked taste that smells so good come May.
But cooking isn’t the only key to good barbecue. Just like Good Times, the magic is in the sauce.
There are more sauce varieties, however, then freshmen in Clark A, and each region of the U.S. uses something different.
Green uses a traditional Texas tomato-based sauce and offers both original flavor and a spicy version that makes Tabasco look like child’s play.
Other variations include vinegar- and mustard-based sauces, thick and thin options and a whole range of boldness.
Just like dating, there’s no one size fits all, so play the field until you find your taste’s perfect match.
Sauce isn’t the only thing you can experiment with either. Sides can range from cornbread to french-fries, but, unlike dating, should always include beans, according to Green.
Gather the neighbors, light up the grill and kick off your summer the right way.
Or just go down to Bob’s in Loveland.
But don’t order hummus.
Entertainment Editor Maggie Canty can be reached at email@example.com.