Oh yes, it's on.
With summer underway and Father's Day right around the corner, you may be getting ready to bust those grilling tools out of moth balls. We talked to Top Chef Masters contestant Neal Fraser, whose latest project includes L.A.'s artisanal hot dog spot Fritzi Dog, for his top tips to make your summer BBQ the one to beat.
1. Prepare as Much as You Can in Advance: "No one ever has enough time the day of a barbecue to do all of the prep and the cooking," he says. "Good barbecue takes time to marinate, smoke and cook. Most people think of cranking a grill up to high and cooking foods real fast. The beauty is slow cooking, and cooking things at different temperatures at different times."
To pre-prepare a kick-butt potato salad, for instance, Fraser suggests simmering potatoes with the skins off, cooling them down and adding mayonnaise, rendered bacon, sherry vinegar, mustard and parsley, and finishing with crushed barbecue potato chips. "It adds a little crunch and a ton of flavor," he says.
2. Manage Your Grill Space: "Use the rack above the main grill to hold finished foods," he says. "If you have some grilled chicken, finish it and hold in on the top rack." Advance preparation can come in handy here too: "Have some meats that are already cooked or smoked like ribs. If the ribs are already cooked the day before and all you have to do is grill hot dogs, it becomes much easier to manage you time and your grill space."
3. Keep Everything Warm: Fraser advises having a chaffing dish next to the grill to hold cooked foods and keep them warm. Inexpensive ones are readily available—so no bank breaking required here.
4. Go Condiment Crazy: Have topping options that work well with every type of protein you're grilling. "Make ones that can be used for hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steak. That way you don't have to customize them to each protein," Fraser says. "Barbecue sauce seems like an unusual topping for a hot dog, but it is delicious!"