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Barbecue and Memorial Day weekend have a longstanding love affair. Spending summer’s inaugural weekend by the sea, in nature, or even quietly at home, firing up the grill and hosting a few friends for delicious bites and libations is at once celebratory, deeply American, and even has the potential to be budget-friendly. “Barbecue is not elitist; it’s very inclusive,” says Weber Grill Master Kevin Kolman. “There are more backyards in the world than there are restaurants, right?” He says a good cookout is not about gilding the lily, but rather it’s the simple stuff that’s the real crowd pleaser: good cuts of meat, a little seasoning, and technique.

Here, we caught up with Kolman at the launch of the barbecue behemoth’s partnership with TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Austin, Texas. The latter recently opened its 300th location, and the hotel chain known for its comfortable long-term stay options now provides grills at all of its locations for a BYOM (bring your own meat) barbecue bonanza whenever the mood strikes. Here, Kolman shared some tips on making the most of your barbecue, as well as original recipes to help you mix up everything from cookout cocktails to the main course.

Know your tools.

Yes, buying a good cut of meat, using great seasonings, and having the right grill for your space is vital, but instructions factor in, as well. “Understand the heartbeat of that grill throughout a whole cook,” Kolman notes.  

How you source your meat matters.

Is it grass-fed or corn-fed? “They cook completely differently,” Kolman says. “Canadian beef cooks differently, as well.”  It’s not just about the pit: You have to be able to predict the timing of your cook based on where and how your beef is raised.

Thickness drives everything.

Time, temperature, and technique are important, but thickness is key to ensuring you won’t overcook the outside of your meat. Kolman says if you’re cooking something thinner, drop the temperature. “If it’s thicker, cook it on a temperature as high as the heavens,” he says.

Pair your drinks accordingly.

Kolman advises against pairing a big wine with grilled meat, as “those two things will knock each other in the face.” He goes so far as to say to “drop the wine down so the wine isn’t the main event.” He recommends Plumpjack Syrah from Napa for its smoky flavor and ability to clean the palette. If beer is your thing, he recommends a lager rather than an IPA. He says we drink when we barbecue for 2 reasons: “To celebrate [a good meal], or to forget.” Or try the grilled sangria—a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—at your next gathering.


Grilled Sangria

Serves 2-4

Ingredients – 1 bottle 750 ml bottle of rosé wine, chilled – 2 tablespoon guava nectar or agave syrup – 2 peaches, halved, pit removed – 8oz can pineapple rings (optional) – 8 oz strawberries (optional) – 2 limes, sliced (optional) – 1 pitcher

Instructions 1. Preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes on high, brush the grates clean. Then, set up your grill for direct medium heat at 425-450 degrees. 2. Lightly coat fruit with the agave nectar (optional). 3. Grill fruit directly on the grates a. Pineapple 2-3min per side b. Strawberries 2 min per side c. Limes 2 min per side d. Peaches 3-4 minutes, cut side down 4. Remove fruit, and let cool. Dice pineapple, strawberries and peaches. Combine all fruit in pitcher, add the wine, and add guava nectar or agave syrup. 5. Enjoy!


Grilled + Stuffed Avocados

Serves 6-8 people

This appetizer doesn’t even require plates! Guests can eat it right from the avocado half with a spoon.

Ingredients – 4 avocados (brown, stay away from green) – 1 tablespoon olive oil – 2 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Crab + Jalapeño Stuffing – 8 oz can crabmeat or imitation crabmeat – 2 jalapenos – 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice – ½ teaspoon salt – ½ teaspoon pepper – 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions 1. Preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes on high; brush the grates clean. Then, set-up your grill for direct medium heat at 425-450 degrees. 2. Halve and remove the pits from the avocados. Lightly coat the inside of the avocado with olive oil and lemon or lime juice. 3. Grill avocado halves, cut side down at 425-450 degrees for 3-4 minutes. 4. Remove from grill, let rest.

Instructions for the crab + jalapeño stuffing 1. Grill jalapeño, remove from grill, chop into pieces. 2. Combine crab meat, jalapeño, salt, pepper, 1T lemon/lime juice, and the fill the grilled avocado. 3. Enjoy!

Grilled Cocktail BBQ’d Meatballs

Serves 2-4

These are great for apps or the main event.

Ingredients – 1 lb ground beef – 1 egg – ½ cup diced onions – ½ cup bread crumbs – 2 tablespoons gourmet burger or Chicago steak seasoning – 1 tablespoon Worchester sauce – 1 bottle of BBQ sauce (dipping sauce)

Instructions 1. Preheat the grill for 10-15 minutes on high, brush the grates clean. Then set-up your grill for direct medium heat at 425-450 degrees. 2. Combine all ingredients except the bbq sauce in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, and form into small meatballs. 3. Grill the meatballs for 3-4 minutes a side at 425-450 degrees. 4. Pour BBQ sauce into a large serving bowl. 5. Remove meatballs from grill, and place in the large serving bowl. Mix and enjoy.

Read more:

10 Things We’re Making For Our Memorial Day BBQ The Best Make-Ahead Side Dishes For a Memorial Day BBQ These Marinades are the Secret to Cookout Success