If you have been reading our newsletter for a while, you know that I typically review restaurants.  This month, at the suggestion of Dan Reynolds (our technical salesman), I’m going to share some of my own grilling and cookout favorites.  When I’m hosting a summer cookout, I usually go BIG, and I always try to make sure to have good variety of foods so everyone will find something they like.

Let’s start with the grill!  I often buy 2” thick pork chops for grilling.  I always rinse them, trim away the excess fat, and then marinate in a teriyaki marinade for at least 24 hours. Be sure to cover and marinate in the refrigerator.  When it’s time to cook, sear both sides of the chop on a grill heated to 350 to 400 degrees.  Once seared, move the chops to one side of the grill and cook with indirect heat at 250 degrees, turning them occasionally until they are cooked through.  Use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature, which should be between 145 and 160 degrees.  Your pork chops should turn out incredibly juicy and tasty!

If you want less prep work, call Zink’s Meat Market in Franklin and order the smoked chops.  If you like a thick cut chop like I do, ask them to cut them 1.25” thick.  Then just throw them on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  Your friends and family will love them!

Chicken can be prepared in much the same way as the pork chops.  I always purchase skinless, boneless breasts raised with no antibiotics. Rinse and trim excess fat, then marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  When grilling, turn the chicken breasts a couple of times for even cooking until reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Chris Small manning the grill!

Now, let’s talk about sides so we can balance out the food groups.  Proteins are covered, so we’ll move onto a carb – Cheesy Potatoes.  These are must for all my cookouts!  Start with 32 oz. of shredded potatoes.  (Tip – if you sit potatoes out for an hour before shredding, it will be easier on your arm!)  Put the shredded potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  Melt one stick of butter and pour over potatoes.  Add one can of cream of chicken soup, one pint of sour cream, and 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the potatoes.  Mix well with a spoon and pour into a 9” x 13” baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.  You can spice this dish up by adding chopped onion and/or half a jar of jalapeno pepper slices, including the juice.  WARNING – serve this dish once and you will be asked to bring it to every potluck you’re invited to attend!

If one carb is good, two are probably better, so I pick up some bi-color sweet corn-on-the-cob.   Soak them in cold water for a couple of hours with husks on, then place ears of corn on the grill at 300 degrees.  I don’t bother pulling the silks off before grilling because I find they come off easier once the corn is cooked.  Rotate corn after the husk is browned, turning approximately four times.  Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case husks catch on fire.  Your guests will love corn cooked on the grill – it’s like being at the county fair!

My sister usually brings a fruit salad, and I’ll pick up a mixed green salad to cover the fruits and vegetables.  As you are preparing all this food – especially if you are cooking outside over the hot grill – be sure you stay hydrated!  Drink lots of water, and maybe a beer or two!