SOURCE: The Harvard Common Press

The Harvard Common Press

June 23, 2009 11:08 ET

Essential Tips for a Fourth of July Barbecue

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - June 23, 2009) - Every Fourth of July, friends and families gather around a grill to enjoy classic American food in the sunshine. No matter what you're cooking on this most popular of summer holidays, a little planning can make your barbecue the party that gets talked about all year long.

To serve the best burgers, you must start with the right meat, says legendary barbecue expert Ardie Davis, author of the new book "25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling" (2009, The Harvard Common Press). The founder of Greasehouse University -- the fabled institution behind the coveted degree of Ph.B., or doctor of barbecue philosophy -- Davis knows what it takes to grill like a pro. "It's best to buy ground meat from a specified cut," he says, "like sirloin or chuck, instead of the generic 'ground beef.' The latter is not necessarily bad, but the quality will vary, since ground beef can come from any part of the animal." What's the best ratio of fat for your patties? Davis prefers 80 percent lean ground beef for grilling. "The fat cooks out and makes for a juicy burger."

Grilled corn on the cob is a natural favorite for outdoor eating. To produce those enticing grill marks on the kernels, Davis suggests shucking the corn before cooking. Grill shucked ears of corn directly over the heat for 10 minutes, turning frequently with long-handled tongs, and serve accompanied by butter, flavored with lime juice and chili powder.

Baby back ribs make for an impressive presentation and are surprisingly easy to prepare on a grill. Whereas smoking the meat can take hours of cooking time, grilled ribs actually can be done in under an hour. Season four whole slabs with a dry rub, then grill them on medium heat for 45 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until the meat pulls away from the bone. For "wet" ribs, brush the cooked ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce before serving. If you prefer them "dry" style, spray the ribs with cider vinegar and add more seasoning once they're cooked. "I like to serve these ribs with doctored-up coleslaw," says Davis. "Add chopped sweet red and yellow bell peppers to a bag of prepared coleslaw and mix it in a bowl with your favorite sour or creamy dressing."

Looking for more great holiday recipes? Davis's "25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling" is available in bookstores everywhere and as a digital book at

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