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Who better to kick off the season of outdoor cooking and all things barbecued, grilled and smoked than Food Network’s own First Family of Barbecue, Pat and Gina Neely? Together, this culinary power couple has been known to put their signature spins on authentic Tennessee ribs, comforting potato salads, and traditional grilled chicken alike — the must-have dishes for the ultimate summer cookout. FN Dish caught up with the Neelys at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this year to chat about what it takes to master the grill at home and to learn their secrets to better barbecue. At a live cooking demonstration on the beach with their fans, Pat and Gina cooked a quick meal of grilled shrimp and pineapple kebabs with mango salsa, explained the ins and outs of some classic warm-weather recipes, and answered fans’ questions about all aspects of summertime cooking and entertaining. Find out what they had to say below, and get their top-five tips for enjoying a stress-free summer at the grill.
5. It’s a good idea to start the grill on medium heat and rub the grates with oil before adding anything to it. This will help prevent food from sticking.
4. When making kebabs on wooden skewers, be sure to soak the sticks in water for a while before you put them on the grill. Otherwise, the dry wood will catch fire and burn quickly.
3. Wait until the final few minutes of grilling to add glazes — if you coat the meat in the beginning, the sugars in the glaze will burn.
2. Shrimp take just moments to cook, especially on super-hot grills. Try to keep your eye on them, and remove them from the heat when they turn bright pink.
1. For the ultimate dry rub on any grill meats, stick to Pat’s no-fail combination: 2/3 paprika, 1/3 onion powder and 1/3 sugar (white or brown both work). Beyond that, add a pinch of cayenne if you like heat, and experiment with extra spices to find what flavor you like best.