Celebrating the 4th July through social distancing

The 4th July celebrations are near approaching and many of the yearly commemorations have been canceled due to the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic. The annual fireworks, parades and festivals will have to wait until next year but you can still celebrate the Independence Day holiday as a family event at home.

We’ve come up with some top tips for celebrating with a classic American BBQ, whether that be in the safety of your garden or a home kitchen.

BBQ Top 10 Tips for 4th July

1.Be well equipped

The right tools for the job will transform your BBQ experience, a long set of tongs makes it easier to manage the grill and have control over your station. The length will also make it less likely to be burnt against the heat of the grill. Barbecue gloves are another piece of equipment which prevent burns and allow you to get involved directly without the risk that a cloth would still have.

A spray bottle or vinegar spritzer is a piece of equipment for the true barbecue connoisseurs, the bottle allows you to baste meat and promote the development of bark when grilling.

Our final suggestion is equipment for serving, butcher paper provides a non-drip material which is perfect for wrapping up hot-dogs, burger buns, chips or lining trays to serve meats. The sheets are easy to tear to quickly provide a surface for on-the-go foods at a BBQ.

2. Preparation

The more you can prepare ahead of time, the more you can enjoy the 4th July celebrations while you’re in it.

Make sure you’re fully stocked, sides can be prepared a day ahead and meat can be marinated beforehand to cut time, which brings us onto our next tip. Lay the table with some butcher paper to create a slick presentation with easy-clean up, there’s always going to be a mess with BBQ which is part of the fun but this simple step can make life so much easier.

3. Marinade

A day before marinating brings a whole new level of flavour to your meat. The options for marinade are endless so whip together a combination of your favourite zingy flavours and let the marinade do the rest of the work. Remember to take the meat out of the fridge before cooking to avoid the fridge chill then BBQ away.

4. Wrapping

Wrap slow cooked meat such as spare ribs, brisket or pork shoulder in butcher paper to insulate the meat. The paper allows smoke to permeate whilst protecting it from drying out, resulting in the ideal combination of tender juicy cuts with a crunchy bark and intense smoked flavor.

5. Use a chimney starter

The easiest and quickest way to light charcoal with a simple device. A chimney starter replaces the need for lighter fluid which can be hazardous, unhealthy and taint the flavor of the food, which is the last thing you want when trying to enjoy the 4th July.

6. Choose your charcoal and wood with care

Better quality charcoal and brochettes will bring a consistent heat and flavorful smoke to the BBQ. Wood will provide smoke and additional flavor to your meats, start with a little and then gradually add more wood as you need it.

7. Two Zone Cooking

Use one side of the BBQ for charcoal and one side for the food so you are able to  manage direct and indirect heat. Keep this in mind and no matter how tempting, don’t lift the lid every 5 minutes, you’ll reduce the temperature inside the BBQ by opening the lid and increase cooking time. This set-up will allow for more control when cooking and reduce the likelihood of burnt sausages.

8. Use a digital thermometer

Digital thermometers are more reliable than the dial on the BBQ and can be used to check the cooking of the meat to guarantee grilling to perfection.

9. Don’t forget the sides and vegetables

When you think of BBQ, you think smoked and grilled meat but at least half of your meal will end up consisting of the often forgotten sides and veggies. Vegetables can be magically transformed on a BBQ, our favorites are to slice some eggplant or zucchini and grill with olive oil, char some baby broccoli and asparagus or go for the classic butter-basted corn on the cob.

All-time favourite sides are always the simple dishes, a light potato salad, mac and cheese or a crunchy coleslaw.

10. Relax

Enjoy the process and don’t stress, BBQ is most importantly about food, family and friends. If you have this setup within the socially distanced parameters then you’re on track for a 4th of July to remember.

After preparing a perfect BBQ continue to enjoy the celebrations of Independence day, tune in virtually to a live-streamed firework display such as Macy’s on NBC or D.C fireworks on PBS!