Summertime might as well be called “Grill Season,” especially for Chicagoans who have been waiting all year long for these few weeks glorious of outdoor weather. And while almost anyone can throw a few dogs or burgers on a barbecue, becoming a true grill master takes some skill. I got the best tips and tricks for your most successful grill season and at-home BBQ party from Chicago q’s Chef/Partner Lee Ann Whippen.
Whippen, who will appear on World Food Championships, a new show premiering on A&E’s new network, considers herself “not only a Kansas City BBQ expert but a seasoned pitmaster who brings knowledge and execution of a variety of styles of BBQ” to us Windy City foodies.
Whippen hopes that her Chicago q guests “continue to enjoy our southern style hospitality paired with authentic smoked dishes and our upscale innovative menu that offers specials each night to add variety to their choices.”
And as a thank you to her Chicago fans, not to mention in celebration of the premiere of her appearance on World Food Championships, Chicago q will feature Whippen’s “Dry Rubbed Cherry Smoked Rack of Lamb” with a white barbecue sauce for only $38 from Thursday, July 10 through Sunday, July 13. Stop by and try this dish, or one of Whippen’s other favorites like their cherry smoked dry-rubbed Wagyu Beef Ribs with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes or Smoked Corn with Chipotle Lime topped with Queso Fresco and micro cilantro (below).
At home, Whippen loves cooking fresh wild duck and venison, and wants to try an apple cold smoked halibut finished off on the grill this summer.
If you too want to grill at home, Whippen’s no-fail grill tips are as follows:
- When prepping the grill, make sure grates are cleaned or scraped prior to lighting, and grease them with oil on cloth to prevent future sticking.
- Never use flavored charcoal or lighter fluid, as it leaves a lingering chemical taste on food.
- If looking to add smokiness, try flavored woodchips, soaked 30 minutes ahead of time.
- Wait until the last 20 minutes of cooking to sauce meat to prevent the sugars from burning the outside of the meat.
- Always let meat rest 20 to 30 minutes before cutting to seal in all the flavors.
- A great preparation for fish is stuffing it with slices of lemon, lime, and springs of thyme.
- When grilling a whole fish, use fish racks to keep the fish intact while flipping with ease.
- Keep vegetable marinades simple and grill them over medium heat to get charred grill marks without overcooking them.
And Whippen has more tips and trick for throwing an amazing summer BBQ, including selecting a variety of meats to grill or applying different dry rubs to complement the taste. She even suggests adding flavored smoking chips right on top of your heat source to create unique flavors, which can be accompanied by an assortment of bbq sauces. Grill assorted vegetables and even fruits to keep it light and colorful!
Most of all, Whippen says to look at classic dishes you loved growing up, and finding ways to put your own new twist on the cooking technique. She gives examples like bruleed macaroni and cheese or using trendy ingredients like micro-herbs.
Just make sure to have fun with your barbecue while the summer lasts! Or keep it simple and stop by Chicago q for a visit with Whippen.