Standing in front a hot grill, flipping, basting, searing, and smoking, is a summer ritual. But it’s also a bit of a pain in the ass. Because the successful backyard barbecue, the one that leaves every guest speckled with rib sauce and rubbing their belly, requires the chef to spend a day in front of the fire away from the festivities. Just ask Barbecue Hall Famer Myron Mixon. One of the country’s most respected pitmasters, Mixon has four Barbecue World Championships, four restaurants, three TV shows, three cookbooks, and a cooking school. And while he the adores the high art of open-flame cooking, he understands the burden.
“A lot of times, the man of the house gets out there and you’ve got 30 people coming to your home, out in the swimming pool, drinking beverages, and eating hors d’oeuvres, while you’re firing a pit all day,” says Mixon, whose accolades have also earned him the title of Winningest Man in Barbecue. “Everyone wants to know when it’s going to get done, but when it does get done, you’ve been sitting in the smoke so long, you just want to go in the house and sit in your recliner.”
While nothing will relieve the burden of the host, Mixon offered some tips to help you crush your cookout. Whether you’re grilling up dinner for your family or firing up a feast for all of your friends, they’ll help you satisfy your guests and maybe give you some time to actually enjoy the festivities.
A common ‘cuer mistake: thinking of grilling as hang-time with friends. But, per Mixon, with ingredients that need to be prepared in advance, it’s never that easy. “If you’re the guy or girl who is in charge of the cooking, and you start prepping the same day everyone else is having fun and partying, you’re tying up four to six hours of your day making sure you’re feeding everybody else,” says Mixon. “To me, that’s not a whole lot of fun.”
Instead, Mixon says to cut up your veggies and meats the day before, season your meats in advance, and make sure all the other fixings are ready to go before the party starts. Then, all you need to do after the guests arrive is tend to the fire.