July 4th Isn’t the Only Time to Barbecue

Richmond Restaurants — By on July 7, 2010 1:25 pm

Happy belated Independence Day!  Hope you enjoyed the summer heat and a few beverages and something grilled as our founding fathers might have done all those years ago.  Second only to fireworks, barbecuing is among the most important 4th of July traditions–but it should by no means be the only time you light up the grill and throw on a sizzlingly steak, some chicken or vegetables.  If it is, you aren’t doing summer right.

Ben, we’ve been planning this for hours!  You bring cole slaw. Tommy, you bring sparklers and drinks. I told Elbridge Gerry to man the grill.

Grilling over hot coals or wood is the great American style of preparing food.  There is nothing like a lightly charred pork loin and some squash and pepper straight from the grill.  Whether it is in your backyard or the median on Monument (still have to check the legality of that one), make sure to spend as many days as you can outside cooking in a primal yet communal way.

So what kind of grill?  Where do you get your meat and vegetables?

If you want real flavor, you’ve got to use charcoal.  And if you want real strong heat and a more natural option to using processed briquettes, go for natural lump charcoal.

Lump charcoal is essentially extra chunks of wood that have been made into random sized lumps of coal.  Find it at Pleasant’s Hardware on Broad Street.  Maybe the best part about using lump charcoal is that there is no need for lighter fluid.  Buy a grill chimney–or poke holes in an old coffee can–and just use paper to light.  No more cooking over chemical fires.

So to what do we add that delicious natural smokey flame-cooked flavor?  Anything that won’t fall through the grill pretty much!  From hamburgers and sausage or fish to steaks and pork chops–even pineapple slices and peach halves.  My personal favorite grilled meal is sausage and squash.

Last time I talked about the farmers’ markets sprinkled about in the capital city.  That would be a great place to start looking for something natural to roast over coals.

Pick up some veggies at the market and if you can’t find anything in the meat department, try Belmont Butchery.  A one-stop-shop for barbecues, Belmont sells lump charcoal and the best meat in town.  Talk to the knowledgeable staff about how to cook specialty meats but keep in mind that I may be biased on account of my brother Chris heading the sausage department at the shop.  

So get outside.  I know it’s 104° but I promise you’ll miss light beer, buddies and beef when it’s February and you’re up to your ankles in snow.

David Mattera


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  1. tbs says:

    You say:
    “I know it’s 104° but I promise you’ll miss light beer, buddies and beef when it’s February and you’re up to your ankles in snow.”

    Wimp. You can use your grill/smoker all year round. I moved to this burg 21 years ago and that first fall, I tried to find charcoal. Some yahoo at the store said “We don’t grill out (WTF) in Richmond in the winter..” I finally found some charcoal. And you can cook outside all year round. Even in the rain. As my mama said, anyone from North of Waco is a Yankee.

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