The 4th will be the death of me.

The biggest (or one of the biggest if you’re all about Labor Day) grilling weekend of the year is only a few days away, and if you’re like me.. you’ve got a veritable barnyard’s worth of meats to prepare for your guests this weekend. I’ll be hosting both my own small side of the family, and joining us this year will be my in-laws, roughly a billion other family members.

Though I live in New England, I grill year round - a practice which has led to a fairly ridiculous grill setup. I’ve passed my old kettle to a friend, and my old Spirit-310 to my father. In turn, I set up Weber Summit E-420 about in April, which gave me enough time to break it in for the big summer events. This big propane player joins a Performer Deluxe and a Green Mountain Daniel Boone, which is my pride and joy. You’ll notice a theme here: I spent a lot of money on grills. They’re my gaming PC, my boat, my sports car, my man cave, my garden. You get the idea. You can repeatedly spend $150 on a lesser grill that will rot out in a year or two, or spend the money and buy something that with care and proper cleaning, will last you a lifetime. It’s hard to swallow the price up front, but I’ve been saving up and building my own little backyard Valhalla for years now

This year’s line-up is the classic: burgers, dogs, kielbasa, chicken leg quarters and ribs. Because there so many people this year though, I’ll be doing pulled pork, brisket and even smoked corn. If you’ve never smoked corn, DO IT. You don’t need to worry about the husks igniting and ash blowing all over everything.

With all that setup and all those things to prep, I’m looking at a gruelling 18 hour day and 3-4 days of prep. I’ve also, justifiably, asked that people bring side dishes (though not slaw, pasta salad, potato salad or cornbread) and any alcoholic beverages in enough quantity to share with the expected 40+ people.

Yes, this is a LOT of work and a lot of pressure. But I’m closing in on 2 decades of restaurant/kitchen work, in addition to formal training. I’ve also been planning this since July 5th of 2015, including buying the Summit during a Winter sale and not setting it up until the Spring. Everything is mapped out to the minute for optimal serving and to make sure no one’s plate is ever empty. The keys are patience, timing and not opening the lid.

I recently posted a less-winded blurb on Skillet’s Short Rib article on how to manage placement and timing of what I perceive as an average 4th of July barbecue with a 4 burner grill. Of course, you’ll need to adapt if you have less space or a smaller grill. If you don’t have as much space - ask an attendee who does! I’ve brought my grills to plenty of places to lighten the load on smaller grills in the past. It’s the getting them home at midnight part that sucks.


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