10 New Secrets for Summer Grilling

Esquire's annual grilling awards highlight the ultimate supermarket staples of 2012, plus tricks and tips for throwing (or just enjoying) your best BBQ ever.


The Hot Dog (Fancy): Hartmann's Beef Wieners Hot dog Hot dog

Ball Park, Nathan's, Hebrew National - all solid summer cookout choices, guaranteed to hit the spot when given a deep char and topped with a wide stripe of ketchup. But those dogs are not handmade by an Austrian master sausage-maker. Nor do they contain beef that's been lovingly hand-stuffed into natural lamb casings, free of any artificial ingredients. Nor are they gently smoked over hardwood imported from the forests of Austria. But you know what is? Hartmann's Beef Wieners. They're a cut above the rest, with a rich beefy taste, a touch of smoke, and a great snap. And despite their decidedly Teutonic name, I can assure you that they're made right here in the U.S.A. -Elizabeth Gunnison

About $10 per 1-lb package at Wegmans or hartmannssausage.com

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The Relish: McClure's Garlic Dillrelish

What's a hot dog without relish? This crunchy dill, garlic, and cucumber mash from Detroit pickle-guy Bob McClure is a definite upgrade over whatever soggy, vaguely sweet thing is currently hanging out in the back of your fridge. Go ahead and put it in potato salads, too. -EG

About $8 at deananddeluca.com or better food purveyors listed here













The Ultimate Cookout Wine: Copain 2010 Tous Ensemble Syrah

We asked Laura Meniac, Master Sommelier and proprietor of New York wine studio Corkbuzz, and general doyenne of the vino scene, to name her essential pick for an all-purpose grilling wine. She recommends that we direct our attention toward Syrahs - in particular, Copain's 2010 Tous Ensemble Syrah.

Says Meniac: "It has hints of smoked meat, dark black plums, and lavender, and an earthy finish. It is full-bodied, and the tannins will cut through the fat of a juicy ribeye steak but won't overpower delicate flavors in grilled vegetables or sausages. Putting bacon and cheese on your burger will bring out more of the meaty flavors in the wine." -EG

$24, available at local wine stores and directly through Copain

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The Ketchup (Fancy): Sir Kensington Spiced Scooping Ketchupketchup

I'll never give up my Heinz 57, but there's something to be said for a ketchup made from wholesome stuff like chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, agave nectar, honey, and coriander, all of which are decidedly absent from the Heinz label. Sir Kensington also benefits from having a little extra heft to it - perfect for dipping fries - and I dig that spicy kick on the finish. -EG

$7 at SirKensingtons.com and various local food purveyors






The Smoking Wood: Baxter's Original Smoking Woodswood

DIY smoking may sound a little intimidating at first, but you should know that you don't need fancy equipment for the endeavor - just a grill that closes tight and the right kind of wood. Baxter's is exactly that, diverging from the usual mesquite and hickory offerings with a range of less-common woods like maple, pecan, oak, peach, and cherry. Just soak a couple chunks in water, toss them on your hot coals, and wait. And if results like peachwood-smoked pork belly or pecan-smoked chicken thighs don't sound good to you, well, then I don't really know what to say. -EG

$22 for a bundle of five varieties at OpenSky

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Chill Beer. Faster.cold beer

Imagine the horror: You're standing at the grill, tossing a few back with your guests, and before you know it, you're out of beer. Cold beer, at least. You've got a backup stash, but it's room-temperature. You could pop them in the fridge, but you'll have to wait at least half an hour before it's cool enough to quench your thirst. And by that time, your friends will have made their moans audible. So here's what you do: Grab a bucket or a cooler or a soup pot - something big enough to hold as many beers as possible. Load it with beer and ice, then add water and - this is the magic part - stir in about a cup of salt. (For science-y reasons I won't bore you with, the addition of salt lowers the temperature of ice water.) About five minutes later, you'll have beer that's cold enough to drink.

This is the part where you say, "But Evan, I thought you're not supposed to drink beer that's ice-cold because the chill muddles beer's nuanced aromas and flavors." Well, you're right. Thanks for paying attention. But I make an exception to this rule when it's 95 degrees out and I'm standing in front of burning charcoal. I'll pay attention to aroma and flavor nuances when I'm nursing an imperial stout on a nippy fall evening. When I'm grilling? The colder, the better. -EB

How to Open Beer with Your Tongs

Bottle-openers come in all forms these days, from simple, classic models to modern, gadget-y ones (I've got an iPhone case with an opener on the back). But there's always the possibility that you may find yourself in a barbecue situation with no proper tool to open a beer. Here's a trick I learned from a chef who could pop caps with amazing speed using a pair of tongs, which any respectable griller should have on hand. Grip the side of the bottle cap with the ridge of one of the tongs' arms, and position the other arm on top of the cap. Using the one on top for leverage, squeeze and pry back the cap. -EB


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The Grill Pan: Lodge Carbon Steel Skillets

Fact: A roaring grill is the only heat source you should need in summer, which necessitates pans of some kind to deal with your caramelized onions, roasted peppers, and sundry other vegetables and non-meat items. These sturdy, un-fancy carbon-steel skillets from Lodge will do the job. They capture lots of heat, they're durable, and (unlike those mesh grill pans and baskets we see a lot of) they transition from grill to stovetop use during winter months. -EG

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Grill Your Cocktail
drinks

You may wield the tongs and the spatula, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're versed in the shaker and ice. So here's something you should know: The key to grilling is keeping things uncomplicated. We love burgers and brats just the way they are. It's the same with drinks. Stick to the basics. Batched drinks and three-ingredient classics will always win a crowd. If you throw in a grilled garnish (more on that later), it'll bring everyone to the yard.

Then just put it in a pitcher. Seriously. It's not like you're Ina Garten if you make pitcher drinks. And anyway, who doesn't love the Barefoot Contessa? Fruit-forward cocktails and dry, sparkling ones are made for summer weather. Add a smoky element, and you've got a match for ribs and pork belly. Black teas, mezcal, and Islay scotches are an easy way to sneak in smoke even if you don't own a blowtorch. -Leslie Pariseau


The Orient Palmer lemon

2 1/2 cups London dry gin
3 cups lapsang souchong tea (cold)
1 cup honey syrup (3 parts honey to one part hot water, shaken to mix)
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
Lemon wheels
Fresh mint sprigs

Stir first four ingredients together in a pitcher. Skewer lemon wheels with sprigs of mint to garnish. If you're feeling ambitious, throw the lemon wheels on the grill for a few moments until lightly grilled and fragrant. Have guests fill Collins or rocks glasses with ice and top with the batched cocktail and a minted lemon. -LP



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