Adventure Guide: Summer Sizzle | ParkRecord.com
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Adventure Guide: Summer Sizzle

Francisco "Doz" Mendoza grills bratwursts during a community barbecue event at the Park City High School baseball fields in 2018. Community barbecues might be out of the question, but that doesn't mean you can't take the time to become a grill master in your own backyard.
Tanzi Propst/The Park Record

This article appears in The Park Record’s July Adventure Guide, which can be viewed in full in our e-edition or at parkrecord.com/special-sections/adventure-guide/.


If you’re like most people, you’ve spent as much time as possible at home over the last several months in an attempt to limit exposure to the coronavirus. For many, hitting up crowded beaches, splashing around in public pools and other activities that typically mark summer are a no-go this year.

That doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the season. If you’ve got a backyard, you’ve got the perfect venue for a roaring good time. Here are some tips for an off-the-hook backyard barbecue in the time of COVID-19.

Equipment

When it comes to a barbecue, the discussion begins with the grill. Plan to become an expert and fire up the grill every weekend? You may want to splurge on a pricey model with all the bells and whistles like side burners and a rotisserie. On the other hand, if you only intend to grill occasionally, there are plenty of bare-bones models that are more than capable of delivering a mouthwatering burger for just a couple hundred bucks. Size is also important — get a grill with a large enough cooking surface to get the job done but not so big that burners are going to waste. Of course, you’ll also need to consider the age-old question of gas versus charcoal. Many purists opt for charcoal grills, which typically reach higher temperatures and can impart a smoky flavor on meats, but gas grills are easier to operate and more versatile. Smokers are another option, though they often come with a higher degree of difficulty.

Food and drink

Of course, your grill is only as good as the food you’re cooking on it. Whether serving burgers, steaks or ribs — or even hot dogs — it’s a mistake to skimp on the meat and other ingredients. Do some research before heading to the store, and also spend some time learning how to optimally cook the meat you end up settling on. There’s nothing more disappointing than cutting open a steak to find the medium rare you were aiming for is more like well done. While meat is the star of the show at most barbecues, it would be foolish to forget about drinks. A simple summertime cocktail like a Tom Collins is easy to whip up, but it can also be fun to play mixologist and dazzle your guests with something more creative. Alternatively, a bottle of wine and a 12 pack will always get the job done.

Entertainment

The food is only half the equation at any good summertime barbecue. Whether hosting a small group of friends or simply having a family hang out, you’ll want an enjoyable way to pass the time while the food is being prepared. One option if you’re eager to get the competitive juices flowing is cornhole, which has gained popularity in recent years. A decent back- yard set can be had for just north of $100, though enthusiasts could easily spend two or three times that. As for tunes? There’s no reason to drop a paycheck on a fancy outdoor speaker system. A portable bluetooth speaker — which can also be used at the beach or on a camping trip — should be up to the task.

Safety

Just because you’re not venturing out into the world doesn’t mean the risks of COVID-19 aren’t present if you invite people who live outside your household to your barbecue. For starters, health experts recommend keeping gatherings small to limit the possibilities of exposure. Likewise, they advocate staying outdoors, wearing masks and maintaining social distance, as well as avoiding shared dishes like dips and platters to ensure the virus isn’t spread through food.


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