6 Grilling Tips From an Arkansas Barbecue Icon

Summer cookouts in Arkansas are known for big slices of watermelon, fried catfish and, often, fruit pie or cobbler. The real star of the spread, though, is the barbecue.

But as McClard’s Bar-B-Q knows, cooking those ribs, beef or pork just right is an art form. So, Phillip McClard, the third generation of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame-winning restaurant, is sharing a few tips for a picnic-perfect meal.

1. Thaw it. Never put a frozen piece of meat on the grill. Allow it to come to room temperature first, ideally inside, with a paper towel on top.

2. Season or marinade it. Flavor the meat with a generous serving of seasoning or marinade, preferably for four hours, before adding a topcoat of oil to prevent sticking. (Pro tip: If marinating, wrap the meat in butcher paper while cooking for extra juiciness.)

3. Preheat it. Depending on the cut, allow your charcoal or propane grill to reach low (250-300 degrees) or medium (350-400 degrees) heat before throwing the meat on.

4. Skip searing. If the meat flames up a bit, that’s okay. Just don’t overdo it. Searing can make it appear done before it’s ready to be pulled off the grill.

5. Cook longer, not hotter. Watch your heat with a probe thermometer and check back every 20-30 minutes, but don’t micromanage it. Too much poking with a fork or tongs will allow the juices to run out.

6. Don’t sweat it. The most important thing is to have fun. Sit back, relax and remember that even barbecue experts make mistakes. It’s part of the process.

There’s nothing like Arkansas barbecue — or our summer heat and humidity. Don’t want to sweat over the grill? Stop by McClard’s new location at 9219 Stagecoach Road in Little Rock.

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