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Labor Day Grilling Tips

Another great American holiday is nearing … Labor Day! Chances are, you will be spending the holiday outdoors with friends, family and feast! It is time for barbecue, and we talked to Chef Eddie Faircloth, who is also the kitchen manager for the award-winning Sweet P’s Barbecue & Soul House.

Here are Eddie’s quick tips to help us dine with soul while we grill out on Labor Day weekend:

“It’s barbecue. Keep it simple. Let the meat do its thing.” -Eddie Faircloth

Cooking Meats for Too Long

You do not need to constantly have smoke blasting when you are grilling or smoking meats. After the first two to three hours of smoking meats, it is going to take in all the flavor that it possibly can. If you over-smoke, you will not be able to really taste the meat. Note: Turn down the heat, seriously – most people make the mistake of cooking meat on too high of a temperature. You are not trying to make jerky – you want a flavorful, but tender, end product.

Dry Rubs

Make sure your rubs have soaked into the meats for at least 12 hours for full-flavored penetration.

Wet Marinades

Do not marinade for too long. Over 24 hours is excessive for wet marinades. Meat is basically a tissue – it is only going to absorb so much moisture and flavor. If your marinated meat starts looking white and gamey, you risk it getting bitter or sour – the same goes for over-smoking.


Make sure you ALWAYS place brisket on the smoker fat-side up so that the meat will absorb through the brisket and really give it some good flavor – remember, fat is where is flavor is, especially if you are doing a dry rub.

You can use your oven, too.

Do not feel like you have to cook the meat entirely on the smoker – you can use your oven, too. Instead of letting the meat become over-smoked because you wanted to make sure it was cooked thoroughly, remove the meat from the smoker, cover with foil for one and a half to two hours, and put it in the oven so that you do not run the risk of overcooking it.


Prolonged sunlight and heat can spoil mayonnaise-based coleslaws. A fresher, healthier spin to cool your palate and compliment your barbecue during the summer is a high-vinegar slaw. Try a simple oil and vinegar dressing instead!

Eddie’s Summer Slaw: A Simple Green Slaw
(15-20 servings)

1 head cabbage, shredded

1 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

2 tablespoons sugar

½ tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon celery seed (This helps kick it up with a peppery celery flavor that you cannot get from just black pepper.)

1 cup olive oil

Toss all ingredients together and let the mixture sit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. That is all it takes – then it is ready to serve! And do not forget, you can customize this recipe if you are feeling adventurous – try sprucing it up with daikon radish and sesame seeds for an Asian-inspired twist!

Grill Basics

In terms of backyard grills, a 21-24 inch Weber grill is a simple, but solid, grill because it is shallow enough for coals on one side and a water pan on the other side. Or you can throw wood chips on it with coals, which fares well for a couple racks of ribs, a couple chickens or an entire butt.

“These days, they have barrel smokers that you can pick up at any Home Depot or Lowes – drill ‘em in half and put a firebox on the side of it, and smoke away.” –Eddie Faircloth

#TBT: Eddie said his first smoker was a Brinkmann vertical smoker. He used it to do all of the turkeys and hams for holiday meals. He said it was really versatile, and it can be used as a griller or a smoker.

Fruits and Vegetables Face the Grill

Fruits: Peaches

Cut the peach in half, and take out the seed. Brush it with olive oil or vinegar, and lay it down – flesh side. Grill peaches for four to five minutes to caramelize the sugar. Serve with pork, fish and/or chicken.

Vegetables: Corn

Simply pull back the husk, strip the silk, rub on some butter, salt and pepper, wrap it back up and throw it on the grill.

“Olive oil or butter. Salt n’ pepper. Grill.” –Eddie Faircloth

Vegetables: Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce on the grill is surprisingly delicious. Cut the romaine in half, grill for about five minutes with salt and pepper. Romaine lettuce really holds its texture and makes for a nice warm salad.

Some of Eddie’s skewer favorites: peppers, asparagus, okra, onion pineapple and mango

Other grill goodies:

• Bananas and plantains are always delicious for roasting.
• Try smoking tomatoes for your own tomato sauces – they can make for interesting pasta sauces, as well!
• Grilling veggies provides tasty and healthful meal options while camping. Eddie says, “Butter or oil – wrap it all up in foil.”
• Dipping grilled pineapple chunks in barbecue sauce makes for a tasty snack.
• Grill a whole pound of bacon smothered in barbecue sauce (wrap it up in foil) – it chars nicely and gets all sticky and gooey.
• Pizza on the grill is a mouth-watering no-brainer. A 350-degree fire is perfect – you do not want to scorch the pizza. Try a barbecue-themed pizza this Labor Day with toppings such as chicken, barbecue sauce, pineapple and green onions!

Photo: Steven Depolo

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