Winter is for extravagance: raucous holidays, grand traditions, and indulgent food. The hearths ‘round which we gather warm feet and fingers; heavy stews warm souls. But summer is different. In summer, we strip. Its holidays are simple — think explosions and flags — its hearths are grills, and its food is elemental. In a word: barbecue. While restaurants’ burgers border on baroque, when barbecuing is at its best — that is, at home — we needn’t gild the lily. Or rather, truffle-butter it. Simply charred and served nearly nude, transcendence comes easy with a home-grilled burger or dog. Keep it basic: sun’s out, buns out. That’s how it should be. But when the grill is lit, everyone becomes an expert, know-it-all moths drawn to its mesquite flame, poking and prodding, tonging and testing and full of advice for what, ironically, should be as easy as fire and time. So stand your ground, pit master. We’ll help you tame the hungry crowd with a crate of grill-ready fixins designed to make your backyard barbecuing as easy as it is delicious.
Summer Smoke // Laguna Salt Company // Laguna Beach, CA
The secret to steak is salt, and the secret to this salt is smoke. Made to taste like a summer bonfire, it’s cured over a mix of sweet and spicy woods, and adds a flame-slicked touch to anything from meat (make a quick rub with fresh-cracked pepper) to salad (sprinkle liberally), transforming the blandest to barbecued heights. Don’t believe us? Try cauliflower: slabs of the white-bread veggie turn downright steak-like when grilled. Just slice thick, drizzle with oil and salt, grill, covered, until nicely charred, and serve with your choice of sauce.
Ogre Sauce // Ogre Sauce // Charlotte, NC
Carolinians know their barbecue — specifically, their sauce. East vs. West, ketchup vs. mayonnaise: Dress your ribs at your own risk. You will be judged. Or avoid the fights altogether, and bring a bottle of this crowd-pleaser. Ogre’s founder started with a small batch of his grandma’s recipe, and soon enough was selling it by the bucket out of his truck to meat-mad Carolinians who’d use it for everything but, apparently, bathing: eggs, oysters, pizza, pasta, you name it. But its true home is the grill. Season a rack of ribs with salt and pepper, bake on foil until tender (two hours or so at 300°F), catch the juices and mix with sauce to baste the rack as you finish it with a quick sear on the grill. The only fights it’ll start are over who takes home the rest of the bottle.
Recipe: Ogre Ribs Recipe Here
Sweet Heat Peanuts // Hubs // Sedley, VA
Hubs was started half a century ago by a busy mom with a killer recipe and the country’s best peanuts as an easy homemade snack to sate her peckish kids. Today it’s a mail-order empire spreading the Virginia legume nationwide, and curing the plague of all barbecues: the nibbler. Keep your peckish guests occupied with these extra-large Virginia-grown peanuts, mildly spiced with chili pepper, and grill in peace.
Maple BBQ Pork Jerky // Field Trip Jerky // Brooklyn, NY
Barbecue is site-specific. Hot coals aren’t exactly TSA-approved. But jerky is a moveable feast: have meat, will travel. Field Trip is made for carnivores on the go. Started by three ski bums looking for a healthier, heartier fuel pre-, post- (and during) long days on the slopes, where mountain lodge sustenance is scarce, and usually covered in nacho cheese. Pork, a kiss of smoke, a sprinkle of sugar, and no MSG or preservatives make this a perfect way to sate your grill cravings anywhere you go. Good luck passing the 3-ounce rule, though.
Powdered Peanut Butter // Tru-Nut // Atlanta, GA
Peanut butter makes everything better, from chocolate to (trust us) even pickles. The only problem is, while peanutbutter surely goes *with* everything, it doesn’t always easily go *in* everything, as any guy who’s cursed that unblended blob at the bottom of his smoothie knows. Pound your protein shake in peace, gym rats — Tru-Nut is here to help. Their PB is powdered, which means it blends almost instantly, letting you pack extra protein, nutrients, and peanutty flavor into anything from cake batter to morning shakes. We like ours with a frozen banana or two, almond milk, ice, and a scoop of jelly. Use it with abandon and, with less fat and less calories than regular peanutbutter, feel good about it.
Swedish Chocolate Caramel Cookies // Unna Bakery // New York, NY
What do the Swedes know about barbecue? Admittedly, not a ton. But they know a hell of a lot more about cookies, especially Unna’s founder’s grandma, who passed down family favorite recipes like this one. Unna updated it, adding organic cacao and topping the cookies with crunchy rock sugar. Eat alone, or crumble on ice cream or, better, barbecued bananas (hard to get grill marks on a vanilla cone). Sit back in your lawn chair and enjoy a well-deserved cookie break. The Swedes call it a “fika.” We call it delicious.