Some folks assert that Memorial Day weekend is the official beginning to grilling season.
While those folks are sitting indoors twiddling their spatulas until May, we'll be out stretching our toes in the freshly mowed grass and perfuming the air with eau de charcoal.
A burger is certainly an excellent, inaugural item to set aflame to, but the world is your (grilled) oyster; beef up your repertoire with Pat LaFrieda's favorite, grill-friendly cuts of meat.
LaFrieda is one of the stars of Food Network's "Meat Men" and the owner of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, a 90-year-old wholesale butchery that supplies more than 500 restaurants with every cut of meat you can imagine.
Five Picks Of Meat To Purchase for Grilling Season: Pat LaFrieda
1. Inside skirt steak
"This is my father's favorite cut as well as my own. Blindfolded, I can tell when this particular cut of meat is in front of me. It's very unique in that it has an iron-flavor. It's got some 'chew' to it, it's not the most tender cut of meat and I personally love that. I don't always want my meat to be falling off the bone.
On any given weekend when I'm grilling in my backyard, you'll find this particular cut of meat on my grill. I love to marinate mine in a mixture of equal parts brown sugar and balsamic vinegar with one part Worcestershire sauce. It's a marinade that will stick to the meat, won't fall off onto your grill and doesn't need to be put on the meat days ahead of time. You can marinate the steak a few hours before you light your grill. My kids love it, I love it, and I guarantee your grill will too!"
2. Colorado lamb burger
"Lamb, by far, is my favorite type of meat to eat, and a lamb burger on the grill is perfection in my eyes. American lamb in particular is very sweet, it contains a ton of flavor and has currently become the trendy burger.
You place a lamb burger on the grill, add some feta cheese, a little yogurt sauce, a toasted bun and you've got a phenomenal burger on your hands."
3. Boneless country-style spare rib steaks
"There is nothing not to like about this cut of meat. Add a grill and you take these steaks to the next level. They've got great fat content, are as tender as butter, and are very inexpensive for you and your family to purchase this grilling season.
These steaks are taken from the ends of the loins. I prefer the fore-end of the ribs, ribs one through four, as they contain the best flavor. These spare rib steaks will quickly become your grill's best friend."
"As an Italian, I grew up loving sausage - both hot and sweet. The key to a great sausage? Fennel. Fennel is what makes Italian sausage. It's got to be a mixture of both fennel seed and ground fennel. You absolutely need both in order to get the best tasting sausage.
If you're ordering sausages at your trusted butcher, you want to ask that 20-30% more fennel be added than what you would normally receive at your local supermarket.
For my grill, I love caramelizing peppers and onions first and separate from the meat. Then, I grill the sausage. While the sausage is grilling, toast that Italian bread you bought to go along with it. You've got to give your Italian bread some love too! Once ready, add everything together and you'll see smiles all around."
5. Chuck eye roll steak
"This piece of meat is one of the most overlooked cuts when people are out shopping for their upcoming barbecue. It's really too bad as it's one of the most amazing steaks you'll ever have. The chuck eye roll is the first two steaks off the chuck where the rib steak has been removed from the shoulder. The meat comes from ribs four and five, where you have the most marbling, creating the most intense flavors you'll ever taste. I
t's also a very inexpensive cut of meat that you and your family can enjoy this upcoming grilling season. All you need to prepare is a little salt prior to placing on the grill, and a little pepper once it comes off."