Got the burger blahs? Try something new at your next cookout

Bob Yoder and his wife, Donis, have to have two grills. One is for burgers and hot dogs. The other is for Bob’s venison and vegetables, his two favorite things to grill.

“I don’t use seasoning,” Yoder said. “I just like the taste of deer meat. My wife doesn’t like it.”

No seasoning. Dry rub. Sauce. Carolina. Texas. Memphis. Kansas City. Sweet. More heat.

When it comes to grilling and barbecuing, every one has a preference.

“The Jamaican jerk rubs are the best,” said Dagmar Kupsche, 55, owner of The Cook’s Shop, 180 Front St., Marietta.

The Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association reports most grill owners use their grills year round, and 45 percent use it at least one or twice per week. The association further states we gather ’round the Weber or the hibachi because it’s affordable, easier than cooking inside, it tastes good and it’s a good way to spend more time at home.

The traditional fare

Burgers, hot dogs and chicken are among the top 10 least expensive cuts of meat for grilling, according to

For Kaylen Morrison, 15, of Newport, her choice of meat is steak.

Nataleigh Janusik, 15, of Caldwell, said her father takes care of the grilling duties at her house. Her favorite is barbecued chicken.

“During the summer, it’s probably one of the better meals I have,” she said.

The hamburger is king for Cindy Brown, 57, of Marietta.

“I like to go places where people grill out,” Brown said. “There’s nothing better than a grilled hamburger. If someone else is doing the grilling, I am happy to do the eating.”

Move over, burgers and dogs.

Beyond the traditional ground meat and sausage-like entrees, some people have a special affinity for fruit and even pizza in the grill.

“Do pizza on the grill,” Kupsche said. “People don’t realize how easy it is.”

The dough can be homemade of the frozen variety, she said. However, she advises that when it comes to pizza, less is more.

“The more stuff you put on there with sauce and toppings, you are setting yourself up for failure,” she said. “A lot of people like sauce. I suggest you dip it if you make a lot.”

Sweet things

Pineapple is Kupsche’s hands-down favorite fruit on the grill.

“I tend to do the fruit with things that don’t require strong heat,” she said.

For a delicious meat accompaniment, try grilled peaches. Roll four peeled fresh peaches in a mixture of cup brown sugar and teaspoon ginger. Grill until sugar caramelizes, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Home grillers also might want to try bananas or watermelon.

Fruit is essentially comprised of sugar and water so grilling it concentrates the flavor by reducing the water and caramelizing the natural sugars, according to

Hard fruits like apples, pears and pineapples are the easiest to grill because they hold their shape and texture well. Softer fruits like peaches and plums can be successfully grilled but require more attention and can get mushy if overcooked.

The barbecue website also advises soaking a fruit in water before grilling. The water can be mixed with spices or alcohol to add flavor.

Fruit isn’t the only sweet thing making it onto grill these days.

Some chefs-and amateurs, too-even grill French toast and candy bars. Recipes for both are available at

The professionals

Doug Young is one-third of a competitive team known as Brutas and Company that travels to contests to highlight their smoking ability.

The 45-year-old Veto resident along with Dave “Rocky” Smith, of Marietta, and Ryan Lemon, of Little Hocking, prefer using their pellet smoker to cook meats low and slow.

A pellet smoker, said Young, is designed to smoke and heat in a box fueled by a box of wooden pellets. Young said to smoke a good piece of meat, look for fat. The smoker is just slowly rendering the fat out of the meat.

“That’s what gives it the juiciness is that fat,” Young said.

Temperature and feel are the best indicators that the meat is ready.

“If the internal temperature is hotter than 200 degrees, once you get into the right temperature range, then it’s a feel kind of thing. When you stick a probe into it and there’s not a lot of resistance, then you know it’s done,” Young said.

The trio, known as Brutus and Company, has competed in five or six competitions in 2013, including the Sam’s National Barbecue Club Series in Lexington, Ky. The trio won first place in ribs, 11th in chicken and pork and fifth place overall. Now, with that fifth place win, they are preparing and practicing for the regional competition Sept. 7 in Chesapeake, Va.

The national finals will take place Oct. 9 in Bentonville, Ark, the headquarters for Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Young said competitors learn more with every competition.

“It’s not hard to get started,” Young said. “It’s hard to get the flavor profiles nailed down.”

Flavor profiles are rubs, sauces and the ingredients to make the rubs and sauces dynamite together, Young said. If a combination won’t work with one meat, try another meat or combination of ingredients, he said.

Linda Kringe, manager of Bar-B-Cutie, 113 Pike St, oversees some of the smoking of the meats the restaurant serves. During lunch, she said the best sellers are pork and brisket. For dinner, the ribs take center stage. The meats are flavored by hickory smoke chips.

She said a big mistake some cooks make at home is not putting water with the ribs.

“After this, wrap them in plastic to hold moisture,” Kringe said.