We’re looking forward to celebrating the anniversary of our nation’s independence, but what’s got us really fired up is the fact that July 4th is the biggest barbecue day of the year. Families across the nation will be gathering in backyards, parks and parking lots, participating in the millennia-old ritual of cooking meat outdoors over a flame.
With help from CUESA Culinary Intern Christina Alvarado, we’ve assembled some grilling tips and a guide to the meats and other grillable proteins available at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Whether you’re hosting or attending a barbecue this year, and wherever you do your shopping, we hope you will consider the source of your food. Read the ingredients and labels. Get to know the people who produce your food. Find out where it’s coming from, and inquire about how the crops were grown and how the animals were raised.
- Make sure you achieve the right temperature for what you’re cooking. Red meat goes on when your grill is the hottest. Let your grill cool down to medium before throwing on seafood or poultry, and put your vegetables and fruit on the coolest part of the grill.
- Never abandon your post! Always make sure that your fire stays an even temperature, especially when cooking chicken. Have somebody else make that salad.
- Don’t forget to oil your grill. You can use a piece of fat from the meat you’re grilling to really melt in that flavor.
- Number one rule: do not forget to season or marinade before grilling!
- If grilling kebabs, don’t mix your product. As tempting as it is, meat, seafood, poultry, and vegetables all have different cook times. If you mix them up, somebody is going to get overcooked.
- Grilling fruit is simple. Cut your fruit and place the exposed flesh onto an oiled grill. Cook until the fruit is caramelized and slightly softened. Serve over ice cream, crepes, in a salad or on its own.
- When grilling vegetables, always use low heat. Grilling time is a matter of taste; some people prefer more crunch, while others prefer them well done.
- The best way to grill corn is in the husk. Fold back the husk, remove the silk, brush the corn with butter or olive oil and salt, and close the husks. Grill until tender, turning the ear several times.
Grillable Goods from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
- Marin Sun Farms has 100% grass-fed beef, lamb, and goat, as well as pastured chicken and free-range pork. All animals are humanely raised in Marin, Sonoma, Solano and Humboldt counties. Popular barbecue items include steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and ribs.
- The Fatted Calf has a rotating menu of fresh sausages and other charcuterie. This week’s specials include Uncle Chuck’s Rubbed Spare Ribs and Pork Country Rib Roast with Salsa Verde. The Fatted Calf is picky about meat sources, and staff will happily answer questions about how and where animals were raised.
- Hodo Soy Beanery offers fresh tofu made with filtered water and organic soybeans from Missouri.
- Seafood is very perishable, so don’t buy seafood on Saturday for a July 4 barbecue. For future reference, Hog Island Oyster Company sells fresh oysters raised in Tomales Bay. Shogun Fish Company carries fresh seafood approved by Seafood Watch, such as Alaskan salmon, Northern California halibut and wild Louisiana jumbo prawns.
- Don’t forget fresh fruits and vegetables for the grill! Corn, summer squash, eggplant, onions, mushrooms, peaches, and apricots are just a few of the items that work well on the barbecue. Experiment and have fun!
CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »