Originally published Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 06:00a.m.

KINGMAN – Summer’s here, temperatures are sizzling and so are the backyard grills.

Friends and families will soon be gathering to celebrate the Fourth of July, one of many upcoming weekend opportunities to fire up the grill and throw on some hamburgers and hot dogs, maybe upgrade to steaks and ribs for a special group of guests.

Hosting a successful barbecue comes down to a few basic essentials, starting with a good menu selection, but also calls for a variety of side dishes, light music for ambience and a choice of beverages.

Meats are usually the main item on the barbecue menu.

“I’m not a great griller, but I’d say most important is getting the best cut of meat they can afford,” said Bubba Floyd, owner of Floyd & Company Real Pit BBQ in downtown Kingman. “Take your time and take care of the product with your favorite seasoning and favorite sauce and you can’t go wrong.”

What most people think of as barbecuing is actually grilling. Barbecuing is the process of smoking meats for hours to get the desired results, Floyd said.

He’s from northwest Tennessee and remembers what barbecue tasted like growing up in that area, not far from Memphis. There’s also Texas-style barbecue, Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans.

“Everyone’s taste is different,” the barbecue expert said. “It comes down to personal preference and what you like. You can go to the grocery store and get whatever (sauce) suits your fancy. Just keep it simple. There’s no need to get elaborate.”

Side dishes

No barbecue is complete without an offering of side dishes, from coleslaw and salad to fresh fruit and veggies. Making a side dish from scratch allows for creativity and control of what goes onto guests’ plates.

For a different take on coleslaw, toss in some shredded Granny Smith apples, grated carrots, poppy seeds, white vinegar and raisins. As an alternative to traditional potato salad, try blending boiled new potatoes with smoky bacon, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.

The grill can be used for more than meats. Roasted corn is always a favorite, especially with barbecued ribs or chicken. Fruits and vegetables take on an entirely new flavor when lightly grilled.

Prepare a vegetable platter with various homemade dressings for dipping, or top the vegetables with a parmesan balsamic vinaigrette.

Quality grill

Any grill will work for an outdoor barbecue, as long as the griller knows what he’s doing, said David Gonzales of Arizona Barbecue Outfitters in Tucson.

But using a quality grill such as the Kingman Grill that sells for about $1,000 makes it easy for anyone to get the flavor “locked in,” he said.

Gonzales said the grill is named for Kingman’s modest beginnings as a simple railroad siding, and is built with a sturdy 10-gauge base and firebox fabricated out of 3/16-inch steel plate.

“Starting out the fire is the main thing with a good bed of coals,” Gonzales said. “You want a good, even amount of heat. That’s No. 1.”

Gonzales said he makes it easier for anyone to get a good flavor by elevating the grate, which allows you to manipulate how far the food is from the heat source.

“You want good coals with even heat. You don’t want to overcook it and dry it out like a brick,” he said. “For a wood and charcoal-fired grill to provide perfectly grilled meat, you must be able to control your heat source.”

Never use lighter fluid or charcoal that doesn’t require lighter fluid, as that will become part of the meat flavor. Gonzales suggests using cotton balls dipped in Vaseline and placed underneath the coals.

Be sure to scrub the grill rack after each use. Removing leftover burnt pieces of food stuck to the grill prevents burning, smoking and bitter flavors the next time you use it.