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Memorial Day, which is May 25, marks the official start of the backyard grilling season.

This year, instead of serving beef tenderloin, rib-eye steaks or other pricey meats, most of us will be looking for more humble pieces of protein to offer family and friends. Fortunately, with a little bit of attention, cheap cuts can deliver big flavor.

One of the best economy cuts is the tri-tip. This triangular-shaped roast is nicely marbled with fat and offers good flavor, said Will Wilson, owner of Snider Brothers Meats in Holladay. "Even if you're not an expert griller, it's going to be tender."

For maximum tenderness, Wilson suggests following these three steps:

» Before grilling, rub the meat generously with a dry spice mixture, which adds flavor and acts as a tenderizer.

» Do not overcook. "You want to remove it from the grill when it's rare to medium, not well done," he said.

» Once you remove the meat from the grill, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing, as this allows the juices to soak back into the meat and not run all over your plate. When slicing, position your knife so that it makes a "t" with the grain of the meat. Slicing "across the grain" ensures meat that's tender and easy to chew.

Bratwurst is another economical option for the grill, Wilson said. Simmer (don't boil) the links in water for 10 to 15 minutes. This removes much of the fat and helps avoid flare-ups on the grill.

For budget conscious consumers who really want steak, Derrick Riches, the barbecue exert for -- and a Utah resident -- recommends the flavorful chuck or chuck-eye steak. This cut comes from the area next to the rib-eye steak, but is significantly lower in price.

Riches said these steaks can be tough, so marinating is a must. Commercial marinades work, but it's even more economical to make your own using oil and acid -- either vinegar, lemon juice, wine or beer -- and your choice of spices. Marinate the steak for at least two hours, he said, but not more than eight.

Hamburgers are always cheap. But few grillers every consider using ground beef to make a grilled meatloaf, says Patrick Barber, owner of Pat's Barbecue Restaurant in Salt Lake City. Barber was recently featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" preparing this popular entree. Barber uses a large smoker to cook his meatloaf. But the dish can be cooked -- and smoked -- on a backyard grill over indirect heat.

In the poultry department, whole chickens, as well as meaty legs and thighs, are always less expensive than boneless chicken breasts. For something different, the owner of Taylorsville's Q4U Hickory Barbecue likes to grill Rock Cornish game hens brushed with a cranberry-raspberry sauce.

The H1N1 virus (aka: swine flu) can't be spread through food. But ever since the recent flu outbreak, shoppers have avoided buying pork, which means it's even cheaper than usual. Cathie Mooers, with Salt Lake City's Viking Cooking School, suggests stocking up on pork tenderloin. There are usually two long tenderloins -- about one pound each -- in packages sold at supermarkets and big-box stores. Because of their size, they cook quickly and don't require a long marinade. Serve the pork with a fruit salsa made with whatever is in season, such as strawberries, peaches and nectarines.

Mooers said consumers shouldn't confuse the tenderloins with "center cut pork loin." The latter is a large roast. And while it, too, is economical, it requires a longer cooking time.

Grilled pork tenderloins with grilled strawberry salsa


2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon ground chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 tablespoon lime juice


1 pint strawberries

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

3 tablespoons minced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Salt, to taste

Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Heat grill to high. Rub pork tenderloins with oil. Sprinkle evenly with chili powder, salt, pepper and oregano. Rub tenderloins well with garlic and drizzle with lime juice.

Brush strawberries lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until strawberries have softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove strawberries from heat. Dice and place in a bowl. Add red onion, jalapeño pepper, red pepper, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Stir to combine. Taste and add salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar to taste.

Place tenderloin on the hottest part of the gill. Cook turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to low and cover with grill lid. Continue to cook pork covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees, turning occasionally.

Remove tenderloin from heat and cover loosely with foil. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving with strawberry salsa.

Servings: 4

Source: Cathie Mooers, Viking Cooking School

Pat's Smoked Meatloaf

5 pounds ground beef

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

2 1/2 cups milk

1 box (2 packs) onion soup mix (Lipton brand suggested)

1 cup barbecue sauce, plus additional for serving*

Special Equipment:

Large disposable tin pan that can withstand medium heat and is at least 8 to 10 inches deep

Wood chips, preferably apple or apricot (hickory is too strong), that have been soaked in juice, beer or other liquid for about 20 minutes

Aluminium foil

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, crumbs, milk, soup mix and desired amount of barbecue sauce. Shape into a loaf and place down the middle of a large heat-resistant tin pan, making sure that the meat does not touch the sides of the pan.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill or smoker for indirect cooking, placing a water-filled drip pan under cool side of grill rack. Preheat to 250 degrees. Place soaked wood chips on a piece of heavy-duty foil, then fold it over like an envelope to enclose wood. Using a pencil, poke 3 or 4 holes in the top of the foil envelope (don't poke all the way through).

Place the foil packet directly on coals or gas flames. When wood inside packet starts to smoke, place meatloaf pan over indirect heat.

Lower lid rack and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove pan from heat (be careful as there will be a lot of fat in the pan). Let meatloaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing, and serve with additional sauce.

*Pat Barber uses the mild House Barbecue Sauce for his meatloaf. It is available for purchase at the restaurant, 155 W. Commonwealth Ave., Salt Lake City.

Servings: 12 to 15

Source: Patrick Barber, owner Pat's Barbecue

T's Raspberry-Cranberry Cornish game hens

4 (1 pound each) Rock Cornish hens

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 sprig rosemary

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter

1/8 cup raspberry jelly

1/8 cup red wine

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon basil

Cut game hens in half length-wise. Place cranberries in bowl and cover with warm water. Soak until softened, about 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium. With the blade of a knife, pound rosemary to release flavors. Rub hens with rosemary and salt.

In a grill-safe pan, warm softened cranberries, butter, jelly, wine, onion salt, garlic and basil until jelly is melted, stirring constantly. Reserve half the cranberry basting sauce.

Place seasoned hens on grill. Cook 40 to 50 minutes, turning occasionally and basting regularly with remaining half of the warmed cranberry sauce. Remove birds from heat when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reaches 165 degrees and juices run clear. Remove from heat and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve with remaining cranberry sauce.

Serving: 8

Source: T, owner of Q4U Hickory Smoked Barbecue

Grilled Brats with savory beer sauce

10 brats

2 (12-ounce) bottles or cans of beer

1 large onion

10 buns


2 (14.5-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes

2 bottles or cans beer

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar


10 buns

Brown mustard

Chopped onions

In a large pot, combine beer, onions and brats. If necessary, add water so brats are completely covered. Bring to a simmer (do not boil, as it will cause the brats to burst). Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove brats from water and discard liquid.

Preheat charcoal or gas grill to medium heat. Place brats on the grill 7 to 9 inches above the coals. Use tongs to turn the brats often until golden brown on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Cover grill between turns. To avoid flare-ups, don't puncture brats or squeeze too hard.

To make sauce, combine all the ingredients in a pan. Bring to a simmer.

Serve cooked brats with in warmed buns. Top with sauce (or ketchup), brown mustard and onions

Servings: 10

Here are a few local grilling classes for more hands-on tips:

Grilling »May 21, 6:30 p.m.; $69. Sur La Table, 10 N. Rio Grande St. (Gateway Mall), Salt Lake City; 801-456-0280.

Grilling seafood » May 22, 7:30 p.m.; $75. Viking Cooking School at Kimball Distributing. 2233 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City; 801-464-0113.

Grilling seafood » May 28, 6:30 p.m.; $69. Sur La Table, 10 N. Rio Grande St. (Gateway Mall), Salt Lake City; 801-456-0280.

Grilling with gusto » May 28, 6:30 p.m.; $49. Harmon's Culinary Education Center, 125 E. 13800 South, Draper; 801-617-0133.

Grilled meats and sweet treats » May 28, 6:30 p.m.; $20. South Fork Hardware & Bosch Kitchen Center, 1075 N. 500 East, North Salt Lake; 801-383-3838.

Grilling » June 4, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.; $65. Viking Cooking School at Kimball Distributing, 2233 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City; 801-464-0113.