Home Features 5 Chef Secrets for the Best Memorial Day Barbecue

5 Chef Secrets for the Best Memorial Day Barbecue

Memorial Day is just around the corner; And although summer might still officially be a month away, we can’t think of a better way to kick off the season than cracking open a few beers and throwing some burgers on the grill. That’s right, it’s time for a Memorial Day Barbecue!

“It’s a great time for family and friends to get together,” says Matthew Ortiz, Kitchen Manager at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Newark. “Summer is close by, so there’s nothing like having a great, charred hot dog in your hands to celebrate.”

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Memorial Day BarbecueDinosaur BBQ has become legendary since its inception 28 years ago. It’s mostly known for slow-cooked ribs, wings and brisket, and earning accolades from The Food Network, Good Morning America and Eating Well magazine. Former President Clinton has even given the restaurant rave reviews.

“We have a saying at the restaurant,” says Ortiz. “’White smoke, good smoke. Black smoke, bad smoke,” One common mistake people make is using high heat to cook too fast.”

Here are Ortiz’s Top 5 tips to aspiring home chefs for hosting a legendary Memorial Day barbecue:


“You want a nice, hot fire. The first two hours are very critical because that’s when the smoke actually penetrates into the meat. You want it set high so, once it’s actually covered, you generate smoke and trap it so that the fire doesn’t continue to burn.”


Memorial Day Barbecue“You can use a charcoal or electric barbecue to start, but then use wood chips. Submerge them in water and smoke them for two hours before you use them. Here, we use hickory wood for all of our barbecue. It’s just robust. I like apple wood also, but there’s just something about the hickory. It’s got a rustic flavor”

Indirect Heat Smoke

“You don’t want the meat to be right over the fire. It should be on a separate side of the grill so, when you close the barbecue, the smoke can penetrate the meat without burning it.”


“You want to cook low and slow. We cook our meat here for 12 to 14 hours. All of our smoker pits are actually calibrated so we can raise or lower the temperature. But, at home, you can buy a meat thermometer at Home Depot to tend your fire.”


“Take your time and understand that each type of meat is different. They are not the same so be sure to give them individual attention on the grill. Pamper it, move it around and give it love.”

Looking to step up your kitchen game? Click Here to see Best of NJ’s Top Recipes & Kitchen Tips!

Hero (Top) Feature Image (& Additional Images): © Matthew Ortiz / Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

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