3 tips for a winning 4th of July cookout

Fireworks display

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Tess Vigeland: Happy Birthday, America! Now Uncle Sam, I know you could use a little spending money these days, what with that $13 trillion national debt and all. But instead of a cash card, we're going to treat everyone to... a barbeque! And specifically, how to take top honors for best party without running up a $13 trillion bill. For some advice we turn to the gentlemen of the "Dinner Party Download." Brendan Francis Newnam... welcome to the show!

Brendan Newnam: Hi Tess. Thanks for having me.

Vigeland: Happy holidays.

Newnam: Thanks for calling me a gentleman.

Rico Gagliano: I wouldn't.

Vigeland: Well, you know. I wouldn't. And Rico Gagliano. Hello.

Gagliano: Also a gentleman, hello.

Newnam: Gentle, not the word I would use.

Gagliano: An officer and a gentleman.

Vigeland: Happy 4th to both of you.

Gagliano: Likewise. So we thought about it, Tess, and we think we've come up with the secret for winning the 4th of July cookout, which is pretty simple.

Vigeland: I hope so because I'm throwing one.

Gagliano: Well, here you go. Avoid the middle ground. You either want to go large and expensive or very small and cheap because that's what this holiday is all about, right?

Newnam: Yeah. This holiday is about America, so it's about working hard and coming home and apple pie and going to church on Sundays. But America's also about humvees and spectacular firework explosions. So you either need to go acoustic or go to eleven.

Vigeland: So where are we going to start on this?

Gagliano: Well we thought about the important parts of the cookout and we've got suggestions for going either direction with either of them. And we're going to start with the most important part, which is beer.

Newnam: Beer.

Vigeland: Beer.

Gagliano: The end. Bring it.

Newnam: Yeah, exactly. Barbecue over, you won.

Vigeland: Whoever brings the most gets an extra burger.

Newnam: God bless America.

Gagliano: To the victim goes the spoils. No, but we're going to start with the spectacular option for beer. At your cookout you could trot out a single bottle of a beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin. This beer has the highest alcohol content of any brew on earth. It is 32 percent alcohol, which is six times more potent than Budweiser.

Vigeland: Where is this from?

Gagliano: It's from Scotland, actually, so you also get to celebrate the fact that we're now friends with our former overlords.

Newnam: But tell them how much it costs.

Gagliano: It is 35 pounds sterling for a 330 mL bottle.

Vigeland: Don't make me do the math on that.

Newnam: That's like $50.

Gagliano: It's over $50. But it's 32 percent alcohol, so everyone only needs to drink a thimble-full.

Newnam: So that's in the tradition of spectacular. But thimble-fulls of beer is not what 4th of July is about. So I suggest you buy cheap, American beer. Nothing more than $1 a can, something that comes in 24-, 18-packs. A good rule of thumb is if the beer can looks like an American flag, so Pabst, Blue Ribbon, Budweiser -- these are great American beers. You can buy gobs of them. You fill up a cooler, and what is more bountiful and beautiful than a cooler overflowing with ice cold, American flag beer.

Gagliano: All right, so you've got the beer covered very well. Next important thing is charcoal. Here is if you want to go large and spectacular. You can go with the Bincho charcoal. This is made in Japan by artisans. It takes like a week to make a batch of this stuff. It is famous for having no filler or impurities and it is also stupidly hard to find. And when you do find it, it will cost at least $12 a pound, which is probably more than the meat that you're actually cooking.

Vigeland: $12 a pound?

Newnam: But it's like pure charcoal. This is like cooking your steaks on Brita filters, you know what I mean? It's like perfect. Which leads us to the cheaper option -- liquid smoke. So liquid smoke you can buy at any grocery store, it's like $3 for 4 ounces. And you just put a couple drops of that on anything and it tastes perfectly barbecued.

Vigeland: Even on your watermelon?

Newnam: You could make your watermelon barbecue.

Gagliano: That actually doesn't sound bad to me, which maybe is a bad reflection on me.

Newnam: Exactly. Now, some people look down their nose at liquid smoke, but it is one of the secret ingredients in curing bacon.

Gagliano: And there's nothing more American than bacon.

Newnam: Yeah, come on.

Vigeland: All right. Well, I think maybe I'll think about the liquid smoke, but I'm definitely not putting that in my home-made ketchup.

Newnam: Home-made ketchup?

Vigeland: I'm doing home-made ketchup and home-made ice cream.

Gagliano: See, now that actually you could say that that is spectacular because it certainly takes a lot of time and effort to make.

Vigeland: Heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market.

Gagliano: And I'm guessing heirloom tomatoes cost more than buying a bottle of Heinz at the supermarket as well.

Vigeland: I think they cost more than the beer that you were mentioning.

Gagliano: They probably cost more than the clothes that I'm wearing.

Newnam: I know that costs more than your clothes, actually.

Vigeland: Well before we have another revolutionary war right here in the studio. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Happy 4th.

Gagliano: Happy 4th.

Newnam: Happy 4th, Tess. But do you know what would be a happier 4th? If you could invite us over. We really have no plans on 4th of July. We talk a big game here, but...

Vigeland: I don't think I have enough croquet balls.

Newnam: I'll bring the ketchup.

Gagliano: I promise to put away...

Vigeland: Um, I think my dog is allergic to you.

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