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Time to pull out the grill and fire 'er up

Mark Stahl, owner of Wick's Meat Shoppe in Kandiyohi, cuts up some steaks. Stahl said the grilling season brings many more customers to his shop as people visit lake cabins and just generally spend more time outdoors. (Tribune photo by TJ Jerke)1 / 2
A seasoned steak and fresh asparagus on the grill -- for some it just doesn't get any better than that. (Tribune photo by Susan Lunneborg)2 / 2

Some good meat and a nice day have many Willmar, Minn., residents lighting up their grills as the season for grilling is here.

From gas to charcoal, area residents have been waiting for nice weather to move in and stay so they can enjoy their favorite flavorful delicacies off the grill.

Mark Stahl, owner of Wick's Meat Shoppe in Kandiyohi, said meat sales double from Memorial Day to Labor Day at Wick's as the summer lake residents are moving to their cabins and everyone is enjoying the weather.

"Anytime we get sunny days it makes a huge difference because people want to be outside," Stahl said. "I have a lot of people I only see all summer."

Stahl has a gas, charcoal and wood pellet grill he fires up depending on the meat he's grilling -- but prefers a charcoal because he's "an old-fashioned guy."

"It adds an enhanced flavor the others can't," he said. "Anytime I have guests it will always be on a charcoal."

Allen Simon was grilling some rib eye steak Wednesday evening at his home in Willmar on his charcoal grill because he has never had a gas grill and never cared to use one.

Simon, like Stahl, said the flavor the bricks add to the meat makes a big difference compared to other grills.

"Charcoal has such an added taste than a regular gas grill," Simon said. "The flavors and smells are far worth the added time it takes to use a charcoal."

Simon said although the nice weather does make him grill out more, he grills year-round despite the snow and cold weather.

Ronda Mundahl said she too grills year-round as she was throwing some steaks on her gas grill Wednesday evening. She said gas is the only way she cooks because that was how she was brought up.

"I think it makes the meat taste very good," Mundahl said. "We love throwing steaks on the grill because it's a great time to be outside and with the family."

As owner of Wick's Meat Shoppe for 20 years, Stahl said customers are always asking for the right cut of meat for their barbecue. He said for those that are hosting a large group and want to save some money, sirloin steaks are the least expensive, flavorful option. If he is hosting a barbecue he will grill a marinated flank steak or a rib eye steak.

"Flank steaks are something different and are a rare cut you don't see in many grocery stores," Stahl said. "Rib eyes have a great flavor and tenderness to them."

Stahl said he provides some cheat sheets for his customers to help them create the best grilled meat.

His biggest tip for the grillers is to cook the meat low and slow.

"If you grill in a hurry you either will burn the meat or not cook it well enough," Stahl said.

For Mundahl, she doesn't have many tips as she just likes to cook some steaks on the grill.

Simon, despite his year-round grilling, said he is the last person anybody should get a grilling tip from.

"I'm still experimenting," Simon said. "I don't know if I can call myself a grilling expert."