So, the 4th of July is tomorrow, and we know what that means – people all over the place will be firing up their grills and having parties. Whether you’re a grilling pro or are just beginning to get your feet wet, here are some basic tips and food ideas for a fool-proof meal.
Get Your Gear On
Any good griller knows that in order to grill, you have to have some hardware. This includes a long-handled spatula, long-handled tongs, a grill pan, a timer, a food thermometer, a basting brush, and a fish basket. A good pair of oven mitts will help protect you from the heat of the flames. If you’re a little more advanced, then including items like wood chips for smoking, cedar planks, and skewers, can take your grilling to another level.
Always preheat your grill before putting the food on for cooking. If you have a charcoal grill, this process will take a lot longer than if you have a gas grill. Check out this link for great information about getting your grill started. http://busycooks.about.com/od/outdoorgrills/a/howtogrill.htm
- Always make sure to apply some canola oil to the surface of your food, rather than to the grill, to ensure that your food will not stick.
- Be patient. Don’t be so quick to move and turn the food when it’s on the grill. Most food items, like meat, chicken, fish, will tell you when it’s time to turn it. It takes a few minutes on the grill for a crust to form. Once that happens, the food will easily lift from the grill and you’ll be able to flip it without leaving half of it on the grates.
- Don’t use one of those forks to pierce the food while turning it – you’ll lose precious juices from the meat, leaving you with a dry end-product. Instead use a spatula or tongs.
- Test the internal temperature of your protein to make sure it has cooked thoroughly. You don’t want anyone at your party to get sick from improperly cooked food. Check out www.Morningstarfarms.com for some great grilling advice and a temperature chart.
- Let meat, chicken, and fish rest for 15-20 minutes after removing it from the grill to the plate. Not only will it continue to cook, but it will reabsorb all of those tasty juices.
- Marinate your protein to give it flavor and help protect it from burning, which leads to the formation of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines. Make sure your marinade includes some kind of oil, a vinegar, and some herbs, salt and pepper. Do not add sugar to the marinade, as it will cause the meat to burn.
- Right before the food is ready to come off the grill is when you want to apply any kind of sauce (bbq, teriyaki, etc.)with your basting brush, so that it gives flavor without burning, as sauces with sugar will burn quickly.
What to Cook?
Food that works best on the grill are those that have some firmness to them. Teeny-tiny or flaky items will fall apart of fall through the grill grates. Some of the most popular items to grill include:
- Salmon (look for the first wild Alaskan salmon of the season), halibut, tuna steaks, shrimp, scallops, clams, lobster tails
- Chicken breast, thighs (keep the bone in and skin on for more flavor – just make sure to discard the skin before eating)
- Beer can chicken – great taste and presentation. Check out this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/the-surreal-gourmet/beer-can-chicken-recipe/index.html
- Steak, hamburgers – cooked to your desired doneness
- Turkey burgers (use ground turkey breast), veggie burgers, hot dogs (preferably all-natural, nitrite-free)
- Corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, baby new potatoes
- Eggplant slices, zucchini, bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, asparagus, onions, tomatoes
- Peaches, nectarines, plums, mango, pineapple, chocolate-stuffed bananas (http://urockgirl.com/chocolate-stuffed-bananas-recipe/)