Grilling on the barbecue has never been more exciting. Not only do barbecues come in a myriad of designs and options, but also with the advent of popular cooking shows, cooking books and magazines’, grilling has reached a whole new dimension. Grilling is no longer just about steaks and burgers, barbecue grilling is full of adventurous and elegant recipes and menu plans. Some of the tantalizing grilling ‘recipes have names like grilled mango blossom, grilled portobello’s with avocado salsa and grilled beef tenderloin with cabernet sauvignon sauce.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the barbecuing grilling basics before you start. The two most popular types of grilling are the indirect and direct grilling methods. The indirect method is a slow cooking process because less heat is used. One suggestion for indirect cooking is to use a disposable drip pan or foil placed underneath the food to be cooked, using tongs arrange the coals around the pan. The food is cooked by the hot air circulating around the food (similar to a convection oven) this process is great for cooking roasts. It’s always a good idea to check with your owner manual for your specific barbeque.
The direct grilling method is achieved by arranging the coals (with long handled tongs) to spread evenly in a single layer, extending about one inch beyond the area of food. The food is then placed directly over fire. The direct grilling method is fast because of the intense heat and allows for quick browning on the outside of foods. Direct grilling works best for food requiring short cooking times, such as burgers and steaks. It’s important to turn over food to allow cooking of both sides.
The three most popular ways of adding flavor to your selected grilling foods are with sauces, marinades and rubs. The sauce can be said to define a great barbecue, you can use a little sauce or a lot. A sample recipe for sauce is this maple barbecue sauce; combine equal amounts of maple syrup, ketchup and white wine add garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, basil, ginger and chili powder with a bay leaf, bring ingredients to a boil then reduce and let simmer. A sauce should be brushed on in the last five to ten minutes of grilling as the sugar can cause the sauce to burn. There are a wide variety of barbecue sauces and recipes available.
Marinades are another way to change a mediocre meal into incredible. They are an excellent way to add flavor while tenderizing and promoting crisp brown exteriors. The three basic ingredients in marinades are flavorings (herbs, spices and sweeteners), oils and acids (citrus juices, wines, vinegars and yogurts). A simple marinade recipe is the lemon rosemary marinade. Mix shredded lemon peel, lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, white wine, rosemary, salt and pepper and pour over your selected meat, tofu, or vegetables in either a plastic sealable bag or shallow dish and refrigerate for one to two hours, remembering to shake bag or flip in dish half way through marinating process.
Rubs are a wonderful bold blend of seasonings, which are just as the name implies rubbed directly into the food. The food is rubbed with spices prior to grilling, transforming the rub into a crunchy brown crust that seals in the juices and enhances the flavors. A very basic rub recipe is this herb rub; equal amounts of dried rosemary, dried thyme, dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, with smaller amounts of salt and pepper combine all ingredients in a food processor until coarsely ground. Sprinkle mixture evenly over meat, then rub in with fingers. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to two hours, and then grill.
When outdoor grilling there are a few simple things to remember in order to avoid any contamination of food. Any marinated food should be kept in the refrigerator (not on the counter) to prevent giving bacteria a chance to grow. Set some marinade aside at the beginning, and never reuse any marinade that has been used on raw meat. Always keep vegetable and fruits separate from raw meat; utensils and plates should also be washed before using. Be sure to properly cook all meats. Serve food immediately, so hot foods don’t have too much time to cool and to start growing bacteria. Perishable foods should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, and if the outdoor temperature is more than 85 degrees or hotter serve within an hour.
Grilling vegetable is an excellent way to bring out seasonal flavors. Vegetables and fruits such as; eggplant, bell peppers, summer squashes, sweet onions, roma or cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, mangoes, pineapple or peaches are all excellent choices for grilling. Cut vegetables into half inch slices or large chunks. Brush with some olive oil (may be seasoned with garlic or other selected herbs). Grill the vegetables until tender, turning only once. Fruit should be halved with pits removed, and grilled until tender (no oil is needed), with the pulp side down. Vegetable cooking sprays or small amounts of oil will prevent the vegetables from sticking (avoid spraying vegetable near lighted grill). Marinating the vegetable beforehand also makes the vegetables easier to handle and less likely to stick to your grill surface.
Grilling corn on the cob cooked in the cornhusks (without the corn silk) is a unique and tasty alternative to boiled corn. Peel back cornhusks and put butter and herbs around the corn. Fold over cornhusks and tie with kitchen string. Grill the corn for approximately thirty minutes, remembering to turn the corn about three times.
A simple and elegant meal might consist of a grilled pizza and some grilled fruit crisp for dessert. To grill a pizza use a store bought Italian bread shell cover with pesto, thinly sliced plum tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, kalamata olives and basil (drizzling olive oil over top). Use tin foil folded in half placing the pizza on top folding up the edges of tin foil up to the edges of the pizza. Using the indirect method of grilling, grill the pizza for about 10 minutes. For the grilled fruit crisp dessert, mix peaches, pineapple tidbits and brown sugar spooning into a metal baking foil pan. Then combine larger amounts of brown sugar, flour and butter with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkling over top of fruit mixture. Grill about fifty minutes (indirect grilling method) or until hot and bubbly, serve with ice cream if desired.
Outdoor grilling is a convenient and nice alternative to cooking indoors. The options of menus are limitless. Grilling is one of the easiest and most tantalizing low fat ways of cooking. Whether you stick to the time honored steak and burgers or go for something a bit more adventurous, grilling is always a tasty and enjoyable way to be outdoors with family and friends.