Grilling Isn't Just For Meat Anymore
Did you know that you can do pretty much do all of your cooking on the grill – vegetables, pizza, even dessert. So, instead of spending hot summer nights broiling your food in a hot kitchen, why not plan to prepare your meals on your deck or patio? Grilling is good for you! It adds no extra fat to your food, takes no more time than conventional cooking, and best of all, clean up is a snap. If you’ve never tried grilling, this can be the time to learn this great American cooking technique.
Gas Grills or Charcoal Grills
Gas grills are a lot like gas stoves, you just turn on the gas and light it. Most gas grills have temperature settings so there’s no guesswork. Charcoal grills are a little trickier, but work great if you know how to do it. For one pound of meat cooked with a direct-heat method (right over the fire), a good rule of thumb is 30 charcoal briquettes. For one pound of meat using indirect heat, you will need 50 briquettes.
You should pile your briquettes in a pyramid prior to lighting. This should take about 20 minutes for the charcoal to reach the right temperature for cooking. There should be about 70% covered in ash with a faint glow. Spread the charcoal out so that it extends at least an inch beyond the edges of the food.
If you don't have instructions for your grill, here’s a time-honored method to determine temperature: hold your hand palm down over the fire about six inches above the coals. Count in seconds how long you can comfortably hold your hand there: 5 seconds: 200-300 degrees; 4 seconds: 300-350 degrees; 3 seconds: 350-375 degrees; 2 seconds: 375 degrees and above.
What Equipment is Necessary?
• You should have a nice set of spring-loaded long-handled tongs for turning meats. Don't use a fork, because spearing the meat will cause it to lose juice.
• For turning meat or serving, a long-handled spatula is recommended.
• Different sizes of basting brushes come in handy.
• Skewers come in metal, wood and bamboo varieties. To keep the last two from burning up over the fire, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using them.
• Have wire baskets and grids for vegetables and items that break apart easily like whole fish filets.
• A sturdy wire brush is also necessary to clean your grill racks. Clean up when the racks are still hot from cooking, use the brush to remove stuck-on bits.
Tips to Help You Perfect Your Grilling Technique
• Remove and dispose of grill ashes once cooled. When mixed with water, ashes can eat through metal.
• Arrange food ¾“ apart for even cooking.
• Keep your kids and animals away from the grill when it’s in use.
• Always set up your grill on a flat even surface.
• Don’t store extra gas tanks under or near your gas grill.
• Don’t wear loose, flowing clothing when working with fire.