Your backyard grill isn’t just for burgers and dogs. Grilling can impart flavors into a variety of foods, and, given that Kentucky decided we’d go straight from winter into sweltering summer, cooking outside also keeps your home cooler.
Here are some tips to make the most out the season’s favorite cooking option.
Start your grill about 30 minutes before you begin cooking. It’s a good idea to have a hot side for grilling meat and a cooler side for grilling fish, seafood and vegetables.
If you don’t have a gas grill, consider using chunk charwood, which is preferred by chefs because it burns clean and hot, sealing in the flavor and moisture of grilled foods. Since charwood is produced with nonlumber wood fired in kilns, it is also the best environmental choice.
Aside from traditional grill items like beef, chicken and sausages you can add those char-grilled and flame-kissed flavors to items such as:
Soak the corn in cold water for 30 minutes, peel back the husk, remove the silk, replace the husk; then grill for 15–20 minutes, turning frequently.
Wash fresh mushrooms quickly under running water; then pat dry. Skewer or place in a grill basket. Brush with oil and grill for 5–7 minutes. Whole portabello mushrooms take 10–20 minutes, depending on their size.
Slice thickly and brush with oil. Cook onions directly on the grid at mediumhigh heat until they start to turn brown. You can also roast an onion by cutting it in half, wrapping it in foil with a little butter, and cooking it for about 30–45 minutes at medium heat.
Grill whole peppers at high heat until skin is charred black, about 15–20 minutes. Cool in a paper bag for 15 minutes to loosen blackened skin. Peel and remove seeds.
Wrap baking potatoes in foil. Cook at medium heat for 25–30 minutes or until tender.
You can cook shellfish on the grill. If they are large, such as prawns or crab you can grill them directly on the grid. Smaller shellfish, such as mussels, clams, oysters, scallops or shrimp can be skewered or cooked in a basket. Shrimp take about 8–12 minutes depending on their size.
Choose steaks that are no thicker than 1 1/2 inches, and which have some visible fat marbling for tenderness. To keep the juices intact, use tongs rather than a fork to turn your meat. At the hottest setting, sear for 1–2 minutes per side.
Then move to a medium heat and cook for about 4 minutes per side for rare (it will feel fleshy to the touch), 6 minutes per side for well-done steak (it will feel firm).
Spare ribs are the most popular type of grilling pork ribs. Avoid using a direct heat source. Indirect cooking at a low temperature for several hours will produce very tender ribs. Season with a dry rub before you grill and add barbecue sauce at the end of grilling. Use a drip pan with water or other liquids, such as broth or juice, to keep ribs moist.
Firm fish, such as tuna, salmon or halibut can be cooked directly on the grill if handled carefully. A hinged wire grill basket is best for cooking whole fish or tender fillets. Grill fillets at medium to medium-low heat. Fish can cook quickly so turn only once to keep from crumbling.
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