BBQ season is here! With warm summer nights, who wants to turn on the oven, let alone be in the kitchen? Barbequing is a fantastic, quick and simple way to cook and if you are careful not to burn or char your food it can be healthy too. There are several things to consider when cooking on the grill such as what you will grill, the marinade or spice rub you will use, which parts of the meal you will grill and food safety.
- What to Grill
If you are grilling meat, select lower fat grilling options such as chicken breasts, beef tenderloin, extra lean ground beef burgers and pork tenderloin. Although ribs and sausages taste great on the grill, they are high in saturated fats and ribs tend to char easily. Fish fillets cooked on tin foil and fish steaks or veggie burgers grilled on a well-oiled grill are also healthy choices.
- Rubs and Marinades
Use rubs and marinades for flavour. For salmon I love a combination of thyme, tarragon, coriander, paprika and garlic powder topped with lemon slices. Olive, canola or avocado oil combined with an acid such as lemon or lime juice, balsamic or wine vinegar along with flavour such as garlic, fresh herbs and spices make for a delicious marinade. Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar are great for an Asian flare. Lemon and dill are yummy with fish. Dijon mustard, rosemary, garlic and lemon with olive oil is perfect for lamb and Worcestershire, ketchup, molasses and red wine vinegar is a superb BBQ sauce for burgers you can add at the end. Cumin, chili and fresh cilantro is great for a southwest grilled chicken breast.
- Starters and Sides
Delicious appetizers for the grill include prawn skewers and chicken satay. Grill thick slices of grainy bread or toast the buns for burgers on the top shelf. Toss bell pepper halves, zucchini lengths, asparagus spears and whole portobello mushrooms in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and grill them for a perfect side. To finish, serve grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream or grilled pineapple with coconut yogurt.
- Safe Food Handling
When dealing with raw meats and their juices there are a few things to keep in mind. First be sure to avoid cross-contamination by using a separate cutting board for meat and vegetables and a clean plate for cooked items being taken off the grill. Reserve any marinade you may want as a dip or for basting before adding raw meats. Don’t pierce your meat to allow marinade to penetrate as this introduces bacteria into the centre of the cut where the temperature may not get hot enough. Use a meat thermometer to cook the meat thoroughly and keep a clean grill. Finally keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and be sure to put leftovers in the fridge right away, don’t leave them in the sun while you play another game of Bocce.
Take advantage of the grilling season and explore new flavours as you grill great summer meals.