With the holiday weekend upon us, I am sure many of you will be firing up the grill...give this delish and simple marinade a try while oooing and ahhhing over fireworks!
Happy 4th of July!
Grilled Basil Chicken
1 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T fresh chopped basil, reserve a leaf or two for garnish
1 T onion slices
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns or just fresh ground pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
Marinade in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Grill and enjoy!
Your Grill Guide to Healthy Summer Eating
from Active.com and Shape magazine
Turn Down the Heat
Grilled meat is a source of the carcinogen (cancer-causing compound) heterocyclic amine (HCA), which forms when proteins in meats (including pork, poultry and fish) are exposed to high heat.
When fats and juices drip onto the hot fire, flare-ups can deposit the chemical onto meat surfaces. The good news: You can easily avoid the risk by reducing the heat. Grill meat on glowing embers instead of high flames or lower gas heat from high to medium. Don’t overcook your dish. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature and remove beef, pork or lamb when it reaches 160°F; chicken breasts and hotdogs at 165°-170°F.
Cooked meats should be kept hot (at least 140°F) until served. You can set it to the side of the grill, or in a warm oven (set to 200°F). When you're ready to serve, use a new platter and utensils; the juices from raw meat can contain the bacteria salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning.
Marinate it First
A study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed that marinating chicken before grilling it for just 40 minutes with brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and salt cut HCA production by 92 percent.
Plus, marinades make lean cuts of meat much tastier and they’re easy to whip up. All you need is an acid-based liquid—wine, vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes—a little bit of healthy fat (like olive oil) and some seasonings.
Toss in freshly chopped oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary in place of salt to keep the sodium count low. Chopped onion and garlic will also add flavor.
To prevent contamination, marinate meat in a container in the fridge instead of on the countertop.
You may think searing, as in "seared tuna," means raw in the middle. Not true: Searing simply means cooking the outside of meat, fish and poultry over very hot heat, and then finishing the cooking by another method. Searing on the grill creates a crisp, flavorful exterior and moist, wonderful interior, locking in flavor without adding fat.
1. Place chicken on the hottest part of the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken 45 degrees, without flipping, and cook for another 2 minutes (this produces crosshatch grill marks).
2. Flip and repeat on the other side.
3. If the food needs further cooking, move it to a cooler spot on the grill and close the lid. (Very thin pieces of meat, fish and poultry will cook through in searing steps 1 and 2 and may not need further cooking.)
Butterflying and Skewering
Butterflying is a technique that opens up thick pieces of meat, shellfish and poultry so the meat cooks more quickly and evenly, and the shrimp is kept from curling up. Skewering shrimp (or any meat or vegetable) is a timesaver because you won't have to flip each piece individually.
1. To butterfly, lay a peeled shrimp on its side and, using a sharp knife, make a slice from about 1/4 inch from the tail through the inside curl, almost through to the other side but without cutting the shrimp in half.
2. With your fingers, open the shrimp and flatten it with the palm of your hand so it lies almost flat.
3. Skewer butterflied shrimp sideways, rather than lengthwise, so the skewer runs from one side of the butterfly to the other. When using wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before using to prevent scorching.
4. Place shrimp on a hot grill for two to three minutes and turn the skewer over. Cook two to three more minutes until shrimp is bright pink and cooked through.
Serve with a Side of Salsa
Don’t just limit yourself to the jarred tomato stuff: salsa can be made from a variety of fruits and vegetables and is a refreshing accompaniment to grilled meats or fish. It also gives you a hefty dose of disease-fighting antioxidants.
One combo that goes equally well with chicken as it does with fish such as salmon or tuna: mangoes, peaches and chilies. Simply chop the ingredients and let them sit refrigerated while you grill. Then serve atop your dish.
Rub in Flavor - check out Penzy's Spices for awesome spices and herbs!
Use dry rubs, mixtures of herbs and spices that usually contain just a hint of sugar, to instantly season beef, pork, poultry or fish without tacking on unwanted fat. Sprinkle the desired combination onto the meat, then use your fingers to gently work the seasonings into the meat surface. Or place the meat in a plastic bag, throw in the rub ingredients and shake to cover. Store-bought rubs may be high in sodium, so mix your own.
Grilling vegetables concentrates their natural flavors, giving them a richer taste than boiling or steaming would. And because vegetables (and fruit) contain no protein, they don’t form HCAs when grilled.
Beets are one of Schloss's unexpected grill favorites. “Their natural sugar caramelizes during cooking, so they become deliciously sweet.” He suggests using canned beets (simmered) because fresh ones take longer to cook.
Vegetables can be grilled two ways: in foil packets or directly over the flame.
Use the foil method for small, irregularly shaped veggies. Cut-up onions, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, green beans, snap peas and cherry tomatoes are all good candidates. Place vegetables on a large piece of foil and season with salt and black pepper. Lift the edges and add 1 tablespoon of water. Bring up the sides so they meet and fold them over twice, leaving a little room for steam expansion. Then fold in the ends twice to seal the packet like an envelope. Grill the packet on the hottest part of the grill for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking to shake up the veggies for even cooking.
Cook larger vegetables directly on the grill. "Larger" veggies include tomato halves, 1/2-inch-thick slices of zucchini, or yellow squash or eggplant slices. Brush vegetables with olive oil (or spray with olive-oil spray), salt and pepper them, then place them on the hottest part of the grill. Grill 4-5 minutes per side, until fork-tender.
You can cook corn directly on the grill without wrapping in foil. To prepare corn, soak ears (with the husks on) in a large bowl or bucket of water for 1 hour. Drain, shake ears to remove excess water and place them directly on the hottest part of the grill. Grill 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool slightly before removing husks.
Fire up the Fruit
Grilling isn't just for meat and vegetables -- fruit works nicely too. A hot grill caramelizes fruit, bringing out its natural sweetness while softening the flesh. Since the flesh is tender, fruit needs only a few minutes per side. In fact, grilled fruit isn't really cooked, just heated. Firm fruits like apples, pears and pineapple are traditionally grilled, but softer fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, mangos and papaya also work well. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite fruits in the recipe that follows.
1. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and bananas can be grilled with their skins on. Leaving the skin (or peel) intact helps fruit maintain its structural integrity as it cooks.
2. To cook on direct heat: Halve and core apples and pears; halve and pit peaches, nectarines, mangos and plums; halve and seed papayas lengthwise; halve bananas lengthwise; and cut oranges, tangerines and grapefruit into 1-inch-thick slices.
3. Brush the cut side of all fruits with olive or vegetable oil (the fresh flavor of olive oil pairs beautifully with fruit) or spray with nonstick cooking spray and place directly on hot grill.
4. Grill fruit for 2-3 minutes per side, until tender and golden brown.
Seafood kebobs with beets and potatoes make for one easy summer meal. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 10 minutes (so they don't burn on the grill). Meanwhile, drain and blot canned beets and canned new potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss beets, potatoes and scallops or shrimp with extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Thread onto skewers alternating scallops or shrimp, beets and potatoes until the skewers are full. Grill for 10 minutes, turning twice. Top with chopped, toasted walnuts, parsley, and feta cheese.
Clams and mussels are excellent on the grill, too. To clean clams and mussels, first scrub them with a stiff brush under cold running water, discarding any shellfish with broken shells. Using sharp scissors, remove the "beard" from mussels (the hairy stuff protruding from one end). Put clams and mussels in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon each cornmeal and salt and let stand 1 hour (cornmeal pulls excess sand from inside shells). Drain the shellfish, rinse and drain again. Place the shellfish directly on the hottest part of the grill and cook until shells open, approximately 5-7 minutes (time varies depending on shellfish size).
Great Grilling Tips
1. Before preheating, brush grates with olive oil or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Watch cooking time when using an indoor grill. The Foreman grill works like a waffle iron (food gets cooked from both sides at once), so cut cook times in half.
3. Let food cook for several minutes before flipping. Flip too soon or too often and your food will stick.
4. Spatulas are not for squishing. Pressing food while it cooks forces precious juices out and into the grill.
5. Let meat, fish and poultry rest 5-10 minutes after cooking, before slicing. This allows juices to resettle in the meat.
6. A clean grill = great taste. Residue on the grill grates -- such as burnt pieces of food and blackened sauces -- causes flare-ups, and flare-ups char food. After cooking, brush grates with a metal grill brush to remove debris.
7. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. Toss any food that's been left out for more than two hours (or one hour if it's left in the car or if the temperature outside is hotter than 90°F).
Until next time...
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