Do you fear or embrace the grill? Many families think of grilling as the man’s turf — which is fine, as long as the man actually grills! I used to be intimidated by cooking over fire and rarely touched the grill. But since Andrew doesn’t work his magic on the grill more than a couple of times a year, I’ve largely claimed that territory. Now that I’m over the initial fear, I love how quickly and flavorfully the grill helps me make dinner and it feels so summery to cook outdoors.
Here are some tips for safe and easy grilling:
• Before starting, clean the grill with a metal scraper, and coat the grates with nonstick cooking spray or rub it with some cooking oil on a paper towel, so food doesn’t stick to the grates.
• Preheat gas grills for about 10 minutes on high with the cover closed, and preheat charcoal grills for 30 minutes until the coals are grey. The grill should be very hot before you start to cook.
• Just as you do with the stove, warn children not to touch the grill without oven mitts or play near it because it can get very hot when in use.
• If you have a gas grill, keep a spare tank of propane to avoid running out of gas mid-dinner prep. If this does happen to you, as it has to many of us, you can substitute your broiler (or a cast iron skillet) for the grill. Just keep the rack about 5 or 6 inches from the heating element. (Think of it as an upside down grill).
• Both gas and charcoal grills cook more efficiently with the cover closed — this also helps avoid flare-ups.
• Many vegetables, fish fillets, and even tofu and sliced bread can be grilled with great results, as long as the pieces are big enough or you use foil or a grilling tray to keep food from falling through the grates.
• To keep meat juicy, don’t pierce it or press down on the meat with a spatula while it’s cooking. Trim visible fat before grilling, and rotate food around the grill after you flip it to cook it evenly.
• Don’t put cooked meat back on the dish with its raw juices and potentially harmful bacteria.
• Turn off and clean the grill as soon as you’re done cooking — it’s easy to forget to do that later.
Here’s a delicious recipe on which to practice your new found grilling confidence, Grilled Portobello Mushroom Fajitas. Portobello mushrooms are a meaty vegetable, and just like beef or chicken, they take well to marinades and grilling. (However, if you don’t want to grill them, these would be equally good cooked in a cast iron skillet.) For a gluten-free alternative, use corn tortillas in place of whole wheat or flour tortillas.
Who is the primary grill master in your house?