• 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.
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Recipe: Grilled Portobello Mushroom Fajitas & Grilling Tips
Get great tips for grilling and a wonderful fajita recipe.
- 6 oz. portobello mushroom caps, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, halved top to bottom and thinly sliced
- 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ tsp. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 6 medium whole wheat, flour or corn tortillas (soft taco size)
- ½ cup crumbled goat or feta cheese (optional)
- ¾ cup sour cream, for serving (optional)
- ¾ cup chunky salsa, for serving (optional)
- Put the mushrooms, onions and peppers in a large resealable bag. Combine the oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt and garlic, and add it to the bag with the mushrooms. Massage the vegetables gently to coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 48 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Spray a vegetable grilling tray or a piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray, or brush it with a little vegetable oil, and heat it on the grill. Drain the vegetables in a colander and transfer them to the grilling tray. Grill them with the cover closed for about 15 minutes, flipping them once, until they are tender and partially browned but not charred.
- Heat the tortillas in the microwave or on a hot skillet for 30 seconds to 1 minute so they are soft and warm. Place about ½ cup of the vegetable filling on the center of each tortilla, top it with about 2 tsp. cheese, and about 1 Tbsp. each sour cream and salsa, if desired. Fold the bottoms up and the sides in and serve them immediately.