Jul 29, 2014
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Firing up the Grill

Here are several tips from John McLemore, author of “DADGUM That’s Good!”

Firing up the Grill

It's time to get serious about grillin’ in your backyard or out at the park.

We have plenty of parks and green space to choose from in Sandy Springs, including Overlook Park and Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area at Island Ford. And this weekend, many folks will carry their grills down to Piedmont Park for the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Wherever you BBQ, a few cooking tips always help. Here are several tips from John McLemore, author of “DADGUM That’s Good!”

  •   Coat grill rack with non-stick spray or vegetable oil before preheating to prevent food from sticking.
  •   When grilling fish, grill with the skin side down or on aluminum foil (coat with non-stick spray).
  •   Red snapper is quick and easy to grill.  But, make sure the grill and fish are well oiled, and handle carefully.
  •   Salmon is a favorite for grilling, because it doesn’t dry out. Rich in natural omega oils, you can pop it on the grill without oiling.  Start by grilling the salmon skin side up.  This allows the natural fat under the skin to be drawn into the filet, keeping it rich and moist.
  •  If you’re grilling scallops, use fresh ocean scallops.  These should be a pinkish tan or ivory color, not unnaturally white.
  • Freshwater trout is great on the grill.  The skin becomes thin and crispy and the meat is full of flavor.
  • To keep tuna burgers moist, choose the freshest tuna steaks you can find and serve them medium-rare to medium – don’t overcook.
  • When grilling  BBQ ribs, pork butt, or tenderloin, cook unwrapped for 50 to 75 percent of the cooking  time to infuse smoke and flavor.  The remaining time wrap with heavy aluminum foil to retain moisture and tenderness.
  • When grilling burgers and steaks, allow grill to get to a high temperature before placing food on grill. Let steaks or burgers grill several minutes prior to turning, which will sear in the juices.
  • When choosing an inexpensive steak, opt for flank steak rather than skirt steak, which can be tougher. Flank steak is thin and cooks quickly. They’re usually marinated before being grilled. Wrap the steak in foil as it comes off the grill and let it stand for 10 minutes.  Slice it thinly on a diagonal across the grain to sever the tough fibers and make the flavorful steak  more tender.
  • When is cheaper better?  Chicken thighs may be one of the cheaper cuts, but they do great on the grill. Thighs are more flavorful and the extra fat in the skin makes them better suited to grilling.
  •  For the juiciest chicken and chops, you want to sear them on both sides on high heat for several minutes and then bring the grill temperature down to complete the cooking process. 
  • Grilling vegetables in aluminum foil, with oil, prevents them from falling through the grill gates.
  • Just a few minutes on the grill gives bell peppers a sweet smoky flavor. Don’t over roast them:  As soon as the skin puffs up and turns black, they’re ready. 
  • Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper;  grill for 15 minutes.
  • You can leave the husk on the corn while grilling. Once you see the shape of the kernels burning through the husk, your corn is ready.  (If you grill with indirect heat, you’ll need to grill the corn for about an hour, so put your corn on the grill first.)
  • Grilled Caesar Salad,  Sure, the Romaine lettuce ends will char, but it stays remarkably crisp and sweet, with a char-grilled flavor.
  • Always allow grill to cool prior to cleaning, but I recommend cleaning after each use.
  • To extend the life of your grill (and smoker), store in a dry place or keep covered after each use. 

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