Grill Power: Chef Irvine’s healthy barbecue tips

– For a healthier grilling experience, try to go “bottleless.” This means no bottled seasonings, high-sodium marinades or sugary sauces.  Instead, create a fresh citrus marinade with lemons, limes, oranges, vinegars, fresh herbs and grape seed oil.

– Always remember that grill heat is more intense and less manageable than indoor heating equipment, which makes temperature regulation more challenging.  It’s important to make sure you are working with well-marinated foods and have an understanding of how the protein your working with responds to high grilling temperatures.

– Anyone who has ever grilled has experienced having a meat (or veggie) go up in a cloud of smoke and flame once they put it on the grill, and no use trying to get it off the grill once it’s on because is had officially welded itself to the grates and won’t budge. Charring happens when fat and flame meet. Foods with higher fat content (ribeyes, chicken with the skin on, or veggies with too much oil) typically flare up on the grill. The solution is to regulate these items distances from the flame. Place these items around the exterior of the heat source, or if you have an adjustable coal grate, set it on a lower setting further away from the grill grates. Also, watch how much oil (also a fat) you are rubbing on your meats or veggies. You can also use an oil with a higher smoke point, like grapeseed oil, to avoid flare ups. Should you find yourself in a situation where your dinner is up in flames, just calm them down with a little spritz of water from a spray bottle.

– Sticking is just a natural part of the caramelization process and shouldn’t become a cause for concern or even something to try to avoid. Whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO SCRAPE OR PULL YOUR MEAT OFF THE GRILL! Once the caramelization process is complete, the meat should release itself from the grill with little-to-no effort. Knowing how to regulate your heat source will allow this process to happen without overcooking your meat. You can limit the amount of sticking by making sure that your grill is properly preheated, cleaned, and that your food is not overly-sugary from marinades.

– Lastly, remember to stay hydrated!   Not only is hydration incredibly important in the hot summer climate when you’ve got the grill going and the sun is boiling down on you, but a stomach full of ice cold water will help you with portion control when its finally time to sit down and enjoy your food.


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