For the Grill of It
Boost the flavors and excitement with these grilling ideas
While some of us choose to do it year-round, nothing quite signals the coming of warmer weather like breaking out the grill and cooking up some hot dogs and hamburgers. The wafting scents of burning charcoal and roasting food can be contagious; who among us hasn’t smelled their neighbor’s grill and decided that they would use the grill that day or the next?
After a few go-rounds with the usual grilling staples, though, it’s easy to get bored with the same old, same old. Try some of these grilling techniques for inspiration:
- Wood chips — Wood chips are a great way to add flavor to your food without adding any extra calories. Different woods have different flavors; make sure to check the packaging to see whether the type of wood chips you are buying are the right fit for your meat. And make sure you’re using untreated hardwood when adding smoke to your food; the smoke from woods like pine has components that are extremely harmful. Try our grilled chicken recipe on the next page if you are looking for a place to start cooking with smoke!
- Planking — This is a different kind of planking than our article on page 14! Similar to the idea behind using wood chips, food can also be grilled on planks to add extra calorie-free flavor. You may have had salmon cooked on a cedar plank (or at least seen it listed on a menu at a nice restaurant), but other meats respond well to being cooked on planks as well.
- Pizza/Bread — Making your pizza on a grill is a fun way to switch things up. If you’ve got a pizza stone, put it directly on your grill grate when you start the grill and let the heat build; this will emulate the brick floor of a good wood-fired pizza oven. Make sure you do not load your raw pizza dough too heavily with toppings, as it will take the top of the dough more time to cookÂ and you could end up with a burnt bottom crust. You can even make pizza without a stone; just make sure that your grate is well oiled and that you do not try to pull it off the grill before the crust has browned. If you’re making sandwiches, lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil and put them on the grill for extra flavor and crunch!
- Vegetables — I know some of you stick strictly to grilling meats, probably because you tend to stay on the more carnivorous side of the eating spectrum. But grilling vegetables is a great way to add flavor and make them more enjoyable! Grilled portobello mushrooms have a wonderful steak-like flavor when done right. Grilled sweet corn is a Midwestern staple, but be sure to venture out of your comfort zone; there are some great grilled ratatouille recipes that will pair nicely with your favorite grilled meats. Grilled Caesar salad, anyone?
- Fruit — If you can grill peppers, mushrooms, and even salad, then why not look to grill up some fresh fruit for a fun take on dessert? Stone fruit and pineapple are favorites that taste even better when caramelized on a hot grill.
- Kebabs — The secret to getting creative with a kebab is thinking of new flavor combinations. If you can cut it, you can skewer it. Pair fish with fruit. Tofu actually transforms into something delicious when it has been marinated in Indian spices, skewered, and grilled with tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
- Mixing Ground Meats for Hybrid Burgers — Who says that burgers have to be 80/20 ground beef? The best butchers will tell you that the secret to a great burger is the right balance of meat to fat. Perhaps a hybrid of ground bacon and lean beef is in your future? Or perhaps an exotic mix of fatty ground lamb cut with some lean ground turkey? Get creative this season when it comes to grilling your burgers. Tip: use cold forks to cut your ground meats together so that the texture stays like that of a burger instead of meatloaf!
- Tri-Tip Sirloin Steak — The triangular-shaped muscle from the bottom sirloin has been popular on the West Coast (particularly Central California) for years. Now it’s arrived in the 815 and available at Countryside Meats. Butcher Jarrod Bush says that this cut is best when cooked toward medium so that the meat’s connective tissue can properly break down. It absorbs marinade well, can take some smoke, and can stand up to some searing heat.