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A Grilling Q&A Smokes Out the Truth About BBQ

June 29, 2011
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Whether you're an experienced chef or a cooking newbie, grilling or barbecuing cooked meat takes knowledge and practice. And as we've all experienced, even the so-called "Grill Master" gets it wrong from time to time. Let's start with the basics.

If you're like most people, you probably consider grilling and barbecuing to be one and the same. But when it comes to cooking methods, they are actually quite different.

Grilling involves placing food directly over flames or another heat source. This high heat chars the outside of the meat, seals in the juices and cooks it within a matter of minutes. Grilling is best for thin cuts of meat, burgers, chicken breast, fish, vegetables and even breads.

Barbecuing, on the other hand, is a slow cooking method that can take 6 to 12 hours to complete. It involves keeping the heat source away from the food being cooked.

Traditionally, the heat source is not in the same chamber as the food, but attached to a firebox. Wood chunks are then added to the heat source to create smoke that infuses the meat with flavor.

Barbecuing is best for larger meats like turkeys or tougher cuts of meat like brisket or ribs, where the long slow cooking creates more tender meat.

Yet another method, indirect heating, is a combination of grilling and barbecuing. It involves using a low flame that is contained on one side or around the periphery of the grill. The food is then cooked on the other side or in the center.

Think of it as turning your grill into an oven, allowing you to cook large cuts of meat without burning them. You can also use wood chips soaked in water to add a smoky flavor.

Try this type of cooking for larger chunks of meat like thick steaks, whole turkeys, whole fish or fatty foods like ribs.

Grilling Tips

· Keep your grill clean. Clean the grates after every use to manage food safety and prevent food from sticking on the grill. It's easiest to clean just after you've finished cooking, when the grill is still a little warm.

· Remember to preheat the grill. Heat the grill on high for at least 10 minutes before cooking. This will ensure you're cooking at the right temperature and kill any bacteria.

· Get organized. Get your grilling equipment and utensils ready. Don't forget a clean plate for when the meat is done.

· To marinate or not to marinate? Whether you have one hour or 12, marinades or rubs not only infuse flavor but also help the meat hold in moisture so it comes out tender and juicy.

· Don't poke the meat. Poking the meat with a fork releases the meat's flavor-filled juices. Always gently turn the meat with a spatula or tongs.

· Basting basics. Basting the meat is up to you, but it can be done any time during the cooking . Try using oil, vinegar, citrus or yogurt-based marinades.

· Adding more flavor. Barbecue sauce is always a smart idea. Make sure you add it toward the end of cooking time to avoid burning -- unless you like a charred taste.

· Doneness temperatures. The key to cooking meat properly is knowing when the food is done. Sounds easy, but the only way to know for sure is to have a thermometer. Cutting the meat to check the color is not only inaccurate; it also releases the juices and dries out the meat. An instant-read thermometer is definitely worth the investment.

· Let it stand. Let grilled meat stand for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to return to the surface of the meat. This will result in a juicier, tastier piece of meat.

· Have fun. Grilling is as much about the food as it is about fun. So get out there and practice your new grilling techniques. Your friends and family will be glad you did.

Tangy Grilled Chicken

  • Sauce Ingredients:

    2 Tbsps. margarine 
    1/4 cup finely chopped onion 
    2 tsps. finely chopped fresh garlic 
    1/4 cup pineapple juice 
    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
    1 can (14.5 oz.) whole tomatoes 
    2 Tbsps. firmly packed brown sugar 
    2 Tbsps. molasses 
    2 Tbsps. cider vinegar 
    1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
    1/4 tsp. liquid smoke

    1 frying chicken (3 to 4 lbs.), cut into 8 pieces

Melt margarine in a two-quart saucepan until sizzling; add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion is crisply tender (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup sauce; set aside remaining sauce.

Meanwhile, heat one side of gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white. Place coals to one side in charcoal grill. Make aluminum foil drip pan; place opposite coals.

Place chicken on grill over drip pan. Grill, turning occasionally, 25 minutes. Continue grilling, basting occasionally with reserved 1 cup sauce, until chicken is no longer pink (15 to 20 minutes).

Serve chicken with remaining sauce.

Serves 6.

Grilled Herb Turkey Breast

Fresh basil and garlic season this turkey breast.
  • Marinade Ingredients:

    1 cup white wine or chicken broth 
    2/3 cup vegetable oil 
    1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 
    1/3 cup chopped green onions 
    1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh garlic 
    2 tsps. sugar 
    1 tsp. salt 
    1 tsp. coarse ground pepper 

    1 fresh or frozen turkey breast (4 to 5 lbs.), thawed

Combine all marinade ingredients in extra large plastic resealable food bag; add turkey breast. Tightly seal bag; turn bag several times to coat turkey well. Place bag into 13x9-inch pan. Refrigerate, turning bag occasionally, at least 3 hours.

Heat one side of gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white. Place coals to one side in charcoal grill. Make aluminum foil drip pan; place opposite coals.

Remove turkey breast from marinade. Place marinade in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until marinade comes to a boil; boil 1 minute.

Place turkey breast onto grill over drip pan. Cover; grill, turning and basting occasionally with marinade, until internal temperature reaches 180° and turkey is no longer pink (2 to 21/2 hours). Discard remaining marinade.

Serves 12.

Grilled Salmon With Zucchini Relish

Fresh garden vegetables make a colorful and tasty relish to serve with lemony salmon like this.

Relish Ingredients:

1 cup chopped zucchini 
1/2 cup chopped onion 
1 Tbsp. sugar 
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves 
2 Tbsps. chopped red bell pepper 
2 Tbsps. lemon juice 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

3 Tbsps. butter, melted 
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh basil leaves 
1 Tbsp. lemon juice 

4 salmon steaks (6 oz. each)

    Combine all relish ingredients in medium bowl; mix well. Cover; refrigerate until serving time.

    Prepare grill placing coals to one side; heat until coals are ash white. Make aluminum foil drip pan; place opposite coals.

    Stir together all sauce ingredients in small bowl. Brush both sides of salmon steaks with sauce.

    Place fish on grill over drip pan. Cover; grill, turning and brushing with sauce once, until fish flakes with fork (10 to 12 minutes). Serve with relish.

    Serves 4.

    Courtesy of www.landolakes.com.

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