June is one of the best months for breaking in the outdoor grill. It’s just warm enough for outdoor gatherings and it’s not too hot to be unbearable yet for those sensitive to the heat. Memorial Day was just earlier this week and that normally kicks off the official grilling season. How was your first barbecue of the season?
What I love about grilling is that you don’t have to be a professional chef to have serious grilling skills, but it doesn’t help to have a few pointers! Experimenting helps, and if you fail the first time and come back with charred meat, it’s ok – that’s how you learn!
Here are some simple tricks to help you start grilling in the right direction this summer:
Season It Up: Whether this be a marinade or a dry rub, don’t put your meat on the grill without some sort of flavor. My favorite is a simple marinade because marinating does more than give your food flavor; it also inhibits the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which form when grilling “muscle meats” like poultry, red meat and fish. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent.
Here is a simple marinade for steaks you can try:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic. Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat Your Grill: Treat your grill just like your oven and preheat your gril about 15 – 25 minutes before you start. This is not just to get your grill to the right temperature but also to kill off any bacteria left on the grill. The temperature you should be aiming for is 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. And don’t forget to clean your grate with a wire brush to get a clean start before putting food on your grill.
Grease It Off: Remember to grease your grate! This is super important to prevent your food from sticking. You can use a paper towel dipped in oil and use tongs to rub the towel lightly on the grate to evenly coat with oil if you don’t have a brush. Using cooking spray on a hot grill is dangerous, so I would not recommend using spray.
- Before putting your meat on the grill, take the chill off it by letting it sit about 20-30 minutes in room temperature. This will give you a juicier, more evenly cooked meat.
- Lightly coat veggies in olive oil to prevent sticking or use a grilling basket!
- After marinating meat, pat dry. Wet meat doesn’t sear; it steams.
- Resist the temptation to lift the lid and turn meat over and over. Time them! You develop the richest flavor when you leave them alone on the grill and only turn them once or twice.
- If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.
- Let your finished meats rest on a clean plate or platter for at least 10 minutes, tented with foil, before carving so juices can redistribute evenly.
- Reduce flare ups on the grill by selecting lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and removing skin off poultry. When flare ups happen, place the lid on the grill to extinguish flames, or use a squirt bottle of water handy to douse small flames.
- The best way to know if your protein is fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with a thermometer. This is the safest way to help prevent food poisoning.
- Make sure you keep things separate. Use fresh plates, utensils, and cutting boards to prevent raw meat, poultry, and fish from contaminating cooked food. And remember to wash your hands and surfaces frequently.
I have some delicious recipes for grilling and have found some others you may enjoy this summer. I’d love to hear your favorite grilling recipes!
There is nothing better than fresh grilled vegetables, especially when they are seasoned with just the right herbs and spices. In this recipe I use loads of fresh organic basil because the taste and health benefits are endless! So when you enjoy this caprese salad this summer you can be confident that you are serving your friends and family a delicious gift of health.
Grilled Portobello Caprese Salad
- 8 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced long ways
- 4 Medium tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 4oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into 4 rounds
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic mashed
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
This is another soon-to-be Summer classic that is bursting with flavor! Great as a side dish, an easy snack or a light dessert. You won’t believe how amazing fruit tastes on the grill!
Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Acai Icelandic Yogurt Dip
- 8 cubes watermelon (4 oz)
- 8 cubes honeydew melon (4 oz)
- 8 cubes cantaloupe (4 oz)
- 8 Large strawberries (4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom honey
- 6oz Siggi’s Icelandic non-fat acai berry yogurt (greek yogurt will work too)
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
- 8 lemon grass sticks (or bamboo skewers)
- mint leaves (for garnish, do not chop)
Grilled chicken used to be drab. Not anymore – now it’s bursting with Mediterranean flavors. I know you will love this recipe I adapted from Epicurious
Greek Grilled Chicken with Oregano & Mint Leaves
- 1 1/2lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 12-inch metal or wooden skewers
The last recipe I want to share with you for barbecue season is so easy, there is virtually no cleanup involved! Using foil packets right on top of your grill, it holds in all the flavor and juices of the meal. So easy, you can use while camping, or at home – and you can use this technique with other recipes!
Barbecued Lime Shrimp and Corn
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 ears corn, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 cups cooked couscous
I hope you enjoy barbecue season and the recipes I shared with you, I know I will be taking advantage of the warmer weather! It’s not too late to plant a garden this month either, saving money on your own produce, and adding a little organic home-grown touch to every meal.
If you are in Southern California, try planning beans, beets and carrots this month. In Northern California, it’s not too late for corn, cucumber, eggplants and more! No matter where you are, peppers and kale are a great choice of the season. It is never too late to start growing summer herbs and add them to your own recipes. Start with some basil or cilantro to get the hang of it; you never know, you may just develop a love for gardening!
If you have questions about what you can grow in your area, Click Here to find what plants, fruits and vegetables are best to grow at what time of the year for your region.
“Friends, sun, sand, and sea, that sounds like a summer to me.” – Unknown