It’s summer, and that can only mean one thing—barbeCue season! Nothing tastes more delicious than fresh grilled corn on the cob or a flame-broiled juicy burger or finger-licking barbecued chicken or…I could go on and on; but you get the point. Grilled food is good food. And while this food is tasting so good, it can even be healthful. But remember, safety should always come first when you barbecue.
Barbecuing and Healthful Choices
When you think of barbecued ribs, healthy may not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But it is possible to make grilling good for you by making healthful choices. It just takes a little effort. And, you won’t sacrifice any of the flavor. Here are some tips to help:
- Choose leaner meats to grill—grill chicken, but remove the skin before marinating and cooking or, opt for leaner cuts of meat; look for the word “lean” on the label. Avoid high fat meats like steaks, ribs or sausages.
- Grill a garden of vegetables—any vegetable can be grilled: onions, Peppers, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash—and the list goes on. Just brush a light coating of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or any type of marinade. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Then toss them straight on the barbecue or slide the vegetables on to a skewer or wrap them in foil.
- Trim the fat off meat before grilling—cut off excess fat from the sides of meat before cooking and cut off inside, separable fat before eating.
- Keep meat portions small—cut the meat into chunks and combine with vegetables on a skewer. Use meat as an accent to the meal, rather than the main dish.
- Grill some fruit for dessert—pineapple, mangos, apples, peaches, or bananas—just about any fruit can be grilled. Either slice fruit into big wedges, or chop it into cubes and skewer. Cooking usually takes about 6 to 8 minutes; make sure you turn the fruit occasionally.
Scroll down to check out some grilling recipes.
Barbecuing and Food Safety
Grilling outside is definitely more relaxed and less formal. But you still need to be vigilant about food safety. The following are some tips to keep the bacteria out and the fun in.
- Clean your grill every time you barbecue—bacteria can grow in food particles left on the grill. While the grill is hot, use a heavy wire brush to remove any food particles left on the grill.
- Never use the same dish for raw meat as for cooked—transfer food to a clean plate once it’s cooked, using a clean utensil.
- Food for the barbecue should not sit out, especially meats—keep food cold in the refrigerator or a cooler until you are ready to grill it.
- Use a separate cutting board and knife for meats and vegetables—through the years, experts have gone back and forth about which is better, plastic or wood cutting boards. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, plastic is easier to clean and can go in the dishwasher. Whichever type you choose, though, it’s a good idea to have two—one for raw meat and one for vegetables.
- Wash your hands before and after handling food—this will help prevent cross-contamination.
- Discard or boil marinades—when preparing a marinade, set aside some to use for after the meat is cooked. If you marinated raw meat, boil the marinade for at least one minute before using it to baste the meat on the grill.
- Grill meat until it is cooked, but not charred—some studies have suggested that possible cancer-causing compounds (called heterocyclic aromatic amines) are formed when meat is charred. Scrape off any charred areas before you eat the barbecued meat.
- Cook meat thoroughly—to make sure that bacteria is killed throughout the meat, cook meat to the right internal temperature. Use a meat or “instant-read” thermometer to ensure accuracy. Here are some target temperatures from the American Dietetic Association:
1. Ground meat products: 160, or until the inside is no longer pink and juices run clear
2. Steak: medium rare: 145
3. Steak: medium: 160
4. Steak: well done: 170
5. Fish: 145
6. Poultry thighs, breasts, or wings: 170, or until juices run clear
Barbecuing and Fire Safety
Although grilling outdoors is great fun, it can be dangerous. Not thinking about safety when you barbecue can lead to serious burns or a severe fire. The Branford Fire Department offers these important safety tips to help you grill safely:
- Before using your barbecue for the first time each season, check it thoroughly to ensure all hoses are firmly attached and that there are no leaks or blockages.
- Never use water to control grease flare-ups on gas barbecues.
- If you have a propane cylinder:
1. Before having a propane cylinder filled, check it for dents, gouges, or other signs of disrepair.
2. Do not overfill your propane cylinder.
3. Always check the expiration date. Never use a propane cylinder that is more than 10 years old.
4. Never store propane cylinders indoors or near a barbecue, heat source, or open flame.
- Check and make sure connections are tight before turning on the gas.
- Always set up the barbecue in an open area at least 10 feet from any house, shed, fence, tree, or other combustible material, such as leaves or brush. Be aware of the wind blowing hot embers.
- It is a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher within reach.
- To prevent burns, use long handled barbecue tools and/or flame retardant mitts.
- Do not wear loose clothing and watch for dangling apron strings and shirt tails.
Grilled Swordfish and Coriander Lime Butter
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. freshly grated lime zest
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh coriander leaves
Two 6- to 8-ounce swordfish steaks
First, prepare your grill.
In a small bowl, combine butter, zest, 1 teaspoon lime juice, garlic, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste.
Rub both sides of swordfish steaks with remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Grill swordfish on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Top each swordfish steak with a dollop of coriander lime butter.
Source: Gourmet 1995; http://www.epicurious.com
Grilled Vegetables With Lemon, Thyme, and Mustard Basting Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
2 large ears fresh corn, husked and cut crosswise into 4 pieces
1 small eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick-rounds
1 large red onion, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into 6 strips
1 large yellow or green bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into 6 strips
1 large zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise
8 asparagus spears, trimmed
1 large carrot, peeled, cut on deep diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Combine all basting ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until butter melts and sauce is well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside 1/2 cup for dipping.
Arrange all the vegetables in a single layer on large baking sheets. Brush both sides of vegetables with remaining basting sauce.
Prepare barbeque to medium-high heat. Grill corn, eggplant, and onion until tender and lightly charred, brushing occasionally with basting sauce and turning with tongs, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Grill rest of vegetables the same way—until tender and lightly charred, brushing occasionally with basting sauce and turning with tongs, about 6 minutes. Transfer all vegetables to serving tray. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and lemon.
Warm reserved 1/2 cup of basting sauce over low heat in heavy saucepan. Transfer to small bowl and serve with vegetables.
Serves 4 as a side dish
Source: Bon Appetit 1996; http://www.epicurious.com
Grilled Chicken With Tricolor Salsa
6 large chicken breast halves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup fresh corn kernels from 2 small ears or frozen and thawed
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
Fresh cilantro sprigs
For chicken: place chicken in glass baking dish. Combine all remaining ingredients and pour over chicken; turn to coat. Cover and chill at least 3 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
For salsa: combine first 8 ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Can be prepared 6 hours ahead.
Prepare barbeque to medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.
Add avocado to salsa right before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place chicken on plates and spoon salsa alongside. Top chicken with cilantro sprigs.
Source: Bon Appetite 1993; http://www.epicurious.com
Grilled Pineapple With Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
1 carton of vanilla bean ice cream
Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Cut pineapple lengthwise through leaves, keeping leaves attached, into 8 wedges. Grill pineapple wedges, a cut side down, on a lightly oiled rack, set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just charred, about 2 minutes each side.
Serve pineapple with ice cream.
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The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide . Chronimed Publishing; 1998.
City of Branford Fire Department (Canada)