Peak Season for Summer Grilling
Wth the arrival of July 4th, the summer grilling season is in full swing. Celebrate summer by firing up the grill for food and fun in the backyard or at one of the hundreds of great parks across Texas.
Although outdoor grilling has been a Texas tradition for years, the grilling trend is hotter than ever all across the nation. The Barbecue Industry Association (BIA) reports that a record 3.1 billion cookouts took place last year, a number than continues to grow. To keep up with all those cookouts, grill manufacturers are filling retail stores with ever-increasing varieties of outdoor grilling equipment. For example, the Weber grill line offers everything from its no-frills "Smokey Joe" charcoal grill, retailing for $34, up to its Summit line of "super-premium" gas grills that sell for up to $3,400. Here are a few other interesting facts about modern grilling, gleaned from the 1999 consumer survey conducted by the BIA:
Summer Grilling TipsFor good marinating success, consider these tips from the Texas Beef Council:
To protect against food poisoning, a marinade that has been in contact with any kind of uncooked meat must be cooked to a full rolling boil before it can be used as a sauce.
Think of spice rubs as "dry marinades" applied to meat before cooking. Rubs add flavor and can form a crispy crust on the food. Since rubs lack the oil usually present in marinades, rubs add flavor without adding fat. For a rub with a slightly sweet flavor, try the winning seasoning mix from the Texas Beef Council's annual Signature Steak Rub Contest. This year's contest winners are chefs Kevin Williamson and Darryl Sneary of Ranch 616 and Ella's Restaurant & Bar of Austin. The recipe for their brown sugar-based recipe may be found at the end of this article.
Or try an unusual twist on a rub with Beer-Can Chicken. It might look funny, but this method can bring tasty results. To a can three-quarters full of beer, add your favorite dry spice rub and prop a whole chicken on top of the can on the grill. The chicken bastes from the inside out with beer-spiked rub.
Expand your grilling horizons
Once you have the grill fired up, use it to cook food for several meals. For example, when grilling a steak for dinner, add chicken to the grill to prepare a grilled chicken salad for the next day's meal.
And don't forget the seafood and produce. Outdoor cooks can explore a wide array of grilling possibilities, including fish, vegetables, fresh fruits and even pizza. Try grilling the large, meaty-textured portabella mushrooms to create portabella cheeseburgers. Brush portabella mushroom caps with seasoned cooking oil, then grill or broil no more than 6 inches from the heat source until they soften and turn golden. Cut mushrooms in thick slices to layer on a toasted bun with Swiss cheese, sautéed onions and fresh spinach leaves.
Or slice a variety of veggies onto individual square sections of heavy-duty foil, sprinkle with a little water, wine or vinegar, and season to taste. Fold the sides and top of foil and place on the grill rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully slash the top of the foil packets after removing them from the grill to allow steam to escape.
When the coals are dying, put some fruit on the grill. Good choices include kiwi, papaya, cantaloupe, peaches and nectarines. Thread fruits on skewers for easier handling and brush with a little lemon juice. Or baste the fruits lightly with oil to prevent sticking and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon or ginger. Cook until hot and slightly golden, between four and 10 minutes.
Texas Signature Steak Rub
Grilled Garlic-Stuffed SteaksFrom the Texas Beef Council
Spatchcocked Deviled ChickenNational Chicken Council
While chicken is marinating, prepare coals for the grill. Grill chicken over medium-hot coals for 30-35 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. Discard remaining marinade. While chicken is grilling, whisk together all ingredients for vinaigrette in a small, glass or nonstick saucepan. Transfer the grilled chicken to a cutting board and let cool 5 minutes. Over low heat, warm vinaigrette, whisking well. Carve the chicken and pour vinaigrette into a gravy pitcher. Serve chicken warm and pass the vinaigrette separately.
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