June 21, 2016
By Corinne Garcia, Member Owner
Although I use my grill throughout the year, even scraping the snow off it in the winter months, there’s nothing like a little barefoot backyard grilling in the summer.
According to an industry survey, three out of every four U.S. families own a grill, making it the most common outdoor cooking method. And judging from the smells that waft into my backyard in Bozeman, that’s the truth.
If done correctly, grilling adds flavor to foods by searing it on the outside, while leaving it moist on the inside. It’s also a healthy cooking method, in the sense that it allows some of the fat from meats to drip off into the fire.
For different meats and vegetarian dishes, there are different techniques for grilling. Some call for high heat (such as steaks and seafood), some do better on medium (such as pork and chicken) and some call for lower temperatures (such as vegetables and fruits).
To determine a food’s ideal cooking temperature, a simple hand test can be performed: Hold your hand an inch over the grill and see how many seconds can you keep it there. One second is high heat, two to three is medium-high, three to four is medium and four to five is medium-low.
I often like to cook the whole meal outside if possible, especially on hot evenings, when I’m not looking to heat my house up any more than a summer day already has. Typically this means cooking a meat or main dish on one side of the grill and vegetables on the other, both at different temperatures.
Another great all-in-one meal is kebabs.
This summer, I vow to be more creative with my kebabs. Here are some tips for grilling dinner on a stick, along with some winning kebab combinations.
Kebab Grilling Tips
- Use 1 to 2 inch cubes of meat. Anything too small will cook too fast; anything too big will cook too slowly.
- Use vegetables that complement the meat and marinade and also hold up to grilling. This typically means hearty vegetables, such as zucchini, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and so on.
- Cut the vegetables roughly the same size as the meat for even cooking.
- Some vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and potatoes in general, take too long to grill. These can be cooked before adding to the skewers.
- Metal skewers are preferable because they can be reused. If using wood, make sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes so the ends don’t burn.
- Marinades are the key to flavorful and moist kebabs. There are a number found online or get creative in the kitchen and come up with some of your own.
- Cook kebabs on medium-high heat, rotating consistently so that every side touches the grill.
The Hawaiian: Chicken, fish or tofu with red onion, red and green peppers and pineapple in a marinade of pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, ginger honey and garlic (or use a store-bought teriyaki sauce).
Rainbow Veggies: Hearty vegetables in a variety of colors, such as different colored peppers, broccoli, sweet potato (cook in advance), cherry tomatoes, onion and more, marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette. Cook meat or tofu on separate skewers or serve this as a side dish.
Fajita Kebabs: Shrimp, steak or chicken with red and green peppers, mushrooms, and onions, marinated in a spicy salsa.
Pesto Kebabs: Chicken, tuna, halibut or tofu with cherry tomatoes, red onion, and zucchini, marinated in pesto sauce.
Lemony Salmon: Place folded lemon slices in between each chunk of salmon on the skewer. Season with salt, pepper and herbs of choice, and spray fish with olive oil before grilling. Serve with a side of rainbow veggies (above).