May 6, 2015
You can cook just about anything on the grill, from spaghetti to Twinkies to pizza.
First, some grilling basics.
Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking. While searing doesn’t “seal in” the juices (contrary to popular belief), it does create improved flavors through caramelization.
It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris from prior meals. Scrape again immediately after use.
Even on a clean grill, lean foods may stick when placed directly on the rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
Food safety is a top priority, so keep these simple rules from the USDA in mind: avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils and platters for raw and cooked foods; refrigerate foods while marinating; and never baste with the marinating liquid. (Make extra marinade just for basting, or boil your marinating liquid first.) The best way to know if protein is fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
Flare-ups happen when fat drips onto the heat source and catches fire. This causes carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form and accumulate on your food. Meat licked by flames also tastes “off” and flames may char the outside of food before the inside has thoroughly cooked. To reduce flare-ups, select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin. And, keep a squirt bottle of water near the grill to quickly douse any unexpected flare-ups.
A favorite for summer grilling is pizza. Put down the phone and grill your own because your grill will get much hotter that your oven, plus keep the house cool. A blazingly hot grill will produce a crisper bite and delicious charred spots on the bottom of the crust (hopefully not too charred!)
You can make your life easy by buying some readymade dough from your local pizzeria or the grocery store – we won’t tell. After getting the ball of dough home, let it warm to room temperature and form into baby head-sized balls. Roll out (use a rolling pin or from college days an empty wine bottle) and place directly onto the grill. After grill marks start to appear, flip with tongs and coat the cooked side with olive oil. Once grill marks appear on the new bottom side, flip it over, throw your cooked toppings on the pizza and cover until they are heated through – should be only a minute or two so as not to over-cook the crust. Try these pizza combinations:
- Fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and basil.
- Sautéed mixed mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, drizzle of truffle oil.
- Tomato sauce, grilled veggies, mozzarella.
- Torn prosciutto and mozzarella, remove from heat, add chopped tomatoes and fresh arugula.
Lincoln Land Community College tapas instructor and world traveler John Dale Kennedy enjoys grilling fruit and has provided his recipe for pineapple and a couple of other suggestions for summer grilling.
Grilled Fresh Pineapple
One Fresh Pineapple
¼ cup dark rum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBS. of sugar
Some olive oil
Core and peel pineapple. Cut crosswise in ½ inch slices and coat each side with olive oil. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on each side of slices. Place on direct heat and turn after a few grill marks appear on one side. Place finished slices on a platter. Heat ¼ cup of dark rum (do not boil) and pour over finished pineapple. Best served warm.
Other Fruits to Grill:
Peaches and other similar fruits: cut in half, remove pit, oil inside and place flat face down on direct heat for 5-8 minutes. Same for nectarines, figs and apricots.
Bananas are yummy but be sure to use firm ones as they will hold their shape better than if too ripe. Oil the banana, roll lightly in granulated or brown sugar and place on direct heat. Turn to caramelize sugar and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, top with a touch of dark rum.
Lincoln Land Community College Culinary Instructor Chef Denise Perry provides the following recipe.
Grilled Potato, Corn and Bell Pepper Salad, Serves 4-6
1.5 lbs. small potatoes (I use small redskin)
2 ears corn
2 bell peppers (I used red), cut in half
1 large vidalia or red onion, cut in half or in quarters (thick slices)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
3 Tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grill all the vegetables. Scrub the potatoes and add them (whole) with cold water in a saucepan/pot. Bring to a boil, add some salt, and cook until just tender. A fork should be able to go into the potato, but it should still take a little effort. Cool them slightly and then slice them in half lengthwise.
Toss or lightly brush all the vegetables with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Then, start grilling. You’ll want to start the corn first, followed by the peppers and onions. Since the potatoes are pretty much cooked, they can go on last. Grill until there are noticeable char marks on the vegetables and the peppers and onions are tender.
Cut the corn off the ears, and slice the peppers and onions into strips. Combine all of that with the potatoes and the parsley.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic and the balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle the oil in, while continuing to whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lightly toss the vegetables with the dressing.
Dennis Tucker is a Springfield grilling ”maven” and provides the following recipe for pizza.
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
(dough recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence)
To make dough: combine yeast, sugar and water in electric mixer and stir gently to dissolve. Let mixture stand until it starts to foam, 5-10 minutes. Turn mixer on low and add salt and one tablespoon of olive oil. Add flour a little at a time until incorporated. Increase speed of mixer as dough starts to form ball. If it’s crumbly, add a tablespoon of water, one at a time, or if it’s sticky, add a little flour until the mixture forms a ball.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. Then form a ball, rub a tablespoon of olive oil on the ball, place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in a warm place and let it rise for an hour or so.
Once the dough rises, remove the ball and cut into 3 pieces or even 2 if you want a larger pizza. Roll out dough and spread a little flour on it won’t stick together if you fold it over for ease of handling.
Preheat grill, whether gas or charcoal and get to 350-400 degrees. Clean grill and brush oil on the side of dough that will be face down on grill using a direct cooking method. Put dough on grill. Brush a little oil on the dough that is face up. Close the grill cover and in 2-4 minutes, the dough will begin to crisp on the bottom and bubble up. Once crisp on bottom, turn dough over and then you’re ready to add ingredients. If you don’t have a pizza paddle, consider getting one. I like aluminum paddle versus wood so it won’t burn.
Be creative and use ingredients you like. Think of your dough as a blank canvas and add what you like to make it a perfect piece of edible art. Enjoy!
Jay Kitterman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is consultant to the Lincoln Land Community College Culinary Institute.
This summer, the Culinary Institute will be offering Seasonal Summer Produce, Pizza and Seafood Grilling, and Canning classes. For more information call 786-2432 or visit LLCC Community Education.
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