Friday, May 20, 2011

It's 'cue time!

As we head into Canada's May 2-4 weekend, I thought I’d pass along some tips sent to me during this, National Barbecue Month.

The following 'cue tips come courtesy of John McLemore’s book “DADGUM, That’s Good!”. John McLemore, a southerner through-and-through, was born an entrepreneur and accidentally became a cook. Here are 20 of his best barbecue tips. (Note: I've added bracketed comments after some of his tips where I felt like adding my rootin' tootin' two cents.)

Have a great long weekend, y'all!

20 BBQ Cooking Tips from John McLemore, author of “DADGUM That’s Good!”

1. Coat grill rack with non-stick spray or vegetable oil before preheating to prevent food from sticking.

2. When grilling fish, grill with the skin side down or on aluminum foil (coat with non-stick spray).

3. Red snapper is quick and easy to grill. But make sure the grill and fish are well oiled, and handle carefully.

4. Salmon is a favorite for grilling, because it doesn’t dry out. Rich in natural omega oils, you can pop it on the grill without oiling. Start by grilling the salmon skin side up. This allows the natural fat under the skin to be drawn into the filet, keeping it rich and moist. (Salmon may be fatty but it can certainly dry out, and nobody likes overcooked salmon except for cats. Also, I would definitely oil the salmon before grilling it. A quick teriyaki marinade is a crowd pleaser too.)

5. If you’re grilling scallops, use fresh ocean scallops. These should be a pinkish tan or ivory color, not unnaturally white. (Buy dry pack, not wet packed.)

6. Freshwater trout is great on the grill. The skin becomes thin and crispy and the meat is full of flavor.

7. To keep tuna burgers moist, choose the freshest tuna steaks you can find and serve them medium-rare to medium – don’t overcook. (And a post-BBQ smear of wasabi mayo does the trick here.)

8. When grilling BBQ ribs, pork butt, or tenderloin, cook unwrapped for 50 to 75% of the cooking time to infuse smoke and flavor. The remaining time wrap with heavy aluminum foil to retain moisture and tenderness

9. When grilling burgers and steaks, allow grill to get to a high temperature before placing food on grill. Let steaks or burgers grill several minutes prior to turning, which will sear in the juices. (This also prevents sticking.)

10. When choosing an inexpensive steak, opt for flank steak rather than skirt steak, which can be tougher. Flank steak is thin and cooks quickly. They’re usually marinated before being grilled. Wrap the steak in foil as it comes off the grill and let it stand for 10 minutes. Slice it thinly on a diagonal across the grain to sever the tough fibers and make the flavorful steak more tender. (I buy flank steak more than any other meat. It's lean and a delicious way to beef up summer salads.)

11. When is cheaper better? Chicken thighs may be one of the cheaper cuts, but they do great on the grill! Thighs are more flavorful and the extra fat in the skin makes them better suited to grilling.

12. For the juiciest chicken and chops, you want to sear them on both sides on high heat for several minutes and then bring the grill temperature down to complete the cooking process.

13. Grilling vegetables in aluminum foil, with oil, prevents them from falling through the grill gates. (A bit of butter makes them even better.)

14. Just a few minutes on the grill gives bell peppers a sweet smoky flavor. As soon as the skin puffs up and turns black, they’re ready. (Roast them whole and then put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that they steam their skins off. Peel off blackened skins, then core peppers and scrape out seeds before slicing peppers and using them in a feta red pepper dip, or as a pizza topping.)

15. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; grill for 15 minutes. (Zucchini is great in this salad.)

16. You can leave the husk on the corn while grilling. Once you see the shape of the kernels burning through the husk, your corn is ready. (I prefer husking it first so I get that nice charred look and taste.)

17. Grilled Caesar Salad? Sure – the Romaine lettuce ends will char, but it stays remarkably crisp and sweet, with a char-grilled flavor. (I have plans to make this soon.)

18. Always allow grill to cool prior to cleaning, but I recommend cleaning after each use.

19. To extend the life of your grill (and smoker), store in a dry place or keep covered after each use.

20. Do not grill alone; spend the time with family and friends. (It’s more DADGUM fun!)

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