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Central’s Guide to Summer Grilling

The tradition of grilling has really been around since man discovered fire.  However, over time it has gone from an essential cooking method to a weekend pass time and in current years it’s even evolved into contests and cultured cuisine.   Just as the entire idea of cooking outdoors has progressed, so has the tradition within the United States.  In a Salon.com article on grilling it is said that George Washington recorded all of the barbecues he attended/hosted mentioning that he may have in fact been responsible for creating the “first presidential barbecue.”

Image from MorgueFileAs time went on, grilling out seemed to regress back into the survival mentality with Food Network saying, “Until well into the 1940s, grilling mostly happened at campsites and picnics.”  Then in 1951, the world of grilling experienced a huge change, bringing barbecuing and grilling into virtually everyone’s backyard.  According to a piece of trivia in the San Matteo Daily Journal, 1951 was the year that the first kettle-shaped barbecue grill was designed by George Stephen, a worker at Weber Brothers Metal Works near Chicago.  Not only did this invention make is much easier and cheaper to grill on a more frequent basis, it also made way for grilled food to become a common entrée at even the trendiest of restaurants today (including a chain of its own design, Weber Grill).

So with this rich (and tasty) history in mind, Central now shares with you our guide to summer grilling complete with mouth watering recipes that will get the word out that your restaurant has the best grill in town!

Prep/Safety:

  • Temperature safety:

ο To prevent frivolous flipping and ensure cooking temperature use a
meat thermometer like this Dual-Sensing Probe
Thermometer/Timer
and/or a grill thermometer.  Eating
undercooked meat could cause salmonella.

• It’s also helpful to know the general rules on how hot to cook
your food and how long on each side.  Go here for a nice guide.

ο After meat is cooked, do not leave it outside any longer than two
hours when the temperature is lower than 90°F or one hour if the
temperature is above 90°F.

*Tip* – Always pre-heat your grill (both charcoal and gas) to
ensure that the temperature is stabilized so food is not
cooked unevenly.  Whole Foods Market’s Grilling Guide
suggests, lighting coals at least 30 minutes before beginning
to cook on a charcoal grill and at least 15 minutes before on a
gas grill.

  • Do not cook on outdoor grills indoors or under an awning:

ο  If you would like to grill indoors, it is safe to use a Charbroiler
instead.  Using an outdoor grill inside could cause a fire or
even Carbon Monoxide poisoning (when using charcoal).
Always keep water, a fire extinguisher and a burn kit on hand
in case a fire does break out.

  • Be aware of cross-contamination:

ο Be prepared with two plates: one for raw meat and one for
cooked meat.

ο Keep fresh marinades and sauces on hand to use on cooked
meats instead of using those that have been used with the raw
meat.

Image from MorgueFileCharcoal vs. Gas Grilling:

  • Convenience = Gas wins since it’s as easy as turning the knob to get cooking.  Charcoal involves a longer wait, stacking charcoal briquettes or lumps, lighter fluid levels, etc.  Charcoal also requires a little more attention to make sure that the coals are staying hot while gas usually stays at a steadier temperature and can be regulated by a knob.
  • Expense = Charcoal grills are usually less expensive initially, but do require new coals more often whereas a tank of propane can last for a while.  However, with gas prices at +$4/gallon, charcoal may be the winner this summer.
  • Cleanliness = Overall gas is a cleaner burn.  It does not produce much in terms of air pollution due to smoke levels and there is less waste from the actual coals and fluid bottles.
  • Taste = While it is a matter of opinion, there are definitely more options when it comes to a non-gas grill.  In a charcoal grill, briquettes could be used or even different forms of wood chips to add a smokier flavor.  But the only true difference is that a charcoal grill can reach a higher heat which creates a sort of crusting on the outside of the meat, sealing in flavor more easily. However, according to the Amazing Ribs site, “If you use strong flavored rubs, marinades, and sauces, you will never notice taste differences because they hamper browning.”  So all in all it mostly comes down to personal preference.

How to bring it all together:

Once your grilled meal is all prepared, this final thing to always remember when grilling is the importance of a great presentation and marketing!   While you’re wonderful smelling/tasting barbecue may be enough to get most people in the door, invest in a barbecue sign to assure customers that yours really is the place to go for the best barbecue in town.   Once guests are in the door, vinyl tablecloths lend a fun, picnic type vibe to the meal.   As an extra added bonus they are also easy to clean with a damp cloth and are resistant to stains so guests can really dig in without any fear of ruining the table coverings.  To add to the outdoor food vibe you can also serve up all of your delicious food in some rectangular plastic food baskets, which are great for everything from barbecue to fries to just about any other side.   While you’re at it you might want to look into an iced tea brewer to make your guests some sweet tea to wash it all down with!    And although it’s often overlooked, guests full on barbecue will appreciate you placing a toothpick dispenser out once plates have been cleared.

Recipes to try:

Now that you have everything from the past to the dining appearance and all that goes in between down, there’s nothing left but to grab your grill and fire up a few dishes for your anxiously awaiting customers.  We’ve gathered a few for you to try that will be sure to have them coming back for more.

Sweet & Spicy Sauce and Rub: Hank’s Barbecue Sauce (Simply Recipes) & Meathead’s Memphis Dust (Amazing Ribs)

The Classics:  Beer Can Chicken (Simply Recipes) & Barbecued Pork Ribs (Delish)

Something Different: Aussie Burgers (Martha Stewart) & Ancho Chili and Cinnamon Shrimp (Grilling Companion)

For the Veggie Lover: Grilled Eggplant Panini (Eating Well) & Corn n’ Squash Quesadillas (Taste of Home)

Tasty sides:  Bacon and Corn Stuffed Peppers (Taste of Home) & Fire Roasted Artichokes with Herb Aioli Sauce (Razzle Dazzle Recipes)

For your Sweet Tooth: Grilled Bananas Foster (Better Recipe) & Grilled Nutella and Pecan Pound Cake Sandwiches (L.A. Times)

What’s your biggest grilling secret?  Do you have the best sauce recipe around?  Share with us in the comments below.

Central’s Week in Brief: June 17, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Image from MorgueFile1)       Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 19.  In case you forgot to buy dad some great Pork Barrel BBQ cologne you could always treat him to a meal (along with around 50 million other Americans).    Several restaurants are running both brunch and dinner specials just in case you’d rather let someone else do all the cooking and cleaning, in order for you to spend the maximum amount of time with dear old dad.  Check out your city’s Open Table site then click on the Father’s Day icon to get a listing of places like Fleming’s Steakhouse and McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood that are participating in these specials in your area as well as make your reservation. 

2)       On the other hand you may prefer to give your dad something a little more homemade, why not try your hand at brunch with the help of Delish.  We recommend the Real-Man Quiche accompanied by a Fresh Tomato Bloody Mary.   This brunch will definitely be a great way for any father to start his day!  

 3)       It may also be nice to think about gifts to get dad for future Father’s Day celebrations.  This is where Rosie the German robot and James the American robot come in.  Though they aren’t for sale quite yet, you never know when the duo could be up for grabs and on dad’s wish list.  These two make pancakes and recently even prepared a Bavarian sausage breakfast.  Start saving now and you may just be able to give dad (and mom) the gift of never having to cook again in the not so distant future.

4)       While taking your father out for a nice dinner for his big day may be topped off perfectly with dessert, you may want to take a recent story from Florida into consideration when ordering.  Last Saturday, five restaurant patrons were burned, one severely by the 151 proof rum used to ignite their bananas foster dessert.  According to the St. Petersburg Times the incident may have been caused when the server poured the alcohol directly from its bottle onto the dessert causing fire to erupt.  So if dad really has a hankering for this sweet treat you might want to remind him of this incident and go for the chocolate cake instead.

5)      And finally, if dad’s really the tech type introduce him to the gift that keeps on giving…the restaurant smart-phone app.  Pizza joints like Pizza Hut allow dad to place an order without ever speaking to anyone at the store.   The one from Starbucks allows you to fill up dad’s Starbucks card and then he can use said card app to pay for his Grande Mocha Latte.  If he’s more of a calorie counter, he could use the bd’s Mongolian Grill app to build his bowl and find out exactly what’s in his caloric range before he even enters the restaurant.