Grilling and Chillin' 101
grilling tips and BBQ cooking
Ahhh...BBQ cooking. My whole family enjoys grilling and smoking, and we've come up with lots of BBQ cooking recipes. There are few better ways to relax after a hard day at work than to pour yourself a cold drink, have a seat on your deck or patio, and cook dinner…Huh? Cook dinner? I know what you’re thinking: cooking is not relaxing – it’s a chore! Cooking can be very relaxing and even fun when it’s done outside on the grill, and with a little imagination, you can cook an entire meal at the same time. Hopefully, after reading these suggestions, you’ll be grillin' and chillin’ in no time!
Mankind and Outdoor Cooking
Roasting meat over an open flame or coals, which we now refer to as BBQ cooking, is the oldest cooking method known to man. The fire meant food, warmth, and protection from wild animals. Gathering around the campfire is a tradition that is permamently etched in our DNA. I think that's one reason so many of us love grilling. Of course, food cooked over coals also has a wonderful smoky taste and aroma, and besides - grilling is just plain fun!
The Great Grilling Debate-Challenge
A fellow teacher and I were discussing grilling at work during lunch one day, and he made the mistake of expressing the opinion that grilling was just too much trouble because you had to cook part of the meal outdoors and the rest of it inside on the stove or in the oven. The rest of our lunch mates agreed with him. I, of course, super BBQ cooking expert that I am (lol), responded by telling him that practically anything can be cooked to perfection on a gas or charcoal grill. And so began the Great Grilling Debate of Tift County High School.
For the next few days, my assertion was challenged repeatedly. A colleague would mention a food, and I’d tell him or her how it could be done with BBQ cooking. I’ll give you the shortened version; it went something like this:
Cheap, Tough Cuts of Beef
You can turn an inexpensive piece of beef into a tender, juicy meal by tenderizing it first. Pierce the steaks and rub with a commercial meat tenderizer or baking soda. Marinate the meat overnight in an acidic liquid like red wine. Before grilling, add some type of fat to the steaks: olive oil, canola oil, Italian dressing, etc. Small, thick steaks like chuck-eyes can be wrapped in bacon slices before grilling.
To learn more tricks about tenderizing meats, click here.
Cured and Smoked Pork
Oh, c’mon’, guys – challenge me! Thick cured ham slices are awesome on the grill, especially when marinated in pineapple juice first. Smoked pork chops can be grilled just like they are – they’re so inherently flavorful that they don’t need no steenkin’ spices!
Oysters are great roasted on the grill! First, clean the shells. Then place the oysters on a medium grill and cover them with a wet burlap bag. We always use the bag the oysters came in for this. Close the lid to the grill and check the shells after a few minutes. When they pop open, your oysters are ready to eat. If you want them more “done,” just leave them on the grill for a few more minutes.
For some great tips on topping your grilled oysters, along with my secret sauce recipe, click here.
Easy – thread the shrimp on a skewer and brush with melted butter, olive oil, or your favorite salad dressing. Larger shrimp can be placed individually on the grill. For a real treat, wrap jumbo shrimp in bacon and grill. For my recipe, click here.
Shrimp can also be steamed on a grill. Just place them in a metal or heavy aluminum pan with a little water, butter, and seasonings. Close the lid and cook until the shrimp turn pink.
Scallops and BBQ Cooking
BBQ cooking for scallops? Thread large scallops on a skewer or place individually on the grill and brush them with butter or oil. Sprinkle on some herbs or spices and grill each side. Even better, wrap each scallop in bacon and grill!
If you’re cooking smaller bay scallops, place them in a foil packet with butter, herbs, and spices. Leave the pouch open at the top to get some smoky flavor into the flesh.
My friends thought they had me on this one. Grilling crabs and crab legs is often overlooked, even by grilling enthusiasts, but it can be done with excellent results.
For whole live crabs, have a heart and kill the crabs right before grilling. I tell you how here. Dip the crabs into a mixture of melted butter or oil, vinegar or white wine, and herbs and spices. Place on a medium-hot grill and cook about 5 minutes per side.
For crab legs, punch holes in the legs with an ice pick and soak them in melted butter and spices. Cook on a hot grill, turning once. Crab legs have already been cooked when you buy them, so you just want to heat them and add a little smoky flavor.
Soft-shell crabs should be cleaned first, then dipped in melted butter. Sprinkle on the herbs and spices as the soft-shells cook.
For the details about grilling crabs and crab legs, read my article.
Whole dressed fish and thick, firm fillets can be cooked right on the grill grate. Brush with oil or butter and season first. More delicate fillets should be cooked in a wire fish basket on the grill. If you're grilling whole fish, tuck some herbs and spices into the cavity before cooking.
Fillets can also be wrapped in foil packets and grilled. This really intensifies the flavors of the herbs and spices you use with the fish.
Our favorite veggies for grilling are zucchini, yellow squash, onions, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, and eggplant. Slice the vegetables lengthwise or across into half-inch planks. Asparagus and mushrooms can be grilled whole, and bell peppers should be cut in half. Brush with butter and garlic and cook on a medium-hot grill.
Try wrapping a whole, peeled Vidalia onion in heavy aluminum foil. Remove the core first and fill it with butter and a beef bullion cube.
Any vegetable or vegetable medley can be steamed on the grill in foil packs, too. Just add a small amount of water and some butter and seasonings and seal the pouches tightly.
Corn-on-the-cob and grilling go hand in hand. Ears of corn can be cooked in the shucks, wrapped in foil, or placed “naked” on the grill. Butter and seasonings can be added beforehand, or the ears can be brushed with olive oil, melted butter, Italian dressing, or sundried tomato dressing as they cook. I devoted an entire article about cooking corn. You can read it here.
Tomatoes are another often overlooked food item when it comes to grilling, and that’s a shame. This tasty fruit (have we decided once and for all it’s a fruit?) is wonderful after just a quick stay over the coals.
Slice the tomatoes in half and top each half with bread crumbs, basil, and cheese. Place on a sheet of foil on the grill and cook until cheese has melted.
Slice potatoes or sweet potatoes into wedges or planks and coat with oil. Place on cooler parts of the grill and cook until tender.
Sliced or diced potatoes can also be cooked in foil pouches to which butter and seasonings have been added. Get the details about grilling potatoes here.
Fruits like peaches, apricots, baking apples, and pineapple can easily be cooked on an outdoor grill. Cut the fruits into halves or thick slices first. With pineapples, cut them into half-inch-thick rings. Brush fruit pieces or halves with canola oil before grilling.
Core tart apples and fill with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, or Red Hots candy. Wrap in heavy foil and grill for 35-40 minutes until tender. Yum!
Check out the video below to learn how to make mixed fruit kabobs:
Brush thick slices of barbecue bread, Texas toast, French bread, or Italian bread with butter and garlic or your favorite seasonings and cook until grill marks are left. Of course, whole loaves can be wrapped in foil and heated on the grill, too. You might want to drizzle them with melted garlic butter first.
Too easy! Cut frozen pound cake or another type of dense cake into cubes and thread on skewers with peaches and whole maraschino cherries. When hot, brush with a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pound cake can be grilled in slices, too.
Any grilled fruit can be turned into a dessert by topping the cooked fruit with a liqueur, the brown-sugar mixture mentioned above, caramel sauce, or a blend of rum, sugar, and butter. Finish these off with ice cream or whipped topping for a truly decadent dessert!
Speaking of ice cream, have you ever considered grilling it? Yes, dear reader, it is possible! Check out this recipe for grilled ice cream cake.
For another great grilled dessert, watch the following video:
Okay, I conceded on this one. I still haven’t figured out a way to successfully grill Jell-o…but give me a few weeks to work on it!
More BBQ Cooking
In case you haven't figured it out yet, my family and I LOVE BBQ cooking! We engage in these activities on a regular basis with friends, and sometimes we have our own cooking contests. Hubby and I enjoy hosting cookouts, luaus, oyster roasts, fish fries, and low-country boils. We almost always have informal live entertainment in the form of singing, guitar playing, banjo picking, and even bagpipes. How 'bout that for grilling and chillin'?
Outdoor grilling is a wonderful way to entertain. All the guests, along with the hosts, mingle and visit around the grill while the food cooks, so you're not stuck in the kitchen by yourself. If you'd like to get more ideas about grilling, smoking, and other methods of outdoor cooking, follow the links below!
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