The 4 Biggest Grill Dangers
Grilling season is just about here, but before you fire up that station and flip some burgers, chef and author of The Good Stuff Cookbook Spike Mendelsohn is showing you the four biggest grill dangers to avoid, and throwing in some cooking tips to make you the grill-master in your house! (Think you are already the best griller in America? We want to hear from you!)
Grill cleaning: "At the beginning of the season, peoples’ grills are, you know, rusty, they’ve got food particles from last year and they’re really dirty!" Spike says. Beyond the grime, he says those leftover items can be dangerous if left on the grates when making your next meal. "It can actually be pretty toxic." You can use grill brushes to clean it up, but Spike says his favorite trick is to cut an onion in half and use it cut side down to scrub the grill. "Not only is it cleaning it and making it ready ... It’s seasoning it! You’re going to get a lot of flavor." Spike also suggests prepping your grill for fish or other foods by rubbing lemons and olive oil on the rack to add flavor to the food when it cooks.
Grilling temperature: "You don’t want to burn off your eyebrows when you’re kind of grilling, so controlling your heat is one of the most important things," he says. "You don’t want your grill to be too hot when you throw your meat on there, because you’ve got a lot of fat that’s dripping off and it’s going to flame up."
Meat and veggie prep:
• Make sure meat is dry before it goes on the grill. "Water and fat do not mix and they create flames."
• Don't salt the meat too far in advance. "What the salt is doing is extracting all that moisture out of the meat, it's mixing with the oil and then they throw it on and you get big flames. You’re not going to get that sear like you want, that caramelization and you’re just going to end up overcooking your meat," he warns. "Best to season [it] last-minute or even on the grill. I love seasoning food on the grill as you go."
• Trim excess fat from the meat. "It drips down to the grill, it creates flames, it burns your steak," Spike explains. Once you've trimmed the fat it can be used in another dish. "I don’t like throwing anything away, so sometimes I’ll put a bunch of potatoes in a foil pan, put the [fat] in it, season it up and put it underneath the [grill] grates and just let it go really, really slow while you're waiting to grill your steaks!"
Rachael loves the idea, and offers her own tip in exchange, suggesting using the grill set-up to help prevent fat from dripping in the flames. "If it has racks to adjust, sometimes I tilt mine, too, so that the fat falls away as the meat cooks up," Rachael adds. "I learned that one in Italy!"
• Don't cook with excess butter on veggies on the barbecue. "If you really want to use butter with your vegetables, I kind of just melt the butter and just dab it with a little brush," Spike says. "Just don’t throw on chunks of butter, because what you’re going to end up is having burnt butter - and all that butter, again, is going to drip into the grill and get flames," he warns, while telling Rach, "actually, what I like a little bit better is EVOO! A little bit of olive oil"
Taking meat off the grill:
• Always have a clean plate and utensils near the grill. "One of the things people do, is they throw this chicken and this poultry on the grill and when it's ready they put it right back on the same exact plate. It's something you don’t want to do," he says. "It’s called salmonella!"
• Use extra marinade for a sauce. "Save some of the marinade - that hasn’t touched any of the meat or the poultry - and just kind of reduce that on its own and just use it after to baste it."
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