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Johnson's Catering & Ice Sculpting Gournet Meal

>> Grilling Like a Guru

BBQ Essentials

  1. A barbecue grill
  2. Barbecue tools: tongs, long-handled fork, spatula/turner
  3. Something to grill: burgers, chicken, bratwurst, etc
  4. Marinades, rubs, seasonings
  5. An appetite!

Cleaning Your Grill

Clean your grate with a wire grill brush, loosening particles of food from past use. For a more thorough cleaning, spray with oven cleaner or wash with soapy water, and rinse thoroughly. Before grilling, apply vegetable oil to the grate or coat it with a non-stick cooking spray, and open any vents on the bottom of your grill.

After you've taken the last thing off your gas grill, place aluminum foil over the grate and turn the gas up to high for one minute. Then turn it off. The foil focuses the heat on the grate, burning everything to a fine ash. After it's cooled down, crumple up the foil and use it to brush the ash off the grate.

Grilling - Covered vs. Uncovered

To sear -- a fast, high-temperature cooking method that seals in natural juices -- leave the grill uncovered. A covered grill will impart a smokier flavor to the food.

Grilling - Healthy Flavor Substitutes

For low-fat grilling, use herbs and salt instead of oil. For low-salt grilling, try a combination of lime juice and chile as a salt substitute.

Grilling - Keeping foods from sticking

Before grilling, apply vegetable oil to the grate or coat it with a non-stick cooking spray.

Grilling - Preheating the Grill

Before grilling, apply vegetable oil to the grate or coat it with a non-stick cooking spray.

Grilling - Preventing Flare Ups

Trim excess fat from your meats to prevent sudden flare-ups. To ensure more even cooking, bring foods to room temperature before placing them on the grill.

Grilling - Preventing Overcooking

To avoid burning vegetables before they're done, push them to the side of grill where heat is moderate. Wrap the ends of bone in ribs with aluminum foil to prevent drying and burning.

Grilling - Testing the Temperature

To test the temperature of the grill, carefully place the palm of your hand above the coals at about cooking height, then count the number of seconds you can hold it there before the heat becomes too hot. Most people can hold their hand over a red-hot fire for only about two seconds. Steaks, chops, burgers, and boneless chicken are best cooked over such high heat.

Most other grillable foods, including vegetables, cook best over a medium-hot fire, with coals that are covered with a light-gray ash. You can generally hold your hand over a medium-hot fire for roughly four seconds. Coals covered entirely with a gray ash characterize a medium fire; you can hold your hand above one for around six seconds.

Grilling - Tips

*Always preheat the gas grill for a good 10 minutes or with charcoal allow 20 to 30 minutes for it to turn to a light gray ash.

*Keep the grill vents open. This lets oxygen in which fuels the flame.

*Keep your grill clean. Scrub grill grates with a wire brush or spatula before and after cooking. Oil the grill grates so food doesn't stick.

*Season the food with dry rubs before cooking.

*Use long-handled tongs or a spatula to turn food. Do not pierce the food while cooking. Piercing with a fork lets all the juices out.

*Control flare-ups by moving food away from flames on grill. Close the grill cover to help cut off oxygen supply.

*Keep grill cover closed for even cooking. Resist the urge to peek.

*Turn items only once (halfway through cooking time) and test with an instant-read thermometer.

*Baste during the last half of the cooking time. Brush sugary sauces on food near the end of cooking to prevent burning.

Grilling Fish

When selecting fish, choose steaks over fillets. Fillets are more difficult to grill because they tend to fall apart when turning of removing from the grill. If you do choose to cook a fillet, try cooking it on a piece of aluminum foil. This will allow you better control of the fish and you can add marinades to it as it cooks without concern of flare-ups.

Grilling Fruits

Apples: Cut 2 large apples into quarters, then core and peel. Brush with melted butter. Grill over indirect heat (not directly over the coals) until softened, about 45 to 55 minutes, moving them progressively closer to the coals. Remove from grill, sprinkle with brandy or rum and top with vanilla ice cream.

Bananas: Put whole ripe bananas, unpeeled, directly over ash-covered coals and cook, turning occasionally, until they are soft, about 15 minutes. Peel carefully, slice and serve over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Melon: Halve a medium cantaloupe lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each half into six wedges. Peel the wedges. Brush the melon with melted butter. Grill directly over coals until hot throughout and lightly marked, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with grilled pork or ham steaks.

Grilling Safety

Don't allow anyone to conduct any activities near the grill during or immediately after use, as grills tend to stay hot for awhile.

Make sure you are not wearing any clothing that has hanging shirt tails or sleeves, apron frills or strings when you barbecue.

Once you're ready to start your grill, form a pyramid with charcoal or wood and apply lighter fluid. (Cap the fluid immediately and place it a safe distance away from the grill. Never add fluid to existing hot or warm coals.)

Never leave a grill unattended once it is lit. A fire extinguisher should always be kept handy. If you do not own an extinguisher, consider buying one, and in the meantime, keep a bucket of sand or a garden hose handy.

Make sure you thaw and marinate all foods in the refrigerator, not on the countertop or out near the barbecue, to protect yourself and your family from salmonella or other potentially harmful bacteria.

Do not reuse the marinade. Instead, make a double batch, using half to marinate your foods and the other half as a sauce at serving time.

This way there is little chance for contamination from bacteria which may be in the marinade from the raw meats.

After handling raw meat, wash your hands before handling cooked meat or other foods.

Grill food immediately after pre-cooking or defrosting. Foods that are only partially cooked do not get hot enough inside to destroy the bacteria, which can lead to additional bacterial growth.

Don't leave cooked food unrefrigerated for more than two hours; if the air temperature is 90 degrees or more, don't leave food out for more than one hour

Don't store raw ground meat in the refrigerator for more than two days.

Don't put cooked food on the same platter which held raw food. If you must use the same plate, make sure you wash it thoroughly before reusing.

Even though meat, poultry and seafood may look done on the outside, it does not necessarily mean that it is thoroughly cooked on the inside. To be extra sure, use a meat thermometer and grill until internal temperatures reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit for meat and poultry, and 145 degrees Fahrenheit for fish.

Grilling Sausage

Cut them lengthwise through the middle, careful not to cut the back membrane. Open and grill skin side down first. This will cook the sausage faster and more evenly.

Grilling Shrimp

Start with a good marinade with a citrus base. Place shrimp on a hot grill, preferably on skewers for easy handling or in a grilling basket. Watch closely. If the shrimp cook too long they will become tough and flavorless. When the shrimp start to turn pink on the sides, turn and cook until there is no more gray. Remove immediately and serve. Do not let cooked shrimp sit out for very long.

Grilling Vegetables

For the best results, rub the vegetables with vegetable oil or toss them with a clear or light marinade prior to grilling.

Although some cooks prepare corn for the grill by soaking it in its husk and grilling it cloaked, this method steams the vegetable rather than grilling it. For the smoky flavor typical of grilled foods, husk the ears and cook them directly on the grill rack.

Eggplant can be cut lengthwise or crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Red, purple, orange, white, yellow, and green peppers are tasty when grilled. Add them to appetizers, sandwiches, and home-baked breads and pizzas as well as salads.

Potatoes can be cooked whole or cut into halves, thick slices, or wedges. To reduce grilling time, blanch cut potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes before grilling.

Summer squash, including zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan, can be cut into chunks and used for kabobs. You can also slice them lengthwise.

Select firm ripe tomatoes or plum tomatoes for grilling. Cherry tomatoes are easily cooked on skewers.

To prevent onion slices or wedges from falling through the grill rack, cut a large onion into 1/2-inch-thick slices or inch-wide wedges, then push a small metal or water-soaked bamboo skewer through the onion sections to secure them.

To roast peppers, put whole peppers on the grill over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally until skin is charred on all sides. Put the peppers in a brown bag, fold over the top to seal, and cool for about 15 minutes. Then cut peppers lengthwise in half and discard stems and seeds; place cut-side down on work surface and scrape off skin with a small knife.

To roast portabello mushrooms, brush with olive oil and grill 4 to 5 minutes each side.

Asparagus: Break off and discard tough asparagus ends. Blanch tips in a large pot of boiling salted water for a minute or two (depending on size), just to remove the raw taste. Drain and transfer to ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and pat dry. Roll in olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook directly over hot coals, turning the asparagus with tongs as they color, until they are lightly blistered by the grill and hot throughout, about 2 minutes.

Carrots: Leave skinny carrots whole. If carrots are thick at the top and thin on the bottom, cut them in sections and halve the thick ends. Roll carrots in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over indirect heat until softened, about 20 minutes, moving them progressively closer to the coals.

Roll whole red potatoes, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over indirect heat until the potatoes can be pierced easily, 30 to 40 minutes, moving them progressively closer to the coals.

Sweet potatoes: Grill large, whole sweet potatoes directly on ash-covered coals (not on the grate). Mound some of the coals around the sweet potatoes. Give them a quarter-turn about every 15 minutes so the skin chars evenly. Keep vents partially closed and grill covered so fire does not get too hot. Sweet potatoes weighing about a pound will take 45 to 50 minutes. Split in half and serve with butter.

  Copyright © 2009 - Chef Donnell Johnson  


Johnson's Catering provides cooking classes, catering, and ice sculpting (ice carving) in Birmingham, AL and surrounding
areas. Chef Donnell can also come to you which means that if you are close to Alabama, he can come to your town and
create the ice scuptures in your area to minimize problems with delivery and transportation.