Want to be a grill master? Start by knowing the basics and being prepared.
How to Choose a Grill
The grill that's best suited for you depends upon your specific needs and preferences. Consider:
- Where you will grill
- What types of food you will cook and for how many
- The seasons of the year when you plan to cook out
Grill Safety and Tools
For safer and more convenient grilling, consider the following tools and accessories:
- Charcoal chimney or electric charcoal starter
- Water spritzer
- Long metal skewers
- Long-handled basting brush
- Long tongs- one for hot coals, one for food
- Long handled spatula
- Meat thermometer and/or instant-read thermometer
- Heavy duty mitts
- Aluminum foil drip pans
There are several types of charcoal and aromatic woods, which can be used for cooking and flavoring grilled foods. Charcoal briquettes are the most common fuel for grilling. Mesquite charcoal, now widely available, is made by charring the wood of the southwestern mesquite tree.
Hardwood chips and chunks are readily available. Soaked in water for about 30 minutes, then drained, they can be added directly to a charcoal fire to impart subtle flavor to grilled foods.
Seasoning with Herbs
Another popular way to add flavor to grilled foods is with sprigs of fresh herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram and sage. Place them directly on the coals or on the grid next to the food to add flavor during grilling. Moisten herbs with water before adding to coals.
- 1 medium bell pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 eggplant
- Deli ham slices (or low fat lunch ham)
- Pepper jack cheese slices
- Fresh basil leaves
Grill the whole bell pepper about 12 minutes. Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Peel the pepper. (Skin should come off easily). Put pepper in food processor and blend till smooth.
Cut eggplant into circle slices about 1/2 inch thick. You should have an even number of slices such as 10 or 12, etc. Soak slices in water about 30 minutes. Take out of water and pat dry. Brush with oil.
Grill 3-4 minutes on each side. Put 1 tbsp. of blended pepper on grilled side of half (about 5 or 6 slices) of the eggplant slices. Then add ham, cheese and a basil leaf. Top the sandwich with another eggplant slice to make an "eggplant sandwich." Grill on both sides of the sandwich until cheese melts.
Tips for Grilling
Soak fruits and vegetables in cold water for 30 minutes before grilling. Then lightly coat the cut-up vegetables with a light olive oil to protect the skin from drying and burning.
Source: Mississippi State University Extension Service Family Nutrition Program Summer Grilling Handout.