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Gas grills are still the most popular when it comes to barbecuing. Many of the newer units include an infrared searing zone, charcoal pans to convert to charcoal grilling and built-in smoker boxes with dedicated burners for those who want to try their hand at smoker cooking.
In addition, you can also use stainless steel griddles to cook complete meals on your outdoor gas grill. The griddles can be used to make pancakes, eggs, barbecue or even Chinese stir-fry right on top of the grill.
Many of us still like to use charcoal grills, which seem to be making a comeback. Today’s electric grills burn hotter than the previous models, reaching temperatures that are high enough to sear a steak.
Cook meat thoroughly
Gas grills need at least 10 minutes to get hot, electric grills should be heated for at least 15 minutes prior to cooking, while charcoal grills usually need at least 20 minutes or more. Don’t rely on a visual inspection to determine if meats are thoroughly cooked. They may appear brown or charred on the outside, but may be raw in the middle.
An internal meat thermometer is the best way to judge doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. Carry-over heat will raise the internal temperature 5-10 degrees during the 10 minutes after the meat is removed from the grill and allowed to rest.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees for medium rare and 160 degrees for medium; hamburger, meat loaf, ground pork, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees; chicken and turkey breast to 170 degrees; and whole chicken or turkey legs, thighs and wings should have an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Fish, too, should be cooked thoroughly, and be especially careful with shellfish.
Are you one of those outdoor grillers who cut into meat to peek for rare, medium or well-done? Well, stop that! You are releasing the juices that keep meat moist.
Lightly brushing or spraying the meat with oil will produce fewer flare-ups than oiling the grate. It will also help to keep food from sticking to the grill.
Always pre-heat the grate. Once it’s hot, it’ll be easy to brush off leftover bits from the last time you cooked on it.
Keeping the lid closed will help to speed up the cooking process, develop a smoky flavor and prevent flare-ups.
Mexican Grill Rub
Use this great tasting rub when making the Mexican Steak Tortillas, Grilled Quesadillas and the Grilled Mexican Onions.
2 Tbsps. chili powder
4 tsps. garlic salt
2-1/2 tsps. onion powder
2 tsps. ground cumin
1-1/2 tsps. oregano leaves, crushed
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
In a small jar or bowl, combine all rub ingredients; mix until blended. Unused grill rub can be reserved for later use. Be sure to remix spices before using. Makes 1/4 cup.
Mexican Steak Tortillas
Rib-eye steaks are seasoned with a Mexican grill rub, sliced and then served on a tortilla.
3 trimmed beef rib-eye steaks, cut 1-inch thick
Mexican grill rub
1 lime cut into 6 wedges
6 flour or corn tortillas
Press some of the rub onto each side of the steaks. Grill over medium heat about 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once. Place tortillas on the grill for about a minute on each side before serving. Carve steak into slices and place equal portions on each tortilla. Drizzle lime juice over each one. Makes six servings
4 medium flour tortillas
1-1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tsps. chopped green onion
Mexican grill rub
On one-half side of each tortilla, sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese, 1 tsp. chopped onion and 1/4 tsp. Mexican grill rub; fold in half to close. Grill over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted, turning once. To serve, cut each quesadilla into three wedges. Makes six servings
Grilled Mexican Onions
6 large slices onion, cut 1/2-inch thick
2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil
Mexican grill rub
Lightly brush both sides of onion slices with olive oil; sprinkle each side a little Mexican grill rub. Grill over medium heat 15-20 minutes or until tender, turning once. Makes six servings
Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breast
1 cup Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing
2 Tbsps. Cajun seasoning
4 (6 oz. each) chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
16-20 jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. garlic powder
Mix dressing and Cajun seasoning in medium bowl. Coat chicken with mixture and set aside. In a small bowl, mix shrimp, shallot and egg. Lay chicken flat and place chopped shrimp along middle. Roll chicken breast over shrimp and seal with toothpicks. Place in a shallow pan and sprinkle with garlic powder. Refrigerate for one hour.
Place chicken on uncovered grill over medium heat (350 degrees) for 15 minutes, without turning. Carefully turn chicken and cook uncovered for 10 additional minutes. Remove from grill, remove toothpicks from chicken, cut in half and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.
Grilled Cabbage with Bacon and Onion
This makes for a tasty side while grilling your favorite meats.
1 head cabbage, diced
1 stick butter, softened
1 medium onion, diced
5 slices bacon, diced
Crushed red pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in a foil-lined pan. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Cover with foil and cook on grill over medium heat until done, about 45 minutes.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.