Dinner Diva: You Grill Girl

Dinner Diva
You Grill Girl

One of my very favorite parts of hotter weather is the incessant use of the barbecue or grill as we call it in the South. And even though it's still technically spring, it's warming up enough to get outside and cook like you mean it!
The key to successful grilling is understanding the grill so your food is always 'cued to perfection. So to do that, here are Five Easy Ways To Improve Your Grilling:
1. Some Like It Hot. When using a barbecue, whether it is gas or charcoal, it is imperative to preheat the grill. You cannot put the food on a cold grill and start that way for the same reasons you don't stick food in an oven that hasn't been preheated it messes up the cooking time and the way it should cook. Don't do it!
2. Cool Tools. You just might want to check out your favorite hardware store so you can try some new fun barbecue implements. There are some wonderful grilling accessories that you just cannot live without. One is a hole-y wok. That's big holes in a flat-bottomed wok. I grilled the most incredible stir fried squash in one of those things. It was easy sliced zucchini, summer squash and a little oil and garlic tossed together in the bowl got thrown into that wok and those vegetables were amazing. Think of the possibilities!
I also purchased a flat hole-y cookie sheet looking thing. That is how I cook my fish without losing it through the grill slats.
3. More Cool Tools. Don't forget when you fire up the barbie*, you will be needing some good grilling tools. I use to use my kitchen spatula till the one day I burned the hair off my arm when I was turning chicken and that was enough to convince me. Use real grilling tools and spend a few dollars on some nice ones. Lousy tools give you lousy results.
4. The Brush Off. Don't forget to get a good wire brush to clean the grill, too. Keeping the grill immaculate will improve what you're eating immensely. "Burning off" the old food only works to a degree you need the brush!
5. Use Marinades. Marinades infuse themselves into foods and makes for a delicious choice for healthy cooking. Marinades also tenderize and turn even the most mundane piece of meat or poultry into something exotic and full of flavor.
To make your own marinades, remember you need these elements:
Oil: Any type will do, but I prefer a higher burning oil like sunflower or peanut oil.
Acid: You can use wine, citrus fruit or vinegar.
Seasonings: The world is wide open on this one from your own special blend of herbs and spices to soy sauce, and everything in between.
Here's a great recipe using a marinade for you to try from my first book, Saving Dinner:
Marinated Flank Steak
Serves 6
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium if available)
1/2 cup red wine
3 cloves garlic- pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary- crumbled
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
In a large, plastic zipper topped bag, mix together the honey, soy sauce, and red wine, garlic, rosemary, chili powder and pepper. Add the flank steak and marinate overnight in the fridge. Make sure you turn it at least once in the marinating process.
Light the barbie* and let the coals get medium hot. Grill the steak for 7 minutes per side for medium rare, or to desired doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing very thin against the grain.
Per Serving: 315 Calories; 12g Fat (35.1% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 58mg Cholesterol; 1465mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with steamed broccoli, corn on the cob and a big green salad.
Vegetarians: You can always use tempeh and marinate it for an hour or so. I'd add some hardy veggies like zucchini, yellow squash onion and cherry tomatoes and marinate the whole bunch, thread them on bamboo skewers and enjoy

For more dinner solutions, visit savingdinner.com Copyright 2007 Leanne Ely. Published with permission for this publication.*Edited