With the first unofficial long weekend of the summer just days away I thought we should spend some time talking about the barbecue, as I’m sure most of you will be putting yours to good use in the coming months.
For starters, when referring of this type of cooking do you use the term ‘barbecue’ or ‘grill’ to describe your outdoor cooking method? Did you know there is a vast different between the two words, despite the fact that they are almost always used interchangeably? Grilling is the quick cooking of food over direct heat. Edibles are placed on a grill a few inches above the heat source (coal or flame) and cooked for a short amount of time. This preparation is most common for steak, chicken, fish, etc.
Barbecuing is the slow, indirect, low-heat method of cooking; or, in essence, the completely opposite of grilling. The long cooking time works well for tougher cuts of meat like brisket, pork shoulder, whole pigs, etc. In barbecuing the meat is often cooked by the smoke and heat as opposed to the flames.
There is a hybrid of the two methods, which, unfortunately, can yield unhealthy results. When grilling fatty meats on a covered grill, black smoke is created as the result of fat dripping on the coals trapped inside the grill and forms carcinogenic soot on the food. The good news is, there are a few simple steps you can take to make grilling healthy and safe for your family:
- Use lean cuts of meat and trim off excess fat and skin.
- Remove any charred portions after cooking.
- Marinade meats with vinegar, citrus juice, herbs and spices prior to grilling.
- Carcinogenic substances only form on high-protein foods so bulk up your grilled dinner with fruits and vegetables’they don’t create carcinogens when charred.
- If using a charcoal grill, use a chimney starter instead of a lighter fluid.
- Clean the grill well prior to cooking. You don’t want the charred remnants of last weekend’s feast on this week’s food.
- Cover the grate with perforated foil, which allows grease to drip but prevents the smoke from rising up and coming into contact with the food.
- Avoid piecing your meat with a fork. You loose the juices and those that drip promotes excess smoke.
- You can pre-cook your meat in the oven and finish it on the grill to add flavour and grill marks without worrying about the fat drippings.
Do you have any grilling plans in place for the long weekend? What’s your favourite food to cook over an open flame?