Let’s begin with food safety.Food safety is always a priority. The USDA gives us some simple common-sense guidelines to follow:
- Use separate cutting boards, cooking utensils, and platters for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- Refrigerate while marinating to prevent bacteria, and never baste or sauce with the used marinating liquid.
- Cook meats to the proper temperatures. Temperatures will vary depending upon the type of meat and the cut. For example, pork cuts are to be cooked to a temperature range of 130°F to 160°F. If you are grilling a fully cooked ham, the internal temperature should reach 130°F-140°F, while pork chops and pork tenderloins require 145°F, and ground pork should always be cooked to 160°F. Check your meat’s internal temperature by using a digital, instant-read thermometer.
Next, it’s always good to start out with a clean and properly heated grill.Begin preheating your grill at least 15-25 minutes prior to cooking, so you can give the grill time to reach the desired temperature. After you preheat the grill, simply scrape off the grate with a grill brush. It’s always easiest to remove the remains of a past meal while the grill is hot. Once the grill is clean, bring it to the necessary temperature. For high heat, aim for 400-450°F, medium-high at 350-400°F, 300-350°F for medium, and 250-300°F for low heat.
This next tip encompasses food safety, personal safety, and grill maintenance.Avoid flare-ups and put them out properly! Flare-ups occur when fat drips down onto the coals (or whichever heat source you are using) and catches on fire. These fires can cause the formation and accumulation of carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and the flames can also affect food taste or cause charring. By selecting leaner cuts of meat and trimming excess fat, you can reduce your chance of having a flare-up. If a flare-up does happen, make sure you put it out in a safe way. Some grillers keep a squirt water bottle handy, but grilling pro and author Elizabeth Karmel suggests that extinguishing the flames by putting the lid over the grill is simpler, safer, and more maintenance effective. Using this method eliminates water splatter that can cause burns or crack the finish of your grill.
Now that I’ve covered food and personal safety, I’ll share some quick grilling tips with you:
- Properly preheating the grill aids in searing the meat and helps with caramelization.
- Foods can still stick to a clean grill, so you can reduce sticking by oiling your grill rack with vegetable oil. While some grillers suggest applying the oil to a hot grill rack by using a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel, it’s much safer to just apply the oil before heating the grill, especially if your grill is already clean.
- Choosing your grilling method can be tricky, but the problem is easily overcome. Direct heat (or cooking directly over the heat source) is best for quick cooking cuts. Indirect heat is mostly and appropriately used for meats that take longer to cook. Elizabeth Karmel’s rule of thumb: Anything that takes less than 20 minutes to cook should be grilled with direct heat, and anything over 20 minutes requires indirect heat to cook properly. Using indirect heat is much like slow cooking—the process is slower, allowing the inside of the meat to thoroughly cook without burning the outside.
- If you have marinated your meat, pat off most of the excess moisture. The idea is to give the meat flavor yet get it to sear instead of steam.
- If you are basting, do so during the last 30 minutes of cooking to reduce the chance of burning your meat.
- Do not use sharp utensils to turn the meat. Use spatulas or tongs that will not pierce the meat and release juices. You do not want to lose moistness and flavor. The only exception is if you do not have a digital thermometer and are checking for doneness. If you pierce the meat and the juices are clear, the meat is done.
- Letting the cooked meat rest before serving allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat and mete out flavor. Yummy!
- Grill tools can come in handy. If you like grilling vegetables or foods that can fall through the rack, try using a grill basket.
- Don’t be afraid to improvise. Don’t have a grill brush to clean the grate? Karmel has used a wadded-up piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (to act as a brush) and a set of tongs (as a handle). But this tip doesn’t only extend to grilling tools. Improvise on flavor, techniques, and experience. Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities!
Now that I’ve went over safety and cooking tips are you ready for some recipes to try out? I know I am!
- Grilled Asian Pork Chop with Peanut Sauce: My family and I love Asian food, and this recipe is definitely a winner in my book!
- Chocolate Coffee Pork Tenderloin: Who doesn’t like chocolate or coffee? And together in a rub, they are scrumptious! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
- Pork Chops with Blueberry Mango Salad: Tender pork chops with a bit of sweetness and spice! Yummy!
- Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops: This recipe incorporates a delicious yet simple glaze composed of soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, and ginger. Thinking about it is making me want to fire up the grill right now!
Grilling season is upon us, and grilling and marinating go hand in hand, much like pork roast and potatoes or bacon and eggs. Some of the best grill recipes I’ve ever used incorporate marinade. And there are four big reasons for that:
- Marinating enhances the flavor of your meat. You can maximize taste by giving your meat, or even vegetables, a soak in even the most basic of ingredients.
- Keep your meat moist and juicy by marinating. Since the surface tissue of your meat soaks up and holds the marinade, the added moisture keeps the meat from drying out as it cooks.
- Marinating creates a beautiful crust. Not only do you want your food to taste delicious, but you want it to look yummy. Presentation is an important part of any meal. Obtain that beautiful crust on grilled meat by adding a bit of sugar or oil to your marinade.
- Last, but not least, marinating is healthy for you! Grilling poultry, red meat, and fish can create HCAs (heterocyclic amines) that are potentially carcinogenic. According to expert research, you can be reduce HCA by as much as 99 percent through marinating.
- Acids (wines, vinegars, and citrus juices) help soften the meat’s surface, allowing for absorption; you use the smallest amount of these to achieve the desired results.
- Fats, such as oils or coconut milk or yogurt, help build up the moisture; it’s fairly standard to use a 1:3 acid/fat ratio.
- Seasonings are the main and dominant part of the marinade. They carry the majority of your flavor and can help with caramelization (the creation of that beautiful crust).
- Use a lot of flavoring or spices. You want the flavor to soak in and still pop after grilling.
- Score the meat. Scoring the meat before marinating will help the marinade penetrate deeper into the meat, once again helping out with moistness and flavor.
- Thoroughly coat the meat. A Ziploc bag can help with this as you can turn it over or shake it to make sure every inch of the meat is covered.
- Use appropriate marinating times. Veggies are more porous and can absorb the marinade in as little as 30 minutes, while meat takes a little longer. A couple of hours is good for chops or steaks. Other meats can be soaked for up to 24 hours.
- Refrigerate while marinating. Refrigeration helps keep the meat from developing harmful bacteria.
- Throw away used marinade. Again, this has to do with food safety. If you want to use marinade as a sauce, simply make extra and set it aside for use after grilling. Do not use marinade that has been contaminated by raw meat.
Marina's Pork Marinade with Marina's Cranberry Chutney. One night as I was getting ready to make dinner, I decided to try something different. We were going to grill chops that night, and I thought "Why not make my own marinade?" So I opened the refrigerator and began to go through it. I chose ingredients that would complement each other as well as our Circle B Ranch pasture-fed Berkshire pork.. The resulting recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious. I was truly honored when the recipe published in Missouri's Midwest Living Magazine!
If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to look for “Get it on the Grill” Circle B Ranch’s comprehensive article on grilling basics, tips, and tasty grilling recipes.Additional Resources: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/guide-marinating-tips-tricks-and-myths https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5564-marinating-tips-for-success http://www.dartagnan.com/marinating-basics-and-techniques.html http://www.rachaelraymag.com/food/how-to-marinate http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/13_best_grilling_tips [ ... ]