By Christopher Wiesman, Deli Manager, Co-op Owner
The grill is an amazingly versatile cooking machine. Nearly everything, even desserts, can be cooked over the open flame of a gas or charcoal grill. Go ahead—try it! The high heat of the flame helps to caramelize the sugars, producing a delicious crust, all the while imparting even more flavor in those grill marks we love so much.
Want to grill vegetables? It’s easy if you know the techniques. Vegetables grill better over a medium heat, not a roaring fire. If you can hold your hand over the fire for three to four seconds, then it’s hot enough. Be sure to cut your vegetables in a way that increases their surface area to promote flavorful browning. It’s best to cut shapes that will prevent the veggies from slipping through the grate. Finally, give those veggies a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper: This encourages even browning and imparts flavor. If you’re using a glaze, brush it on as soon as the vegetables hit the grill. Add more glaze when you flip the vegetables. Once nicely browned, remove from the heat (indirect heat tends to burn vegetables on a grill). If you’re cooking meat in addition to the vegetables, cook it first so that the fire has time to die down before adding the vegetables. On a gas grill, this is less of a concern as the heat can be more easily adjusted.
But what if you want to grill meat? First, you’ll definitely need a thermometer. It’s important to cook meats to the minimum safe temperature recommended by the FDA. (Tip: For more information about safe minimum cooking temperatures, visit www.fda.gov.) Meat can be cooked over a much higher heat than vegetables (vegetables tend to incinerate if the fire is too hot, whereas meat chars). As you would do with meat you cook in the oven, a simple brine is best to soften the meat and impart flavor. I use one cup of salt per gallon of water, and sometimes liquid smoke, honey, or maple syrup if I want different flavor notes. You can also add other whole spices like allspice berries, peppercorns, star anise, etc. depending on the flavor profile you’re after. Let the meat brine for at least 4 hours. Once the grill is hot enough, throw your meat on. This is a good time to apply your glaze so it will have time to thicken. (Tip: Marinating meat in glaze almost never results in flavorful meat, as it cannot penetrate past a few millimeters of the meat’s surface. So save the marinade for glazing the meat.) Cook until the meat is nicely browned, flipping only once if possible, and apply glaze to the other side. Temp the meat and if it’s done, move it to indirect heat to keep it warm until ready to serve.
Now, think back to your favorite summer memory… It’s likely it involves grilled food of some kind: chicken slathered in barbecue sauce, ooey-gooey s’mores, or a homemade veggie burger cooked to perfection. Basically, nothing says summer quite like grilling. (And with the temperature so high, who wants to be stuck in a kitchen anyway?) We wanted to take advantage of this memory-making machine while the weather was nice, which is why GreenTree has begun hosting grilling events every Friday. Although we do not have indoor seating, we do have a beautifully landscaped front yard where you can relax throughout the kinder, gentler months of the year. In addition providing great food, we wanted to bring the GreenTree community (and beyond!) together in a way we rarely get to. What better way to celebrate the summer than food, music, and good company? Come join us each Friday from 5pm to 8pm! Let’s make some new memories together.