Kate Williams, RD, LD
It's that time of year; the sweet smell of spring is in the air, along with the allure of longer days. I want to be outside as much as possible (after an allergy pill of course)! What comes to my mind is it's time to open the back porch and head out on the deck. In my opinion, there is nothing that tastes better than grilled food. I have always felt comfortable in the kitchen, but grilling is a step outside of my culinary comfort zone. I am determined that this barbecue season will be different! Plus, I can keep an eye on the kids while cooking outside! It's simply a win-win.
I know when I start anything new, I feel a bit nervous and I expect many of you do too. I decided to take advantage of some resources at my disposal. I began to page through some of my husband's collection of grilling books, explore recipes on Campbell's Kitchen® and pose some of my most pressing questions to Campbell's own chef Bryan Cozzi. Chef Cozzi shared a presentation he did on grilling. And while I learned a lot, he provided me some additional, specific tips that were very helpful.
My Grill Choice
There are many things to consider when choosing a grill – cost, convenience, and taste, to name a few. I remember when I was little my dad used to comment about how a charcoal grill was the only "real" grill, however, now we both have gas grills, let's face it - sometimes we need to get meals on the table a bit faster. Charcoal grills are typically cheaper and deliver a more authentic smoky flavor, but take longer. For me, convenience was a top priority, so a propane/gas grill was the best choice. Once I get more experienced, maybe I will consider a charcoal grill that imparts a deeper smoky flavor.
Adding Flavor to Food
Since I am a novice, I asked the chef to advise me on just 3 ways to impart flavor:
- Rubs – a mixture of herbs, spices, and seasonings, a rub is massaged into meat or poultry before grilling.
- Marinades – to soak food in a seasoned liquid mixture which usually includes an acid.
- Compound butters - butter combined with herbs or other seasonings.
Once I had all of my prep work done, I was ready to head out, then what?
I opened the lid before I lit the grill. According to Chef Bryan, gas grills generally need to preheat for 10- 15 minutes with the burners on high and the cover closed before cooking. Chef tip: Remember to oil the grid to get those great grill marks!
Direct vs. Indirect Heat
Lucky for me this is pretty much what it sounded like – direct heat (food is placed right above the fire) is best for cooking thin, tender foods like shrimp, boneless chicken breast, hamburgers and tenderloin. With indirect heat, food is placed on grill area not directly over fire. I placed the skewered fruit to the side of the grid (indirect heat). Chef Bryan explains, "By closing the lid & opening the vents, air is sucked into the grill forcing the hot air inside to circulate. This method works best for large, tough, fatty meats like whole chickens, pork shoulder or spare ribs."
Chef Bryan gave me some pointers for after my food is done. "When you're through grilling allow the grill to "Burn Off" any stuck on food by turning up the heat on high for 10 minutes or so. Then brush the grid thoroughly so you're ready for the next time you grill. (Note: not recommended with porcelain- coated grills)"
Grinning about grillin'
Grilling was fun, delicious and quite frankly - practical. Without a doubt the grill will be an exciting and delicious part of my warm weather cooking routine. I cannot wait to pick my next barbecue menu. Soon enough I will be confident enough to serve guests, not just my family!
Photo Diary –
Kate received her bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.