The following is an article from the June/July 2021 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at www.carolinafep.com/library/newsletters/ or subscribe for free at www.carolinafep.com/newsletter.cfm
Barbecuing and summertime go hand in hand, but all too often, so does grilling dried-out meat or over-charred vegetables.
Mastering the grill is just like mastering any other cooking technique. It takes an understanding of the food you’re cooking as well as the equipment you’re using — for example, charcoal grills operate much differently than gas grills. Regardless of which kind of grill you prefer, you can make the perfect meal by following these tips.
Quick brine-thin cuts of meat.
Whether you’re grilling steak, chicken, or pork chops, there’s a tried-and-true formula to ensure maximum flavor with minimum effort: the quick brine. Quick brining — aka soaking in salty water — thin cuts of meat is a great way to lock in moisture and pack in a lot of flavor without waiting 12–24 hours for a marinade to work its magic in the fridge.
To quick brine your meat, you just need water, salt, and about an hour of hands-off time. Dissolve 1/4 cup of kosher salt into 4 cups of water, and you will have enough to brine 1 1⁄2 pounds of meat. You can amp up the flavor by adding aromatics like citrus peels, smashed garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, or herbs.
Pro tip: Get your meat brining first, then prep any vegetables or sides for your meal in the hour it takes to brine. Pat the meat dry before grilling.
Get veggies right every time.
Grilling vegetables comes with its own set of challenges. Some vegetables, like asparagus spears, are thin enough to fall through the grates. And how do you ensure uniform cooking on kebabs that include a mix of vegetables?
To grill veggies that may fall prey to the flames, instead use a cast-iron skillet on top of your grates to contain the veggies. Plus, cast iron has the added benefit of ensuring uniform heat!
To create the perfect kebab, use two skewers instead of one. To ensure your vegetables cook evenly, use your longest-cooking vegetable on the kebab as a guide for how to prepare any others. For example, if you’re using whole white button or cremini mushrooms, cut thicker chunks of bell pepper and summer squash. If you’re using cherry tomatoes, which cook quickly, cut accompanying vegetables thinner to accommodate for the shorter cook time.
Don’t forget dessert.
Cooling down with ice cream after a meal on a hot summer day is great, but before you turn off the grill after dinner, remove any savory food debris and use your grill to amp up your dessert offerings.
Peaches and pineapples grill particularly well. Halve your peaches and thickly slice pineapple rings, place them on the grill until softened and lightly charred, and serve along with ice cream and your favorite sauce to create a grilled sundae. To add another dimension to a summertime favorite, lightly grill slices of angel food cake before serving with fresh strawberries and whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pro tip: To bring your fruit to the next level, sprinkle peach halves with cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. You can also soak pineapple rings in rum before grilling.