IDEAL FOR THE GRILLS: From beef to bananas, pitmasters jump in with the seasons | New
July is National Grill Month – a time when people roll out their grills, don their aprons and grab the tongs.
Grilling in the backyard remains a popular American pastime, and even on hot summer days, locals can smell the charcoal, wooden grills, and flat roofs in Tahlequah’s neighborhoods. Over the years, pitmasters have perfected outdoor cooking, and essentially anything that can be cooked in the kitchen can be made in the backyard.
Teddye Snell, known in the community for her savory dishes, said her favorite grilling dish was a beef tri-tip with a mix of vegetables. It’s a tough piece of meat, she said, so it’s important to let it marinate for a few days.
âYou make a hard, quick sear, then take the direct heat off and let it go,â Snell said. âI’m using the old method of poke, where if it looks like the side of your cheek, it’s ready. I like the mid-rare, and really, the tri-tip is the best mid-rare to rare.
Most people probably associate grilling with burgers and hot dogs, but a myriad of foods can be tossed on the fire. Those who may have a hard time eating their veg may want to try grilling them, as chefs have found it to be a good way to infuse flavor into almost any produce.
âLettuce grills really well, believe it or not,â Snell said. “You just cut a romaine heart in half, put a little oil, salt and pepper in it, put it on the grill for a few minutes and put a little char on it. I serve it with toasted nectarines and goat cheese, and a tamarind vinaigrette.
Chefs who want to cook outside can find a plethora of grills at Tahlequah Lumber. The Big Green Egg provides long-term smoking. The all-ceramic grill works as an insulator, allowing chefs to cook slowly and slowly.
Tahlequah Lumber Manager Christian Cruz swears by his Traeger grill that continuously feeds the wood pellets into the firepot.
âI had never cooked beef brisket before, but a guy told me it tasted as good as his grandfather’s having cooked his whole life. I was blown away, “he said.” A lot of people do a lot of different things about it. The temperature is constant enough that you can bake in it, so people also make bread and pizza. . “
The flat top griddle is all the rage these days. As people have spent more time outdoors over the past year or so, they have found it to be a versatile tool for grilling. At Tahlequah Lumber, they got a lot of calls for the Pit Boss Griddle. Cruz said they are good for cooking big meals.
âPeople have gone crazy about it,â he said. âWith something like that, you can dump a bunch of burgers and hot dogs. The heat on these is also pretty constant, so you can set your pots and pans right on them. “
Choosing charcoal or propane is a personal decision, as each has its pros and cons. A gas grill makes it easy to control the temperature and cook delicate foods, but can take longer to set up and can be difficult to transport. Meanwhile, charcoal grills can reach higher temperatures and provide a smoky flavor, but may take longer to heat up, and cleaning may require a bit more elbow grease.
Snell would never be caught using propane when cooking.
âIt’s not the same,â she said. “If I don’t smell Kingsford when I walk into the house at night, I don’t feel like my job is done.”
Before people fire up their grills, they will want to take the time to prepare them properly. According to the Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension Service, old coals and dirt should be removed from the bottom of the grill. Chefs can line the bottom of the grill with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, then add about 30 charcoal briquettes per pound of meat.
The briquettes should be placed in a mound in the center of the grill and should be left to burn for several minutes until they turn mostly gray and turn orange. Next, the hot coals should be spread over the bottom of the grill, about 2 inches beyond where the food will cook. Briquettes should be lit about 20 to 40 minutes before cooking.
Getting meat to the right temperature is important in preventing foodborne illness. Beef, lamb and veal steaks and roasts – for medium rare cooking – should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, 160 degrees for an average. Ground beef, pork, pork chops and ribs should reach 160 degrees; ground turkey and ground chicken, 165 degrees; chicken and turkey breasts, 170 degrees; and whole chicken and turkeys, 180 degrees.
Some unusual foods to cook on the grill may include apples or bananas. According to an OSU Extension recipe, cooks can peel, peel and slice three apples. They can then mix together melted margarine, lemon juice, ground cinnamon and brown sugar. The recipe calls for putting the sliced ââapples in heavy-duty foil, covered with the mixture and sealed in the foil. It can then be placed on the grill over low to medium heat for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Grilled bananas require four medium, unpeeled bananas; a fourth cup of chocolate chips; a fourth cup of butterscotch or peanut butter chips; and half a cup of miniature marshmallows. The chef should cut along the inner curve of each banana, press the ends of the banana peel to open them, then fill each banana with the remaining ingredients. Each banana should be wrapped in foil, placed on the heat and cooked for about five minutes until the bananas are heated through and the chips and marshmallows are melted.