Meeting the Grill

Grilling is one of the most primitive forms of cooking. Well it was not always called grilling, but although we have evolved, and along side our cooking techniques, this particularly has changed very little. It still involves the three key ingredients: Fire, Meat, Time. We changed the raw wood fire to charcoal and gas, but the idea is still the same. We added new meats to the party, but the we still seek the same satisfaction. And we might, have less time to cook, but when the grill fires up, we have the time just stops.

Over the years, I have grilled quite a few meats and in quantities that are above every human measure. Well I am sure that there are people that have grilled much more than that, but certainly not for tha few people. Greeks are known to be meat lovers. Big time meat lovers. So when I cook I estimate about 2 lbs of meat and 1 lb of side stuff per person. I always have a few leftovers, but 1 and 2 pounds from the 30 it is is just a reward for the chef. Anyway, all this experience helped me to narrow down the whole grill to a few rules, (the golden rules as I call them) that makes the the grilling easier, safer and fun, even for the cook.

Rule number one: Preparing the meat is probably the most important of all the steps. It is the time that you add flavor, you define the texture and the juiciness. The rule number one is to stay away of the steak, poultry, and any other ready, made seasoning. The main problem is the salt. About 50% of those seasoning consist of salt. I love salt, but not that much. And if you like your meat, more spicy, with a more kick to it, you add, more and you end up with a very salty pice of meet. So in order do overcome that, I suggest make your own, spice and herb mix. It is pretty, simple. Just add two to three spices (pepper, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, chili powder etc) and a few herbs that can take the heat (oregano, thyme). Avoid strong smelling powders, like onion, and garlic powders, since they don ‘t taste as they smell. Avoid also sweet, like basil, mint, and heave spices like rosemary.

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Here I am adding cayenne pepper, in black pepper, oregano and thyme. Avoid extreme heat, extreme aroma’s and extreme flavors.

Rule number two: Prepare every meat separately and clean the counter or the table after you finish with each meat. CROSS-CONTAMINATION. Also, if you hate cleaning up, as I do, use heavy aluminum foil to contain the meat and the juices.

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Lay down the aluminum foil and spread some olive oil to make sure that the bottom layer is meat will be also oiled properly. Add, some of the spice mix, add salt, and and layer the meat. See, we all have salt around that can use on the meat. Oil again, sprinkle the magic and repeat.

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Once done, fold back the aluminum foil and cream the sides. If you plan to grill the day after put them in the refrigerator. If you plan to cook in a few hours leave them outside the refrigerator. That will let the flavors develop. Please don ‘t grill immediately, it will just have no point.

Rule number three: Grill separate. Don ‘t mix different meats on the grill. If you just put chicken, pork and beef, on the same load, you run in to the most evil danger of them all. CROSS CONTAMINATION. If the chicken touches the beef, since beef cooks in 140F and salmonella cooks at 140 F it will get the bacteria and it will not die, but you will… Not really, but it is good to be careful. You can cook however, together kebobs and steaks and sausages, if their are made all from the same meat as is shown here.

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Also don ‘t overcrowd the grill, leave space. Air has to go the to the grill feed the oxidation reaction of coal, and create fire.

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Rule number four: Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. That is the safest way to make sure the meat is just cooked to perfection. Safe and not over done.

Follow those simple step in preparing and grilling the meat, and you will be a happy griller that your friends will adore…

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