Spring is finally here, and in some parts of the country, it feels more like summer already. When the weather’s this beautiful outside, the only way I want to cook is on the grill.
I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Celebrity chef George Duran joined The Motherhood today live from his rooftop in Manhattan to share recipes and grilling tips and answer our questions about this cooking method that seems custom-made for the weather outside.
He was joined by a panel of moms who are brilliant at blogging and cooking (sometimes even simultaneously): Amy of Cajun Joie de Vivre; Caryn of Rockin’ Mama; Faith of An Edible Mosaic; Jennifer of Mom Spotted; Kate of Stolen Moments Cooking; Kelly of Kansas City Mamas; Lisa of Life with Lisa; Monet of Anecdotes and Apple Cores; Vanessa of The Sew*er, The Caker, The Copycat Maker; and Victoria of Veep Veep.
George started out by demonstrating a Santa Fe Chicken Packets recipe from Ready Set Eat.com that went straight to the heart of everything important to me about summer cooking: I like it to be quick, easy, delicious (of course) and healthy (because although my bikini-wearing days may be behind me, I like to think that my muu-muu wearing days are far, far in the future).
When the weather is warm, George says, Southwestern-style recipes like this leap to mind, as do margaritas, which I think would go wonderfully with this recipe. (Except not for the kids. So you’ll have to drink theirs. Be brave; it’s a mother’s sacrifice to make.)
Elegant in its simplicity (the ingredients are IN the burger, not piled on top), it’s literally packed with flavor. Since the meat is the star of the show, use organic or grass-fed beef if available; this would also work well as a turkey, or even a bison burger.
With burgers that are so flavorful, the last thing you want is to smother them in a thick, bready bun. George likes using the thin multigrain rounds that have popped up in stores, because they let you actually taste your burger. Two great tips: spray a little PAM® on your spatula and tongs, and spray a little on your burger. Doing this avoids the flare-up from spraying it directly on your grill and will make clean-up easier.
Some other cooking tips from George Duran…
…on cooking thick meats: use indirect heat. Turn on one side of the grill, leave the other zone off. Place meat on the hot side of the grill to sear, then move meat to the other side and close the grill. There will be enough heat to cook the meat through, without burning the outside.
…on grilling vegetables: George likes grilling zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant with the skin removed. Spray the vegetable chunks or thick slices with PAM® and throw on the grill long enough to get grill marks on them, then remove and season with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. Avoid thin veggies that fall through the grates, like asparagus spears. George also recommended using a grill mat by Cookina that he’s discovered for grilling veggies.
…on what fish to grill: Definitely try grilling salmon or other fish with skin. Lay skin side directly on the grill. Because it’s fatty, it won’t really stick, and you won’t be eating the skin, but it will help keep the fish moist. Tilapia is also great to grill. It cooks quickly. Because tilapia fillets are typically skinless, be sure to use more PAM® non-stick spray to prevent sticking.
…on making burgers to please adults and kids: Put a twist on a classic cheeseburger by stuffing a cube of cheese inside a burger. To keep the cheese from melting and oozing out of the middle of your ground beef or turkey, freeze the cheese cubes before putting them inside the meat.
…on the best foods for grilling novices to try (besides hot dogs and burgers): Try thick chunks of veggies, and chicken breasts. Marinate thin-cut chicken, or use a dry rub and grill quickly on both sides.
…on cooking corn on the cob: George grills his corn with husks on, after trimming the ends of the husks. Don’t bother to soak; there’s plenty of moisture already inside the husk. Grill until husks are burnt, let cool for 5 minutes, and corn will be perfectly cooked.
…on cooking steak perfectly: Stick with grass-fed, organic beef. George says to sear the beef over direct heat, then finish cooking it over indirect heat. Use a meat thermometer to test doneness. Digital or standard meat thermometer is fine.
…on whether meat should come to room temp before grilling: George says, never, never, NEVER! A lot of bacteria can grow, and it’s totally unnecessary to have room-temperature meat for proper cooking. Sometimes George will even freeze thin cuts of meat before grilling so they have time to caramelize on the outside without overcooking on the inside.
…on grilling dessert: George says you can bake a cake on the grill using indirect heat (you can even do this on a campfire). Also recommended: Grilled Banana Split Sundae, in which pound cake, bananas, and cherries are skewered and grilled before the sundae is assembled. Grilling the ice cream is not recommended.
…on cleaning your grill grates: Have a very good, big, metal grill brush and replace it every year. Also have an adjustable spray bottle of water handy. After grilling, mist the grill, which creates steam, and scrub with your brush. Straight streams of water are good for taking care of flare-ups.
For more great grilling recipes, tips, and tools, check out the archived Talk and video. and don’t forget to check out these mouthwatering recipes from our panelists:
Amy, Cajun Joie de Vivre: Man Dogs
Caryn, Rockin’ Mama: Greek Style Burgers stuffed with Feta Cheese
Faith, An Edible Mosaic: Pizza Burgers (pictured above)
Jennifer, Mom Spotted: Cheddar Jalapeno Bacon Burgers
Kate, Stolen Moments Cooking: Fiesta Burgers
Kelly, Kansas City Mamas: KC BBQ Hot Dogs
Lisa, Life with Lisa: Italian Style Hamburgers
Monet, Anecdotes and Apple Cores: Pear and Goat Cheese Frank
Vanessa, The Sew*er, The Caker the Copycat Maker: Surprise Burgers and Grilled Pineapple
Victoria, Veep Veep, Harrison’s Champion Chili Cheese Dogs