Our outdoor cooking techniques have come a long way since humans started cooking with fire 100,000 or so years ago. Yet, we're still fascinated by the process: sizzling flames that morph into sparkling embers, the warm smell of food in the out of doors. "Everything tastes better cooked outdoors" has a ring of truth to it.
With modern equipment and varied cuisines we have many options when it comes to outdoors cooking. Let's explore a few.
Many a garden party has turned into a trip to the hospital after a fire blows out of control. You can avoid disasters by following a few simple safety tips.
Have one person in charge of the fire. This person stays with the fire, doesn't go in and out of the house for supplies.
Place your grill out of the wind, or choose calm days for grilling.
Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.
Keep children and pets away from the grill.
Follow your grill's safety instructions, including the safe distance for children and pets.
Grilling safety isn't only about fire. Many foods spoil in warm temperature, and when they spoil they can make people sick. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep meats in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill them. Do not put cooked food on plates that held uncooked food, especially meats. Keep foods covered to protect them from flies.
If you want that charcoal flavour, you need to use a charcoal grill. Many different kinds of charcoal grills offer a variety of features—at a variety of prices. Some can smoke as well as grill. Look for vents that help control the fire, and adequate grilling space. Wheels make it easier to move the grill; lightweight models are great for grilling at the beach or the park.
You will need a meat thermometer and a long-handled fork, spatula, and tongs. An apron and heat-resistant mitts round out your gear.
Recipes Worth Trying
When you grill you don't have to cook a fancy meal in order to have a great meal. Hamburgers, steaks, and sausage can't be beat. If you want to branch out, here are some suggestions:
- Even people who don't like vegetables gobble them down when they are cooked on the grill. Slice eggplant or zucchini in rounds, marinate them for half an hour in olive oil and salt and pepper (or your favourite marinade) and put them on the grill. Turn them once after a few minutes and serve hot. You can even grill leafy vegetables like kale and romaine lettuce.
- Kebabs are fun on the grill. They are a good way to accommodate all your guests' food needs since each kebab can be different: chicken, pork, beef, and/or vegetables to order. If you use bamboo skewers don't forget to soak them first.
When you are ready to eat, you and your guests can make yourselves comfortable around an outdoor dining table and enjoy the fruits of your labours. Bon appétit!