Sunday, August 17, 2008

Burning Fat

Thats what we told the butcher when we asked for some chunks of trimmed fat to use in a grilling demo. Mary from Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta asked us to come up with a way of demonstrating the flame-up control of GrillGrates. I've demo'd a lot of pizzas, pasta, fish and veggies, but never had really thought how to demo flare-up control. So we put our heads together and came up with the idea of burning fat. Of course we tested the concept first and then did it a couple of times at Cooks Warehouse to show their staff and customers.

Burning fat really shows the mechanism of flare-ups. Juices dripping into the grill or marinades and sauces its all fire starter when it hits the flame or coals. Susan and I enjoyed grilling at Cook's Warehouse in Decatur last Saturday, and I am glad Marc dropped by because I did not even stop to take a picture. Susan made some fabulous pizza and pasta after a trip to DeKalb farmers market. Back home, I got some more fat from the butcher again to take a few pictures and video. This will be a different kind of burning the fat video! Thank you Mary and the crew at Cook's Warehouse. Everyone has been so friendly and supportive, no wonder the stores are so successful! I hope we'll be back grilling at one of the fabulous Cook's Warehouse locations again soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grilled Leftovers

I love leftovers. I have been known to hide good next day meals from my own children. My middle child has developed a taste for leftovers and this summer in particular I found myself hiding stuff from Julia- sorry honey, I love you, but I love left overs too!

This past weekend I got that breakfast fritata and there was enough sliced steak left over for a steak sandwich for lunch to boot. Friday night's grilled dinner for two left me two fine leftover meals on Saturday courtesy of my wife. I am loved and I love leftovers! Grilled leftovers are as good as it gets.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dinner for TWO- Fill the Grill

We filled the grill last night! I had to leave a little room on the grill for the one steak we planned to split. My wife loves this dinner for two because she uses one of everything:
  • One Potato thickly sliced
  • One Zucchini- sliced into four lengths
  • One Onion- thickly sliced
  • One Red Pepper- sliced into quarters
  • One Skewer of mushrooms, ok she cheated here
  • One Steak
The potatoes went on first, followed 15 minutes later by the the rest of the vegetables. It was a pretty site before the meat hit the grill. Last but not least the sirloin was grilled and taken off on the rare side. I pulled the veggies off first and made a nice looking plate again leaving room for the steak.

I cleared my plate! The potatoes were perfectly roasted and the vegetables were all at their best. I probably had 4 slices of the sirloin, where in the past I would have eaten the whole thing and maybe a few of the onions and mushrooms. My meal was 3/4 plants, 1 /4 beef. I'm shaking my head even as I type!

Dinner for two- with leftovers. Breakfast fritata coming right up.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Limit Time with Grill- WHAT????

The American Institute for Cancer Research recently published an update urging people to change their grilling habits and reduce the amount of grilling they do. Newspapers picked it up and last week ABC news thought it was newsworthy enough after Consumer Reports issues a warning too? Give me a break!

Lets see:
1) Don't burn or char your meat. DUH- most of us actually get this one, nothing new here. I don't char my steaks anyway- I like them seared and rare!
2) Pre-heat meats in a microwave - WHAT? The microwave is likely to go down as the worst invention for cooking, I mean scrambling food molecules.
3) Grill at 325F or less- HUH? I do like my steak seared at least. Above 500F searing does turn into charring but 325F is just not quite hot enough unless you are doing chicken or a roast.
4) Flip meat often to keep surface temp down? I like to keep the lid down and try to keep track of time. Purists say only once, I have to go for the cross-hatch so I flip 4x
5) Place aluminum foil with small holes over the grates to prevent juices from flaring up and depositing carcinogens onto the meat. Sounds more like pan searing than grilling. GrillGrates does act in a similar manner, but we're pitching a juicier outcome
6) Indirect cooking only- that hurts too. Drippings won't burn into HCA's and deposit on the food. Sounds like a stretch, but there seems to be some science to this one.

Come on- grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook, just don't burn your meats- that is all. Cooking a wider variety of foods and less meat in general is a lot more healthy for you than timidly grilling in foil at 325F! I keep thinking there must not be enough real news for this kind of bunk to occupy prime time.

I realize how much my grilling habits have changed!

Maybe because I've turned the corner on 50, maybe because I'm finally aware of what I eat and how I grill, maybe its my daughter who just started med school, and maybe I'm finally listening to my wife! And of course since bringing GrillGrates to the market, I am more in touch with my grilling habits. It happened slowly and subconciously until yesterday.

What caused this revelation? I came across Mark Bittman's (esteemed NY Times food editor, author and authority) video on What's wrong with what we eat? at I was not prepared to watch a 20 minute speech but I did. By the end Mark's presentation; I understand the serious nature of cow farts and how the nature of our eating habits has come full circle in my lifetime. I had no idea how much meat consumption has skyrocketed over the past 50 years and it appears to be a global trend. Scary thought if the Chinese follow our exponential consumption here in the US. So what? The planet can not support this level of industrial beef production for several reasons and it is simple- we should not eat as much meat as we do. Period. Bittman asserts that food marketing for meats and sweets, and the industrialization of food- particularly beef has driven over consumption and its not just bad for us, its bad for the planet- hence whats wrong with what we eat.

I had a GrillGrate customer email me recently that our website did not have one steak recipe and that our meat section was rather weak compared to the others I still did not put it together and hurriedly put up a Seared not Charred Ribeye Steak Recipe and a couple of YouTube videos.

Then yesterday, as I watched Bittman's speech and I realized I had followed a similar path to Mark (I never met a vegetable I liked until middle age) and only now are my eating habits changing. In the south its called a meat and three, but I was lucky to be meat plus one. Do fries count? Nobody loves a grilled steak or burger more than I do, and for 30 years red meat and chicken were about all I grilled. I was darn good at the chicken too because I mastered the simple fact of turning my grill down from high to as low as the grill would go. Occasionally my wife would give me a foil pouch with some mystery vegetable or onions mostly to not have to cook them indoors.

Now our grill almost always has the veggies and potatoes along side the main meal, which is likely to be salmon or skinless chicken as it is a burger or ribeye. I can't believe how good a turkey burger is, and we're grilling sweat potatoes, onions, carrots, asparagus, fingerlings and more. I'd love to say it was GrillGrates that caused this change, but they did not. They facilitated my transformation but Mark Bittman nailed it- we and our mothers have been bombarded with marketing to eat meat 2-3x a day instead of 2-3x a week! I remember TV dinners with Salsbury steak, hamburger helper and McDonalds night as a kid. It took me 50 years to figure this out? Thanks Mark! And a special thanks to my wife Susan who preserved the family dinner in our house and who cooked good food, not processed food. All I did was grill the meat, now I finally get it and am grilling the whole meal and it involves a lot less meat.
I'll never give up grilled meat, but I am looking forward to finally broadening my horizons and not my waistline!