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Tips for Grilling Fish, Chicken, and Vegetables

East Coast Energy Products of Monmouth County Encourages You to Make the Most Out Of Your Grill with These Grilling Tips

Grilling Fish

Practice Makes Perfect
Many grillers consider fish fillets and steaks their biggest challenge. They remember the times when fish stuck to the grate and fell to pieces when they tried to take it off the grill. To greatly improve your chances of success, learn to grill firm fish first, especially the ones that are a bit oily, including salmon, swordfish, and tuna.

Don’t Overdo It
Fish and seafood don’t have the muscle structure and firmness that many four-legged creatures have. Therefore marinades work more quickly to break down the structure of fillets and steaks. So, to prevent mushy textures, limit marinating times to just a few hours. And, above all else, don’t overcook fillets and steaks.

Feed the Fire
Don’t be afraid of high heat. It creates a bit of a crust on the surface of fish, and the crust helps the fish release from the cooking grate. The thinner the fillets or steaks you have, the higher the heat should be.

No Flip-Flopping
Every time you turn fish on the grill, you create a new possibility for sticking, so turn it only once.

Quick Finish
Grill the first side longer than the second. This assures you a nicely developed crust on the first side. Plus, if you are grilling with the lid closed (as you should), the second side will begin to cook while the first side is on the grate. So the second side will not need as long on the grate

Grilling Chicken

Paying for Flavor
If you are willing to spend more for organic, free-range chicken, you will appreciate some obvious differences. Birds that are able to run around and forage in the great outdoors have a more pronounced chicken flavor and meat that is firmer without being tough.

Evening Out
One of the challenges of grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts is that their thickness varies from end to end. If you find a thin strip of meat (known as the tender) under a breast, remove it and grill it separately. Also, for more even cooking, place each breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound it with a mallet or heavy pan to a uniform thickness of about ó inch.

The Bone Issue
Boneless chicken pieces are thin enough to grill entirely over direct heat. When the bones are involved, however, the parts take longer to cook, so it’s important to use both direct and indirect heat.

When Is It Done?
The USDA recommends cooking poultry until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Keep in mind that in whole birds the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during resting. Check the thigh meat by inserting the probe of a thermometer into the thickest part (but not touching the bone). If you don’t have a thermometer, cut into the center of the meat. The juices should run clear and the meat should no longer be pink at the bone.

Grilling Vegetables

Grill what’s growing at the time
Vegetables in season locally have big advantages over whatever has been shipped from across the world. They are riper, so they taste better. That means you can grill them simply with great results.

Expose as much surface area as possible
Cut each vegetable to give you the biggest area to put in direct contact with the cooking grates. The more direct contact, the better the flavors will be. For example, choose peppers with flat sides that you can easily slice off the core. The flatter the sides, the more surface area will caramelize on the hot cooking grates.

Use the good oil
Vegetables need oil to prevent sticking and burning. Neutral oils like canola oil will do the job fine, but an extra-virgin olive oil provides the added benefit of improving the flavor of virtually every vegetable. Brush on just enough to coat each side thoroughly but not so much that the vegetables would drip oil and cause flare-ups. Season the vegetables generously with salt and pepper (some of it will fall off). For more flavors, marinate the vegetables at room temperature for 20 minutes to an hour in olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, and spices.

When is it done?
Firm vegetables such as onions and fennel, are often grilled somewhere between crisp and tender. If you want them softer, grill them a few minutes longer, although watch them carefully for burning. The grill intensifies the sweetness of vegetables quickly and that can lead to burning. Cut the vegetables as evenly as you can. A 1/2-inch thickness is right for most.

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