Summertime grilling is here.  You can tell from the smoke drifting over from the neighbor’s house and the fact that almost any invitation to eat out will now include the word barbecue.  Grilling is a quick dry-heat method over charcoal, wood or gas flames.  We want to help you become a safe, healthy and delicious grill master, so equip yourself with good tools and the tips that follow. 

There are easy steps and basic starters for Great Grilling.

Preheat gas grill or prepare charcoal by allowing coals to burn down to medium heat (ash covered). It typically takes charcoal 30 minutes to reach medium heat. Keep the grill HOT. If it’s not HOT, then you are steaming your food.  Hold your hand over the grill for a count of 3 seconds, that’s Medium Hot.  4 seconds would be Medium and 5 is Low.  While grilling the on-going question can be to close or not to close the grill lid…. If the meat is thinner than your hand, leave the lid open.

Keep the grill CLEAN and lightly grease the grates. Have a great wire brush handy to clear the grates. A pair of heat resistant long handled tongs will work well with a rag lightly soaked in oil to touch up the grates beforehand and while cooking.  Grill until desired doneness is reached, turning meat only once.  A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure your meat reaches the recommended temperature.   Beef should be cooked to 145F for medium rare and 160F for medium, poultry should reach 180F and hamburgers should be 160F.

Lightly oil or marinates the Food to be grilled.  Dip or brush oil on the food before placing it on the HOT grates.   Flip only once, and to a Clean Area, don’t flip food back onto previous spot.  It is a good idea to marinade all cuts of meat at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.  This preparation method helps add moisture and flavor.  Season and marinate beef as desired. There are many delicious rubs available that would be ideal as well.  To ensure Healthy Grilling Toss any remaining Sauce from your leftover marinade: Do not reuse marinates.  Don’t baste food with used marinating liquid – make a separate batch for basting.

Coal Grilling vs. Gas Grilling. Gas gives you a more direct heat. Coals can be moved around, mounded or separated so that you have a more indirect heat source.  Use indirect heat for a tough or thicker cut of meat. The thinner the meat, the hotter the fire can be.

The most important tip for the best meat off the grill; rest and wait.  Why Wait? Waiting 3-5 minutes to serve your steaks, chicken, brats’ and even burgers allows the juices to go back into the meat.  A secret to creating the authentic steakhouse charred crust is to sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar over the steak before it grills.

Whether you enjoy your entrees rare, medium or medium well, starting with the right cut of meat is key.  Appropriate cuts for the grill include Rib eye steak, top loin steak, top sirloin steak, tenderloin, top blade steak, kabobs, flank steak, shoulder steak, boneless chuck steak, and skirt steak.  Stop by the meat counter in any store and ask for help choosing a healthy, lean cut of meat.  Remember the butcher can help you make the perfect product choice and then cut it specific to your liking.

Grilled Vegetables


  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
  • 3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
  • 3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
  • 3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles
  • 12 cremini mushrooms
  • 1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
  • 12 green onions, roots cut off
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves


Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature.

Barbecue Chicken Cobb Salad          Yield: 8 servings

To get grilled flavor in every bite of this salad, cubed chicken is threaded onto skewers, brushed with barbecue sauce and grilled.



package (16 ounces) iceberg lettuce salad mix


large cucumber


small red onion


avocado, peeled


medium tomatoes, seeded


cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese



pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Salt and coarsely ground black pepper


cup barbecue sauce


slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled (optional)


cup ranch salad dressing



  1. Place lettuce in a Large Bowl. Score cucumber using a Zester. Cut cucumber in half crosswise and remove seeds.  Slice cucumber and onion in half and then slice into 14/ inch thick pieces. Cut avocado in half lengthwise; remove seed and cut flesh away from skin. Dice avocado and tomatoes. Arrange cucumber, onion, avocado, tomatoes and cheese in diagonal rows, leaving a row open down center. Cover; refrigerate salad until ready to serve.
  2. Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium coals. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; thread onto four 12-inch skewers and season with salt and black pepper. Place kebabs on grid of grill. Grill, covered, 10-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center, turning occasionally and brushing with barbecue sauce. Discard any remaining barbecue sauce. Remove chicken from grill; cool slightly and remove from skewers.
  3. Arrange chicken down center of salad; sprinkle with bacon, if desired. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently and serve immediately.


Best of Cooking, Denise

Denise Murray

  Denise Murray, now a 15-year resident of Forest Park. (Lived on the North shore of Chicago for 3 years prior, and a Southwestern before that) comes to us with over 33 years working in Food Service....