Horticultural Grilling Adds Just the Right Flavor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2013
URBANA - What do plants have to do with grilling, other than
"Many grilling tricks make use of plants or plant parts to
get just the right taste from the grill," said Rhonda Ferree, a University of
Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
"Many types of wood chips are used to smoke meat or
vegetables on the grill. They include oak, mesquite, and hickory for a bold
taste, and fruit woods and vines for lighter flavor. Avoid soft woods, such as
pine, which give off a not-so-tasty resin," she cautioned.
Before cooking begins, the wood is usually soaked in water
so it burns more slowly and creates a moist, penetrating smoke, Ferree said.
"Although you can use a fire made solely of the flavoring wood, most people
build a bed of coals with wood or charcoal and add pieces of smoke wood.
"You can use smoke alone or in combinations with various
pre-cooking techniques to enhance the taste of smoked foods," she added. "For
fun, try your meals both ways and see which you like best. To start, toss a few
chips on the coals while cooking burgers."
Pre-cooking techniques such as marinades, mops, or rubs add
flavor as well, Ferree explained. Rubs are blends of dried herbs and spices
that flavor the exterior of meat as it cooks. Marinades, made with herbs, spices,
and an acidic liquid such as wine vinegar or lemon juice, enhance the flavor of
meats. A mop is a sauce that keeps the rubbed meat from drying while it is
smoke-cooked. A mop can be anything from a bottle of your favorite barbecue
sauce to a rub that you've held aside and combined with beer or another liquid.
U of I Extension nutrition and wellness educator Mekenzie
Lewis said that using herbs has many other benefits in addition to flavor.
"Herbs and spices add flavor to food without adding fat, sodium,
cholesterol, or sugar content. This is a great alternative to store-bought
seasonings which often contain a lot of added sodium and sugars. Herbs are a
great flavoring option for anyone with a restrictive diet, such as individuals
with a condition such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease," Lewis said.
"And don't forget the veggies," Ferree added. "I often add
my own fresh herb sprigs to vegetables on the grill. I particularly like
rosemary in a potato packet with onions and peppers.
"Try adding zing to your next corn on the cob by grilling it
in the husk with some basil, thyme, or cilantro stuffed inside. Or consider a
veggie-only meal using a basket (or foil packet) to grill a combination of
squash, potatoes, onion, and peppers tossed with a little olive oil, herbs,
salt, and pepper.
"If you have a cookout planned for July 4th, try something
new. You'll impress your family and friends and enjoy a great meal too," she
For more information on this or other horticultural issues,
or post questions on Ferree's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ferree.horticulture.
Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture & State Master Naturalist Coordinator, email@example.com