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Start your grills!

By Angie Sutton


Memorial Day is the anointed unofficial start to the grilling season for many. We grill year round at our house but really take the pleasure of cooking a meal outdoors when the weather turns a bit warmer.

Investing in a quality grill can take the frustration out of this avenue for delivering a tasty entrée to the dinner table. The kind of grill or smoker that has a button you push to start may be a preferred weekday avenue while saving the charcoal for the weekend adventure in cooking. Adding flavor with different types of pellets or wood chips can enhance the outcome. So guys, this is your chance to talk the wife into investing in a quality grill!

Grilling can be a quick way to pull together a dinner full of flavor and nutrition. It only takes a few minutes to prepare a marinade and toss in a selected cut of meat before heading out the door in the morning. But honestly, my favorite ribeye tastes just right sans enhancements. The grill can also be a place to stretch your culinary creativity. My mantra is, “if it can be cooked on the stove, it can be cooked on the grill.” OK, that applies to most things but we have had a few experiments that we decided weren’t grill friendly.

Making a salad on Sunday evening to have on hand for the next couple of nights as a side dish is a great time savor and perfect addition to what’s on the grill. Potato salad is a robust side dish to satisfy empty tummies and a fruit salad is a refreshing compliment to what’s coming off the grill. Either way, a refrigerated side dish is quick and packed full of nutrtients to complete the meal.

While dad is grilling I like to occupy the kiddos with dessert creation. I take two cups of milk in a large bowl and add one box of instant pudding. Give it a bit of stir and then divide it into small plastic storage containers. Make sure the lids are sealed and send them outside to shake it for a few minutes. Sit down, relax and enjoy the smiles as they run around the yard shaking their containers. Before we pop the containers in the refrigerator, I let them customize their pudding with one addition. Options can be sliced bananas, mini marshmallows, sprinkles and crushed cookies. Instant pudding only needs about 20 minutes to really set up so by the time you’re done with dinner the masterpieces are ready to eat.

Each week in May, we’ll be celebrating the joy of cooking outdoors by sharing tips and recipes. Whether you are making a meal for two people or a family, you’ll enjoy this series.


The Aloha Burger

Source: Jeff Sutton

1 can of sliced pineapple or fresh if available
3/4 c. teriyaki sauce
1 lb. of ground beef (80/20 or 70/30)
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
4 lettuce leaves
4 slices Swiss cheese
8 bacon strips, cooked
4 buns, toasted or grilled

Drain pineapple, reserving juice, if using the canned type and toss rings into a resealable plastic bag. Put in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and mix; pour into the bag, toss to coat and set aside. Shape beef into four equal-sized patties and put them in a shallow, flat dish. Drizzle the remaining teriyaki sauce over the patties and let sit for 10 minutes, flipping once, while you preheat the grill. Drain and discard the marinade. Grill the burgers over medium heat for 10 minutes, flipping at 5 minutes. Cooking thermometer will read 160 degrees and juices will run clear when done. Add the Swiss cheeses slices to melt, about 1 minute, and remove from grill. While the burgers are cooking, saute the onions on a griddle on the grill in butter or olive oil about 5 minutes or until tender. Push to the side or remove to a top rack in another grill-safe dish to keep warm. Drain pineapple and discard marinade. Place rings on the griddle on the grill. Heat through and flip once. Add a lettuce leaf to the bottom bun and place your burger on it. Top your burger with a slice of pineapple and two (or more) strips of cooked bacon and the top of the bun.

Burgers are an easy, go-to grilling entree to please tastebuds of all ages. Burgers are a family favorite and our home’s grillmaster, Jeff, has compiled his tips on getting just the right outcome on a consistent basis!

Burger Grilling Tips

Source: Jeff Sutton

Don’t skimp on your buns by going cheap. Spend more on the buns to get a little larger bun than fits the hamburger patty most of us like to grill….and eat.

Don’t waste calories on the bun. Sure, the bun gives you a nice vessel to hold your burger and fixins, but often when you want to go back for more, then bun can fill you up. Shake things up a bit by trying one of the newer style sandwich thins instead. And they are the right size for the burger patty.

Use a thumb-sized indentation in the middle of each patty and fill with water to ensure even cooking throughout the burger. It will help the patty hold its shape better and keep you from wanting to press down on the burger during grilling.

Don’t be tempted to go low fat. You might like your non-grilled ground beef recipes with a low fat content, particularly if you have to drain all the fat before mixing with other ingredients. But on the grill the extra fat in hamburger patties translates to great flavor. The higher fat ground beef costs less as well!

While you have the grill on, consider sauteeing onions as a topping. Onions naturally are sweet and by sauteeing them you draw that sweetness out. It’s a great addition rather than just serving raw onion ringlets on your burger. Consider trying a few other toppings as well such as tomato slices and a few leafs of lettuce.

Always use a thermometer. If you’re like us and have kids asking “how much longer” you may be tempted to just eyeball the color of your burger. Food safety is worth the extra step and the food thermometer is a must!

Use high heat. The longer you grill, the more your burger gets dried out. Preheating your grill before adding your patties will produce a better product. Avoid tossing them on “while it warms it” to get a jump on the cooking process.

Try to only flip the burgers once. You want to keep them as juicy as possible so don’t press down on them as tempting as it may be. Sure, your spouse may think you need to dedicate your time to standing in front of the grill, but that’s likely just an excuse to hold a beverage.

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