Now that the Game Face manuscripts are signed, sealed and delivered, I’ve jumped back into my Food Science foray to continue work on my series inspired by The Science Chef. I have to say, researching this tasty topic is a real treat (see what I did there?) and I’ve collected some pretty helpful hints along the way, like these LiveScience grilling tips for whipping up juicy burgers, veggie variations and delicious desserts.
Before you fire up the grill this weekend, take a look and make this 4th of July your tastiest yet!
Does it make a difference if I cook with charcoal, wood or gas?
You bet, writes LiveScience contributor Stephanie Pappas. The difference between gas grills and those that use charcoal or wood lies in the temperature and moisture levels.
If flavorful grill marks and crispy crusts tickle your taste buds, stick with charcoal or wood as they burn hotter and drier than propane, which releases water vapor during the cooking process, making it difficult to get a solid sear. If you have a gas grill, not to worry! Look for a sear burner – a ceramic block add-on to most grills that locks in the heat and browns the meat. (Word nerd.)
What’s the secret to the perfect burger?
Add moisture. When you grind meat, according to grill master Dave Joachim, you break down the muscle fibers that normally lock in moisture. So, the trick is to add it back.
Get creative with your culinary selves! Diced apples, steak sauce or Greek yogurt are fun and flavorful ways to juicify patties of any sort. (Juicify is now a word.) If you’re a purist, simply mixing ice water into ground meat will add moisture while also keeping the inside of the burger cool, avoiding an overcooked hockey puck.
Any veggie variety for the herbivores among us?
Declare your independence from boring veggie burgers! The grill is the perfect place to cook plants. “Grilling plant foods completely changes their character and makes them taste better,” Joachim says. “Grilled tofu, for instance, tastes so much better than braised or steamed or sautéed.”
Vegetables are ready to eat in their raw state, so there’s no need to blast the life out of them on the grill. Just oil and season, sear over medium-high heat and enjoy! Firmer veggies like corn require a little more time. Simple is best – just throw the corn (husks and all) on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until the husks are blackened. Inside, the corn will be perfectly cooked and ready for your topping of choice. (Can’t go wrong with butter and salt!)
What about grilled dessert?
Who says dessert has to be served cold? Fruit is a delicious dessert option that tastes amazing when grilled. Toss some watermelon slices on the grill and watch the magic happen. Because this fruit is more than 90% water, says Joachim, cooking it on the grill concentrates the sweet flavor and changes the texture in a delightfully different way.
Really want to impress your guests? Grill up some doughnuts! Coat glazed or cinnamon sugar doughnuts with light cooking spray and place directly on the grill. The heat will caramelize the sugars and puff up the dough, elevating the daily doughnut into a chic showstopper! Add whipped cream and strawberries for a fabulously festive dessert!
However you celebrate this 4th of July, I hope it is filled with family, friends, and (of course) fireworks!