While charcoal and gas fed flames burn brightly year round in restaurant kitchens, Memorial Day weekend signals the official start of the summer grilling season.
This year everything from wagyu beef to watermelon is hitting the grill….is that cabbage?
|Joys Dubost, Phd, RD is a joy and did you know she’s a competitive ice skater?|
“Grilling is one of the most popular preparation methods in restaurants,” says registered dietitian Joy Dubost of the National Restaurant Association, “ It’s partly because of its appeal to health-conscious consumers and its impact on enhancing the flavor of food items.” Hey, we love a win-win for taste and health!
All Fired Up
At newly opened King + Duke restaurant in Buckhead, the dining room features a showcase of open hearth cooking where hickory wood fires are expertly tended by chefs grilling octopus, steaks and artichokes over high heat on one grill; while slow roasting chicken, rabbit and beets over calmer embers.
|See the steering wheel things? They rotate the grill up and down.|
Using what looks like a steering wheel, grates can be raised or lowered over the fires to control the heat applied to the food. The menu describes the North Georgia Brook Trout as “boy scout style” which means sautéed in a cast iron pan over the fire. Carrots, kale, eggplant, scallions and the vegetables for ratatouille are roasted on the hearth. King + Duke chef and restaurateur Ford Fry says, “Our executive chef Joe Schafer even makes his own charcoal. Just about everything is cooked over the fire here. It’s an art and a science but the flavors are worth it. ”
|King + Duke has really cool chairs, too.|
Beverage director Lara Creasy even uses fresh grilled pineapple to make King + Duke’s Pisco Punch.
Why Grilling’s Healthy
Grilling foods is considered a healthy cooking technique for a few reasons. Excess fats drip off of meats lowering the total fat and calorie content; the fire concentrates flavors and adds textural contrast so small portions are satisfying and the high heat caramelizes natural sugars in fruits and vegetables making them taste a bit sweeter.
Registered dietitian Katie Sullivan Morford, author of the blog Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, says there’s some concern about carcinogens in grilled meats and poultry, “The key is to avoid burning and charring. Some research has found that using marinades as well as serving meat with antioxidant-rich vegetables helps offset the damage.”
|To over charr is to err when grilling.|
Take these precautions and grilling can be one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to cook.
Bigger Can Be Better
|This is a Porterhouse Steak. It’s a strip steak on one side of the bone and filet mignon on the other.|
While ordering a petit filet may seem like the smart menu choice for weight conscious diners, chef Dave Zino of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association suggests a new twist on portion control, “Why not order a larger steak for ‘planned overs’ in mind? Restaurant steaks are high quality beef and they’re fired at temps consumer grills can’t reach so are more flavorful.”
|Chef Dave Zino knows a lot about beef.|
Considering price per ounce on the menu, larger cuts are often more economical. Ask the server to box up the portion you want to take home, enjoy the portion you want for dinner and the next day you can make a sliced steak salad or sandwich for lunch. Tasty tip from Dave: Enjoy leftover grilled meats cold because reheating can create an undesirable ‘warmed over flavor’ and make them less tender.
Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD is the co-author of Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this on: