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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

Spice Up Barbecue Traditions: Experts Offer Tips for Your Next Grill-out

(ARA) - Year after year we grill up the same barbecue fare: hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken breasts. These party pleasers are always delicious, but this year, why not add some extra spice to your barbecue traditions? Two summer entertaining experts from Hormel Foods share easy tips to serve up an inventive menu infused with new flavors at your next summer grill-out!

"Barbecuing is a wonderful way to create delicious, smoky flavor while keeping meat nice and juicy," says Hormel Foods' "Flavor Czar" Dan Hernandez. "By experimenting with new ethnic flavors and spices, you add some creativity to barbecue favorites like hamburgers and chicken." Hernandez offers the following tips:

* Get creative with condiments. Give your guests a welcome break from the usual barbecue condiments like ketchup, mustard and relish. Try topping your burger with a fresh, flavorful salsa, like salsa, and a slice of pepper jack cheese for a Mexican twist.

* Mix up a marinade. Marinating meat adds flavor and tenderization before cooking. Every marinade should contain an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or wine; an oil, such as olive or canola; and seasonings, such as herbs and spices.

* Serve a savory side. For an easy side, slice up new potatoes and add a dash of light olive oil made in the Mediterranean for authentic taste. Mix in feta cheese and rosemary, and cook on the grill in a foil pouch for a no-mess Greek treat.

Summer favorites, while heavy on taste, can be heavy on calories. Hormel Foods' test kitchen director Joan Hanson offers these calorie-saving tips to create tasty barbecue meals:

* Go lean. Choose white-meat poultry without the skin and lean cuts of meat, such as sirloin, flank or tenderloin.

* Try turkey. Many barbecue favorites now have turkey substitutes providing a leaner, lower-calorie option. Try making hamburgers with ground turkey instead of ground beef or grill up a seasoned turkey bratwurst.

* Flame-broil fruit. For a low-calorie dessert, try fruit on the grill! Lightly brush cut fruit -- such as apples, pears and peaches -- with canola oil, add a dash of cinnamon, place on skewers and grill for about three minutes.

"Preparing and serving grilled entrees and side dishes in warm weather can be tricky," Hanson says. "Keeping food safe should be a top priority." Here are some food safety tips:

* Keep it cool. To prevent bacteria growth, keep perishable foods, like potato salad, in the refrigerator or a cooler until just before serving. Also, always thaw meat in the refrigerator or cooler, never at room temperature or in the sun.

* Trust the temp. Bring your meat thermometer; cook hamburger and pork to 160 degrees F and chicken and turkey to 165 degrees F. Here's a good rule: if the juices do not run clear, keep cooking.

* When in doubt, throw it out. After the meal, throw away any leftovers that have become wet or have been left out for one hour on hot days. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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