Summer grilling has become high tech and low fat
Summers were made for grilling out. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-cut grass and a fully loaded barbecue on the weekend to ease the pains of a hard week at work.
For us men, there are a few toys we dream of owning: a convertible sports car, a Harley Davidson, a big 4×4 truck with huge mud tires. After a trip to Lancaster Gas and Patio Products on Battleground Road I found a new toy I’ve just got to have. After browsing around the store and talking grills for a while, manager John Weeks showed me the grill of all grills. The Ferrari of grills. The Harley V-Rod custom loaded with chrome of grills. The Toyota Tundra 4×4 with load muffler, souped-up V8 engine and monster truck tires big enough to run over everybody else in rush hour traffic of grills. It’s the ‘“Mack Daddy’” as Weeks put it. Are you ready?
It’s the Star grill with infra-red cooking grids at 1,050 degrees that sears the meat to hold in the juices, with a LCD displaying timers and temperature, a meat thermometer, halogen lights, and a grilling surface with chain-drive rotisserie that can hold up to 60 pounds of meat. This baby has 650 square inches of grilling space, a 252 square inch warming rack, infrared searing device that puts out 23,000 BTUs, smoker that puts out 5,000 BTUs, and the rotisserie gets 13,000 BTUs. Now that’s cooking with gas.
I could feel my testosterone level rising as I beheld the sight of the polished stainless steel and chrome beauty before me, and could picture myself wheeling her into place on my patio. But, alas, her $6,000 price tag is doomed to keep us apart.
Thus, I digest. Uh’…digress.
Summer is Lancaster Gas and Patio Products’ prime season of grill sales. They’ve got everything from your basic gas grills to the Star beauty mentioned above. Infrared cooking, as also mentioned, is now the way to go, says Weeks. Propane gas is used to heat a ceramic plate that in turn heats a wire grid to a cherry red. This extreme heat is what causes the meat to sear so quickly, Weeks says, and juices are caught below the meat and vaporized, sending the rich flavors back into the food.
‘“That’s how they cook in these upper-class restaurants, like Ruth’s Chris,’” he says.
The infrared process was started by a company called Tec (whose grills Lancaster’s also carries) as a way to bake paint enamels onto automobiles. One day, Weeks tells me, a couple of workers flipped the heat grids over and cooked some steaks on them for lunch. Thus the idea for putting the technology to use in grilling was born.
For those who can’t make up their minds, Lancaster also carries grills that allow the user a choice. They can be easily converted from infrared to standard propane gas to charcoal if desired. All Lancaster’s grills are built in the USA, and most are backed with lifetime warranties on burners, cooking grids and housings.
Whether you’ve got the dough to put into one of these high-tech outdoor kitchens or just plan on using your old faithful charcoal grill like me, Weight Watchers has some healthy grilling tips we could all use.
Even though grilling is a healthier way to cook, Weight Watcher’s representative Lisa Craig says that grilling out doesn’t always equal low calorie. I myself am a huge fan of fat, juicy grilled burgers covered with cheese. Craig suggests using extra lean beef or turkey for healthier burgers and using turkey when cooking hot dogs. Grilling vegetables such as corn, squash and zucchini are good alternatives to chips and fries and can be enhanced for flavor with calorie-free spices and nonfat cooking sprays.
Fish is one of the healthiest options for grilling out. One of my favorites is grilling Salmon fillets sprinkled lightly with Cajun seasoning and cracked pepper. Before grilling I sear the fish in a skillet with a little olive oil to seal in the juices and blacken the top. Check out the Weight Watchers recipe for red snapper (below), which I can’t wait to try.
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