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Tips for outdoor cooking success

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 27, 2001

Here are grilling tips for outdoor cooking success from the culinary team at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg.

Grilling basics

Rub the grill grate with a raw potato to prevent sticking.

When preparing kebobs, make sure all pieces are uniform in size to assure even cooking.

Don't salt meat, fish or veggies until just before cooking. Salt draws out juices from meat and vegetables.

Use the grill's hottest spots to sear meats and then use cooler areas for finishing.


Meats between 2 and 5 pounds should be marinated for 12 hours or overnight.

Flank steak, fish and chicken breasts should marinate for 4 hours.

Vegetables should marinate for only 30 minutes. Do not overmarinate, or they will become soggy.

Differing seasonings transport your picnic table to other parts of the globe. Use an oil base of safflower or olive oil for neutral flavors; sesame, peanut or a dab of hot chili oil add an Asian or Caribbean flair. Cloves and cinnamon in a marinade add an Indian twist on lamb or beef.

Pat marinated foods with paper towels before grilling to prevent drips and flare-ups.

Grilling seafood

The fresher the fish, the better.

Firm textured fish are best for grilling, and that includes tuna, salmon and shellfish such as shrimp and scallops.

Lightly brush seafood with oil to provide a good sear (if you aren't marinating).

Use medium heat. Start checking for doneness prior to recommended cooking time. Thicker fish will continue to cook after being removed from the grill, so some transparency is okay. Thinner fish and shrimp should be opaque.

An herb or spice rub is great for fish. Rubs form a slightly crispy crust.

The best cuts of meat

Here is a list of the best cuts of meat for grilling from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas:

Lamb: Riblets, rack of lamb, butterflied leg of lamb, lamb chops.

Beef: Ground beef, rib eyes, porterhouse, skirt steak, brisket.

Pork: Tenderloin, spare ribs, country ribs, whole sausage, thick chops.

Fish: Shrimp in shells or wrapped in bacon, salmon steak, scallops, shark, swordfish, tuna steak, whole trout.

Poultry: Butterflied chicken, whole Cornish game hens, chicken thighs, chicken quarters.

Grilling vs. barbecuing

Steve Raichlen, author of the Barbecue Bible and the new How To Grill, says there's a distinct difference between "grilling" food and "barbecuing" it.

"Grilling is a direct high heat, fast cooking method," he says. "The food is directly over the fire. In general you grill things that are small and thin.

Barbecuing is an indirect low heat, slow cooking method that involves a lot of smoke. Generally you barbecue big things like briskets, pork shoulders and whole hogs."

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