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To Grill or Not to Grill

Barbequing may be a summer favourite to most of us, but some of the top chefs and grilling experts tell us that not all foods are best grilled. Some items need to be prepared ahead, or cooked on the BBQ using specific equipment.

Fatty Prepared Meats – Fatty prepared meats like sausages should not be cooked raw. They tend to just flare up before they are cooked thoroughly. Steam ahead in water or beer, and then finish off on the grill, or look for pre-smoked (pre-cooked) varieties.

Ribs – The same goes for ribs. Unless you’ve got a BBQ that can slow roast first, you are best to cook ribs ahead of time and just finish off on the grill.

Bacon – Think twice. It’s very fatty and you may lose your bacon through the grills.

Assorted Salad Greens – Lettuce and other delicate salad greens have a very high water content so they just wilt on the grill. Plus varieties like radicchio become bitter when heated. Enjoy your salad as a salad!

Fish and Chicken – Fish with skin side down, or chicken parts with skin work well on a BBQ because the scales and skin protects the flesh from drying out. But don’t cook flakey fish (without skin) or skinless chicken breasts directly on a grill. You’ll just dry them out.

Shrimp – Shrimp are susceptible to drying out when introduced to a hot grill, even when you’ve marinated them ahead of time. If you really like BBQ’d shrimp, get them with their shell, cook them gently, off direct heat (or wrapped in tin foil), then transfer to a bowl, garnish with emulsified butter and fresh herbs.

Frozen Meat – Take it slowly so you don’t burn it before it is cooked. Fresh cuts of meat, fish or poultry works best.

Steaks and Roasts – Lean cuts of meat such as steaks or roasts cut from the hind quarter-round section of beef (e.g. round steak) need to be marinated ahead of time. Otherwise, they’ll just be tough. T-bone and Porterhouse are the right steaks to grill. 

Hamburgers – Believe it or not, some chefs even suggest that burgers are cooked on a griddle or plancha—a solid surface where you won’t lose valuable fat or flavour to the flames below. Most of us can’t imagine a burger that hasn’t been grilled, so this is up to you. But make sure you don’t press the patties too much when grilling, which squeezes out the flavor and the juices.