Who mans the grill at home?
In many households across the U.S., it may very well be Mom.
“Women cook, men grill” — a phrase coined in a Forbes article just five years ago — is one gender stereotype that appears to be fading, says Elizabeth Karmel, celebrity chef and grilling expert. She attributes the shift to the growth of gas grills, which make grilling easier because they operate more like an oven than traditional charcoal grills do.
“More and more women are grilling and more and more women are loving it and using it as an everyday cooking technique,” says Karmel, a North Carolina native and author of three books on grilling.
She says grilling is the best way to prepare food. “Barbecue is a weekend project, but grilling is so fast and so quick.”
As millions of Americans fire up their grills this month for the summer grilling season, more of them will be women. According to the 2014 GrillWatch survey by Weber-Stephens Product Co., the most recent data available, 25% of Americans who grill are women, up from 20% in 2013 and just 15% in 2009.
And that’s one of the reasons why Karmel started www.girlsatthegrill.com, a website geared toward getting more women interested in outdoor grilling.
Her advice for women who don’t grill: “Join in the fun. Why do you think the guys try to keep it themselves?”
In honor of Mother’s Day, we found three metro Detroit women who have mastered the grill and have the tips, recipes and tools of the trade to prove it.
Michele Scott, Harrison Township
Why she loves to grill: Scott, mother of two adult children ages 18 and 27, says she loves the ease and excitement of grilling. She says grilling gives her the opportunity to play with flavors more than inside cooking, which she finds boring. She has had her current grill — a Vermont Castings gas grill — for about eight years. It has a rotisserie, built-in light and a side burner.
“I love it truly because it’s simple and food tastes better on the grill,” says Scott, who declined to divulge her age. “And I’d rather be outside than inside.”
How she learned to grill: She watched her late father. “It was not so much his recipes, but rather his technique. He made it look effortless and he wasn’t afraid to try something,” she says.
Her favorite foods to grill: Scott likes to grill an entire meal from appetizer to dessert and even the bread. One of her stand-out meals included grilled romaine salad drizzled with balsamic and shaved Parmesan; potatoes with goat cheese and basil vinaigrette and grilled fruit drizzled with balsamic glaze and served over ice cream.
Her best grilling tips: Just jump in and do it, even if it’s as simple as a burger. “Women shouldn’t be afraid and think only the man can do this.”
Favorite grilling memory: When Scott got married, she let her husband, Larry, “christen our new Weber kettle-style grill.” It was a mistake, Scott says, because he cremated what they were making. “He never got near that grill or any other grill since, and his father was a phenomenal chef and griller. He did not get the grill genes,” she says.
Nancy Nagy, Yale
Why she loves to grill: “I like that it’s easy, there’s little cleanup and it tastes better than something I pulled out of my oven,” says Nagy, 55, who has two daughters, ages 29 and 27. Plus, she loves to be outside, even during the winter. She has had her Weber gas grill for 10 years and purchased it used. “It’s not new, it’s not fancy and it’s not pretty,” she says.
How she learned to grill: Nagy taught herself because her husband was working so much and often not home. “I knew if wanted to grill, I needed to learn by myself,” she says. “I started out simple, grilling burgers and hot dogs.”
Her favorite foods to grill: Fish that her husband, Ray, has caught or the venison he has harvested Up North. She has become a master at grilling venison backstrap (the tenderest meat of deer), an extremely lean and usually small cut of meat and something they have monthly.
“Backstraps are one of those thing you don’t want to walk away from,” she says. “We like them fairly medium-rare, and they literally only take under 10 minutes to cook.”
Her best grilling tips: “I know a lot of women are afraid of the grill, but start out easy doing hot dogs and burgers,” she says.
One of Nagy’s favorite marinades is Dale’s Seasoning. The marinade is a soy sauce-based marinade and sold at most grocery stores in regular and low-sodium versions.
“I use it on chicken, pork, hamburgers; it’s pretty all-purpose,” she says.
Favorite grilling memory: Nagy’s brother-in-law, a machinist, made a tool for her to flip steaks. “It’s a long metal rod with a hook on the end and you grab your steak and turn it over,” Nagy says. “Love that thing.”
Lorraine Rates, Brownstown Township
Why she loves to grill: “I like it because it is more flavorful and it’s less messy and easy to clean up,” says Rates, 56, a mother of four children, ages 35, 34, 30, and 21. “I look forward to grilling season and the first warm days.” She also enjoys the camaraderie surrounding outdoor grilling. “It the openness; it’s the people around the grill,” she says. “You’re outside, and everyone is having fun.”
How she learned to grill: Rates always remembered watching her late father grill. “I loved the the smell of it and taught myself how to grill.”
Her favorite foods to grill: Pork tenderloin and chicken. Rates says she can do a roast pork tenderloin in the oven, but the one she does on the grill, “there’s just something about it that makes it better.” Rate’s favorite pork tenderloin recipe is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, fresh garlic and ground ginger. It’s a recipe a friend gave her that she has down pat. “I don’t even measure any more, I just put it together and it comes out great every time,” she says.
Her best grilling tips: With chicken, Rates prefers bone-in chicken to cook on the grill rather than boring boneless, skinless chicken because she says she believes the flavor is better. Try new things. “I’ve grilled lemons and squeezed the caramelized juice from them over the food.”
Favorite grilling memory: Years ago, Rates, while Up North, noticed just how much of a stereotype outdoor grilling can be.
“It was kind of weird when it came time to grill,” Rates says. “I was ready with all my food and all the men, they went to the grill, like in a herd and took my plate from me. I thought, ‘Hey this is my thing.’ It was hard, but I let it go. ”
Contact Susan Selasky: 313-222-6432 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SusanMariecooks.
Original Beer-Can Chicken
Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 2 hours (not all active time)
Elizabeth Karmel’s back pocket dinner is super simple and includes this beer-can chicken as the main dish. The meal also includes grilled asparagus and grilled sweet potato chips. Karmel takes a sweet potato and peels it. Then cut the potato into coins, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and a little pepper. Mark them and then move them up to the warming rack. While the chicken is resting, grill the asparagus.
1 roasting chicken (about 4-5 pounds), preferably Amish
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub recipe, divided or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 can (12 ounces) beer
Set up the grill for indirect medium heat. Remove neck and giblets and rinse chicken inside and out if desired; pat dry with paper towels. Coat chicken lightly with oil and season with 2 tablespoons dry rub. Set aside. (Note: If you prefer a more classic roasted chicken flavor — omit the dry rub and use only kosher salt and black pepper.)
Open beer can, pour out about 1/4 cup of the beer and make an extra hole in top of the can with church key can opener. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of the dry rub inside beer can. Place beer can in center of cooking grate and “sit” chicken on top of the beer can. The chicken will appear to be “sitting” on the grate. Twist wings “akimbo” and make sure that the drumsticks are in front of the beer can — this will stabilize the chicken on the cooking grate.
Cook chicken for 1 to 11/2 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees in the breast area and 180 degrees in the thigh. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Cook’s note: When removing from the grate, be careful not to spill contents of beer can, as it will be very hot.
Baby Back Ribs
1 rack of baby back ribs, well-trimmed
Favorite rub recipe (see cook’s note)
Favorite barbecue sauce
1/2-3/4 cup of organic apple juice
Preheat the grill for indirect heat — the heat will not be directly below the ribs.
After trimming your rack, rinse the ribs in cold water and pat dry. Apply a good rub on the front, back and sides of ribs up to an hour before grilling.
Place the rack bone-side-down, close the lid, and adjust the grill to 300 degrees.
Let ribs cook for 25 minutes. Do not open the lid.
After 25 minutes, the ribs should be browned on all sides. If they appear raw, cook for another 8-10 minutes.
Otherwise, place ribs on a double wrap of foil and pour the apple juice over. Enclose the ribs tightly in the foil.
Place the packet back onto the indirect grilling space. Close the lid and cook for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. After the ribs have been steaming in the foil for 25 minutes, remove the foil, turn down the heat to 250 degrees and and place the ribs back in the same spot to finish cooking, about 25 minutes more or until they are cooked through.
At this point, you can add sauce if desired. The best method is to apply sauce on one side and then close the lid for 5 minutes. Then open the lid, turn ribs over and apply sauce to the other side. Remove, cut and serve.
Cook’s note: To make the rub, combine 1 cup chili powder, 3 tablespoons paprika, 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons coarse salt, 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Place all ingredients in an airtight container and store at room temperature. Use sparingly; a little goes a long way for great flavor.
From Michele Scott, Harrison Township. Not tested.
5 grilling tips from Elizabeth Karmel
■ Use olive oil, salt and pepper. “Olive oil keeps the food from drying out and promotes caramelizing, which is something we all love about grilled food, salt is essential to taste and pepper is for seasoning.”
■ Understand direct heat and indirect heat. For anything that takes 20 minutes or less, use direct heat (this means the heat source is directly under the food). For food that requires longer cooking times, use indirect heat — meaning the heat surrounds the food and not directly underneath it.
■ Have two pairs of 12-inch long locking chef tongs. Karmel puts red duct tape on one and green duct tape on the other. Red means “stop, this was used to touch raw food” and green is go and is used on cooked foods.
“Locking chef tongs are an extension of your hand, and you only need to turn the food once halfway through the cooking time because protein naturally releases itself from the grill.”
■ Use a brass bristle brush to clean the grill. Karmel says if you don’t have one, crumple a ball of heavy duty aluminum foil, hold with the chefs tongs and brush the grates.
■ Have an instant read thermometer for checking temperatures, especially when grilling big cuts of meat.
Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert as well as chef and owner of online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com. She is the author of three books on grilling and writes the weekly column The American Table for the Associated Press that appears in newspapers nationally including the Detroit Free Press.