Men usually do the grilling. Here are tips and recipes to change that.
Grilling tips and simple go-to recipes for newbies.

Grilling has traditionally been the domain of men.

Why? Who knows.

Blame the cavemen.

It really doesn’t matter. In any case, ladies, here’s a summer 2015 resolution: It’s time to master the grill.

A recent survey by Applegate, an organic and natural meat company, found that men were more than twice as likely as women to be the household griller. And men were significantly more confident in their grilling abilities than women were in theirs.

This will be the summer to relegate the guys to the kitchen to whip up potato salad and baked beans while you sip a cold one on the back deck.

“It’s fun,” says Elizabeth Karmel, a chef and author who runs and, an online barbecue shack. “It’s as close to a vacation you can take without leaving your backyard.

Why do you think the guys have kept it to themselves all these years?”

Here’s the thing: Kitchen know-how translates to the grill. Proper seasoning, temperature control and selection of quality ingredients are just as important outside as they are inside.

“Don’t be intimidated by grilling,” says Melissa Cookston, a two-time World Barbecue Champion. “Just jump in and do it.”

Cookston is known for cooking the whole hog, but she also likes to throw a portobello mushroom on the grill. She seasons the meaty mushrooms with garlic, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar and grills them over medium heat.

“It’s hard to dry them out, and they accept flavors well,” she says.

She recommends beginning grillers invest in a good meat thermometer, a foolproof way to assess whether food is properly cooked.

Also, once something’s on the grates, leave it be. Resist the urge to keep flipping it.


“Don’t play with your food,” Cookston says. “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.”

Not a fan of big cuts of meat? Don’t let that stop you from grilling.

“If you can eat it, you can grill it,” Karmel says. “The change is probably more dramatic with vegetables than with protein. Grilling takes vegetables into a whole new level, from something you’re supposed to eat to something you can’t stop eating.”

Karmel breaks grilling down to the basics.

First, does a food require direct or indirect heat? If it needs less than 20 minutes on the grill, it can typically be cooked over direct heat. If a food is particularly heavy and dense, it should cook over indirect heat. Shrimp, for example, is light and cooks quickly. It gets direct heat. A new potato is dense. It should grill over indirect heat.

Then, get to know the “grilling trilogy,” she says. It’s simply olive oil, salt and pepper. Before grilling, all food should be brushed with oil and seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

“Oil the food, not the grates,” Karmel advises. Oil tends to burn on the grates when the grill is pre-heating, causing food to stick, she says.

So, grab a refreshing drink, some well-seasoned food and get ready to, uh, man the grill this summer.

“Grilling is 10 percent skill,” Karmel says, “and 90 percent the will to grill.”

Lalley is a freelance writer.

Seafood steaks 101

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

From Elizabeth Karmel of Girls at the Grill.

4 seafood steaks, such as yellowfin tuna, swordfish, salmon or sea bass, cut about 1-inch thick

Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons

Kosher salt, about 1/2 teaspoon

Freshly ground pepper

1 Heat a gas or electric grill to medium heat, about 350 degrees.

2 Brush steaks on both sides with oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 Place directly on the center of the cooking grate. Grill, turning once halfway through cooking, until fish is opaque but sill moist in the center, about 10 minutes total.

4 Serve with fresh salsa, pesto or lemon wedges, if you like.

Nutrition information per serving: 273 calories, 17 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 97 mg cholesterol, 0 g carbohydrates, 29 g protein, 361 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Grilled sweet potato chips

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

From Elizabeth Karmel of Girls at the Grill

2 medium sweet potatoes, preferably red-skinned

Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons

Kosher salt, about 1/4 teaspoon

1 Heat grill to medium.

2 Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into slices, a little less than 1/2 inch. Brush or spray lightly with olive oil. Or put the potatoes in a zip-close plastic bag, add the oil and massage to coat all surfaces.

3 Just before placing on the grill, season liberally with salt. Place rounds directly on the cooking grate over direct heat; grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until well-marked. Move to indirect heat (such as on the grill’s warming rack) to finish cooking, turning halfway through cooking time, 15-20 minutes. Serve piping hot.

Nutrition information per serving: 117 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 141 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Simple summer chicken

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 26 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

This recipe, excerpted from the Chicago Tribune’s new book “Summer Cooking: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Picnics, Patios, Grilling and More” is adapted from farmer Emily Wettstein of Carlock, Ill. It was featured in the “Home on the Range” column, by Leah Eskin, in 2004.

3/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 chicken (3 pounds), quartered

Salt, pepper

1. Mix lime juice, olive oil, ginger, sugar and garlic in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Grill the chicken directly over a medium-hot fire, 5 minutes per side. Shift to indirect heat; continue cooking until done but moist, about 8 minutes per side.

4. Move the chicken off the grill and into the bowl of marinade. Let the grilled chicken absorb the fragrant juice, about 5 minutes. Serve warm with boiled potatoes, coleslaw and lemonade.

Nutrition information per serving: 412 calories, 25 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 142 mg cholesterol, 0 g carbohydrates, 44 g protein, 133 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

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