Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional start of kosher barbecue season.
Memorial Day, when all the dads used to bust out their white belts and white loafers. Thankfully, that tradition seems to have died, but just as mercifully, the other main Memorial Day tradition lives on. Of course, I'm talking about dads dusting off the grill and cooking up some delicious grilled kosher chicken, kosher steak, kosher hot dogs, you name it. Yep, Memorial Day weekend is also the kick off to the summer grilling season (and my birthday weekend). And while I am sure many Moms are just as adept on a grill as the dads (well moms other than myself; women like my friend Anita who do everything in their houses, including taking out the trash!), cooking al fresco seems to be the purview of the male of the species. Perhaps it's all the fire—very macho. When hubby's home I'm not even allowed anywhere near the "Q."
As you plan your Memorial Day bbq, here are 10 tips to help you get your kosher grill on!
- Watching salt consumption is always a good idea. Be mindful about salt with kosher meat, especially kosher chicken because salt is used in the koshering process. You can be freer with salt when dealing with kosher beef since the salting of kosher grill items is done on larger cuts and the salted portions are cut away.
- Lubricate both the grill and the food with a good quality, high smoke point vegetable oil like corn, peanut, or safflower.
- Marinate for extra flavor: vegetables & tofu need 30-40 minutes; fish 1 hour max; chicken no more than 4 hours; and denser foods & cuts like London broil require 4 hours to overnight. (Tender kosher cuts like rib steaks should not be marinated, but more toothsome kosher choices like shoulder steak London broil will benefit from a tenderizing soak in an acid based marinade.)
- Resist the urge to peek, opening the grill lid cools down your cooking surface.
- Use direct heat for searing meat and creating grill marks and indirect heat to finish cooking thicker cuts or whole birds. To create indirect heat, turn off one set of burners or pile coals to one side and cook on the side opposite. Wooden skewers are excellent for holding smaller foods like veggies; soak skewers in water for 30 minutes before use and wrap the exposed edges in aluminum foil for a nice clean presentation.
- To avoid charring, add glazes or sugary sauces only during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Test for doneness by using the 5-finger method. Place your thumb and index finger together like you’re making an okay sign. Now touch your hand just below your thumb. It will yield easily to the touch—that’s what rare meat feels like. Now try it with your pinky—that’s well done.
- Never use a fork to remove food. Piercing food will cause the juices to run and the food to dry out. Use a spatula, fish turner or set of tongs instead. And always use a fresh plate for cooked food. Never, ever return cooked food to a plate that held raw meat or poultry.
- Anything that can be cooked in an oven can be cooked in a (covered) grill. The trick is indirect heat. Kosher brisket cooked low and slow in a covered grill is a kosher barbecue classic. Other things to try cooking in your backyard: bread, pizza, even desserts like grilled, caramelized fruit.
- Clean your grill while it’s still warm using a grill brush and oil the grill grates afterward.
Have a great Memorial Day and remember, safety first, don't try to kiss the cook directly over a hot grill! Enjoy your long weekend everyone.
Main image: Grilled Chicken with Peach Salsa