Chef Ellis offers grilling tips for Fourth of July celebration

> COLUMBUS, Miss. — Fourth of July is quickly approaching which means family and friends will gather to celebrate with fireworks and food. Being prepared and knowing these simple grilling tips, will ensure that the fireworks are the only items to go up in smoke.
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> “It’s summer time. Why heat up the inside of your house? Go outside, invite some friends over and fire up the grill,” said Chris Ellis, project CHEW (Choose Healthy, Eat Wise) coordinator for the Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women.
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> Hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken and the occasional steak are usually the go-to options during summer grilling. But, Ellis offers some simple additions to add not only flavor but color to the grill.
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> Ellis suggests adding vegetables from the local farmers market for a tasty variety. Items such as zucchini, squash, broccoli, asparagus and tomatoes make great additions to the grill. Slicing or keeping the vegetables whole and sprinkling a little olive oil, salt and pepper are some simple options. For added sweetness to chicken or shrimp, he recommends pineapple, lemons or limes.
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> There is one vegetable individuals may want to pick up at the farmers market or the local grocery store. When the grill is heating, forget the scrub brush, Ellis said. Take the onion slice it in half, stick a fork in it and rub down the grill. This will ensure that the grill is both well-oiled and clean. Leave the onion on the grill to add flavor to the smoke.
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> “Many people use some type of oil or spray that you would often use in the kitchen. It is important to know that these are very flammable,” added Ellis. “If you are still having a problem with your meat sticking to the grill, allow the meat to cook longer before rotating or flipping. The meat will naturally release from the hot grill.”
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> Many people think that the secret to being a good griller all happens over the flames. But, Ellis is quick to point out that before and after are just as important. Make sure the meat is at room temperature before placing on the grill. By taking meat straight from the refrigerator to the flames, it causes the meat be constricted and become tough.
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> “It’s like when we walk outside and it’s extremely cold or hot. Our body and muscles react,” Ellis explained.
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> Preparation is also important when it comes to seasonings and marinades. For a wet brine or marinade, allow six to 12 hours. If an individual decides to go with a dry brine or dry rub as many call it, three days or 72 hours is suggested.
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> “Be prepared. Have the right utensils and have a place prepared for meats and items when grilling is done,” said Ellis. “If you’re grilling a lot of meat, wrap your meat in aluminum foil and place in a cooler to keep warm.”
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> Just because meat is off the grill it doesn’t mean that it is done cooking. For example, if an individual is cooking a steak, remove the steak a few degrees shy of the desired temperature and let sit for five to 10 minutes. Not only does this allow the steak to cook to proper temperature, but allows the juices to settle and keeps the meat tender.
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> As for side items, potato salad, deviled eggs and baked beans, usually are a hit with the crowd and can be prepared ahead of time.
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> Last but not least, don’t forget dessert. Ellis said there is no need to step away from the grill for a tasty treat. He suggests slicing a peach and placing it on the grill until it is charred and soft. Serve with vanilla ice cream for a sweet ending.
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Grilled+Chicken

Grilled+Chicken