It was great talking to Maria. We had a great time talking about BBQ and Grilling. I hope you will enjoy the article.
By Maria Longley/staff
Amanda Bowles/The News Leader
Meat is fresh off the grill at John Atkins tent at the Daylily Festival in Fishersville. Atkins has participated in several barbecue competitions and has himself won many. Getting started
Here are some of the basic supplies that Atkins recommends for fun and healthy grilling/barbecuing:
Grill brush. It's important to clean your grill for flavor and safety reasons. Atkins prefers short wiry brushes that look like big Brillo pads. "The longer -bristled brushes tend to break off," he says.
Nonstick cooking spray. Keeping the grill lubed helps make clean up much easier.
A quick-temperature probe. You don't need an expensive one. They're great for helping you keep the meat from drying out but also making sure it's cooked enough so no one gets sick.
Charcoal chimney. These help cut charcoal heating time nearly in half and eliminates any need for lighter fluid or quick-lighting charcoal.
Use regular charcoal, not quick-light charcoal, for better-tasting food.
Tongs and spatula, 6 to 8 inches. You don't need to spend a lot on these, Atkins says.
Newman's Own Italian Dressing. "We use it for competitions," Atkins said. "I like it because it's all natural, and it works great on chicken."
Trim beef steaks to 1 1/48-inch fat to reduce grease drippings and help minimize open flames. If you like juicy hamburgers, go with ground beef that's about 20 percent fat.
Have fish fillets cut from 1 to 11 1/42 inches thick — anything thinner will dry out too fast.
Pork chops should be 1 to 11 1/42 inches thick — this cut is ready when the meat is slightly pink along the bone and when the juices run clear. "Today's pork loin can be served around 150 degrees," Atkins says. "The minimum for preventing trichinosis is 145 degrees."
Atkins is a surgical technician by day and sees grilling burns once or twice a year. "These are just the ones that are so bad that they have to go through the operating room," he said. Needless to say, he stresses safety around a hot grill:
Don't cook in an enclosed area, or even a semi-enclosed area, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Don't throw lighter fluid or kerosene on a lit grill.
Keep kids and pets away from the grill.
Don't touch a lit grill.
Use grill gloves, which are like welding gloves and protect your hands from the many ways you can singe them while working a grill.
Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat.
It may not be a movie, festival or concert that you're in the mood for. Maybe it's a date out back with your grill.
If you're a novice outdoor cook, or one who only takes the cover off once or twice a year, the thought of firing up the charcoal may quash the temptation of savoring juicy pork tenderloin or New York strip steak.
Fear not the grill, says barbecue master John Atkins. The owner of BBQ Connection, a catering business he owns with wife, Teresa, and leader of the Pigs on the Run, an award-winning barbecue team, says people would grill a lot more if they didn't make it such a big deal in their heads.
"It's really the easiest thing to do if you prepare a little beforehand and have the right supplies going in," he said.
Any grilling enthusiast like Atkins will tell you the payoff is big, and not just flavor-wise.
"Barbecue and outdoor grilling is that feeling of friends and having fun," he said. "That's what barbecue is about. Only an idiot would sit out there with that hot grill all day and not enjoy themselves with their family and friends."
Atkins has plenty of tips for keeping your grill or barbecue experience light and fun:
One of his biggest rules about flavor is to stay away from the lighter fluid or quick-lighting coals. "The lighter fluid can import not a very favorable taste," he says. "The way I see it, if you don't have time to light your charcoal, you don't have time to grill. People are slowly poisoning themselves with all that stuff. Stick with regular charcoal."
If you're grilling, which is cooking something at 300 degrees or higher (as opposed to low-and-slow barbecuing), marinating is a great way to season the meat. It tenderizes it and adds some flavor. He suggests using about 1 to 2 cups of marinade for every 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of food. The marinade should completely surround the food and should sit for at least four hours in the fridge or overnight. Cooked meat should never be returned to a cold marinade.
Brining meats that tend to dry out, like chicken breasts, infuses big flavor and juiciness. For brining and rub recipes and tips, visit www.pigsontherunbbq.blogspot.com.
When you're grilling, it's best not to walk away for too long. "You really need to watch it to keep it from burning or overcooking."
Only turn the meat once. When you're grilling meat to a medium doneness or more, close the grill lid to decrease cooking time. Try to use tongs, not a fork, to turn meat to avoid piercing it and letting juices escape.