31 May 2012



WHEN IT COMES TO COOKING, the grill has long been man's muse of choice. Even guys who tremble in fear at the sight of an omelet pan take to the open flame like disciples of Prometheus. And why not? After all, beneath those blackened grates lies a convergence of flavor and nutrition: a fire that melts fat and delivers heaping quantities of smoke and sizzle, the world's greatest zero-calorie ingredients.

But that scorching Weber isn't always the weight-loss weapon we want it to be. Consider this: We've found dozens of grilled dishes in the restaurant world with more than 1,000 calories per serving, from Cheesecake Factory's 1,440-calorie pork chops to Chili's Shiner Bock Ribs, which pack a belt-busting 2,310 calories per plate. Yes, it is possible to screw up food on the grill, and many well-intentioned cooks may be doing similar damage at home, choosing calorie packed meat cuts, coating them with sugary sauces, and serving them with a lousy supporting cast. These are all tactics that compromise the inherent goodness of the grill.

All that stops now. We're here to restore the grill to its rightful place as a powerful weight-loss weapon. After testing hundreds of recipes for our newest book, Grill This, Not That!, we've developed six new rules of the grill that we guarantee will forever change the way you approach that cherished device in your backyard. Time to cook up some of the leanest, healthiest, and tastiest meat, fish, and vegetable dishes of the summer—and effortlessly drop pounds while you're doing it.

RULE 1: Keep the Lean Cuts Juicy

A great marinade is a marvelous thing, but there's an even simpler way to ensure that lean cuts like pork tenderloin, chicken breast, and shrimp come off the grill juicier, more tender, and seasoned all the way through: brining. Submerging pork, chicken, turkey, or shrimp in water enriched with salt and sugar helps to season the flesh from the inside out while plumping it up with moisture.

How long should you brine? The answer depends on the protein. Shell-on shrimp take just 30 minutes, while pork chops and chicken parts need an hour or two. A pork shoulder or whole chicken or turkey should soak overnight. And for even more flavor, you can customize your brine with additional seasonings (see below). No time or energy for a full brine? Just sprinkle kosher salt all over chicken, pork, or turkey a few hours before grilling.

Your Basic Brine—And Beyond
For a simple brine that works with any protein, combine 8 cups of water with 1/2 cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup of light-brown sugar in a large pot.

Heat the mixture on high, stirring occasionally, just until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let the brine cool completely before using. Pour it into a large resealable container and add your protein of choice.

But why stop at basic brine? With this simple mixture as your base, you can add flavor with apple juice, honey, chilies, garlic cloves, bay leaves, orange peel, peppercorns, and/or rosemary, to name a few.

No matter what you use to flavor your liquid, make sure the brine covers the protein completely so it can penetrate evenly—and always keep both brine and protein covered and refrigerated.

RULE 2: Deploy Spice Rubs for Flavor

There's no faster way to bring flavor to your grilled food than by using a spice rub. Most spices are nearly calorie-free vessels for powerful antioxidants, making a rub a healthier option than a heavy sauce. But you don't need to use additive-laden store-bought rubs; a true grill-master develops his own spice blends.

Start with three basic ingredients: salt (kosher), sugar (light brown), and black pepper (fresh cracked, please!). Then you can tweak as you see fit. Cumin, chili powder, and cayenne are classics, but why not venture further afield? Try these grill-friendly spices: ground fennel seed for pork, cracked coriander on meaty fish like mahimahi, and chipotle chile powder for steaks. Our favorite grill spice of all, smoky Spanish paprika, adds a savory spin to everything from chicken thighs to sweet potatoes


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Desi Lund - Find me on Bloggers.com