With tips and techniques from grill master Steven Raichlen, you can delight a few friends or a crowd with perfect versions of healthy chicken, fish, veggies, and more.
Tips from renowned guru of the grill Steven Raichlen will guarantee a smashing success at your next backyard cookout. All the recipes can be doubled or tripled for a party.
Grilled Chicken Thighs
1. Go with thighs, which have deeper, richer chicken flavor than breast meat. They can withstand the dry heat of the grill and stay moist.
2. Dark meat is fattier than white, so to cut your sat fat intake, take the skin off. But, leave the bone in.
3. Coat the chicken with a bold spice rub to amp up flavor.
4. Grill the chicken over indirect heat. Putting the meat over the cooler side of the grill cooks it slowly, gently, and evenly and ensures the glaze won't scorch.
5. Finish it for five minutes over direct heat to add delicious light charring and caramelize the glaze.
View Recipe: Grilled Chicken Thighs with Ancho-Tequila Glaze
6. Go with a variety of produce for color and texture contrasts: corn, bell pepper, poblano chile, and green onions.
7. Add avocado to the mix: People don't think to grill avocado, but it adds fantastic smoky depth to the buttery fruit.
8. Crank up the grill heat to high for optimum charring—it's the browned and blackened bits that really make the salad shine.
9. Watch carefully, since each item has its own ideal doneness—the green onions need to brown and wilt slightly; the peppers should fully blacken so they can be easily peeled; and the corn has to be turned often so it browns evenly. The avocado gets just a minute or two—it'll grow bitter if cooked too long.
10. Bring the chopped salad together with some black beans, a touch of earthy cumin, and fresh lime juice and cilantro to brighten flavors.
View Recipe: Grilled Corn, Poblano, and Black Bean Salad
11. Score the beef lightly to help the marinade penetrate quickly and keep the steak flat while it cooks.
12. Keep it juicy and tender by letting it rest for several minutes after cooking, then slicing thinly against the grain: Flank steak turns tough if sliced with the grain or into thick pieces.
13. Add salt just before grilling, after the steak comes out of the marinade. (If you add salt to a wet marinade, you will lose some of it with the discarded liquid.)
14. Add smoked paprika to the spice rub. The steak doesn't spend long on the grill, so paprika boosts its open-fire flavor.
15. Buy flank steak: It's lean—with almost 30% less saturated fat than top sirloin—but flavorful.
View Recipe: Vampire Steak
16. Choose a lean pork cut. Not all parts of the hog are fat bombs. Go with grill-friendly tenderloin: It's a leaner cut than pork loin chops, saving
you as much as 3g sat fat per serving.
17. But tenderloin is extremely mild-tasting. So this Vietnamese-style dish pairs it with big, strong flavors: salty, umami-rich soy and fish sauces, peppery ginger, tangy rice vinegar, and fiery Thai chile.
18. Slice meat into thin medallions before marinating it. This increases the surface area for the marinade to coat and helps the flavorings fully permeate the pork.
19. Thread the meat onto skewers so it's easier to handle on the grill. Then, cook over very high heat; it's how you get those delicious crispy, blackened bits on the edges of the meat, just like the Saigon street vendors do.
20. Pack the pork up in lettuce wraps loaded with fresh, crisp veggies, fragrant herbs, and crunchy peanuts: It's the perfect setup for a casual, serve-yourself kind of gathering.
View Recipe: Vietnamese Pork Tenderloin
21. Since the skin won't be in direct contact with the grill to get nice and crisp, go with skinless fillets.
22. The smoky fish can stand up to the spicy sweetness of a tropical fruit salsa. Prepare it before the fish so the flavors have time to meld.
23. Grill on cedar planks: Rich wood smoke infuses the salmon.
24. Put the lid on the grill so the fish bathes in cedar smoke, the main "seasoning."
25. Choose salmon: Packed with flavor and heart-healthy fats, it can handle the grill. Flaky fish like cod, sole, and tilapia tend to fall to pieces.
View Recipe: Cedar Plank-Grilled Salmon with Mango Kiwi Salsa
26. Start with ground buffalo. It has fewer calories and as much as half the sat fat of 90% lean beef, but boasts big, meaty flavor.
27. Add some Parmigiano-Reggiano to the patties—it kicks up the savory umami taste and seasons the burgers from the inside.
28. Stir in a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. A little heart-healthy fat added to the patties helps keep the extra-lean burgers moist.
29. Make a kickin' condiment: Slow-roast tomatoes to intensify their sweetness. Add a little tangy balsamic vinegar and peppery basil, then puree the mixture into a ketchup.
30. Grill the burgers over high heat to no more than medium so they don't dry out.
31. Toast the buns on the grill to add a little crisp texture and some lightly charred flavor.
View Recipe: Parmesan Buffalo Burgers with Balsamic Ketchup