Grilling: It’s not just for guys

Michele Scott of Harrison Township, Mich., bases ribs with barbecue sauce for the finishing touch on May 1. She learned to grill by watching her late father.
Michele Scott of Harrison Township, Mich., bases ribs with barbecue sauce for the finishing touch on May 1. She learned to grill by watching her late father. TNS

Who mans the grill at home?

In many households across the U.S., it may very well be Mom.

“Women cook, men grill” – a phrase coined in a Forbes article just five years ago – is one gender stereotype that appears to be fading, says Elizabeth Karmel, celebrity chef and grilling expert. She attributes the shift to the growth of gas grills, which make grilling easier because they operate more like an oven than traditional charcoal grills do.

“More and more women are grilling and more and more women are loving it and using it as an everyday cooking technique,” says Karmel, a North Carolina native and author of three books on grilling.

She says grilling is the best way to prepare food. “Barbecue is a weekend project, but grilling is so fast and so quick.”

As millions of Americans fire up their grills this month for the summer grilling season, more of them will be women. According to the 2014 GrillWatch survey by Weber-Stephens Product Co., the most recent data available, 25 percent of Americans who grill are women, up from 20 percent in 2013 and just 15 percent in 2009.

And that’s one reason why Karmel started, a website geared toward getting more women interested in outdoor grilling.

Her advice for women who don’t grill: “Join in the fun. Why do you think the guys try to keep it themselves?”

5 grilling tips

▪ Use olive oil, salt and pepper. “Olive oil keeps the food from drying out and promotes caramelizing, which is something we all love about grilled food, salt is essential to taste and pepper is for seasoning,” says chef Elizabeth Karmel.

▪ Understand direct heat and indirect heat. For anything that takes 20 minutes or less, use direct heat (with the heat source directly under the food). For food that requires longer cooking times, use indirect heat (with heat surrounding the food and not directly underneath it).

▪ Have two pairs of 12-inch long locking chef tongs. Karmel puts red duct tape on one and green duct tape on the other. Red means “stop, this was used to touch raw food,” and green is go for using on cooked foods.

“Locking chef tongs are an extension of your hand, and you only need to turn the food once halfway through the cooking time because protein naturally releases itself from the grill.”

▪ Use a brass bristle brush to clean the grill. Karmel says if you don’t have one, crumple a ball of heavy duty aluminum foil, hold with the chefs tongs and brush the grates.

▪ Have an instant-read thermometer for checking temperatures, especially when grilling big cuts of meat.

Elizabeth Karmel

Original Beer-Can Chicken

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 2 hours (not all active time)

Elizabeth Karmel’s back pocket dinner is super simple and includes this beer-can chicken as the main dish. The meal also includes grilled asparagus and grilled sweet potato chips. Peel a sweet potato, cut it into coins, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and a little pepper. Mark them and then move them up to the warming rack. While the chicken is resting, grill the asparagus.

1 roasting chicken (about 4-5 pounds), preferably Amish

Olive oil

3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub recipe, divided, or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 can (12 ounces) beer

Set up the grill for indirect medium heat. Remove neck and giblets and rinse chicken inside and out if desired; pat dry with paper towels. Coat chicken lightly with oil and season with 2 tablespoons dry rub. Set aside. (Note: If you prefer a more classic roasted chicken flavor, omit the dry rub and use only kosher salt and black pepper.)

Open beer can, pour out about 1/4 cup of the beer and make an extra hole in top of the can with church key can opener. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of the dry rub inside beer can. Place beer can in center of cooking grate and sit chicken on top of the beer can. The chicken will appear to be sitting on the grate. Twist wings akimbo and make sure that the drumsticks are in front of the beer can – this will stabilize the chicken on the cooking grate.

Cook chicken for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees in the breast area and 180 degrees in the thigh. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Cook’s note: When removing from the grate, be careful not to spill contents of beer can, as it will be very hot.


Baby Back Ribs

1 rack of baby back ribs, well-trimmed

Favorite rub recipe (see cook’s note)

Favorite barbecue sauce

1/2 to 3/4 cup organic apple juice

Preheat the grill for indirect heat – the heat will not be directly below the ribs.

After trimming your rack, rinse the ribs in cold water and pat dry. Apply a good rub on the front, back and sides of ribs up to an hour before grilling.

Place the rack bone-side-down, close the lid, and adjust the grill to 300 degrees.

Let ribs cook for 25 minutes. Do not open the lid.

After 25 minutes, the ribs should be browned on all sides. If they appear raw, cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Otherwise, place ribs on a double wrap of foil and pour the apple juice over. Enclose the ribs tightly in the foil.

Place the packet back onto the indirect grilling space. Close the lid and cook for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. After the ribs have been steaming in the foil for 25 minutes, remove the foil, turn down the heat to 250 degrees and and place the ribs back in the same spot to finish cooking, about 25 minutes more or until they are cooked through.

At this point, you can add sauce if desired. The best method is to apply sauce on one side and then close the lid for 5 minutes. Then open the lid, turn ribs over and apply sauce to the other side. Remove, cut and serve.

Cook’s note: To make the rub, combine 1 cup chili powder, 3 tablespoons paprika, 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons coarse salt, 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Place all ingredients in an airtight container and store at room temperature. Use sparingly; a little goes a long way for great flavor.

From Michele Scott, Harrison Township, Mich. Not tested.