Sunday, July 19, 2009

Idaho Beef Month

The Idaho Beef Council offers tips for a delicious and healthy barbeque season

Boise--The majority of Americans are eager to gain grilling expertise to help tame the flame this summer. Only 11 percent of beef lovers claim they are a “master of the grill,” while 61 percent say they don’t go beyond the basics and wish they knew more, according to a recent survey conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs for the Beef Checkoff Program.

“Grilling is a low-fat and healthy method for cookout staples like lean and juicy top sirloin steak,” Chef Dave Zino, executive director of the Culinary Center for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said. “Lean beef is not only an American favorite, but it’s a delicious addition to your healthy grilling menu. For a healthful and flavorful meal, use a medium heat setting and avoid charring or burning food when you grill.”

As Americans continue to fire up their grills this summer, now’s the time to brush up on the steps to delicious and healthy grilling:

Opt for lean, well-trimmed cuts of meat to prevent fire flare-ups and excess smoke formation.
Trim any remaining visible fat, and choose lean cuts of meat, such as one of the 29 beef cuts that meet government guidelines for “lean.”
Traditional favorites like flank steak, tenderloin, 95 percent lean ground beef patties and T-bone steak are all lean cuts, meaning they have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3½ -ounce serving.

Marinate meat for added flavor and tenderness.
Inherently less tender beef cuts such as shoulder steak, eye round steak, top round steak, skirt steak and flank steak are more affordable, but require a tenderizing marinade before cooking.
To make a taste bud-tantalizing, yet simple and tenderizing marinade, use an acidic ingredient like lemon or lime juice, balsamic vinegar or wine or a natural tenderizing enzyme found in fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya and figs. Many ready-to-use marinades offer a variety of delicious flavors such as teriyaki, jerk, chipotle and mesquite.

Using marinades with little or no sugar may help protect meat from charring.
Before grilling, remove meat from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel to promote even browning and prevent steaming.
For best results when using a glaze or sauce that contains sugar, baste during the last few minutes of grilling to obtain the best flavor and avoid burning or charring.

Turn beef occasionally for even cooking and browning.
Use a spatula to turn burgers and tongs to turn steaks and kabobs.
Do not press, flatten or pierce the meat as flavorful juices will be lost, which can also lead to fire flare-ups. Cut off any burnt or charred pieces before eating should minimal overcooking occur.

Pair fruits and vegetables with grilling favorites to reap even more nutrition benefits.
Many people fall short of the MyPyramid recommendations to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables daily. Try pairing produce with a favorite protein such as lean beef to help get more fruits and vegetables into your meal and meet MyPyramid recommendations.

For your next barbecue, try zesty nutrient-rich beef kabobs with fruit salsa. Simply thread cubes of top sirloin, red peppers, red onions, pineapples and cherry tomatoes on a skewer, and grill to your desired doneness. Serve with a fruit salsa combining diced mangos, strawberries and green onions with a pinch of cilantro and a splash of lime juice.

Try topping summertime salads with thinly sliced grilled flank steak for a nutrient-rich, satisfying and affordable meal.

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