Gas vs. Charcoal
The age-old debate over which grilling method is “better” involves multiple variables, from flavor to cost to convenience. While no studies prove that either is healthier, gas does burn cleaner. Charcoal grills emit more carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot into the atmosphere, contributing to increased pollution and higher concentrations of ground-level ozone. From a taste perspective, on the other hand, many people prefer the smokier, richer taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill.
Get It Hot!
Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking. While searing doesn’t “seal in” the juices (contrary to popular belief ), it does create improved flavors through caramelization.
If you do choose charcoal grilling, consider additive-free lump charcoal, which is just charred wood. Conventional briquettes may contain wood scraps and sawdust as well as coal dust, sodium nitrate, borax and additives like paraffin or lighter fluid. As for lighter fluid - avoid it. Lighter fluid can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leave an unpleasant residue on food and pose a serious danger if used improperly.
Brush It Off
It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris from prior meals. Scrape again immediately after use.
Oil It Up
Even on a clean grill, lean foods may stick when placed directly on the rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
BBQ Tofu with Lime
1 16 oz package extra firm tofu
1 bottle your favorite BBQ sauce
1 – 2 limes, juiced
Slice the tofu into 4 slabs, place on a dry dishcloth on a flat surface like a cutting board or baking sheet. Fold the cloth over the tofu to cover, or place another cloth on top. Top with another flat surface and a weight, like a big bag of flour or a few jars, and press the tofu for 20 minutes, removing excess water.
While pressing, mix your BBQ sauce with the lime. The juice “wakes up” the bottled sauce, and gives it a fresher flavor profile.
Remove the tofu from the towels; puncture slabs all over with a fork, and cover with the marinade. Best to let sit overnight, but you can use as soon as you need to.
Remove from the marinade and grill over medium heat. Low and slow is best because it gives the tofu time to caramelize on the outside and dehydrate even more, creating a lovely meaty texture. Give it 8 – 10 minutes per side and try to flip only once. Look for the grill marks before flipping.
Slice and serve. BBQ Tofu is delicious the next day.