Summer calls for dining al fresco in your backyard. With Fresh Thyme you can grill a simple meal or an entire feast. Stroll through the Produce Department and pick out the season’s ripest veggies and fruits. Stop at the Butcher Shop and check out the display of meat, poultry, fish, sausage, and more. Make your choices, then go for your secret weapon: a bottle or two of your favorite Fresh Thyme marinade. Tonight you’re ready to be crowned Grill Master, if only by your family.
The Sizzling Sound of Meat
Traditional family-friendly grill fare calls for burgers and brats. Fresh Thyme meats come in a mouth-watering assortment of natural, organic, and grass-fed options—as well as vegetarian and vegan varieties. You’ll even find humanely raised game meat, such as bison, elk, and venison. Available ground in 1-pound packages or in convenient patties, game meat is lean, low in fat and cholesterol, and delicious. Custom-make your own burgers by mixing grass-fed ground beef and bison; they’ll be the hit of your backyard barbecue.
Pork chops and chicken breasts, also grill favorites, are economical for feeding a crowd. If you feel adventurous, try butterflying a whole chicken: Cut out the backbone and splay open the bird, which allows both white and dark meat to finish cooking at the same time—about 30 minutes on the grill.
For special occasions, check out Fresh Thyme’s assortment of steaks. Each one is USDA Choice, Premium Black Angus beef—and an excellent source of protein. (A 3-ounce portion provides 22 grams and helps build bones and muscles.) Choice beef is high quality with good marbling for tenderness and juiciness; the Black Angus breed signifies exceptional flavor. Go for a classic ribeye; it needs nothing more than a little salt and freshly cracked pepper. Or opt for sirloin, flat irons, and flank steaks, which all benefit from marinating.
Fresh Thyme also features fish and seafood for the grill, both flash-frozen and fresh-caught; check out the freezer case in the meat/seafood department as well as at the Butcher Shop. If you’re new to grilling fish, salmon is a beginner’s favorite. This orangish-flesh fish is high in omega-3s, protein, and B vitamins. Deliciously tender and moist, salmon can be cooked directly on the grill or on a wooden plank—either will bring high praise for the cook. While salmon and cod are ideal for grilling in foil packs or fish baskets, firm-fleshed fish such as ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, or swordfish are good choices for kabobs. The firm flesh is easily cut into cubes and stays intact on skewers during grilling.
Add Veggies for Taste, Color, and Nutrition
One joy of grilling is that almost any vegetable or fruit cooks beautifully on the grill. Grilled fresh veggies have that distinctive “cooked outdoors” flavor, and brief cooking preserves much of their nutritional benefits. Foods that have ample surface area show off striking grill marks, too—making veggies as visually appealing as they are tasty. Grilled vegetables benefit from simple marinades that enhance rather than overpower natural flavors.
For kabobs, cut food in even-size pieces. Cook small veggies, such as button mushrooms or grape tomatoes, in a grill basket to prevent bits from falling through grates. Large vegetables, including bell peppers or planks of eggplant or zucchini, hold up well directly on the grill. To prevent sticking, brush the grates with oil, and baste veggies once or twice during cooking.
The Zesty Magic of Marinades
There’s something miraculous about a marinade: Chicken, pork, and tough cuts of beef become unexpectedly tender and juicy when marinated. Fish, seafood, and vegetables gain snappy flavor.
Marinades consist of seasonings and an acidic ingredient (wine, vinegar, or fruit juice), which tenderizes the meat and makes it easier for our bodies to digest. Marinating also allows seasonings to penetrate and instill flavor. Marinating chicken breasts and pork chops helps keep them moist, preventing a dreaded “dry meat” disaster. For kabobs, small pieces of chicken, fish, or shrimp require a short marinate time; if you marinate too long, some meats actually get tougher.
Chicken may be marinated 30 minutes to no more than 2 hours. Pork (and beef) can marinate longer, from 1 to 12 hours. Fish and seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, should be marinated briefly, 15 to 30 minutes. Soft vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms need only 30 minutes; firm veggies such as carrots can marinate 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Fresh Thyme has a delicious assortment of marinades, including tropical, sweet, hot, Asian-inspired, and much more. Pick your favorite, then follow label recommendations. To prevent cross-contamination, always marinate meats and vegetables separately in glass or plastic containers. Place the prepped food in a container, add the marinade, then cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Discard the marinade once it’s time to grill. Always use fresh marinade for basting or as a sauce.
Skewers vs Kabobs: What’s the Diff?
Plenty, as it turns out: Skewers are the metal or wood utensils you poke through food; kabobs are the tantalizingly aromatic pieces that come off the grill and slide onto a plate and into your mouth. (Note: If you’re using wooden skewers, submerge and soak them in water for about 30 minutes before threading on food so they don’t catch fire.)
WATCH: How to make Kabobs 3 Ways!
Cut meats and veggies uniformly to cook evenly, but cut pieces larger than the spaces between grill grates to prevent food from falling into the fire. For large food chunks, double up on the skewers. The two-skewer method prevents single pieces of food from rotating around a skewer when a kabob is turned. To grill kabobs made of multiple ingredients, cut the veggie pieces a little larger than meat pieces, which will help ensure even cooking.
As a general guide, foods cut small enough for kabobs cook quickly—depending on ingredient size and thickness, of course. Explore the Fresh Thyme Recipe Collection for recipes to enjoy and for exact cooking times. With a little practice and help from Fresh Thyme, you’ll have kabobs worthy of the Grill Master title!