Grilling season is here, and what better way to find inspiration than to get tips from a pro? The Daily Meal turned to Food Network and TLC's Chef Duran for suggestions on healthier grilling options and fun twists on classics.
The Daily Meal: We’ve heard that you give healthy twists to grilling favorites and that you like to use kosher meats. How does kosher meat provide this twist and why is it considered healthier?
Chef Duran: I prefer to grill with kosher meat. A mainstay in my fridge are Hebrew National 100 percent kosher beef franks. When meats are kosher, I trust the cuts of beef meet to meet the highest standards of quality. In fact, kosher products are becoming an increasingly popular choice among non-Jewish consumers, too. In the last year, only 15 percent of those purchasing kosher products did it for religious reasons and 62 percent bought them because of quality. Kosher follows a stricter process consumers can trust and there are extra efforts around ingredients and food safety.
The Daily Meal: What are some of the unhealthiest dishes that you find during grilling season that are popular and that you can provide alternatives to?
Chef Duran: I definitely don’t consider myself a nutrition expert. I’m all about flavor and agree with the school of thought “all good things in moderation.” But, I encourage people to try alternatives to give a flavorful, unexpected twist to recipes. I think an easy way to do this is switching out condiments and dressings. With summer grilling, barbeque sauce is a staple. Although, by no means should you swear off the BBQ sauce, a fun way to change it up is top off grilled chicken is with an Asian-style sauce made with creamy peanut butter, coconut milk and lime juice. The flavors are completely unexpected for a summer barbeque!
The Daily Meal: If hosting a party, hot dog buffets are a great way to go by offereing guests an array of franks and toppings. What toppings can you suggest to our readers that go beyond the typical fare of onions, mustard, ketchup, and relish? What toppings would you want in your dream hot dog buffet?
Chef Duran: This is the fun part because it’s where you can really get creative. I love coffee rub spice mixes which combines the bold coffee flavors with a little bit of brown sugar sweetness. That’s a great way to season a good hot dog. For an easy DIY topping, mix together some curry powder in the ketchup to add a kick. For people who like things a bit on the sweet side, try adding a mango slaw on top by chopping up and mixing together some fresh mangoes, cabbage, onion, and oil. As far as dream toppings in a hot dog buffet? Definitely bacon!
The Daily Meal: What are grilling tips to give amateurs and seasoned grillers?
Chef Duran: They key to grilling is staying organized. Make sure you have enough propane and charcoal. Make sure everything you want to grill is already marinated and cut before you’re ready to fire up the grill. If you have all of your ingredients and equipment organized ahead of time, you won’t risk burning a good piece of steak because you left it on the grill for too long while you were slicing veggies.
For seasoned grillers, they already know the basics. At this point, it’s about honing in on the craft. Experiment with different seasonings and flavors and develop your own signature “taste” — whether that be meats that have a kick to it or maybe even a dash of sweetness. You’re a pro now, so make it your own!
The Daily Meal: What is your favorite thing to grill? Do you have a recipe you can share?
Chef Duran: I love to grill hot dogs. My favorite trick is the spiral frank. It’s such a simple recipe, but never fails to impress my guests. All you need to do is thread beef franks through skewers and then slice down the length of each frank, while rotating the skewer for a perfect spiral cut. I’m all for toppings and garnishes, but sometimes a classic dose of ketchup and mustard does just the trick!
Grilled Spiral Franks
Time to bring a lil spice to your condiments! Click here to see a recipe for Chef Duran's curry ketchup.
You can never have too many grillings ideas or tips, so click here to see our collection of Best Grililng Recipes.