Kitchen Focus

It's August and that means you've probably been enjoying grilled foods all summer long. But just because everything from roasts to vegetables to steaks have found their way to your grill, that doesn't mean there aren't a few things that you can do to make sure you have the best grilling experience you can have. And this month, we're talking about steaks and chops.

First, it's important to remember that grilling is a method of dry cooking. That means starting with a juicy cut of meat will give you the best results. Steaks or chops for grilling need to be at least 3/4 inch thick and thicker is better -- at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches is recommended for the best grilling results. You should also trim the excess fat from around the edges to prevent flare ups. Because a fork pierces the meat and causes the loss of juice, make sure you always use a tongs when turning meat on the grill.

Grilling times for steaks and chops can be approximated, and only approximated. The only safe way to obtain the degree of doneness you wish is to use an instant read thermometer to check the middle temperature of a thick steak or chop. Once you've determined the desired temperature (doneness) of your meat, you can also make a small slit near the bone to see the color of the meat and feel the outside of the steak or chop to familiarize yourself with other characteristics that indicate doneness.

Of course, this is all simply an exercise in good grilling unless some recipes are offered to you. So here are two to get you started:

Korean-Style Steak

This steak is soaked in a sweet and sour marinade that leaves your steak tender, flavored and perfect for grilling. Enjoy it with rice and a cold cucumber salad.
  • 4 ribeye steaks
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup green onion, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Trim the excess fat from the steaks. Mix the other ingredients well and place in a resealable bag. Add the steaks and let them marinate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the steaks on a preheated medium grill and cook until done, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the grill and carve them into thin slices. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus marinating time

Mustard-Grilled Pork Chops

Mustard pairs beautifully with pork. Here, it is joined by spicy cayenne pepper and a combination of tomatoes and basil. The result is a taste that’s almost familiar with a decidedly Italian flair about it. I like to serve this meal with a pasta salad with fresh vegetables and maybe even a grilled peach or two.
  • 1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 boneless pork chops

Preheat a medium heat grill. Meanwhile, combine the diced plum tomatoes in a medium bowl with the sun-dried tomatoes, chopped basil and cayenne. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, honey and garlic. Place the pork chops on a medium-hot grill and cook until done, 5 to 7 minutes per side, brushing the mustard mixture on the chops about halfway through the cooking time. Cook a couple of minutes more, turning and brushing until the chops are done, but are still moist. Serve with the two-tomato mixture.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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