Grilling may be America’s favorite way to cook when it’s warm out, so the chefs at Wegmans Food Markets have come up with a fresh approach to bring even more great grilled meals to the table. The concept - “grill it in your skillet!” Put fresh ingredients in a seasoned cast-iron skillet, place the skillet over a pre-heated grill, cover the grill, and a few minutes later, you have a sensational meal - flavorful, juicy and ready to eat.
The recipe possibilities are endless, but the Summer 2016 issue of Wegmans Menu magazine gives complete instructions for three dishes developed by Wegmans Chef Tadao Mikami:
- Steak Au Poivre with “Veggie” Spaghetti
- Salmon with Tomatoes and Capers – a video demo of this recipe is also available.
- Salmon Teriyaki with Mushrooms
Even easier - take home Ready-To-Cook versions of these entrées, (Steak Au Poivre, Salmon with Tomatoes and Capers, and Salmon Teriyaki with Mushrooms). Unwrap, pour the sauce over the protein, and put the pan (it comes in) on a preheated grill, cover, and cook about 25 minutes. These items are packaged as single-serve portions, so all family members can choose their favorite, and should be ready to serve around the same time.
While the ready-to-cook and make-it-yourself versions are both simple to do at home, they were not so easy to develop in Wegmans’ test kitchens, says Eric Wendorff, Wegmans’ corporate chef of meat and seafood. “It took a lot of testing to come up with combinations that had great flavor, contained vegetables as well as protein, cooked together in one pan, and were done in about 30 minutes or less. But we’re really happy with the results, and customers who have tried the ready-to-cook versions have given them a big thumbs-up on wegmans.com.”
Bonus points for this technique:
- The kitchen stays cooler because cooking stays outdoors
- One-pan cooking makes cleanup fast
- A seasoned, cast-iron skillet distributes heat evenly, so there are no “hot spots”
- Natural juices that collect in the pan during cooking don’t drip away; just pour over the entrée when it’s served for extra juiciness and flavor
Chef Wendorff also recommends preparing seafood this way, especially fish with tender, flaky flesh – there’s less chance that pieces will flake off and fall through the grates.
It’s important to season a cast-iron skillet before first use so it will clean up as easily as a non-stick pan after cooking and add flavor to the dish. To properly season a skillet:
- Heat the pan until it’s very hot
- Pour dry salt into the pan while it’s hot and rub the salt with a dishtowel or rag against the skillet’s surface to clean it
- Brush away the salt and put in about a tablespoon of a vegetable oil like canola which can take high heat, tilting the pan so it covers all of the interior surface, and heat until the oil shimmers and begins to smoke
- Wipe away the oil with a paper towel, leaving a thin film, and it’s ready to use
And one more tip: don’t peek! The meals should take 20 to 30 minutes to cook, as long as the grill stays hot. Check once after 20 minutes with an instant read thermometer to see if the protein is 130 degrees for the salmon and 125 to 140 for the steak, depending on how you prefer it.
From grill to table: Keep those summertime meals safe
The warm days of summer call for extra attention to food safety rules to reduce the risk of food spoilage or food-borne illness. Bacteria that cause illness grow fastest at temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so keeping hot foods hot and cold foods chilled until serving helps keep food safe.
Wegmans and fightbac.org, a national partnership for food safety education, recommend these four safety steps as you prepare and serve food:
Clean: Bacteria can spread from hands, to cutting boards, to knives, countertops, dishes, and pots and pans. To keep that from happening, wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Make sure knives and cutting boards are cleaned with warm, soapy water each time after you use them to chop or cut a food. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water just before eating. Rub firm-skin produce such as melons (or scrub with clean brush) under running tap water.
- Separate: Cross-contamination is how bacteria spread. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood and their juices or marinades away from ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook: Improper heating means bacteria can survive. Cook to the recommended temperature and check with an instant-read thermometer to know that harmful bacteria have been killed.
- Chill: Chill leftovers within two hours in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or below. On a warm summer day, refrigerate leftovers even more quickly.