Cooking Beef on the Outdoor Grill : Fast, Hassle-Free Meal Preparation Is a Big Plus in the Summertime

Americans like the unforgettable outdoor flavor that cooking over hot coals adds to juicy beef, and with hot weather days of summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with cooking over an outdoor flame.

Any beef that cooks indoors by dry heat can cook on the outdoor grill. Even less tender cuts of high quality can cook successfully on the grill. This includes beef cuts like chuck steak or boneless chuck roasts, top round steak or boneless top round roasts, boneless rump roasts and tip roasts.

Today's cooks also like the fast and hassle-free meal preparation that cooking on the grill offers. Steak, kebabs and hamburgers take just minutes to cook on the grill and there are no pots and pans to wash later. Also, novices to outdoor cooking find it's easy, as well as fun, to cook large beef cuts such as roasts, brisket and whole slabs of beef ribs.

But before sampling these mouthwatering beef entrees, the first-time outdoor chef must master the preparation and regulation of the fire. A moderate temperature is generally recommended for cooking beef.

Briquettes Pyramid-Style

First, place briquettes in the firebox of the grill (line with foil for easy clean-up, if desired) pyramid-style, starting about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking begins. Generally, the Barbecue Industry Assn. recommends using about three pounds of briquettes per fire, depending upon the size of the grill and the amount of meat and other food to be cooked.

To ignite the briquettes, unless you're using instant-lighting charcoal, use either a liquid or electric starter. Use about two ounces of fluid per pound of briquettes, wait about two minutes, then light. To use the electric starter, insert into the coals about eight minutes, then unplug and remove.

The fire is ready when the coals are covered with a gray ash and glowing in the center. At this point, spread the coals in a single layer with tongs for direct cooking of steaks, burgers or other quick-cooking food. To lower the cooking temperature, spread coals farther apart or raise the grill, if possible. To make the fire hotter, move the coals closer together and tap off the ash. If slower, indirect cooking for roasts and other slow-cooked food is desired, arrange the coals on either side of the drip pan. It's also handy to use a spritzer bottle to sprinkle coals in case of flare-ups.

To check the temperature of the coals, cautiously hold the palm of your hand about four inches from the coals. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away. Temperature is hot at two seconds, medium-hot at three seconds, medium at four seconds, low at five seconds, very low at six or seven seconds.

Aromatic wood chunks are a popular addition to charcoal fires. The most compatible wood flavors with beef are mesquite, oak, hickory, cherry and grapevine. When the coals are hot, place wood chunks on top of briquettes and wait about five minutes for the smoke to start developing before cooking.

Kebabs Make Easy Entree

An easy entree for first-time barbecue chefs is Beef and Vegetable Kebabs. One skewer will hold an entire meal of beef and vegetables. Make the kebabs with tasty cubes of sirloin steak, separated with pieces of green peppers and potatoes. A crisp tossed salad and grill-warmed loaf of crusty bread complete the meal.

The use of marinade will help transform beef short ribs into mouthwatering Beer-Basted Rib Steaks. The steaks can be easily cut from the meaty short rib at home, then marinated about six to eight hours to tenderize these less-tender cuts. When ready for the grill, they take only 20 minutes to cook. Brush occasionally with additional sauce for added flavor.

Beef liver, long known for its great nutritional value, is usually at its best when cooked with the traditional accompaniments of bacon and onions. But did you know that the barbecue provides a terrific method of cooking a whole liver to perfection? Purchase the liver in one large piece, such as the two-pound piece suggested in this Barbecued Beef Liver recipe. Marinate in red wine and beef broth that has been simmered with parsley, oregano and thyme. Check the liver after cooking for 10 minutes on each side. Overcooking will toughen the liver.

Three marinated cuts of beef round out the selection. At your next cookout serve some Sherried London Broil, Country-Style Flank Steak or Chili Chuck.

BEEF AND VEGETABLE KEBABS

1 (2 1/2-pound) beef sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick

4 medium potatoes

2 medium green peppers, cut into 24 pieces

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Trim fat from steak and remove bone. Cut into 16 (1-inch) pieces.

Cut potatoes into quarters but do not peel. Cook in 2 inches boiling water in covered saucepan 15 to 20 minutes.

Thread 6 green pepper pieces, 4 beef cubes and 4 pieces potato on each of 4 metal skewers. Combine butter, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Place kebabs on grill over low to medium coals and broil 10 to 15 minutes, depending on desired doneness, turning and brushing with seasoned butter occasionally. Makes 4 servings.

BEER-BASTED RIB

STEAKS

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup beer

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3 to 4 pounds lean beef short ribs

Saute onion in butter in medium saucepan 2 to 3 minutes. Add beer, chili sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire, cayenne, paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, cut along rib bone of each rib to about 1/4 inch from bone, being careful not to cut through edge. Rotate rib 1/2 turn and continue cutting into thick meaty portion of rib, stopping 1/4 inch short of cutting through edge. Each finished steak will be about 3 to 4 inches wide, 5 to 6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.

Place ribs in plastic bag. Add marinade, turning to coat. Tie bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 to 8 hours or overnight, turning at least once. Drain marinade from ribs and reserve. Sprinkle ribs with remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Place meat on grill over medium-hot coals and broil 2 minutes per side. Continue cooking 5 to 6 minutes or until meat reaches desired degree of doneness, turning and brushing with sauce occasionally. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

BARBECUED BEEF

LIVER

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 cup beef broth

1 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon oregano leaves

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 pounds beef liver, in 1 piece, about 2 inches thick

Combine wine, broth, onions, parsley, oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, tarragon and salt in saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Place liver in large baking dish and pour marinade over. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, but no longer than 12 hours.

Remove liver from marinade and place on grill over hot coals. Cook 10 to 12 minutes per side for rare or to desired doneness. Turn once and baste frequently with marinade during cooking. To check for doneness, make slit at center of steak and check for color. To serve, carve into crosswise slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Makes 6 servings.

SHERRIED LONDON

BROIL

1 (2-pound) London broil

1 (6-ounce) can cocktail vegetable juice

1/3 cup dry Sherry

1/4 cup sliced green onions

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Score steak and place in shallow dish. Combine juice, Sherry, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, mustard and ginger and pour over steak. Marinate 6 hours or overnight. Turn steak occasionally. Remove steak from marinade. Place on grill over hot coals. Cook until underside of steak is brown, brushing occasionally with sauce. Turn and continue cooking and brushing with sauce to desired doneness (about 30 minutes for rare). Makes 8 servings.

COUNTRY-STYLE FLANK STEAK

1 1/2 pounds flank steak

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed onion soup

2 tablespoons dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed

Score steak and place in shallow dish. Combine soup, wine and basil and pour over steak. Marinate 6 hours or overnight, turning steak occasionally. Remove from marinade and place on grill 4 inches above hot coals. Cook 5 minutes. Turn, brush with marinade and cook 5 minutes longer or until meat reaches desired doneness. Makes 6 servings.

CHILI CHUCK

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can brown gravy with onions

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 (3-pound) chuck blade steak, about 1 1/2 inches thick

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

Combine gravy, catsup, vinegar, oil, chili powder and pepper in shallow dish. Add steak and marinate 6 hours or overnight, turning steak occasionally. Place steak on grill 4 inches above hot coals. Cook 10 minutes. Turn and brush with marinade. Cook 10 minutes longer or until meat reaches desired doneness.

Meanwhile, combine sugar with remaining marinade, heat and serve with steak. Makes 4 servings.

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