Is there anything better than a barbecue to enjoy the fine weather and pleasant company? Even if you're on a strict diet, grilling is a great way to cook because you can cook food without fat. Often though, people point out the risks of cooking this way.
And it's true that under some conditions, heterocyclic amines, which are potentially carcinogenic, might form in the barbecue. Avoiding any risk, however, is simple, if we take a few easy precautions. The rules to prevent these “unwanted guests” are mostly common sense: you probably already follow them.
1. Choose the most suitable proteins
Avoid any processed meat like sausages, hot dogs, pork belly and ham, since they contain preservatives and grilling them increases the exposure to harmful substances. Alternate fat meat and red meat with lean meat like chicken and turkey. Fish is a very good alternative for a super healthy barbecue. It contains less fat and is quicker to cook, preventing the risk of charring the food and therefore the formation of amines.
2. Properly prepare the meat or fish before cooking it
A highly recommended gourmet way of “protecting” meat or fish is to marinate it. With spices, herbs, lemon juice or garlic, it's a very effective and tasty way of reducing harmful substances. Just marinate the food for 30 minutes for a great taste and an important protective effect.
3. Thoroughly wash the grille before using it
The real concern is not so much germs or dirt, but rather the burnt residue left from the last time the barbecue was used This residue can be harmful if burnt again and it sticks to new food and ends up on our plate.
4. Cook food correctly
There are some very simple techniques to prevent harmful substances from forming when you cook food.
- Place the grille about 15 centimetres from the heat source to keep any flames away from your food or make sure the heat is not too close to it. All Sunday barbecues have inner grooves to place the grille wherever it's easiest for you.
- Don't let the fat drip onto the embers and produce smoke. You can always use a sheet of aluminium foil on the grille and poke holes into it. Better still is a stainless steel “biological grille” like the ones provided as standard with Sunday barbecues. It is designed to drain the fat to the sides to avoid harmful flare-ups and smoke.
- Never cook at excessively high temperatures. Ideally, you should arrange the embers so that they form a low, even base and always check the food when cooking to avoid burning it.
- Cut back on grilling time (not more than 20-30 minutes). A good tip is to pre-cook the meat in a microwave for a few minutes so that it sits on the grille for less time. It's tasty and great for your health.
5. Never eat burnt or charred food
Even if the classic “crusty” bit may seem to be the best bit, any charred or burnt bits should be removed.
6. Choose the right side dish
Add large portions of fruit and vegetables to your barbecue to balance the situation and add antioxidants and vitamins to your meal. Both fruit and vegetables can be grilled too and make for very colourful side dishes or original desserts.