Summer heat blazes across the country, which means it’s grilling season. For blind and visually impaired people, grilling can be an intimidating feat. Even if experienced in the kitchen, nonvisual grilling can seem scary. As soon as that heat billowing off a hot grill hits, it can make a skeptic out of anyone.
Many blind and low vision people grill, but it's not for everyone! If you’re interested in learning some nonvisual techniques for grilling, read on.
It’s good to start with a recipe. A sauce, marinade or rub can take it to the next level. Here’s a basic marinade for a Grilled Hawaiian Chicken dinner.
Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
• 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• 1 cup pineapple juice
• 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• ⅔ cup brown sugar, light or dark
• 1 tablespoon freshly grated or finely minced ginger (or use ginger paste)
• 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
Can sub in any variety of veggies and/or tofu.
Combine all ingredients and whisk until sugar is mostly dissolved. Check this by placing clean fingers into the bowl. If you still feel a lot of sugar crystals, keep whisking. Once you feel none or very few, the marinade is ready.
Place chicken in a gallon sized storage bag and pour half of the mixture in. Place in the fridge for at least four hours.
Store the other half of the marinade in a container with a lid and refrigerate.
When grilling with visual impairments, there are a variety of grilling tools and gadgets that can be useful! . It takes trial and error to figure out what works best for any given individual. Here are some recommended tools and gadgets helpful for nonvisual grillers.
You can’t grill without the beast itself. Preferences range on gas versus open-flame, but most home grillers use gas. It gives you more control over the heat, and you don’t have to contend with open flames or smoke.
Brands vary, and depending on your budget, you can find an overwhelming variety of options. If new to grilling, a basic gas grill is affordable and simple to use.
Essential for grilling, is a basic set of grilling utensils such as GrillJoy’s stainless steel grill kit. This set should include a spatula, tongs, fork and cleaning brush.
Not all grill masters wear grill gloves, but gloves can give you an added layer of protection. Having a pair of gloves might also make the grilling process less intimidating for nonvisual grillers.
You can use everyday dishes, but it’s nice to have dishes made and used specifically for grilling. If it’s an option, purchasing a few items is a nice addition to the grilling experience.
So much technology is available and can enhance the grilling experience.
This tool ensures that all food that is being prepared is at the proper temperature for safe eating!
Benefits for using digital thermometers:
Ensures precise temps to avoid over and under cooking.
Apps and alerts allow frequent checking without standing by a hot grill.
Gauges both grill temp and meat temps.
Allows nonvisual grillers to know when food is just right.
For those grilling with visual impairments, the app for the popular Weber iGrill probes is accessible with iOS and Android screen readers.
Depending on what you are grilling, the safe minimum cooking temperature ranges from 145°F to 165°F. Place the probe into the thickest part of the meat to ensure accurate temps.
You have your tools. The food is prepped. Now, it’s time to grill.
Feel the heat
No matter which type of grill you have, charcoal or gas, you have to gauge the temperature by touch. As mentioned above, gas grills give you that control over the level of heat required for the recipe.
Fire up the grill. Keep the lid closed so it gets as hot as possible. Using a grilling brush, scrape away any residual mess from previous grilling.
Once done cleaning, adjust the heat accordingly. You will initially need to determine where the knobs are and which direction to turn for specific heat levels.
Often, online accessible tutorials and PDFs can give you this information. Of course, you can always ask for sighted assistance for this part.
Gauge the heat level by hovering your hand a few inches above the grilling surface. The heat will be more intense directly above each gas burner.
Once the grill is heated, it’s time to place the meat on the heat. Avoid placing the meat directly over the flames, because it could cause flare-ups from drippings. Use utensils as guides to place meat on the grill.
This keeps food separated and your hands safe. Food closer to flames will cook faster and hotter. You will need to flip the meat. It’s also recommended you periodically move the meat around different spots on the grill. This ensures a more thorough and even grill on all sides.
With the recipe provided above, use the extra marinade and frequently brush over the meat as you grill. Cook the chicken for about seven to eight minutes per side. A thermometer should read 165°F at the thickest part of the chicken once done.
Is it done yet?
For chicken and pork products, it’s recommended to use an accessible meat thermometer to know a precise temp. One blind and visually impaired technique for checking your burgers or steaks is to press down with a finger or utensil to determine how firm the beef is. The former it is, the better cooked it is. Also, a knife should cut cleanly through a well-cooked piece of meat.
Dinner is now ready to serve. Enjoy with your favorite side dishes. The crispy, smokey, juicy meat will make your mouth water.
You’re now on your way to becoming a nonvisual grill master.
For those searching for assistance in adaptive or assistive technology, support groups, activities and more, contact Outlook Enrichment today!