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Old 05-17-2007, 07:55 PM   #1
Brian Reckdenwald
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Smoke is a carcinogen. Is grilling over charcoal unhealthy? I'm sort of afraid to hear the answer as grilling is so enjoyable.
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Old 05-17-2007, 08:32 PM   #2
Scott Allen Hanson
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Brian,

Bad news. Grilling does create carcinogens. Good news, you can use certain techniques to minimize their formation. Check out (w/f safe):

http://www.chemistry.org/portal/a/c/s/1/feature_ent.html?id=c373e904a807b3938f6a 17245d830100

In a nutshell, avoid well-done, avoid flare-ups and charring, marinate (thin marinades), try to grill at lower temperatures. Leaner cuts of meat and fish are generally better (fewer flames).
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Old 05-18-2007, 07:51 AM   #3
Nick Cruz
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I saw on Alton Brown's Good Eats a good episode regarding charcoal grilling and carcinogens. He said basically what is said above, avoid flare ups and charring the meat, thats where the bad stuff comes from. Saying that, however, I would take a cancer filled, mesquite grilled steak over a bland propane grilled steak any day of the week. But thats just me.
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Old 05-18-2007, 11:54 AM   #4
Brian Reckdenwald
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Well shucks. Grilling at a low temperature doesn't sound like a bad idea. I'll give it a shot.
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Old 05-18-2007, 01:28 PM   #5
Scott Allen Hanson
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Brian,

If you have a favorite marinade, you might try it. From what I've read, you can reduce the carcinogen formation by 90% simply by marinating. Another suggestion was to pre-heat or pre-cook at low temp. I think this would be a better option for poultry or meat that you want completely cooked versus a steak, especially if you prefer the rare end of the spectrum.
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Old 05-22-2007, 04:45 PM   #6
Chris Honnon
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Not that I'm a pillar of good health yet but I would rather die than give up my grill, carcinogens or not. I have both a charcoal and a propane grill and I use them all winter, and here in Vermont that means a lot!

Chris puts meat on fire, mmmm good. Eat much. No cancer.

:-)

Chris
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:59 AM   #7
Cal Jones
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I really wouldn't worry about it. There isn't a substance on this Earth that isn't unhealthy in some form or other. If we worry about everything we might as well just go and live in a bubble.
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:39 AM   #8
Nick Cruz
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But then you would suffocate. See, you cant do ANYTHING without hurting yourself! :lol:
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Old 05-23-2007, 01:16 PM   #9
Chris Honnon
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Haha!

Most of this was covered above already but I'm having a slow afternoon at work :-)

On the Alton Brown note, in one of his grilling shows he advocated laying the meat directly on the coals. The concept is that flare-ups are caused by the combustion of the fat drippings which requires oxygen. By laying the meat directly on the coals you suffocate any potential for flame. I wouldn't recommend this if your a briquette user (many chemicals = "Not good eats..." as Alton would say) however I have actually experimented with this on hardwood charcoal with good results.

With the above in mind (and as was stated earlier in the thread) lean meats won't render as much if any fat thus no flare-ups.

Grilling at low temperatures is a great idea for certain meats but you want to be careful that they don't end up in "the zone" too long (roughly 55-140 degrees F) which could promote nasty bacterial growth. This would probably be most applicable when slow cooking larger cuts of meat that may still be frozen or close to frozen in the center.

With that said, I'm going home and firing up my propane grill tonight. I've got a bunch of veggie kabobs, corn on the cob, and drumsticks that have been calling my name!

Oh, and speaking of grilling chicken drumsticks (and any other piece of chicken with substantial fat) a good trick is to boil first. Boiling the chicken parts will render off a majority of the fat, tenderize (as long as you don't over-boil), and allow you the chance for that smoky barbecue flavor without having to burn the outside in order to cook the inside. I can't count the times I've gone to a chicken barbecue only to be handed a drumstick that looked like, and probably tasted like, a blackened piece of horse dung. No thank you!

Chris
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Old 05-25-2007, 06:44 AM   #10
Bob Long
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Charcoal or propane ? Propane's not paleo.
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