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Grilling with honey

Father's day is just around the corner, temps are steadily warming, and afternoon rain showers in the south are a sure sign summer is coming, and that means it's grilling season

You may be wondering what grilling has to do with bees–it's simple. HONEY! It's our go-to pantry ingredient for so much cooking, and beyond its all-natural sweet characteristics, it never expires. This all-natural bee by-product is a backyard chef's secret weapon when it comes to grilling up a protein that looks great and tastes even better. Some tips:

Keep it balanced.

A few tablespoons of honey adds an essential balance to whatever I might be grilling up. The acidity of other ingredients in a marinade needs toning down, and honey is the ideal mellowing agent—honey seals in the meat's juices that begin to seep when the temperature is high.

Mix it properly.

Because of its sticky consistency, honey can be hard to brush, baste, or mop onto your meat by itself. Grilling honey that has not been mixed with another liquid, like juice or oil, is not a good idea, as it'll burn right up and char the surface before the food is cooked.

In a brine or mixed with other ingredients, however, honey is okay even in direct heat. You can add a bit of orange juice or a touch of water, or fresh pineapple juice, a natural tenderizer, to create a more brushable consistency that goes on smoothly.

Map out your zones.

Here's the big grilling-with-honey tip: Establish direct and indirect heat zones by separating the coals in your grill. In a zone of indirect heat, you can apply your honey-juice mixture freely to the outer surface of your protein — pork or chicken are great options — to lock in flavor and moisture while helping the caramelization along. For a beautiful mahogany finish and a fast sear, move your honeyed protein quickly into the area of direct heat and hold it briefly.

Go thick with it!

Honey is also a great binder and thickener for amping up or sweetening sauces, marinades, dips, and dressings. For instance, a good beef marinade can be a simple dose of honey along with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary, green onions, and Dijon mustard. The soy sauce adds plenty of salt to season the meat, and the honey softens the intensity, giving it a balance with some sweetness.

Have a sizzling summer!

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