The numbers don’t lie. You (the readers) LOVED our blog posts on gluten-free barbecues and gluten-free drinking last year. Well, I don’t know why that would come as a surprise. Just because you have celiac doesn’t mean you don’t have a good time, right?
Well, we decided to go back to the drawing board and give you an even better gluten-free barbecue guide for 2013.
So fire up that grill! Barbecue season is upon us again, and it’s never been easier to throw a delicious gluten-free barbecue!
Start Out with a Clean Slate
The first consideration for gluten-free grilling is the grill itself. Old grill grates typically have caked-on, burnt food residue on them. Gluten is a protein, and proteins are denatured (destroyed) by heat at certain levels. Normal cooking temperatures cannot denature a gluten protein effectively so even deep-frying does not alter the gluten content of a food.
Charring gluten can, theoretically, denature gluten proteins so they do not hurt the celiac digestive tract. In reality, however, the little bits of food on grill grates are not always charred to the point where they are fully turned to ash. They may contain some quantity of gluten. Therefore, using new grates is recommended, and when that’s not possible they should be scrubbed very thoroughly with a grate brush until no food residue remains.
If you are eating at someone else’s home, where the grill is unlikely to have been used exclusively for gluten-free foods, you will want to have your food grilled over tin foil to keep it from coming into contact with gluten-containing foods.
Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce
Another important consideration for a good gluten-free barbecue is the barbecue sauce. Many barbecue sauces contain Worcestershire sauce, an ingredient that frequently contains gluten. Other barbecue sauces contain natural flavors or sweeteners that are gluten-based. Therefore, it’s important to choose a barbecue sauce that you can verify is gluten-free. Although you should always check with the manufacturer due to constantly changing formulations, as of the time of this post some gluten-free brands include Bullseye Original, Sweet Baby Ray’s, Bone Suckin’ Sauce, Kraft Original and Stubbs.
Also keep an eye on the ingredients of spice rubs, marinades and other flavorings used for grilling. Keep an eye out for the following ingredients: soy sauce, malt flavoring, malt extract, monosodium glutamate (MSG), emulsifiers, stabilizers, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, caramel coloring and flour. These ingredients can sometimes be derived from wheat or barley, though they aren’t always. If in doubt, contact the brand in question.
The Food Itself
That brings us to the most important part of grilling: the food. Most brands of hot dogs are gluten-free, but it is worth checking the packaging to make sure that gluten-based fillers are not used. The same is true for sausages. Vegetable and meat kabobs, steaks and chicken are all great options for the grill if no gluten is in their marinades or sauces.
Gluten-free hot dog and hamburger buns are now widely available in grocery stores, especially under the Udi’s and Kinnickinnick brands. However, other options for serving hot dogs or hamburgers include placing them on corn tortillas or on large leaves of lettuce that can be used as wraps. Most ketchups, relishes, pickles and mustards are gluten-free, but ingredients should be checked.
Bringing the “Gluten-Free” to Someone Else’s Barbecue
If you’re a guest at someone else’s barbecue, be sure to check in with them in advance of the event to find out what they are serving. Most hosts will be happy to make sure you have something safe to eat, but they may need some guidance, such as to not marinate one of the steaks in teriyaki sauce but instead to put it aside for you to grill on a piece of foil. You could even offer to bring your own barbecue sauce. It never hurts to offer to bring a side dish to share, too, to ensure that you have plenty of food to eat and are also contributing to your host’s party.
As Memorial Day approaches and with it the height of barbecue season, please grill safely, deliciously, and in good health!