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Plated with Rebecca Turner Dads and Grills

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner Dads and Grills

Humans began cooking with fire over a million years ago. Outdoor kitchen appliances and technology have advanced, but the basics remain — man, fire, and meat feed families and create community. Today, both men and women conquer the open flame, but there’s something special about dads lighting a fire with tongs in hand, taking pride in being the king of dinner. Secret sauces, rubs, and recipes become family legends, leading to delicious anticipation for cookouts. 

Michael Keeton of Brandon recalls his dad’s character and love of grilling steaks. “Being outside, smelling the smoke, or hearing the sizzle, makes me think of dad,” said Keeton. His best tip is don’t overlook the 1 1/2 inch steaks, 3-inch cuts aren’t always better. “Buy steaks a week before and lay them out an hour before cooking,” suggests Keeton. “Cook steaks in an iron skillet on direct high heat on the grill, turning at 2-4 minutes, seasoned with unsalted butter. Unsalted butter won’t burn as quickly,” advises Keeton. “Once well seared, take the steak and place it on the grill at a lower temperature until desired internal temperature is reached.” 


Through trial and error, Drew Smith of Vicksburg taught himself to grill. “I’ve researched out of enthusiasm for the art. I also have a lot of buddies who are great grillers, and we share advice amongst ourselves,” said Smith. For the Smiths, outdoor cooking is all about community. “My favorite time of year is when I can turn on a Mississippi State baseball game while the grill is going with friends over, and our children are playing in the backyard,” smiles Smith. “That’s what it’s all about.” He believes it’s hard to mess up cooking on a quality charcoal grill. “Long indirect style grilling methods are typically the easiest because all it takes is low heat, smoke, a simple seasoning, and you’re sure to end up with a good result. It’s also hard to beat a thick ribeye sizzling over some glowing coals!”

Family and friends are the secret ingredient to a memorable cookout, no matter the cooking method. As a dietitian, I appreciate outdoor cooking because it includes more fresh meats, fish, and vegetables. As a daughter, I relish in the memories of watching dad take pleasure in preparing his signature smoked chickens from start to finish. This Father’s Day, hug the man conquering the open flame.


Simple Charcoal Smoked Chickens

•    Prepare a 3 to 4 pound whole chicken with giblets removed and discarded, by washing and patting it dry. Rub the chicken inside and out with olive oil and season it well with Tony Chachere’s (or your favorite spice combination). Care fully separate the skin over the breast from the meat so you can put some of the seasoning under the skin. Let the chicken sit while you prepare the smoker. 

•    Prepare your smoker, to reach around 225 to 250 degrees. Throughout the course of the cooking add in hickory or pecan pellets for added flavor.

•    Place the prepared chicken on the smoker. Roughly speaking, it takes about 3-5 hours to smoke a whole chicken, or approximately 45 minutes per pound at 250 degrees. Make sure your chicken reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part before removing. 

•    Remove the chicken from the smoker and let rest, loosely tent with foil, on a baking sheet for 20 minutes before slicing. 


Drew Smith’s Reverse Seared Wagyu Beef Tri-Tip

•    Season the tri-tip a few hours before cooking. Stay simple with the seasoning. Use anything you would use on a steak or brisket. Set your grill up for indirect cooking. Set the grill temp to 250 degrees. I use a Big Green Egg and the indirect stone for this one. A pellet grill will work great for the indirect cook too. 

•    Cook the tri-tip indirectly until it reaches an internal temp of around 110 degrees. Maybe 30-45 minutes. Use the wood flavor of your choice to add some smoke flavor. I prefer to use pecan, which is usually mild and versatile. 

•    Once the tri-tip reaches 110 degrees internally, set the grill to cook directly and crank the temperature of the grill to 400-500 degrees. I used the Big Green Egg for this part too, but you could easily use a big cast iron skillet over high heat. 

•    Sear the tri-tip on both sides for several minutes per side. It’s a thick cut so it won’t cook through too quickly. 

•    For some added flavor and texture, baste the tri-tip with an herb butter while it sears over the direct heat. Cook to an internal temperature of 130 degrees for medium rare or your doneness of choice. 

•    Let it rest for about 15 minutes, slice and enjoy!


Easy Grilled Vegetables

2    portobello mushrooms

1     eggplant

1     zucchini

1     yellow squash

1     onion

1     bunch asparagus

1     bell pepper (any color)

2     tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1     tablespoon salt

1     tablespoon black pepper

•    Preheat the grill to medium heat, 350 to 450 degrees.

•    Trim the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion and cut into symmetrical slices. Seed the red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Trim the ends of the asparagus.

•    Toss the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. 

•    Grill the vegetables on tin foil with the lid closed until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers, onion, and mushroom; 5-7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant and asparagus. 


Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at

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