Carcinogen-free barbecue? Experts say yes!

July 1, 2011 5:23:29 PM PDT
As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, many of us will be outdoors, grilling steaks, burgers and chicken. But grilling creates carcinogens. Some people think there's no way around that, but we talked a French chef and a cancer hospital to show that you can grill without all the carcinogens!

Can we enjoy the sizzle of summer without worrying about creating carcinogens? Experts say yes!

"If you can keep hand on top of the grill for 10 seconds means it's the correct temperature," said Philippe Boucaumont, senior executive chef at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Reducing the temperature reduces the cancer causing chemicals that form on the grill. Boucaumont was chef to Madonna, and now he's chef at MD Anderson.

A burger cooked on high heat is blacker, meaning more cancer-causing chemicals were formed. It's the same with the chicken.

Another tip: Use small pieces of chicken to minimize the time food is on the grill. Then marinade it.

Marinades are more than flavor. Scientists say they actually protect against cancer.

"The marinade sort of precooks the meat so you don't have to expose it to the heat as long, plus it introduces those antioxidants," MD Anderson Dietitian Sally Scroggs said.

Antioxidants in marinades can reduce carcinogens. And researchers say marinades with spices or herbs, like tarragon and sage, reduce carcinogens even more.

"Five to 10 minutes is not enough. You need to let one hour to four hours marinade," Boucaumont said.

Boucaumont builds a sandwich with raspberry marinated chicken, grilled squash and Portobello mushrooms, proof that grilling-minus-carcinogens can still taste good!

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