Guest Post from Chef David Guas: Honey Up Your Summer

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The National Honey Board gets to work with many great partners, including celebrity chef, host and cookbook author Chef David Guas. We recently had the chance to chat with him about why honey is his go-to ingredient for grilling up one sweet summer:

The grill and I are no strangers. In fact, we go way back. I'm talking 6-years-old-can't-even-see-over-the-grill type of back. Growing up in the heart of soul cooking—New Orleans—with a Cuban-born father, our wood-burning grill was the hearth of our home. Come Sundays we would all gather around and watch my father work diligently over the flames, waiting impatiently until he produced something grill-marked and juicy that we could sink our teeth into. As soon as I could hold a pair of grilling tongs and see over the embers, I was right in there with him, learning the tricks of the trade and coming up with a few of my own too. Today, with nearly a lifetime of experience under my belt, I'm still at it—now teaching my own sons, and still turning out some new tricks. One that has really stuck in my grill book is honey—and it's not going anywhere soon.

Honey is one of the most versatile and widely available ingredients I have come across over my years as a chef. Be it in baking, grilling, or cocktail-making—this all natural bee-byproduct has something to offer no matter the culinary venture. When it comes to grilling, honey is the key to cooking up a protein that tastes and looks good. A few tablespoons in your marinade or sauce will amp things up big time. Mixed with an oil or liquid, it will pack major juice and flavor into your protein. Honey is just something you have got to have on deck when grilling—and it never goes bad! I always keep at least 30 varietals in my kitchen. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and honey up your summer!  

#HoneyTips & #StickyTricks from chef David Guas on grilling with honey…

  1. First thing's first: you've got to know your piece of equipment and make it work for you! Make sure to create zones of direct and indirect heat by separating the hot and cold coals on your grill.
  2. Being so thick, honey can be tough to brush directly onto your meat by itself—I like to add a bit of orange juice, pineapple juice or a touch of water to create a mixture that will go on smooth and easy!
  3. When we're talkin' honey, it's important to know that it burns quick under direct heat, so, keep its contact with the hottest part of your grill to a minimum. Instead, use indirect heat to cook through your protein and to play up the honey!
  4. Want a meat that looks just as good as it tastes? Bring your honeyed up protein quickly into the zone of direct heat for a gorgeous mahogany finish and a fast sear
  5. To put a healthy spin on any recipe, sub in honey, nature's sweetener, for up to one-half of the granulated sugar called for!
  6. Honey goes great on the side and on top too! Add a few tablespoons to your marinade, sauce, or dip to thicken and sweeten them up—and enjoy with a honey-grilled meat for a killer combo

Chef Guas' Top Reasons for Using Honey in Baking, Grilling, Cocktail-Making

  1. Honey is just as versatile as it is widely available – I use it in baking, grilling, beverage and cocktail-making.
  2. Honey is a humectant, which means it holds and attracts moisture. So, when it comes to grilling, honey packs some serious juice into your meat. And when it comes to baking, it keeps your dish moist and flavorful. In my Honey Baked Black Beans recipe, honey does its job and does it well. 
  3. I especially like using honey when it comes to baking with gluten-free items, like rice flour, that tend to be drier. By replacing a quarter of the liquid called for with honey, you can make your gluten-free baked goods much moister. 
  4. As a natural energy booster, honey helps me keep my energy levels up when I'm having a long day in the kitchen or even going out for a run.
  5. Honey makes for an amazing addition to sauces, marinades, dips and dressings. As a binder and thickener, the honey will keep your topper together and soften the intensity of other ingredients such as salt or vinegar. My beef marinade recipe makes the best of this honey trait, pairing it with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary, green onions and Dijon mustard. 
  6. I love using honey in herbal infusions because of the way it absorbs and complements the herbal tones so flawlessly. Not only are infusions much easier than muddling, but they also add a delicious nuance to your drink.
  7. In beverages and cocktails, I use honey in many forms. I stir up an endlessly refreshing orange blossom honey syrup in my Honey Hibiscus Orange Punch, which is the perfect ending to a summer day. I've also started using mead, which is a fermented honey that produces a subtle sort of honey-wine. Drink it still or sparkling by the glass, or as an inventive mixer in a more classic cocktail.

Be sure to check out some of Chef Guas' unique and delicious honey-inspired recipes below!