Just in time for your weekend barbecues, I have some helpful tips for making grilling a success. Whether you’re a novice or a grillmaster, you’re likely to find some useful information in this list.
1. De-winterize. Before you light up the grill and toss on those delicious steaks, make sure you take your grill out of hibernation. This includes checking to see if your gas tank is full, that all the grill parts work properly, checking the temperatures of the grill, wiping the grill with vegetable oil so your food will not stick, and giving the entire grill a wipe down to remove any grime or dirt.
2. Get Organized. It’s the first warm day of the season and you just can’t wait to show off your master-grilling skills..not so fast! Make sure you are prepared inside of the kitchen by cutting up all your veggies, leaving proteins at room temperature for 20-30 minutes so you get a nice sear, and keeping supplies near the grill such as tongs, grill brush, paper towels, and a bowl of ice (we will get to the ice later.)
3. Preheat the grill. Just like an oven, your grill needs to come up to temperature. Once you turn on the grill, wait at least 5 to 10 minutes to ensure a hot grill that will cook your food properly. Otherwise, you can run the risk of under-cooking food and well that would ruin anyone’s dinner!
4. Invest in a digital thermometer. It’s one of those staple tools I keep in my grill kit to prevent under-cooked meats. It only takes a couple of seconds to record the temperature, and the reading is very accurate. For a list of temperatures to properly cook food to, click on the following link from FoodSafety.gov and print them out to keep these temps handy at all times.
5. Protein first. Okay, you’ve taken all the proper steps to get to the moment of man versus grill … or lady versus grill. So now it’s time to place your proteins on the grill first. Try to always keep chicken away from other meats so there is never any risk for cross contamination. Once the meats are on the grill, close the lid and walk away. I repeat..walk away! Being that over-flipping cook only makes the meats tough and loose their delicious juiciness so it’s best to give fish about 3 minutes per side, steaks about 4 minutes per side and chicken around 10. You can still be an awesome grill master by whipping up cocktails in this time.
6. Give ‘em a flip. Your protein should easily flip after the allotted time on one side. If you are scraping the grates and going to war with your grill, the meat is clearly not ready to flip. Cooking is love, so treat those expensive cuts of meat with care.
7. Try smoking your meat. Sure, anyone can throw a steak on a grill and be the hero of the heat. But if you really want to take your grilling skills a step further, make your own smoker box. By doing this, you can impress your guests with applewood pulled pork sandwiches, smoked orange-brined chicken, or spicy BBQ corn on the cob. Here is an easy way to create your own smoker box: place drained wood chips in a foil pan, cover with aluminum foil, and poke holes in the foil to allow the smoke to escape. Place the pan directly on the bars over an unlit burner or two, preferably in a back corner. Put the cooking grates in place. Turn on the grill, with all the burners on high, and close the lid. When smoke appears, begin cooking your food, adjusting the temperature of the grill as needed.
8. Time to ice. Remember that bowl of ice I said to keep handy earlier? Well here’s a cool trick, when you see some unexpected flare-ups on the grill, toss a couple of ice cubes around the meat to reduce the flame. You can also keep spray bottle handy, but sometimes the intense heat can cause those plastic bottles to melt if unattended. Better to stick with a glass bowl of ice cubes.
9. Have fun! Sure grilling outside during the beautiful weather is a treat in itself, but why not have fun with the types of food you grill up? I love to experiment with grilling fresh fruits, panini’s, cakes, or even fresh made pizzas. Just make sure you use foods that will not slip through the grates.
10. Let it rest. I know, the satiating smells are lingering throughout the neighborhood and you can’t wait to get your paws on your masterpieces, but stop! Let the meats rest to redistribute the juices. This is one of the most overlooked points when it comes to grilling and is quite possibly one of the most important steps. Wait at least 10 minutes and have another cocktail, then tie on a bib and get to noshing on your hard-earned eats! HAPPY EATING!